The Galaxy Note20 Ultra's photos have what can best be described as 'that Samsung look'. It's most easily characterized by the colors - almost universally appealing, with a bit of warmth and saturation added to the not so enthusiastic real world's rendition.
Samsung's typical overprocessed and oversharpened rendition of random textures like grass has been toned down significantly and the Note20 Ultra draws these in a more natural way now. To be fair, such is the case with the S20 Ultra, as shot with its present-day software. What's not changed is the near total absence of noise in these photos - Samsung is in a league of its own when it comes to noise reduction.
The Note Ultra exposes a smidgeon brighter than the S Ultra (in its current state, some 6 months after release) producing livelier midtones, particularly noticeable in greenery. An ever so slightly contrastier tone curve means it'll leave a few more pixels in the shadows black, but dynamic range is nothing short of excellent on both Ultras.
The 108MP 'native' resolution of the main cam's sensor can be put to use in some instances. We've so far found it can deliver mainly for patterned subjects (diagonals work best), at close range and in well lit scenes - ideally all of these together, but at least a subset of them - think a studio test chart. In real-world scenes the 108MP shots do offer improved detail compared to 12MP ones, but don't think you'd able to just crop a 12MP portion of them and have 12MP of actual detail in there.
The ultra wide cam offers similar color performance to the main module - you won't be starved for color, that's for sure. It also does admirably at fitting the inevitably wide dynamic range of wide scenes into a single shot, something we couldn't quite say on the Galaxy S20 Ultra (that too, has since improved). Detail is decent, but definitely not class leading - there are sharper ultra wides on competing phones.
Once again, the lack of autofocus on the Note20 Ultra's ultra wide cam, and the fact that its focus is fixed at infinity deprives you of one key use of an ultra wide cam - exaggerating perspective and emphasizing a nearby subject. What good is the sharpness in the poster on the wall, when you clearly want to make the Tab S7+ the centerpiece here.
Lens correction is enabled on the ultra wide angle cam by default. The lens itself appears reasonably well corrected already, though it's generally a good idea to leave the software correction on - otherwise, straight lines along the edges of the frame will bend outwards at the corners.
On to the star of the show, the telephoto. At the 5x zoom setting the Note20 Ultra takes sharp pictures, sharper than the S20 Ultra's at 5x. That was to be expected, given that the native zoom level on the S-series phone is 4x and some upscaling is needed. Once again, you're getting signature Samsung colors and great noise processing.
Here's a quick comparison against the S20 Ultra.
A bit more surprisingly, the Note20 Ultra performs as good as, maybe even better than the S20 Ultra at the 10x zoom level - we were sort of expecting that the extra data from the 48MP Tetracell sensor would be giving it an advantage over the conventional 12MP one on the Note, but we were proven wrong.
The 4x setting in the Note20 Ultra's viewfinder will typically give you a composite image, made of the telephoto's capture for the middle of the shot, with the main camera contributing the periphery. You can then expect the middle of your shot to be sharp, with the periphery noticeably less so. It's a valid strategy, since your subject is more often than not in the center of the frame.
Oddly enough, sometimes what will not work as expected - check out the snail shot that's clearly upscaled from the main cam. And it's not like the tele couldn't focus this close - the 5x shot above proves it's within its range.
The 2x zoom setting is entirely in the main cam's domain in the Note20 Ultra. That, meanwhile, has become the S20 Ultra's behavior as well for this 'focal length' - back when we reviewed it, the image used to be a center-periphery composite too, but our present day samples show that's not the case anymore. These photos look good at fit-to-screen magnification, but don't stand up well to pixel-level examination.