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Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks guide

Galaxy S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: If you’ve decided to pick up Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 or S8+ then good choice, you’ve now got your hands on one of the best smartphone cameras in existence.

It doesn’t just take great photos out the box though, it’s also absolutely brimming with innovative features that we’ll hopefully have you wielding like a pro by the end of this article.

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: Camera specs

Whilst on paper the main camera looks almost unchanged from last year’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge the 12-megapixel snapper uses an improved Sony IMX 333 or ISOCELL S5K2L2 sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, dual focus pixel technology (for faster autofocus), up to 8x digital zoom, along with EIS (electronic image stabilisation) and OIS (optical image stabilisation) to improve low light performance and reduce camera shake when shooting videos.

Samsung Galaxy S8 camera app icon

As for the front-facing snapper Samsung’s offering up an 8-megapixel front-facer with a matching f/1.7 aperture, 1.22µm pixels an 80-degree wide-angle lens and intelligent autofocus.

You can shoot up to 4K resolution video at 30fps using the main camera, capture slow motion video in 720p HD resolution at 240fps and shoot in up to 1080p HD using the front camera.

The rear snapper leverages a single LED flash when the lights are low, whilst the front-facer uses a screen-based flash and both cameras capture in HDR (high dynamic range) by default.

Read next: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge camera review

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How do I use the Galaxy S8 and S8+’s camera?

The S8 and S8+ leverage a modified take on the camera interface championed by Samsung’s 2017 A-Series phones. It centres around one-handed operation, making it easier to snap a photo or navigate around the camera’s various features with a single mitt.

When you first open up the camera along the bottom from left to right (when holding the phone in portrait) you see the video record button, the shutter and the gallery shortcut above which sit the Bixby Vision button, beauty mode and overlays shortcuts. Along the top, you have a camera switcher, the HDR switcher, flash control and a link to the camera’s settings.

Swiping from left to right will bring you to the mode selection screen, whilst swiping from right to left will take you to the filters selection screen, which includes specialised beauty filters, stamps and augmented reality overlays, accessible by tapping any one of the four icons along the bottom of the screen. Tapping the ‘+” on the right also lets you download additional offerings from the Samsung Apps store.

Swiping up or down on the viewfinder switches to the front camera whilst dragging the shutter button left or right when using the rear camera controls the amount of digital zoom in use.

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How to switch camera modes

Whether you’re using the front or rear camera swiping left to right will open up the mode selection screen.

Whilst using the main camera you’ll find eight modes out-the-box, whilst more can be downloaded by pressing the ‘+’ icon in the top right of the screen. Tapping the three dots next to the add modes icon also lets you create a home screen shortcut to your desired camera mode if you so want.

Here’s a description of each mode:

  • Auto – The camera automatically sets constraints like shutter speed, ISO, etc. All you need to do is press the shutter button. If the camera won’t focus on what you want, try tapping on the desired subject in the viewfinder to pull focus. Tapping also brings up an exposure adjustment slider that you can drag up or down to brighten or darken your shot.
  • Pro – Gives you manual control over all of the fundamental aspects of the camera, displayed next to the shutter button. You have control over ISO, aperture, filters, focus, white balance and exposure.
  • Panorama – Tapping the shutter and moving the camera to the left or right initiates a panorama capture where the phone stitches multiple shots together to make one super-wide panoramic photo.
  • Selective focus – Great for macro photography. Tap on an object or subject near the camera to focus on it and then tap the shutter and hold the phone still. Upon capture, you’ll then be able to refocus your shot to bring the foreground, background or both into focus after the fact.
  • Slow motion – Initiates the phone’s slow motion video recording mode in which it captures footage in 720p HD resolution at 240fps.
  • Hyperlapse – Shoots fast motion video that you can either set to playback at a set speed (4x, 8x, 16x or 32x) or dynamically based on how much footage you capture. To change capture speed tap the icon next to the camera switcher.
  • Food – Tapping on the screen lets you pull up a reticle that pushes the colour and contrast of the subject (intended to be food) and softens the background of the shot to create a greater contrast.
  • Virtual shot – Captures multiple frames as you orbit the phone around a subject that you can then swipe backwards and forwards around afterwards.

Read next: Samsung Galaxy S8 camera and video modes explained and reviewed

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How to use Pro/manual mode

When switching to Pro mode you’ll notice some new interface elements that appear around the viewfinder. From bottom to top (landscape) or left to right (portrait) you’ll find controls for ISO, aperture, filters, focus, white balance and exposure.

  • ISO – Ranging from 50 to 800, this scale dictates the camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO the brighter the image but the greater the likelihood for grain and noise in your shots.
  • Aperture – As the S8 sports a fixed f/1.7 aperture this slider actually affects shutter speed. Faster speeds (such as 1/24000) are better for capturing fast-moving subjects without blur but require more light, whilst slower speeds (down to a maximum of 10 seconds) allow more light to enter the sensor and are great for night shots, provided you don’t have any moving subjects.
  • Filters – Grants quick access to filters that simulate various film stocks, think of them as built-in Instagram filters.
  • Focus – Lets you control the point at which your phone focuses, ranging from a few centimetres from the lens to infinity, at which point everything from around two feet onwards remains in focus.
  • White balance – Let’s you change the colour temperature of the shot to counter any particularly cool or warm lighting for a more natural, balanced result.
  • Exposure – Similarly to ISO lets you brighten or darken your short, but more of a blunt instrument that affects everything.

On the opposite side of the viewfinder to the controls we just covered you’ll also find a metering toggle, which lets you decide how the S8’s camera interprets light and thus exposure, as well as the AF area toggle, which dictates how many points of focus in your frame it takes into account.

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How to quick launch the camera

If you need to whip the S8’s camera out quickly there are a couple of ways to fire it off without having to think. One method simply requires that you swipe on the icon in the corner of the lock screen when you first wake the phone up.

The other is to double tap the power key; this can be done even when the phone is locked and asleep and can be disabled within phone’s settings menu in the Advanced Features section under ‘Quick launch Camera’ (you can also toggle this feature from within the camera’s native settings menu if you prefer).

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: What is Bixby Vision and how does it work?

You may have already encountered Bixby by tapping the dedicated button on the side of your S8 or by swiping right from your main home screen but the Bixby Vision component is also accessible from within the phone’s camera.

Samsung Galaxy S8 screenshot: Bixby Vision

By tapping the eye-shaped Bixby Vision icon in the corner of the viewfinder the interface will change, requesting that you put an object or landmark within view. It then uses machine learning to give you information on what it can see. It can recognise locations and give you information on them and the surrounding areas, identify objects and offer up similar images or provide direct links to online purchasing platforms if it detects a product.

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How to customise shutter control

There are a surprising number of ways to actually snap a picture on the Galaxy S8. The shutter is the most obvious way to go but tap the cog icon in the camera’s settings menu and you’ll be able to activate/deactivate a few more.

Under the ‘Front camera’ sections you’ll see an option called ‘Shooting methods’. Open that up and you’ll find three toggles:

  • Tap screen – Switch this on and you can tap anywhere within the viewfinder to take a photo.
  • Show palm – Hold your palm up in-frame and once the phone detects it, it’ll start a three-second countdown before taking a snap.
  • Tap the heart rate sensor – Provided the front camera can detect a face in-frame it’ll let you use the rear-mounted heart rate sensor as a shutter button simply by resting your finger on it.

Continue down the camera settings list and there are three more shutter options which work when using either the front or rear camera:

  • Voice control – This activates the shutter immediately when the phone hears words like ‘cheese’, ‘smile’ or ‘capture’ and will start recording video if you say the word ‘record’.
  • Floating camera button – This adds an additional shutter button that you can drag and drop anywhere within the viewfinder.
  • Volume key function – By default tapping the S8’s volume keys when using the camera turns them into physical shutter buttons but with this option you can just as easily reconfigure them to record video, zoom or adjust system volume as they would anywhere else within the phone’s interface.

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How to use Beauty mode

When shooting with the main camera tapping on the beauty mode icon found near shutter will let you adjust a single slider that adds real-time enhancements to skin tones.

Flipping to the front camera and tapping the same button splits that feature into five distinct options each with their own adjustable slider:

  • Skin tone – Softens the appearing of skin (and by proxy blemishes, scars, moles, etc).
  • Spotlight – Simulates the placement of an independent light source relative to your face.
  • Slim face – Alters face shape to give a slimmer appearance
  • Large eyes – Enlarges your eyes. What are the odds?
  • Shape correction – Counters the effects of the S8’s front-facing wide-angle lens so that faces nearer the edge of frame don’t appear as distorted.

S8 and S8+ camera tips and tricks: How to change video resolution to 4K

There are a wealth of resolutions and frame rates at your disposal when looking to shoot video. Out the box the S8 captures content at 1080p HD resolution at 30fps, but tap the cog icon to open the camera’s settings menu and under ‘Rear camera’ tap on ‘Video size’.

From here you’ll be able to reduce quality right down to VGA or right up to 4K (called ‘UHD’ on the S8) with the option for 2K (or QHD) recording as well as 1080p HD at 60fps along the way.

Read next: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ camera review and comparison


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