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Samsung S21 Ultra Camera Review: Best Overall Camera Smartphone

Samsung Nepal recently launched the Samsung S21 series and among them, Samsung 21 Ultra is the company’s ultimate flagship. It comes as an upgrade to the Samsung S20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with an improved camera setup and has two optical zoom lenses along with an improved 108MP sensor. In this article, we will take a look at the camera prowess of the S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Specifications

  • Body: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm, 227 g (Sub6), 229 g (mmWave), IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins), Stylus Support
  • Display: 6.8 inches, 1440 x 3200 pixels, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1500 nits (peak)
  • Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus (front & back)
  • 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: 12GB RAM, 256GB, UFS 3.1
  • OS: Android 11, One UI 3.1
  • Rear Camera: 108 MP (2nd gen), f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.33″, 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF, OIS
    • 10 MP, f/4.9, 240mm (periscope telephoto), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom
    • 10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom
    • 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, Super Steady video
    • Video: [email protected], [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected], HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS
  • Front Camera: 40 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/2.8″, 0.7µm, PDAF
  • Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 5000 mAh 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 Black, Phantom Silver

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Price in Nepal: Rs. 1,54,999 (12/256GB)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Review

Improved Camera Setup

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is rocking 4 cameras on the rear with a 108MP main sensor, a 10MP telephoto lens with 10X optical zoom, a 10MP telephoto lens with 3X Optical Zoom, and a 12MP Ultrawide angle sensor. Furthermore, it comes with a laser autofocus system.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Review
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Camera Review

The new 108MP HM3 sensor used on the S21 Ultra is improved in all the departments and doesn’t have the problem that haunted the S20 Ultra. It even uses 9 to 1 pixel binning that provides better detail.

Each pixel carries more detail and helps to capture more detailed photos overall. Furthermore, it also uses 12-bit HDR by combining two 10-bit frames for a wider dynamic range.

ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Review: Finally Living Up to The Expectation

108MP and Normal Photos

The 108MP sensor has a 12,000 x 9000-pixel grid and 0.8µm pitch. It uses a Nona-pixel Bayer filter pattern so the effective pixel size becomes 2.4µmm and the resolution is 12MP.

Samsung S21 Ultra has an outstanding dynamic range on offer. The detail level is very good in daylight pictures with pretty much non-existent noise. If you pixel peep then you will see that sharpening is a bit excessive but white balance and color accuracy are quite good.

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As surprising as it might sound, Samsung has decided to not go overboard with saturated color on the S21 Ultra.

Due to the pixel binning processing, you can notice some weird effects in complex areas. But that is if you zoom in and really try to find some unpleasantries. The pattern on the 2nd floor of the temple looks different than it should be.

This time around, 108MP shots also offer HDR and the images have little to sacrifice. If you zoom in, the 108MP shots will look slightly soft and will have slight noise.

But I don’t see the reason to use 108MP photos instead of normal photos. The normal pictures have more than good enough detail with sharp textures.

Ultrawide Photos

The ultrawide angle sensor is apparently the same as the Note 20 Ultra and is based on a 12MP 1/2.55″ sensor with 1.4µmm pixels and provides a 120-degree FOV.

The images from the 12MP Ultrawide angle sensor are good-looking with accurate colors and good contrast. The dynamic range of the ultrawide angle sensor is very good and there’s not much noise even if you zoom in on the pictures. But, they do look overprocessed than the normal photos as you can notice some fine details getting washed out.

But I’m just nitpicking here, the photos are really good overall. The automatic distortion correction is really nice too.

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This time, the ultrawide angle sensor comes with autofocus that helps in taking close-up shots. So you can take sharp macro shots with plenty of colors and very good detail.

If you get close enough to the subject, a focus enhancer will be enabled which crops in and processes the photo to provide better detail. The macro photos are sharp, colorful, and contain lots of detail.

Zoom Photos

The 3X zoom photos have good details to be fair. They look almost as good as the photos from the main sensor with accurate colors and noise is also on the lower side. Dynamic range is excellent as it is with all the sensors on the S21 Ultra.

Well, you will notice slight over-processing as it upscale and sharpens the 3X zoom photos.

The 10X zoom photos have a similar result. The detail is average and is good enough.

Dynamic range is unquestionably good with accurate colors and good contrast. However, if you are to pixel peep you might start to see some weird artifacts, especially around moving subjects.

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Samsung has nailed the zoom photos this time. You can go up to 100X zoom but I would not even use the 20X, 30X zoom levels because the detail isn’t good. But it is still good if you want to take a closer look at something far in the distance.

You can also take decent moon shots with the 30X and 100X zoom.

Also, the new zoom lock feature helps you capture these long zoom shots as it helps the phone to lock on subjects.

ALSO READ: Samsung Mobiles Price in Nepal: Features and Specs

Portrait Mode

There are two zoom levels on the portrait mode. The default 2x zoom is captured from 108MP with a crop. It manages to capture portrait photos with really good subject detection and the subject separation is outstanding. The background blur looks natural and the effect is really good.

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Low Light Photos

Low light photos are good and I’m just nitpicking a bit by saying that it feels like the photos lack detail. But that’s because it captures images at high ISO and the shutter speed doesn’t go as low as it can in Normal mode with the scene optimizer turned on. The ultrawide photos have similar behavior as you can notice noise and the photos look a bit darker.

However, night mode makes it right! The exposure time is set automatically according to the situation. The photos captured with night mode have a good amount of sharpness with really nice detail.

The noise level is reduced and it manages to control the highlights really well. The color is well balanced too.

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You can use night mode with zoom photos as well and the results are quite good. The 3X photos will have good details with night mode turned on and the exposure is also good.

With the 10X, the low light photos are just fine and the night mode doesn’t make it significantly better this time. It lifts the shadows and corrects exposure but this might result in slightly blurry photos sometimes.

Front Camera

The 40MP sensor captures really good selfies. The detail level is nice and the dynamic range is also good. The color profile also leans towards the natural side.

You can also capture 40MP photos and it can capture really nice detail. Similarly, the portrait selfies also look incredible with convincing background blur.

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Video

S21 Ultra is capable of 8k24 fps videos just like other phones in the S21 series. The videos look decent but its usability is the main question.

You can capture 4k60fps videos from all the sensors and videos look good. The 4k 60fps videos trade smoothness for loss in detail. They are captured at a very high bitrate- 70Mbps but do not have detail and sharpness as that of the 30fps videos.

4k 30 fps videos have really nice detail with excellent dynamic range and good colors.  Contrast, color, dynamic range, and noise suppression are top-notch on the S21 Ultra. On top of that, you get OIS and you can use EIS as well.

If you want steadier footage, 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 Ultra. 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 Ultra is the refined version of the S20 Ultra with all the right improvements. The new 108MP sensor is a really nice improvement on the older 108MP sensor. The new features like smart ISO improved HDR, and improved autofocus make this phone one of the best snappers.

The zoom prowess of the S21 Ultra is unbeatable at the moment. The zoom lenses are really good and Samsung has done a really good job with the 100x zoom moon shots as well. The extra algorithm trickery does a really nice job. The 40MP selfie sensor is also one of the best out there.

Likewise, it excels in the video department as well. Along with the new features like director view and improved single-take mode, S21 Ultra is no doubt the best camera smartphone out there right now.

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

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Long-term Review: A Gorgeous Flagship Phone!

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