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Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra camera: A quick test on a pleasant evening

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Last updated: February 22nd, 2022 at 19:50 UTC+02:00

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is now the latest and greatest flagship smartphone Samsung has in its lineup. It brings some key upgrades over the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but when it comes to the cameras, Samsung is pinning everything down on AI improvements. While the camera hardware setup is the same on both devices when it comes to face value, the S22 Ultra actually has slightly downgraded sensors sitting inside it, at least on the rear.

Recently, I was able to take both the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Galaxy S21 Ultra out for an evening walk and capture some pictures with their rear cameras to see how — and if — the Galaxy S22 brings any improvements over its predecessor. Well, there certainly are improvements, even if they might not be visible unless you zoom in on pictures up to a 100% and pixel peep.

Keep in mind that this isn’t a full blown camera test – I mostly wanted to check out how good the phones are for landscape shots but didn’t have enough time to test all lighting conditions. With that out of the way, let’s talk about all the differences I found between photos taken on two of Samsung’s most feature-packed flagship phones yet.

First, I took shots with the main sensors on the S22 Ultra and S21 Ultra and found the new phone takes slightly wider and brighter (most of the time) photos when there’s a good amount of sunlight. I loaded photos into Adobe Lightroom and found that the S22 Ultra uses a slower shutter speed to make photos brighter. I’m not sure this is the case in every scenario, but it was certainly the case during sunset when I performed the test.

I also noticed that photos from the S22 Ultra’s main 108MP camera are slightly sharper corner to corner and there’s a clearer focus on the foreground. This applies to shots taken during sunset and at nighttime.

Here are some pictures taken with the main camera on both phones:

When it comes to the ultra-wide cameras, I didn’t see any major differences. In fact, the results looked the same to me, even after zooming in on them in Lightroom. I guess enhancements to ultra-wide photo quality just weren’t on the agenda this year, though we’ll have to test the S22 Ultra’s ultra-wide camera more (especially during the day) for 100% confirmation.

Here’s an ultra-wide shot from the two phones (S22 Ultra left, S21 Ultra right):

Things get a little more interesting when 3x zoom comes into the picture (no pun intended). I love taking zoom pics — especially at 3x magnification, as it creates a unique look compared to standard shots. And I noticed that the S22 Ultra doesn’t over-process 3x photos as much as the S21 Ultra. Edges have less of an over-sharpened look, which is better in my opinion as you can always sharpen up your pics later on if you so desire.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra does, however, take slightly wider 3x shots and keeps the foreground sharper than the Galaxy S21 Ultra, another useful improvement if I may say so. Below is a 3x zoom shot using the S22 Ultra and S21 Ultra side by side (S22 Ultra on the left, S21 Ultra on the right).

I also managed to take some RAW shots using Samsung’s Expert RAW app. As far as post-processing goes, pictures from both phones were almost identical in colors but once again the S22 Ultra pictures were slightly sharper in the corners.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra did leave the Galaxy S21 Ultra behind when using the Expert RAW app at night time. As you can see in the side-by-side comparisons below at 1x and 3x zoom at night (S22 Ultra left, S21 Ultra right), the S22 Ultra gives you brighter photos even when both phones are set to the same manual settings.

At the end of the day, as mentioned earlier, unless you pixel peep or compare pictures side by side, you might not notice the improvements on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. If you’re happy with the Galaxy S21 Ultra right now I’d say you should stick to it, as it is still an amazing phone and has great image quality no matter which of its cameras you may be using. Well, unless you get a great exchange deal, in which case the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a lot to offer.

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