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Samsung camera test: Galaxy S20 Ultra's 108-megapixel camera, 100x zoom photos – CNET

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The Galaxy S20 Ultra is all about the camera.


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Of Samsung’s three new phones, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is the one most stuffed with camera goodies. While Samsung redesigned the entire camera system (the company says S20’s sensors are three times larger than the Galaxy S10), it’s the 108-megapixel sensor and 100x AI-assisted zoom that make the biggest splash. Part of my job during my ongoing Galaxy S20 Ultra review is to evaluate if the photo experience helps justify the Ultra’s $1,400 price. 

I’ve already shot dozens of photos, peering at them closely from my computer screen and on the phone. It’d be overkill (and probably break your browser) if I shared them all here, so consider these the highlights. In the coming weeks, my colleagues and I will snap and analyze hundreds of photos and scores of video to drill down into exactly where the S20 Ultra’s camera stands, especially against top competition like the iPhone 11 Pro MaxGoogle’s Pixel 4 and Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro

These photos are not touched up or edited in any way unless stated. But note that they have been processed by CNET’s content image tool — you won’t see every pixel, but you’ll hopefully see enough to give you an early idea of the S20 Ultra’s camera performance. I’m also testing the regular and 8K mode video camera, but those files are huge and harder to share here. There will be plenty of footage in the final review, though.

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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x zoom makes snooping easier

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Galaxy S20 Ultra cameras

  • 108-megapixel main camera: You need to select the 108-megapixel quick setting to take a super high-resolution photo, otherwise images resolve to 12-megapixel (using nona-binning, which essentially creates one super pixel out of ever 9 individuals pixels. Part of the benefit of such a high-resolution image is to get more detail when you crop into a shot.
  • 12-megapixel wide-angle lens: Samsung enlarged the sensor, so this isn’t the same camera as on the Galaxy Note 10 or S10 phones even though it uses the same megapixels. The goal is to let in more light, for better image quality, especially in low light.
  • 48-megapixel telephoto camera: This gets you up to 100x “space zoom,” a feature that uses AI algorithms to take shots at extreme distance. The higher the zoom, the shakier your photo will be (a monopod or tripod is key).
  • DepthVision camera: I didn’t go out of my way to test this yet, but it’s meant to assist with various camera modes. You can’t take individual photos from it.
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Main camera and standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

What I think so far

In abundant lighting scenarios, the S20 Ultra’s photos look fantastic: crisp and bright, with plenty of detail. Low light shots get a typical Samsung boost of brightness that you may love or find a little overly cheerful, but that comes down to your mood. Selfies look good, and there’s even a new feature to select a warmer or darker image tone than the default (to apply to the scene, not to skin).

At this early stage in my testing, the two marquee features confuse me. In some of my shots using the 108-megapixel camera option versus the main camera’s 12-megapixel resolution, the benefits of using 108 are clear. Cropping in or zooming in on the image, the superior detail practically punches you in the face. In others, I don’t see much difference. In others still, zooming in on the phone screen or in a full-screen image on the computer reveals mushier edges and more noise than the 12-megapixel counterpart.

I’m going to keep testing that.

The camera’s 100x zoom feature absolutely works, but at such distance, images are intensely blurry, and to me, fairly unusable beyond showing off the phone’s technological capability. I’m just not sure why Samsung didn’t stop at a really good 30x zoom, apart from one-upping competitors. I’m open to being convinced as I continue to learn about the feature and use it in the wild.

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Main camera and standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Ultra-wide angle shot.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Main camera, standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Main camera, standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

*The 108-megapixel resolution version of this image was too large to load.

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Crop from standard resolution image.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Crop from 108-megapixel resolution image.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Main camera, standard resolution.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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SF Museum of Modern Art. No zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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At 10x zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Now at 30x zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Here we are at 100x zoom.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Obligatory backlit selfie.

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Shot on automatic mode with main camera, low-light conditions.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Crop in of 108-megapixel version is impressively detailed.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

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Shot in automatic mode in low light conditions.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This story will be updated often with new photos. Keep checking back for more!

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Armored Core VI Announced, Which Isn’t A Souls Game

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ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON – Reveal Trailer

I have not played an Armored Core game in a very long time, and even then I was never the biggest fan. But this looks cool as hell. It’s coming in 2023 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5 and PC.

Here’s some official words:

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ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON will offer a game experience based on the mech game know-how FromSoftware cultivated over 25 years of developing games in the series, but now introducing groundbreaking gameplay found in the developer’s recent action games. The new ARMORED CORE title will combine these elements into thrilling action that only mechas can provide. The game promises to be a unique entry in the mech action game genre.

In ARMORED CORE VI FIRES OF RUBICON, players will be able to freely move through massive three-dimensional environments with rapid maneuverability while experiencing visceral vehicular combat. Signature to FromSoftware’s carefully crafted game design, the game will feature challenging and memorable battles along with a fulfilling progression system and deep gameplay, all of it now powered by assembling mechs and going into combat with massive bosses. Players will recognize the sense of satisfaction and achievement when they overcome a difficult situation and relish momentary victory, and perhaps a boost to their standing, before encountering the next challenge.

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After Heated Battle, Genshin Impact Wins Player’s Voice at The 2022 Game Awards

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Genshin Impact has won the Player’s Voice award at The Game Awards 2022, following an intense battle against Elden Ring and Sonic Frontiers.

Unlike other awards bestowed at The Game Awards, which are primarily determined by members of the press and other influential individuals in the industry, the Player’s Voice category is 100% fan-voted. Earlier this week, ahead o the show, the results projected that Genshin Impact would edge out both Sonic Frontiers and Elden Ring. Other nominees for the Player’s Voice category include God of War: Ragnarok and Stray.

Although Elden Ring, in particular, did not get selected, FromSoftware’s latest project did go home with a few awards, including Best Art Direction and Best Game Direction. For more on the winners from this year’s Game Awards, check out our roundup that features the nominees and winners of each category.

Taylor is the Associate Tech Editor at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.

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Super Mario Bros. Movie "Mushroom Kingdom" Official Reveal

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When he’s not paying off a loan to Tom Nook, Liam likes to report on the latest Nintendo news and admire his library of video games. His favourite Nintendo character used to be a guitar-playing dog, but nowadays he prefers to hang out with Judd the cat.

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