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Samsung Galaxy S21 Camera Review: Improves Upon Its Predecessor

Samsung Nepal recently launched the Samsung S21 series and among them, Samsung S21 is the company’s affordable flagship. It comes as an upgrade to the Samsung S20.

Samsung Galaxy S21 comes with a similar camera setup as the S20 but comes with improved processing along with new camera features. So, let’s take a look at its camera performance.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Specifications

  • Body: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm, 169 g (Sub6), 171 g (mmWave), Dual SIM (Nano-SIM and/or eSIM, dual stand-by)
  • Display: 6.2″ FullHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1080 x 2400 pixels,120Hz, HDR10+, 1300 nits (peak)
  • Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus (front)
  • Chipset: Exynos 2100 (5 nm)
  • CPU: Octa-core (1×2.9 GHz Cortex-X1 & 3×2.80 GHz Cortex-A78 & 4×2.2 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Memory: 256GB 8GB RAM, UFS 3.1
  • OS: Android 11, One UI 3.1
  • Rear Camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
    • 64 MP, f/2.0, 28mm (telephoto), 1/1.76″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS, 1.1x optical zoom, 3x hybrid zoom
    • 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ (ultrawide), 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video
    • Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS
  • Front Camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
    • Video: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30fps
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 4000mAh battery, Fast Charging 25W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W
  • Misc: Fingerprint (under display, ultrasonic), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
  • Colors: Phantom Grey, Phantom Violet

Samsung Galaxy S21 Price in Nepal: Rs. 1,09,999 (8/256GB)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Camera Review

Similar Camera Setup

Samsung Galaxy S21 is rocking a similar sensor setup as the Samsung Note 20. It has 3 cameras on the rear with a 12MP main sensor, a 64MP telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultrawide angle sensor. The sensors look identical to last year’s S20’s sensor. So, it is not sure if they are using a new sensor or the same one.

The main sensor is a 1/1.76″ sensor with 1.8µm pixels. It is then paired with a lens that has a 26mm equivalent focal length and f/1.8 aperture with optical image stabilization.

The ultrawide camera has fixed focus, unlike the S21 Ultra’s ultrawide camera. The lens has a FOV of 120 degrees and an f/2.2 aperture while the size of the 12MP sensor is 1/2.55″ with 1.4µm pixels.

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Last but not the least, it has a 64MP telephoto sensor. It is used for hybrid zoom with lossless result up to 3x zoom level. This lens also has optical stabilization and has an aperture of f/2.0.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Rear Camera
Samsung Galaxy S21 Rear Camera

Samsung has vastly improved the dynamic range of the S21 compared to the S20 and Note 20.

64MP, Ultrawide, and Normal Photos

Photos from the main sensor have an excellent dynamic range and photos have good detail along with the saturated color profile. Noise is very well controlled and it is almost non-existent.

S21 tends to clip the highlights and has a bit less punchy color compared to the S20.

The 64MP sensor is a regular-Bayer RGB sensor that can actually capture more granular color gradation data than a Quad Bayer/Tetracell counterpart.

The 64MP photos have good detail and the dynamic range doesn’t take a hit. But the contrast is not as good as normal photos.

The ultrawide angle images also look sharp with nice detail. However, the dynamic range on the S20 feels better than the S21 when it comes to ultrawide angle. Moreover, distortion correction is really good on the ultrawide photos.

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S21 takes zoom photos from the 64MP sensor and crops them. The 2X shots are almost identical in quality to the normal photos with minimum loss in detail.

The 3X photos are also quite good but there’s some upscaling on 3X photos. You will notice a slight loss in detail but it is still pretty good.

You can go 10X, 20X, and up to 30X but photos lose quality at this zoom range. You can use it to take a closer look at the subject but it is not usable.

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Low Light Performance

Even without night mode, the details of low-light photos are good. Noise reduction doesn’t seem too aggressive which helps to preserve detail but this leads to graininess.

Exposure is nice and the dynamic range is also pretty wide.

Night mode helps to reduce noise but that will lead to some loss in detail. It does help to lift shadows and mid-tones though. Also, exposure is better with the night mode.

The ultrawide angle sensor also does a decent job in low light conditions. But you will notice more noise and lack of detail compared to the photos from the main sensor.

The night mode significantly helps to improve ultrawide photos. The same is the case with the zoom photos.

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There are two zoom levels on portrait mode. On the default zoom level, the photo is captured by a 64MP sensor which captures pleasing portraits with good details, nice background blur, and excellent edge detection. It can also do a good job of identifying complex things like hairs.

If you capture with a wide zoom level then the photos do not have good background blur and the edge detection is also not perfect. The portrait mode does a fine job in low-light situations and is also effective for non-human subjects.

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S21 takes sharp selfies with a natural color tone which is unlike Samsung. The dynamic range is wide but the color is not as saturated as the main sensor. Portrait mode does a good job with convincing background blur and nice edge detection. It can also keep highlights under control.

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As for videos, it is capable of capturing videos up to 4k 30 from all three sensors and up to 4k 60 from the main/ultrawide angle sensor. It can also do 8k 24fps videos just like the S21 Ultra.

4k 30fps footage has really nice detail with pleasing colors and excellent dynamic range. You might see slight noise in the darker regions but it’s not a big concern. The stabilization works really well in 4k 30 with smooth pans and it looks planted in one direction when you are not moving.

The 4k ultrawide videos look top-notch with really good detail and respectable dynamic range. The ultrawide camera captures more stabilized footage with a smoother pan compared to videos from the main sensor.

The 4k 60fps footages lose detail and you will notice some noise as well. However, the 4k60 fps footages do look smoother.

Furthermore, if you want steadier footage then you can always opt-in for the super steady option but you will have to compromise on the detail.

As for other features, you get the same pro video mode that we saw on the Note 20. You can manually change almost every setting including ISO, Aperture, WB, and Focus. You can select a different audio source from USB or Bluetooth.

But the most exciting addition has to be the director’s view. This provides more control over how you want to capture the video as you get a preview from all the other lenses while capturing the video. This mode captures from both the rear and front camera simultaneously. And, you can change the layout of the videos really easily.

Final Thoughts

Samsung Galaxy S21 has an identical camera setup to the S20 but the overall imaging has been improved.

More than anything else, all the cameras enjoy a good upgrade in terms of dynamic range. The 64MP telephoto lens has also been improved and the selfie camera has much more improved performance. Combined with the new camera features such as Single-Take and Director view, the S21 has a very compelling camera performance for the price.

What’s your take on the Samsung Galaxy S21? Let us know in the comments below!

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Review: Best Overall Camera Smartphone

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