The first thing I noticed about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was that it fits and feels so nicely in my hand and this immediately tells me that I will enjoy shooting with it. Getting a good grip and being able to use the camera functions on the phone are so important. There is nothing worse than seeing a scene you want to capture and missing it because the you are fidgeting with the controls. This doesn’t happen with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
I have shot with Samsung phones before and have always been struck by the picture quality of them. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is no different. I have been shooting with it for a few weeks now and there are things I love about the device and a few things which frustrate me a little. More about those later, but first off let’s get into what it does well.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a 12mp wide-angle and telephoto lens giving you a 2x optical zoom, while there’s a 8mp on the front camera. I found the camera to be very fast to focus and testing the response as it calculated the exposure I was impressed. Seeing as most people will use their smartphone camera to react to scenes they notice they won’t be disappointed with the speedy response and results of this phone’s camera.
I love quick access to the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. From the lock screen you can pull up the camera by swiping up on the camera icon and a double tap on the home button at any time will spring it in to action too.
I spent most of the time shooting on Auto. Why? Because I find that nowadays the technology in the cameras is so adept at making correct calculations as it examines a scene. Having it set on auto also allows you to focus on getting the shot rather than having to mess around with settings.
The Different Modes
You get the usual array of features that come as standard now on smartphones. There is a pano mode for those landscape scenes you want to shoot (but use in vertically also get great shots of buildings or waterfalls if you want to experiment), Live Focus (Samsung’s portrait mode), Super Slo-mo, AR Emoji (have some fun creating cool selfies) and Hyperlapse for all those sun setting videos you want to shoot. Add into the mix Bixby Vision and you get a virtual assistant for all things visual. Point your camera at things like food, products, and even landmarks to learn what they are. Should you be stuck in a foreign country, don’t worry; it can even translate text for you.
The Pro Mode
Where the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 comes into its own is when you slide over to the Pro Mode. I think they should change the Pro part of the name to something else as I feel it taking manual control can be offputting for many casual users and very often they believe this is something only professionals will use. Not the case. The Pro Mode is easy to use and because you are getting immediate feedback to how changing the settings affects what you are shooting, it is quite easy to use. What you see is it what you get and this process is actually a good learning tool for anyone interested in learning the basics in manual photography. I went out shooting in Cork city one evening and I loved that I could manage the available light so well by increasing the ISO and slowing the shutter right down.
The S Pen
I tend to do all my photo editing on mobile using Snapseed and very often I use those pens that have a little rubber top for extra control, so having the Samsung S Pen on board the phone is a bonus. I loved it for getting in close and working on particular details in my images. That it can also function as a shutter release is a fun addition, but not one that I can see myself using that much.
This feature pushed my creativity. I found I was looking for scenes where I could try it out when I was out shooting. I had great fun shooting the water from the fountain and the birds flying in and around it.
Popping up this option you will see a slider appear for background blur allowing you to control how much of a scene you want in focus and not. I liked this. I also liked that in settings you can save two versions of the shot allowing you more options in editing. I would have liked the option to be able to separate focus and exposure to control the light a little more and this is one simple addiction they could add.
Where improvements can be made
The main one for me as a traditional iPhone shooter is the inability to lock exposure and adjust it. Even in Pro Mode this is unavailable. Maybe in a software update they will introduce it. Another minor irritation is that any little swipe on the screen when you have the camera open will result in it switching to the different modes. I do not know how many times I found myself looking at myself instead of the scene I was trying to capture as I inadvertently touched the screen and it switched into selfie-mode.
I also think they try to pack too much in. There is a lot of clutter around the screen. As with so many things in tech, less is more.
Overall, I was impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. It felt comfortable in my hand, easy to use, fast and accurate and when I wanted to gain more control over a scene the Pro Mode came into its own.
All in all, if you can can get over some minor irritations the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a very smart camera on this smartphone.
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