S23 Ultra cameras

So with the very important caveat that we haven’t tested them officially yet (hopefully as soon as late next week) I’m already having some doubts as to if the new cameras are as good as the hype.

This review at CNET seems to be as much a placebo effect as any real significant improvement. At the moment I stand by my tentative assessment based on published photos that they are the best smartphone cameras yet from Samsung, but in reality just bring them roughly in line with the current top class of iPhone 14 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro.

And further I think it’s more that Google and Apple are just a lot farther ahead in the software, aka computational photography.

My First Day With the Galaxy S23 Ultra - CNET

And BTW; I still think overall the S22 Ultra (my work phone) is a superb smartphone in total and the 23 Ultra only looks to continue that trend.

I agree. In fact pictures from my son’s Note 20 generally look this good.

I just want Apple to bring us a TRUE 10x optical zoom - not telephoto, not 6x, not effective zoom range (as they advertised with the 12 Pro comparing the ultrawide lens to the telephoto lens). A true 2x-10x optical zoom with enough pixels to crop out to a 30x effective hybrid zoom.

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Well @dstrauss if these rumors are true, you may get you wishes though you may pay dearly for them.

Apple could introduce a pricier iPhone ‘Ultra’ in 2024 - The Verge

And FWIW I remain highly skeptical of the whole “periscope” zoom thing purely because I think it will “cross the rubicon” so to speak of phone camera thickness.

That’s why for example Samsung is trying ever more megapixel sensors so they can the use “digital zoom” to bridge the gap.

Liquid lens promised to address this but to date it’s still vaporware and we’ve heard rumors that its having significant teething issues.

  1. 2024 - that’s too far away… :rage:
  2. Interesting parity of laptop and iphone prices :roll_eyes:
  3. So I guess this means adding back my Lumix FZ300 24x bridge camera to my laptop, tablet, smartphone, camera - heading out to my client’s office…

I thought @dstrauss Dale is referring to a fixed 10x periscope telephoto, typically mis-called a “zoom” when smartphones are involved? Samsung top-end phones have had these for years and they’re not too thick. Now, actual zoom functionality might be thicker though I thought Oppo or someone has a prototype?

Sort of two sides of the same coin either way. They have tried in the past (though not in the galaxy line) larger telephoto lenses.

From what I understand it’s a complex physics issue, where the size of the sensor and the amount of telephoto are interrelated. In other words “bigger” currently requires either larger and more complex optical elements, which would make the camera hump thicker. And of course factors such as vignetting and chromatic aberration become serious concerns.

Or they could pair it with a smaller though possibly more pixel dense sensor which would reduce issues on the pure optical side, at the expense of light gathering capability and dynamic range.

Thats’ why aspherical lenes elements were such a breakthrough in the film days, but aspherical elements have been in smartphones almost from the outset.

Maybe I’m the cause of all the confusion, but to me the Samsung is a zoom lens - even the Note 20 I had for a while would focus from 2x to 10x optically, then their poorly named “Space Zoom” would do the digital photos out to 50x (which was unusable beyond 20-30x). So does this mean it is just fixed telephoto of 3x and 10x:

Specs | Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra | The Official Samsung Galaxy Site.


The inbetween “zooms” are digital blends of some kind.

Here’s a decent article on the periscope “zoom”:
https://www.xda-developers.com/periscope-camera-vs-telephoto-camera/ actually that article is confused about zoom vs fixed telephoto.


So why do all the reviews refer to a 10x periscope optical zoom lens? The confusion continues…

Because English.

“Zoom” has morphed to mean “fixed telephoto”, too.

So basically the Samsung has optical super-wide, wide, 3x, and 10x lenses and everything between and above those are digital.

Edit: I think the confusion occurs because phones are so good nowadays at blending digital telephoto powers inbetween the optical telephoto powers. So people don’t understand there’s a difference between Samsung’s 200mm-equivalent 10x “zoom” and a 23mm-200mm optical zoom lens (1x-10x, approx).

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So the “periscope” is only to get you the focal length you need for the 10x telephoto, and not a true periscope zoom.

So I’m not the only confused person out there in the real world:

Yeah, it’s a periscope optical telephoto lens.

Yay, here’s an article that understands the difference:

Smartphones nowadays use computational photography to blend in digital zooms using more than one fixed optical lens, so they’re getting really good at “faking” a camera with a zoom lens.

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Thanks Ted. In fact, one of the reasons I chose the Lumix FZ300 to replace my Nikon DSLR was the true zoom lens that offered fixed F2.8 across the entire 24x zoom. It uses a smaller sensor but the trade off is pretty good long range zoom even in lower light.

I just fell into a self imposed “trap” of thinking periscope meant true zoom. Still, the computational photograph does a pretty slick job these days - see Supersaf’s examples of telephoto on the S23 Ultra starting at 5:00

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I had one of those, though I think it was an earlier edition. I also chose it for that reason. It was great! But soooo bulky. I ended up never having it with me when I needed it for that special shot. :pouting_cat:

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The iPhone Pro 13 has been living proof of the “best camera is the one you have with you” and I want it to be the one and only (it basically is by default - so much dust on my Lumix it would take a day just to clean it up).

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Formal reviews of the S23 Ultra are now starting to come out including this one. We just got our sample today but haven’t started testing yet.

So now for a short rant, from this review, which is that I wish reviewers would actually take the time to learn more about the technical aspects of what they review :frowning:

This one about the display especially annoys me.

“The real upgrade is brightness. The screen puts out between 1,200 nits (typical) and 1,750 nits (peak outside). That’s dramatically better than the 1,200-nit max of last year’s S22 Ultra, though it falls short of the 1,600 nits (typical) and 2,000 nits (peak outside) of the iPhone 14 Pro Max”

This is just full of misleading or misguided information across the board. To start with, even under the best scenario 1750 nits max versus 1200 nits max is just barely perceptible generally. Brightness is somewhat similar to sound loudness where the increases are logarithmic in nature and not linear.

In other words 2000 nit will not look twice as bright as 1000 nit. Yes it will be noticeable but only mildly so.

And just to pile on, “peak brightness” is a much abused term in smartphones at the moment similar to contrast with televisions where with OLED they might report 1,000,000 to 1. Where in reality they sort of use pixels being black, aka OFF as the baseline and any high school algebra student can tell you about all the foibles of using zero as a base number for example trying to divide by zero.

Specific to phones, every phone make is different in how they arrive at their numbers and they include things like only a very small area of the total display (in Samsung’s case 5% and Apples’s 8%) nor do they mention that it’s quite brief, typically 15 seconds or less which regardless still has benefits for things like true HDR video content.

But to sustain those levels of brightness for much longer than that you risk your display melting, not to mention the power consumption hit…

Ok end of rant, but TLDR yes under the right circumstances the s23 will appear a bit brighter but it is simply is no way no how “dramatic”

And yes because I’m a display guy I probably obsess over this stuff a bit, but still…

2nd TLDR; The camera does seem to be improved somewhat over my s22 Ultra, but 200 MP does not mean it’s twice as good as my 100 MP unit. I can see some improvement in some but not all shots and like I said earlier, I stand by my opinion that the camera in the S23 Ultra is now roughly on par with the ones in the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 pro.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Review | PCMag

PS; I guess I was overdue for a tome again :rofl:


Good tome. :+1:

Hmmmm - don’t recognize Zeman - but suppose he could say the same about me…

However I do question his “writing style” as it is replete with absolutes like his description of a photo he took of the Empire State Building behind another building: “It’s also exactly correct in terms of exposure and color.”

I’m only a rank amateur but I doubt there has EVER been a photo taken that was “exactly correct.”

I finally had the S23 Ultra in hand yesterday and It is a wonderful design. I am impressed. The screen is quite bright and the larger display (compared to my Note 10) makes everying easier to see.

I am somewhat puzzled by the movement of the pen to the left side. Was it like this on the last generation?

As much as I like the S23 Ultra, my old Note 10 is still working fine and I have another year of security updates coming before I will be forced to move along to another phone. Verizon does have an $800 dollar trade in offer, which might be enough to send me over the edge. I just don’t understand what I have to comit to in order to get it (it calls for a new unlimited 5G line - which I already have). I’ll probably stop by my local Verizon store and hope that the local reps have some idea what is going on.

Verizon and AT&T are brothers from different mothers (or are they both just mothers?) and the hook is you have to agree to a three year contract (you get the $800/$1000 trade-in only as a monthly billing credit) and if for any reason you want to move to another service or device, you LOSE the rest of your rebate and have to pay them to get out of the contract. AT&T has a cute little trap door of charging you an optional $7 per month fee to let you out of the contract AFTER you’ve paid them for 50% of the original retail price.

“Your brains or your signature will be on the contract.”

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:vb-lol: Thanks. Figured it was something like that.