Samsung expanded the camera capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra with the release of Expert RAW. It’s an official app that shoots only in the RAW format and also enables Pro controls (such as shutter speed and ISO control) for the phone’s telephoto cameras, so I immediately took it for a spin to test it against Samsung’s Auto Mode. The latter is quite amazing, though sometimes suffers from oversampling and increased contrast.
I took the Galaxy S21 Ultra together with the Expert RAW app for a test run around our Capitol Building’s Christmas tree. I was shooting primarily with the ultra-wide lens and 3x zoom, expecting to produce lower quality shots in darker environments due to the narrower aperture of those lenses (F2.2 and F2.4 respectively).
In my testing, I found that pictures captured with the Galaxy S21 Ultra using Expert RAW can suffer from significant noise around objects. Nevertheless, removing that noise in post-processing was surprisingly easy, even for photos captured with a higher ISO. Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of my photos.
Here are two ultra-wide shots:
And some zoom shots:
Naturally, there are some pros and cons to using Expert RAW, but we can expect Samsung to iron out the kinks with future releases of the app. Here’s hoping Samsung also releases the app for other devices, as only the Galaxy S21 Ultra is supported for now.
You can download Expert RAW from our APK archive here.
Good things about Expert RAW:
- There are no over sharpened areas and shots have a DSLR-like feel
- You can use Pro mode controls for all camera lenses
- Very clean zoom results (again, without any over sharpened areas)
- You get a lot of information if you like to edit your photos in post-processing
The not-so-good things:
- Big file sizes as images are saved in RAW format (20MB+)
- You won’t be able to recover highlights in certain light conditions
- Not suitable for fast-moving objects
- Only available for Galaxy S21 Ultra at the time of this writing