June 20, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
The Samsung Galaxy S III does well to hold its own against the giants of the mobile industry, especially when it comes to the camera. The device has an 8 MP camera that does an incredible job when in bright or moderate lighting, and a smart flash does well even when taking pictures in pitch-black conditions.
While Touchwiz UX is a letdown in many areas, it’s a big step up on the camera software front. The Galaxy S III has a variety of shooting modes to match a variety of situations: HDR, panorama, Self-timer, smile recognition, macro, portrait, landscape, sports, party, sunset, backlight, and of course autofocus. There are even burst modes that can 20 pictures in an instant, voice commands to take photos, and the ability to instantly share all photos taken with other Galaxy S III users. Even though it can be button overkill with all the options, the camera is pretty incredible.
The Galaxy S III is not infallible. You’ll face the same necessity to keep the device steady as you would with any camera, but there’s anti-shake options built into the software that can do a decent job of correcting some of that. When in auto-mode, you’ll also find that the camera sometimes underexposures the image because of how it detects light. You may come across images that are very bright in some areas but dark in others, making for a noticeably unbalanced picture. It’s best to get out of the habit of recognizing when to go manual and ensure that your pictures come out in the best form possible. The camera has plenty of options; use them.
Shooting video can also be a bit tricky because of a confused autofocus. When shooting from a distance, the camera struggles to find a focal point. Tapping on the screen can remedy that, but in the test video below, you’ll notice that things suddenly get wonky when the camera pans from someone 10 feet away and doesn’t know where to focus. That’s forgivable considering that most cell phone videos are shot within close range, but it’s still an issue that can pop up within moderate distance.
Videos were recorded without any stability feature. Turn it on “Anti-Shake” in settings to improve steadiness.
Video quality is actually rather good when the camera can stay in focus. The rear 8 MP camera shoots in 1080p HD and does an excellent job even on a dark, overcast day. Image quality is smooth and not jittery like other mobile phone cameras, even when anti-shake isn’t turned on, and the clarity has few rivals in the Android realm. The same goes for the front-facing camera that has a 1.9 MP lens geared for HD video chat and silly people who record camera tests in pouring rain.
In the end, the Galaxy S III camera is a perfect representation of the overall impression one gets from the phone – it has annoyances and faults, but when it’s on its A-game, the phone comes through in a major way. The only modern Android camera that comes close to competing is the HTC One X, and it’s a 1A vs. 1B scenario, so you aren’t losing much by picking either. Here are a few sample pics.