The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a smartphone which runs Android 4.1, has an 8 megapixel camera and has won a number of awards ahead of its competitors produced by Apple and Nokia. Here, we'll take a look at how well the camera performs, as well as its video recording capabilities.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Features
The S3 has two images sensors, the main one is on the rear and has 8 megapixels, the second one is just 1.9 megapixels and is on the front. It's unlikely you'll use it for picture taking, unless you want to shoot a self-portrait. As you'd expect for a smartphone, there's no optical zoom or image stabilisation, instead there is 4x digital zoom and anti-shake. You can use the GPS to geotag your images.
You can shoot in auto-mode, if you want you can use the touch screen to set your focus point. There are a number of scene modes available which are fairly typical for compact cameras, including portrait, landscape, sports etc. There are also other shooting modes which include burst shot, face detection, panorama, HDR and more. Samsung have also included a number of effects such as warm / cold vintage, black and white, sepia etc.
With the camera being powered by Android you can download apps, check your email, browse the web and much more. There are plenty of apps for editing pictures, such as Snapseed, and plenty for sharing as well, such as Facebook.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 records in full 1080p HD, you can also use the effects mentioned above when shooting video.
8 megapixel rear sensor and 1.9 megapixel front sensor
4x digital zoom
4.8 inch 720 x 1280 HD touch screen
Wi-Fi & GPS
Full 1080p HD video recording
Range of scene modes and effects
Samsung Galaxy S3 Handling
The S3 is thin and has a good sized 4.8 inch touch screen which fills most of the phone. There is room for a physical button at the bottom which acts as a home button. Either side of this are buttons which only show when lit up, they are menu and go back buttons. There is a volume button on the left hand side and on / off / lock button on the right. You use the screen to access the settings, menus and everything else you'll find on the camera.
When viewing your pictures in the photos album on Android, not only does it include the pictures taken on the camera, it also includes those from other services you've connected to, such as Facebook and Dropbox. They can also be edited on the apps.
There's no CIPA rating provided for battery life, but with use of the phone, camera, Wi-Fi, 3G and apps, you'll soon find the battery is ready for charging, in all likeliness you'll want to charge it every day. This isn't unusual for smartphones, so it's nothing to be concerned about.
We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous shooting records in full 8 megapixel resolution.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Images have excellent, punchy colours and are well exposed. Even in the snow, the S3 takes good images, conditions which cameras often struggle to photograph well. It's a little tricky to take good portrait shots with the S3 as it has a fixed wide-angle lens.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail in the images is good, and there is very little purple fringing in contrasting areas. For more detail in the highlights and shadows there is a HDR mode. Unfortunately you can't get close enough to subjects to take particularly impressive macros.
Samsung Galaxy S3 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - A sharp, noise free image is produced at ISO 100, with a small amount of noise appearing at ISO 200. At ISO 400 there is a significant increase in noise with images losing detail and becoming a little softer in places. At ISO 1600 images are softer again in places, but many parts of the image still remain quite sharp. You can't manually select an ISO speed higher than 800.
Samsung Galaxy S3 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights, the AWB and incandescent preset both perform well and take very similar images. Under the fluorescent lights, again, performance by the AWB is good, with the fluorescent preset taking an image with a magenta cast.
Panorama mode - Panorama images have a decent amount of detail and are fairly well stitched together, although when you view them at full size there is some slight ghosting.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The Galaxy S3 has a number of creative effects, with examples of each above.
Video - Below is a video shot in full 1080p HD. Quality is good although hand held videos are hard to keep steady.
With an 8 megapixel sensor, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is capable of decent image quality with very good colour reproduction. With the addition of the Android operating system it is a good camera for taking pictures when out with friends or on a trip out, which can then all be edited and shared direct from the phone. With the wide-angle fixed lens, portrait shots aren't great, although you can use the digital zoom, although this reduces image quality. But where this lens will be at its best is for large group shots and landscapes. The S3 also has an impressive speed in continuous shooting - we managed 5.9 fps.
Samsung Galaxy S3 Pros
Image quality is good
Android operating system
Apps available for editing and sharing images
Large touch screen
Fast continuous shooting
Samsung Galaxy S3 Cons
Not ideal for portraits
Difficult to get close to your subject for macro shots
No image stabilisation