The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 carries the same 16-megapixel shooter on the back, just like the Galaxy S5 did. But as always, I always like the camera and its performance on the Note series when compared to the flagship smartphone series from Samsung. It could be the software enhancement or any other reason, that the captures always tend to be better on the Galaxy Note device. Similar is the case here, with the 16-megapixel shooter on the Galaxy Note 4 capturing brilliant photos, better than the captures through Galaxy S5 camera, and it stands out to be one of the best smartphone cameras out there, right now.
To be frank, this is the best smartphone camera from Samsung so far, but not the best in the smartphone arena. The camera has optical image stabilization, and that helps a lot to reduce any shakes not just in photos, but also in the video recording. The images captured are vibrant, and there is great sharpening of the pictures done during the post-processing of the capture, and finally the captures ends up looking great.
Samsung is giving a limit of 5 minutes for capturing a 4K video, and after that, you obviously have to start the recording manually. And that is actually not great, because unlike the Sony flagship smartphones that get heated within a few minutes of video recording, the Note 4 unit doesn’t get heated to that extent, and it can easily handle video recording for some more time, but Samsung has given a limited time for the same. And talking of the smartphone from the same company, the Galaxy S5 we reviewed couldn’t capture a video for more than 4 minutes before giving up and turning off the camera app by itself.
Surprisingly, this hefty device didn’t break a sweat and didn’t show any sings of warning, and the temperature it went to, was just 40.7 °C by the end of those 5 minutes of fixed recording time.
The camera app interface is familiar, as it is the same that we had seen in the recent Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy Alpha. You get to see the options to toggle the video recording mode, picture resolution, flash, white balance settings, video resolution, timer, etc. The device can capture 4K videos, and to take the full advantage of the 1440p display on the Note 4, there is a setting to take videos at the same 2560×1440 pixels resolution.
The Note 4 doesn’t have many special modes, but gives you the option to download them and use. But, you won’t find anything special to take low light photos, and the camera does the magic by itself, assisted by the software’s role in processing the image.
Color Reproduction in Day Light
The best part about the Galaxy Note 4’s camera is the amazing color reproduction. May that be any time of the day and different brightness levels, the original colors of the object are retained very well. Check these samples below, to see how good the captures are, under day light. With several smartphone cameras, there is a loss of detailing seen, with the sharpness too not being the best. Here, it is quite perfect.
HDR capturing is not much different from the normal capturing, to be frank. I had expected the camera to give it a brighter output with some bluish touch to the sky, but that didn’t change much when comparing it with the photo we took with the HDR mode turned off.
Low light captures
For a smartphone that has one of the best cameras out there, you expect it to do wonders in particular categories where the normal smartphone cameras couldn’t do much. But, it is neither the best nor bad at all, because the details are very well retained in the captures done under low light conditions. We aren’t talking about the dark room captures, where even the highest ISO sensitivity gives distorted images.
Captures using flash
The flash doesn’t make the pictures look unnecessarily bright, unlike the case we have seen in the Galaxy S5 review, and here, only the objects look naturally brightened with the flash throwing itself for over a second and the camera taking the picture during that.
Check out a few random pictures we took with the Note 4’s camera with the flash light, and a couple pictures showing the same subject with / without flash in low light.
With / Without Flash
The front camera is a beauty. It was the Gionee Elife E7’s 8-megapixel camera on the front that had amazed me, and that was the best selfie camera for me, until recently when there was a big number of devices launched with the “selfie camera” being the main focus. The 3.7-megapixel camera of the Galaxy Note 4 is brilliant. It puts out clear details, and doesn’t look like those front cameras that were primarily for video calling (where the quality wasn’t given much of an importance).
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 easily claims the title for being the best Samsung smartphone with regards to the camera (limiting it to camera, although we felt the device itself is the best from Samsung till date), but there are a few areas where Samsung could have done a better job. Especially, with the low light captures, where the post processing tries to make it bright, but the sharpness is lost and there are some unnecessary brightened areas where there was some light already seen.
To compare with the flagships of this year, the LG G3 loses due to its inability to still take good low light captures, although LG claimed that they did a lot of improvements in that aspect from the LG G2, while the Note 4 couldn’t match the low light capture quality of that of Sony Xperia Z3 camera, which has an ISO of over 11000, and that is where the picture looks excellent, and comparatively better. We’d be testing the camera against the iPhone 6 Plus, Xperia Z3, LG G3 and the Galaxy S5 together to come to a conclusion.
We’ll put up the video samples with 1080p, 2160p and the slow motion video recording very soon.