Galaxy S20 camera: The 5 best features

Every smartphone promises the best and latest camera technology. Does Samsung deliver with the Galaxy S20?

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra - Front

Image: Larry Dignan/CBS Interactive

At Samsung Unpacked in San Francisco on Feb. 11, the company unveiled its latest smartphone offering: The Samsung Galaxy S20. 

The new smartphone comes with dozens of new features but Samsung made considerable changes to the camera, building it out to provide upgraded photo and video capabilities.

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"Our smartphones need one thing above all else: A powerful camera. We spent months asking thousands of smartphone users across the world what mattered most when it came to cameras. No matter who we asked or where they lived, we got the same answer. Quality, quality, and quality," said Drew Blackard, Samsung's vice president of smartphone and IoT product management.

"It's 2020: We rely on our phones to document and share our entire lives, so we rebuilt the Galaxy S20's entire camera system to change the way we capture."

Here are six new camera features that will come with the Samsung Galaxy S20.

1. Three-camera system

The S20 and S10 phones come with three different rear camera modes: Ultra wide, wide, and telephoto. The Galaxy S20 and S20+ come with rear cameras that include a 12 MP Main Wide, 12 MP Ultra Wide, and 64 MP Telephoto. 

For the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the rear cameras come with a 108 MP Main Wide, 12 MP Ultra Wide, and 48 MP Telephoto. 

"We can all take great photos under perfect conditions, bright outdoor lighting, not too close and not too far, not too much movement. But in practice it rarely works out that way. We take pictures at concerts, at kids soccer games, at graduations," Blackard said onstage at Samsung Unpacked. "We want to be able to capture those moments perfectly too, even if the conditions aren't perfect."

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Image: Screenshot

2. Higher megapixel count

Some of the megapixel counts are higher on the new phones. The S20 and S20+ both have a 64MP rear telephoto lens, while the S10 and S10+ have a 12 MP telephone lens in the back. The S20 Ultra comes with a 108 MP main wide lens in the rear, while the S10 5G offers a 12 MP wide-angle lens. 

A 10 MP camera is on the front and the S20+ will add the same Time of Flight camera built into the Galaxy S10 5G and the Note 10+. According to a statement from Samsung, the camera uses 3D with the Time of Flight feature so it can better measure depth and distance. 

The Time of Flight works in combination with Live Focus video and Quick Measure to help you produce more creative artistic photos and videos. The S20 Ultra bumps up the megapixel levels with a 108 MP main wide lens, a 12 MP ultra wide, and a 48 MP telephone lens. In the front, there's a 40 MP camera.

3. Zoom features

The S20 comes with much-improved zoom features that allow you to get in very close while still keeping high-quality images. The cutting-edge zoom function uses its folded lens to magnify shots up to 100 times, resembling the capabilities of a telescope. 

The Galaxy S20 and S20+ come with rear cameras that have a 3X optical zoom and a 30X digital zoom. For the S20 Ultra, the numbers reach 10X optical zoom and a 100X digital zoom.

During the presentation, two filmmakers showed the audience just how close in one can zoom with the S20. From a cliff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, the photographers zoomed in to find Alcatraz as well as The Palace of Fine Arts, where the event was being held. 

4. Video features

The S20's rear cameras can shoot 8K video at 30 frames per second while the front camera is 10 MP and can shoot 4K video at 60 FPS.

For the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the rear cameras can shoot 8K video at 30 frames per second while the front camera is 40 MP and can shoot 4K video at 60 FPS.

"For videographers, the devices can shoot in 8K so users can capture their world in true-to-life color and quality. Thanks to Super Steady's anti-rolling stabilization and AI motion analysis, even the bumpiest videos look like they were shot using a gimbal," Samsung said in a statement.

The S20 also has improved capabilities when it comes to taking videos at night. The night hyperlapse feature allows you to take clear, quality video all without much light. The camera is built for serious videographers and has steady modes and anti-rolling features that allow you to take video without worrying about shaky hands. 

You can even cast your videos straight to your Samsung TV if you would like. Through partnerships with Google the smartphone is also built to provide crisp video calls or messages. 

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5. Artificial Intelligence and content management

The S20 harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to allow single takes to capture different shots of the same moment. As mentioned above, 

"With single-take mode, S20 uses AI to capture different versions of that exact same moment using each of its different cameras. Take a short clip up to 10 seconds and single take captures different versions of it. Live focus, boomerang video, ultra wide, and a lot more. Then when you're done shooting, it gives you a handful of the best shots so you can pick your favorites," Blackard said. 

The smartphone also uses AI to keep your photos organized and can group your gallery content, making it easier to navigate and create subgroups to organize your photos in any way you want. 

Photo galleries are easily searchable, and S20 will be able to identify people who pop up in multiple photos automatically. Samsung has made it a lot easier to upload photos and videos to a variety of social media sites as well. The 12 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage that can be increased to 1 TB with a microSD card, allowing you to keep thousands of photos and videos all on your device. 

"With the Galaxy S20, we have created a phone that will change photography," Blackard said.

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