The expected Galaxy S9 and S9 + have been presented by Samsung a few weeks ago at the Mobile World Congress. Although everything that has happened has followed the predicted script, as predicted the leaks, the expectation was maximum. And it was because we all expected the South Koreans to give the “C of chest” with the cameras of their new flagships.
And it seems that way it has been. Although we will still have to try them more calmly and more thoroughly, we have already had a first contact with these two smartphones, and, indeed, their cameras paint well. However, in this area the one that “part the cod” is the S9 + model because it is the one that incorporates the double chamber. The normal S9, which does not show the + sign, has a single rear camera. Let’s see what we can expect from the cameras of Samsung’s new flagships.
Greater control of depth of field
The camera that the Galaxy S9 and S9 + have in common incorporates a very interesting novelty: a diaphragm with variable aperture that oscillates between f / 1.5 and f / 2.4. This camera is identical on both smartphones. Thanks to their variable aperture, these mobile phones can control more precisely the light that falls on the surface of the sensor. In fact, the diaphragm behaves in a manner very similar to the eyelids of our eyes, so that it can be closed when the ambient light is intense, and open to the maximum when it is scarce.
However, this element puts at our disposal the possibility of controlling more precisely a very important parameter from a creative point of view: depth of field. And is that by manipulating different openings of the diaphragm we can modify the area of the image that we are capturing that will be completely focused. When the diaphragm is very closed, for example, in f / 2.4 if we stick to the Galaxy S9, the photo diodes of the sensor will receive less light, but in return, the depth of field will be increased.
On the contrary, if we open the diaphragm to the maximum, opting in the case of the Galaxy S9 and S9 + for the value f / 1.5, we will get the sensor to receive more ambient light, something palatable if it is scarce if, for example, we are taking a night photography or in a poorly lit interior. But, in return, we will lose depth of field, so that the fully focused area of the image will be smaller than if we opted for an opening value associated with a more closed diaphragm.
The greater the control we have as users over the depth of field, the greater will be our creative options. For this reason, it is good news that Samsung has decided to integrate this camera with variable aperture in its new Galaxy S9 and S9 +.
In search of the best background blur
This is the point at which the second rear camera comes into play, with which the S9 + model counts, but not the S9. The two cameras have the same resolution, 12 MPixels, but this second unit does not have the variable aperture of what the first camera presumes. For this reason, its only value is f / 2.4, which is large enough to allow a lot of light to pass through to the sensor. In any case, the objective of this second unit is to assist the main camera when zooming, something that we will see in more detail below, and also offer us more control over the background blur.
We can resort to bokeh, also known as a blurring of the background, when we want the attention of the people who are going to look at our photographs to focus on a particular object, which will be the one that will appear clear, probably in the foreground. This creative resource is very appealing when we are doing, for example, a portrait. In addition, if the bokeh is uniform and has good quality, the aesthetic finish of the photograph can be very attractive.
Actually, background blur is not something new in smartphones. During the last three or four years many mobile phones have arrived at the stores that allow us to do so, but in a somewhat artificial way almost always. What Samsung and other manufacturers intend with their double cameras is to offer us a more quality bokeh from the information collected by the two sensors, and, therefore, more accurate and with a better aesthetic finish.
Improving the telephoto lens
As I have advanced a few lines above, the second camera that has the S9 +, in addition to affecting the bokeh, also exerts a great influence on the snapshots in which we use the zoom. The limited space available to designers to fine-tune the objectives of smartphone cameras greatly limits their distance or focal length, which is the space between the optical center of the lens and the surface of the sensor.
This limitation is an important restriction when we have to use the zoom, hence having two different cameras, and, therefore, with two sensors collecting information from the same scene, allows the mobile to recover a greater level of detail when using the telephoto mode.
In this use scenario, the optical image stabilizer with which both the rear camera of the Galaxy S9 and the two units of the S9 + are also very important. The way in which optical stabilization is implemented may vary from one mobile manufacturer to another, but all of them pursue the same goal: to help us capture sharper images when we photograph moving objects, and also when we use zoom. Although our hands tremble.
The best of the double camera? Your creative potential
In short, what the technology solutions that Samsung has implemented in the cameras of its new Galaxy S9 and S9 + are the same as the manufacturers of other mobile phones who have developed similar innovations: to put at our disposal more creative possibilities and allow us to obtain more quality catches.
The depth of field and the blur of the background are two resources that, when controlled with due precision, allow us to unleash our creativity. In fact, when an amateur photographer discovers them and becomes familiar with them, he risks abusing, precisely because the effect we can achieve is very satisfactory.
In any case, as I told you in the first paragraphs of this article, we still need to try more thoroughly and with the necessary calm the cameras of Samsung’s new smartphones to find out without any doubt if they are really aspiring with possibilities of becoming with the throne to the best photographic smartphone of 2018.
We can be sure of one thing: this year this privilege will be especially expensive because many manufacturers are doing their homework in this area. So, for now, we have to wait. We will continue dissecting the cameras of all the mobile phones that fall into our hands.