Video Mode

The Samsung Galaxy Note II captures quality 1080p HD video and like the S3, you can take still photos while filming without interrupting the video. Like on the S3, the  camera app's video mode is accessed by tapping the video/stills switch above the shutter button. Once in video mode the aspect ratio of the live view image turns to 16:9, but otherwise the screen layout remains pretty much the same as in stills mode. 

You can apply the same effects as in stills mode to your video footage and you can also adjust exposure compensation, white balance and video quality and resolution. In practice though, the Auto systems do a very decent job and there's hardly ever a need to interfere manually which means all you usually do to record a video is press the video button to get started and then again to stop capturing.

 Apart from the 16:9 live view image the camera app layout in video mode is identical to stills image mode.

Stills images can be captured during video recording by tapping the shutter button that appears on the screen after you press the video button to start recording. Images captured during video recording are the same width as a standard still image (3264 pixels), but in 16:9 format rather than 4:3 and therefore only 1836 vs 2448 pixels high.

The Note II also captures slow-motion video. The resolution is much lower than when recording normal video, a standard definition 720 x 480. Still, this is a really fun feature to play with, and the video is impressively smooth. In this mode video is captured at a higher than normal frame rate and then played back at the standard 30 frames per second. This produces true, smooth, slow motion, rather than simply slowing down standard-speed video, which would give footage a jerky look. There’s no audio recorded in slow motion mode, probably since it would sound like the stuff of nightmares. You can film at 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8th normal speed. Motion remains smooth even at 1/8th speed, but the true resolution appears to drop at each level (though final output is always up-sampled to 720 x 480).

Video sample 1 - Good Light

The Note II's video quality is excellent in good light, with good color, a clean image and smooth motion. Sound quality is decent, just like on most compact cameras and smartphones, wind noise can sneak into the audio track in breezy conditions. The Samsung's electronic image stabilization is not quite as efficient as its optical counterpart in dedicated compact cameras or the Nokia lumia 920 but overall the video quality in good light is very decent and rivals many digital cameras.

Video sample 2 - Low Light

Like in stills image mode video quality suffers in low light, with a lot of visible image noise and, when viewed at full-size, image softness caused by noise reduction. That said, the footage is still smooth and noise is much less intrusive at smaller viewing sizes.

Video sample 3 - Slow Motion

The Slow Motion mode produces very smooth video footage but doesn't record any sound. The resolution is lower than in standard video mode but at 720x480 it's still good enough for smaller viewing sizes or at a larger distance from the screen.