Robert Treggs / Android Authority
The 2016 iPhone 7 series marked a huge step forward in the zoom realm when it debuted a 2x telephoto camera, with the Android world following suit and even upping the ante with 3x telephoto tools. Then we saw a huge leap forward in 2019, as Huawei and Oppo debuted their 5x and 6x Periscope cameras.
Ultra-modern Samsung smartphones have upped the ante even further, bringing their 10x periscope zoom cameras to the table. This is definitely something I would like to see on devices from other manufacturers.
Related: You may actually want to use Samsung’s 30x zoom
Getting closer to the event
The Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra both offer 10MP 10x zoom cameras, allowing you to get closer to the subject/object than the 4x or 5x cameras. They’re not the first phones with this technology, Huawei’s P40 Pro Plus debuted in 2020, but Samsung phones are more widely available (and can run Google apps out of the box).
I tried out the Galaxy S22 Ultra for a few weeks earlier this year and the 10x shooter was easily my favorite. These photos certainly aren’t as detailed as shots taken with the 108MP primary camera and there’s some color discrepancy between the lenses, but there’s still a healthy amount of detail nonetheless. Check out some samples below.
We’ve also seen smartphone makers use telephoto or telephoto cameras as the basis for long-range zoom, using hybrid zoom technology to bypass the original zoom factor. The Galaxy S21 Ultra and S22 Ultra are no different. In fact, it is possible to get 30x usable shots, but that really boils down to being unreliable. Some situations will provide 30x usable shots while others will be very poor (especially those with complex materials or bright outdoors). It’s not uncommon to find plump highlights and some blurring and shadows at this zoom factor. Check out some of the 30x samples below, plus the accompanying 10x versions.
10x video is a thing too
One of the things that has been underrated about a 10x camera is that you can actually shoot video at a native 10x zoom. You can also switch between lenses while shooting, although this is limited to a 4K/30fps quality option instead of 4K/60fps or 8K. Check out a sample below, photographed by Android salad References Dhruv Bhutany.
Video recorded at 10x offers good quality, having higher cropping than all other phones out there at this zoom factor. Having said that, you will ideally need a tripod or gimbal for maximum stability as the long range zoom and video combo can make for some shaky shots compared to the main camera.
A must-have for future premium phones?
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
Obviously the 30x is hit and miss and you probably shouldn’t use the 100x zoom at all, but I still really appreciated the versatility of the 10x periscope camera. I was quite amazed at being able to take shots of things that would normally be a blurry mess on most other phones, like planes flying in the sky or wildlife.
Guide: Camera Zoom Explained – How Optical, Digital, and Hybrid Zoom Work
Sure, there are some phones that offer good 10x hybrid zoom results as well like the Pixel 6 Pro, but our own tests show that Samsung still outperforms these devices by 10x. It doesn’t hurt that Ultra phones can also go further and get usable results beyond 10x thanks to the hybrid zoom. Enjoy 10x video capabilities and you’ll have the most flexible camera platform on the market.
Most people will be fine with a 2x to 5x camera if they really want a good zoom on their smartphone, but it’s still great to have such a wide focal range on a smartphone for maximum flexibility. We hope to see more premium smartphones with 10x cameras in the future, as it is definitely something I want to see on my next purchase.
What do you think of 10x cameras?
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