Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 review: Power play
8MP camera offers good image quality and nice UI
The Samsung Galaxy Note comes with an 8MP auto-focus camera for photos of up to 3264 x 2448 pixel resolution. It comes with an LED flash and 28mm wide-angle lens but, unfortunately, no shutter key.
That’s the same module that you get on the Galaxy S II and as you know that one is still among the best 8 megapixel cameraphones out there.
The interface is identical, too, with two shortcut bars on each side of the viewfinder. On the right you get the still camera / camcorder switch, virtual shutter key and the gallery shortcut (which is a thumbnail of the last photo taken).
On the left you get five controls by default but the good news is that you can pick any shortcuts to put there – commonly used features need to be one tap away.
In terms of features, the Samsung Galaxy Note offers quite a lot – touch focus, scene modes, face/blink/smile detection, effects, geotagging, digital image stabilization and manual controls for ISO, metering mode and so on. The list goes on, but those are the ones that really count.
The images captured with the 8MP camera of the Galaxy Note are very good. In fact we couldn’t tell them apart from those produced by the Galaxy S II. Low noise, plenty of fine detail and good contrast make up for a pretty cool combo.
The white balance is a bit too cool for our liking, but we guess that has something to do with the Super AMOLED screen that’s supposed to be the primary way of viewing those. We guess Samsung tuned the photos so they look better on the screen, sacrificing some image quality in the process.
Photo quality comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Note enters the skirmish over in our Photo Compare Tool. The tool’s page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.
In short, the camera produced a very detailed image with very little in terms of processing artifacts (traces of sharpening), no moiré patterns, but it has a noticeable pink spot.
FullHD video is great too
The video camera interface is identical to the still camera one. You get the same customizable panel on the left for four shortcuts. The front mounted camera can record video too (resolution is limited to VGA).
A peculiar thing to note is that when shooting FullHD videos you have a narrower field of view than that of the still camera. The explanation is that the camcorder uses only the center of the 8MP sensor instead of shooting with the whole surface and then scale it down to 1080p.
In 720p video capture mode however they use the whole sensor and as a result you have almost the same wide field of view as the still camera (about 30mm).
What this means for the occasional videographer is 720p videos might turn out the better option in low light as the process of pixel binning used for downsizing the information captured from the 8 megapixel sensor down to 720p actually helps suppress digital noise too.
The longer focal range in 1080p mode also makes for a shakier video so you might want to look for a hand-rest while recording to get the best out of the Samsung Galaxy S FullHD camcorder.
The camcorder features continuous autofocus, which is pretty smooth though a bit slow at times. Stereo recording will also be appreciated by many - in fact that's the main difference between the Note and the Galaxy S II in the imaging department.
Other than those peculiarities, the video quality is very good at 1080p – the .MP4 files come with high bitrate (usually about 15-17 Mbps) and have a lot of detail. The framerate is quite consistent – there are no dropped or duplicated frames, but you should keep in mind that the framerate drops to 24 when lighting isn't enough.
720p videos are nice and smooth too, but obviously short of the extra resolution offered by FullHD.
Here is a video captured with the Samsung Galaxy Note for you to enjoy.
Video quality comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Note is in our Video Compare Tool database. It did pretty well and produced some of the finest footage we have seen, but obviously felt short of the 1080p champion, the Apple iPhone 4S.