Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

June 24, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 produced images of good quality during the review period. Noise is the main issue, already becoming obvious at the relatively slow setting of ISO 200, and then getting progressively worse at the still modest settings of ISO 400 and 800.

Chromatic aberrations were well controlled, with limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 16 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level. Macro performance is fine, allowing you to focus as close as 10cms away from the subject.

The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The anti-shake system works well when hand-holding the Galaxy S5 in low-light conditions, but the maximum shutter speed doesn't allow the camera to capture enough light for most after-dark situations. The HDR and Panorama modes are the best of the so-called Smart scene modes, while the new Selective Focus feature is a convenient way to focus on a specific subject and blur the rest of the frame.

Noise

There are 4 ISO settings available on the Samsung Galaxy S5. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg

Focal Range

The Samsung Galaxy S5's fixed lens provides a focal length of 31mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

31mm

focal_range1.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Samsung Galaxy S5 handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review, with limited purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Chromatic Aberrations (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg

Macro

The Samsung Galaxy S5 allows you to focus on a subject that is 10cms away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The flash settings on the Samsung Galaxy S5 are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off (31mm)

Flash On (31mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Night

The Samsung Galaxy S5's doesn't have a very long maximum shutter speed and you can't set it manually anyway, which is not great news if you're seriously interested in night photography.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Optical Image Stabilisation

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. With anti-shake turned on, the images are noticeably sharper than with anti-shake turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/33 sec / 31mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Rich Tone (HDR)

The High Dynamic Range scene mode captures more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining multiple exposures into one image.

Off

On

hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Selective Focus

The Galaxy S5's Selective Focus feature allows you to focus on a specific subject by blurring the background and accentuating the main subject. There are three settings, Near Focus, Far Focus and Pan Focus, which can be applied after the photo is taken.

Near Focus

selective_focus1.jpg
 

Far Focus

selective_focus2.jpg
 

Pan Focus

selective_focus3.jpg

Panorama

The Samsung Galaxy S5 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera automatically does all the processing and stitching. The main catch is that the resulting image is of fairly low resolution.

panorama1.jpg