[Review] Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra photography performance

By now, you’ve probably heard that Samsung has recently released its latest Galaxy S24 series. It’s jam-packed with new AI features, such as live translations of up to 13 languages, Circle to Search, and transcript assist.

Each of them is exciting for the gadget enthusiast who likes experiencing the latest technology in the palm of their hands.

But for myself, I’m of the belief that a phone just needs two things—connectivity for phone calls and the internet, and the ability to take good photos.

A photo of a cat using the 5x telescope camera set at 200MP / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

So when the brand sent us a unit of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, I was excited to try all the new changes available in its camera app.

Here’s my review for Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra for mobile photographers like myself.

A switch that’s arguably for the better

One of the major changes to the S24 Ultra’s hardware is one of its camera lenses, switching out the 10x periscope camera that sports a 10MP sensor with a 5x telephoto camera that sports a 50MP sensor.

Essentially, this means that the zooming capabilities have changed. 

Where before this we could zoom up closer, the image would have lower resolution. This is because a higher megapixel camera can capture more detailed images.

The 5x telephoto camera set at 12MP taken with the S24 Ultra / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Though, some might argue that a higher megapixel camera doesn’t guarantee image quality. You still have to factor in the quality of the lens and how the images are processed.

In this regard, my opinion is that the S24 Ultra certainly delivers. 

When looking at this from an everyday consumer’s perspective, the 5x zoom is also more practical. I personally can’t remember a time when I’ve needed to magnify a subject matter at 10x zoom.

The 5x telephoto camera set at 200MP taken with the S24 Ultra / Image Credit Vulcan Post

Aside from that, Samsung’s new Galaxy S24 series supports optical zoom in 3x and 5x, and optical quality zoom in 2x and 10x. For context, optical quality zoom simply means that they’re digital zooms which are enhanced by Samsung’s Adaptive Pixel sensor to replicate the quality of optical zooms.

This digital zoom is supported up to 100x on the phone, which means that you’re still able to capture that moon shot. If you’re a frequent traveller, it might even help with getting information from faraway street signs.

We zoomed in 100x to get a view of the moon / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Aside from the 5x camera upgrade, the other cameras on the S24 Ultra remain the same:

Primary camera 200MP, 24mm, f/1,7, 1/1.3” sensor
Ultrawide camera 12MP, 13mm, f/2.2, 1/2.55” sensor
3x Telephoto camera 10MP, 67mm, f/2.4, 1/3.52” sensor
5x Periscope camera 50MP, 115mm, f/3.4

Does it perform better in the night?

Besides the camera lenses, another notable feature on the S24 Ultra is its improved night photography. Or as the South Korean company calls it, nightography.

Similar to its capabilities during the day, the photos by the latest model have lower exposure and a better saturation. The details in the photos are also more pronounced. 

The photo taken with the S24 Ultra’s night mode (right) has higher saturation compared to the one taken with the S23 Ultra’s night mode (left) / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

You’ll also find that photos by the S24 Ultra in night mode are brighter than on the S23 Ultra.

There are certain pros and cons to these features. 

For one, I found that the images look more realistic considering the higher level of details. It also looks more professional and at times, it looks pretty close to what you would see in real life.

The photo taken with the S24 Ultra’s night mode (right) also appears brighter compared to the S23 Ultra’s night mode (left). You can also clearly see more noise on the left image. / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

This makes it quite ideal for times when you’d like to capture subjects in dark settings. This could be in your own room, a cinema, or even night markets.

On the other hand, there’s an appeal to the S23 Ultra’s nightography images too.

Sporting a slightly lower resolution, it brings a more dreamy and whimsical quality to the photos. I’d even argue that without tweaking any camera settings, it would take better photos where you want to emphasise on the contrast between light and dark.

For example, I believe it would suit people who enjoy taking shots of concerts, city skylines, and even amusement parks.

Can you guess which phone took this?

To better answer the question of whether it’s worth upgrading from the S23 Ultra to the S24 Ultra, here’s a test for you. Press on the + sign to the right of “Answer” to reveal it.

Test 1

Left ImageRight Image

Answer 1

A is the S23 Ultra, B is the S24 Ultra.

Taken in a dimly-lit indoor setting, the first photo appears slightly darker and the tint even reminds me of an old film camera. On the other hand, the second photo seems more true to life, with less smoothing.

Test 2

Left ImageRight Image

Answer 2

A is the S24 Ultra, B is the S23 Ultra.

Compared to the S23 Ultra’s image, the S24 Ultra captured a less dull-looking photo. The S24 Ultra’s image has more depth while the S23 Ultra’s seems more flat. 

Test 3

Left ImageRight Image

Answer 3

A is the S23 Ultra, B is the S24 Ultra.

It may appear the same at first glance, but the S23 Ultra’s photos have higher contrast and exposure. As a result, its photos are brighter and come off less natural.

The S24 Ultra has better depth of colours, and shadows are more pronounced. Overall, it looks more true to your eyes.

Verdict

Of course, as with other aspects of the S24 Ultra, there are also AI features and tools available for photography.

This includes the object eraser tool which can erase things or remove reflections, the generative fill technology, and image clipping editing where you can move an object to other parts of the photo.

One of the image clipping editing AI tools available on the Galaxy S24 Ultra / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

We’ve written a separate review that covers its new AI upgrades here, so I won’t talk much about that. 

Overall, I found that the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s photography abilities certainly improved from the previous series from image quality to providing a more life-like photo.

Looking at just the camerawork alone, though, is it enough to switch from the S23 Ultra? 

If given the chance, I probably wouldn’t make the jump as it’s not a drastic enough change between the two. And I’ll admit that I prefer my nightography photos to be a little dimmer, so the new upgrade wouldn’t serve me much. 

A photo of a lake taken with the S24 Ultra’s main camera set at 200MP / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

My opinion aside, whether it’s worth it or not for you is entirely dependent on the kinds of photographs you like to take.

This new phone retails at a starting price of RM6,299, which is a pretty big jump from the S23 Ultra’s debut price of RM5,299. So are these upgrades worth RM1,000 to you?

Pros Cons
Improved telephoto camera makes for higher quality zoomed-in images Brighter images in low-light settings which might take away from the nature of the photograph
New AI features make photo editing easier and more fun
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Samsung here.
  • Learn more about Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra here.

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post

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