Samsung Galaxy S3 Camera Review
DxOMark Mobile Report: Samsung Galaxy S3
With a DxOMark Mobile score of 72 the Samsung Galaxy S3 is placing itself among the best smartphones so far tested by the DxOMark, but fails to offer any significant advantages over the direct competitors in the top-of-the-line bracket of the smartphone market.
The DxOMark team report that the Galaxy S3 produces results with vivid and pleasant colors in outdoor shooting, that autofocus is accurate, repeatable and smooth, and that the flash performance is generally good.
Performance drops under low light where a "loss of texture due to an over-reduction of noise" can be observed. "Auto-exposure sometimes fails in challenging outdoor conditions (bright gray sky, backlit) or in low light conditions" and a "slight color shading noticeable with different lightings".
In video mode, DxOMark's engineers reported that the Samsung Galaxy S3 gives "pleasant colors and exposure", the autofocus is "intuitive and reactive" and "noise is not visible in bright light conditions." On the other hand "autofocus in continuous mode is unstable, and produces noticeable lens breathing, strong noise is visible in low light conditions and stabilization does not manage to compensate for walking motion."
Dr. Frédéric Guichard, DxO Labs’ Chief Scientific Officer, said: 'The Samsung Galaxy SIII is a perfect example of the image quality improvement of mobile devices. Its full HD videos are truly impressive, the best that DxOMark Mobile has tested so far, with better quality than those of a recent compact camera such as the Canon Powershot S100.'
Color, Exposure and Contrast
The DxOMark team found that the Samsung Galaxy S3's colors are "vivid and pleasant in outdoor conditions", and that its "white balance is stable and accurate". The option to use manual exposure settings was noted as a positive as well. As expected the Galaxy SIII performed better in bright natural light than indoors. "Slight color shading is noticeable in indoor conditions" and "in low light with a tungsten illuminant, a red color cast is visible and colors are slightly washed out". Because of this DxOMark scored the Samsung Galaxy S3 at 77/100 for Color in bright light and 75/100 in low light. "Auto-exposure sometimes fails in challenging outdoor conditions" but overall the SIII's metering is decent, with exposure and contast scoring 75/100.
Overall DxOMark awarded the Samsung Galaxy S3 scores of
- 4.0 out of 5 for Exposure,
- 4.5 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
- 4.5 out of 5 for Color shading*
- 3.0 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light, and
- 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light
*Color Shading is the nasty habit cellphone cameras have of rendering different areas of the frame with different color shifts, resulting in pictures with, for example, pinkish centers and greenish corners. The Samsung Galaxy SIII didn't exhibit significant shading in anything but the very lowest light conditions (20 Lux).
Noise and Details
DxOMark's engineers reported that the Samsung Galaxy SIII captures "nice details in outdoor pictures" and that the "noise levels stay acceptable even in low light". However, they also observed a "loss of detail in low light condition because of strong noise reduction." They also criticize the "sharpness imbalance between edge and texture due to too strong sharpening on contours."
Texture Acutance is a way of measuring the ability of a camera to capture images that preserve fine details, particularly the kind of low contrast detail (textures such as fine foliage, hair, fur) that can be blurred away by noise reduction or obliterated by excessive sharpening.
Sharpness is an important part of the quality of an image, but while it is easy to look at an image and decide visually whether it's sharp or not, the objective measurement of sharpness is less straightforward.
An image can be defined as 'sharp' if its edges are sharp and if fine details are visible, but in-camera processing means it's possible to have one of these (sharp edges) but not the other (fine details). Conventional MTF measurements tell us how sharp an edge is, but have drawbacks when it comes to measuring fine detail preservation. Image processing algorithms can detect edges and enhance their sharpness, but they can also find homogeneous areas and smooth them out, to reduce noise.
Texture Acutance, on the other hand, can qualify sharpness in terms of preservation of fine details, without being fooled by edge enhancement algorithms.
At first sight, the images from these two cameras may appear equally sharp. A sharpness measurement on edges will indeed confirm this impression, and will even show that the second camera is sharper. But a closer examination of low contrasted textures shows that the first camera has a better preservation of fine details than the second. The purpose of the Texture Acutance measurement is to qualify this difference.
Visual Noise is a value designed to assess the noise in an image as perceived by the human visual system, depending on the viewing condition (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). The measurements have no units and can be simply viewed as a weighted average of noise standard deviation for each channel in the CIE L*a*b* color space. The lower the measurement, the less noise in the image.
Noise & Detail Perceptual scoring
- Texture (bright light): 4.5 out of 5
- Texture (low light): 3.0 out of 5
- Noise (bright light): 3.5 out of 5
- Noise (low light) 3.0 out of 5
Phone cameras, like entry-level compact cameras, tend to suffer from artifacts such as sharpening halos, color fringing, vignetting (shading) and distortion, which can impact on the visual appeal of the end result. DxOMark engineers measure and analyse a range of artifacts. Their findings after testing the Samsung Galaxy SIII are shown below:
- No major problems
- Rinign noticeable at a 100% scale, due to strong sharpening filter
- Significant loss of sharpness in low light conditions
- Sharpness 4.0 out of 5
- Color fringing 4.5 out of 5
- Ringing center: 17.7%
- Ringing corner 5.9%
- Max geometric distortion 0.35%
- Luminance shading 17%
Distortion & Chromatic Aberrations
DxOMark also tests autofocus accuracy and reliability by measuring how much the accutance - sharpness - varies with each shot over a series of 30 exposures (defocusing then using the autofocus for each one). As with other tests these results are dependant on the viewing conditions (a little bit out of focus matters a lot less with a small web image than a full 8MP shot viewed at 100%). Even using the 8MP equiv. condition the Samsung Galaxy SIII did very well, earning an overall score of 91/100 in bright light and 71/100 in low light.
- At 700 Lux, the autofocus is fast, accurate and reliable in both auto mode and trigger mode
- Scene change detection is good and automatic focusing is accurate
- Automatic face detection
- Autofocus slightly less repeatable in low light
DxOMark scored the Samsung Galaxy SIII 81/100 overall for its flash performance, deducting points for occasional white balance issues in mixed light and the lack of red-eye reduction.
- Good overall image quality with or without additional light source: nice colors, good exposure and sharp details
- Colors are sometimes neither accurate nor uniform when mixed with a tungsten illuminant
- No red eye correction
Overall DxOMark Mobile score for Photo: 73 / 100
DxOMark engineers put phone cameras through a similarly gruelling set of video tests, and you can read their full findings on the DxOMark website here. We'll simply summarize for you. In bright light DxOMark found the Samsung Galaxy S3 to produce good results with good exposure, pleasant color rendering and free from noise. Lowlight performance was less impressive, with a significant loss of detail and increased amounts of both luminance and chroma noise. Image stabilization only compensates for relatively small movements and the AF can be little unstable in continuous mode (but can be locked).
- Colors and exposure are pleasant.
- Intuitive and reactive autofocus
- Videos are free from noise in bright light conditions.
- Autofocus in continuous mode is unstable, and produces noticeable lens breathing .
- Strong noise in low light conditions.
- Visible color shading under tungsten light source.
- Stabilization does not manage to compensate for walking motions.
Overall DxOMark Mobile score for Video: 71 / 100
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