Not much has changed in the video department over the S8. Using its main 26mm camera, the Note8 still captures some of the sharpest, most detail-rich 4K videos we have seen in a while. You can extract frames and almost have them pass as an 8MP photo. Noise is low and dynamic range impressive. Interestingly enough, despite the Note8's tendency to oversharpen stills and exaggerate colors a bit, processing in video seems to be a lot more natural and laid back. Again, it all comes down to personal taste, but there is a notable difference in our opinion.
Video gets saved in MPEG-4 AVC, with a bit rate of a little over 48 Mbps and 48 KHz stereo audio. Not bad. HEVC has finally been added as an encoder option. Now that YouTube officially supports it, we definitely recommend using its efficient compression over h264. There is no discernible loss in quality between the two. None which we managed to notice, anyway.
Unlike some of its competitors, the Note8 still lacks any really high frame-rate video recording options. Yo do get a choice between 30 and 60 fps at 1080p. Both retain flagship quality levels, overal. With a bitrate of about 28 Mbps, the latter is really the route to take for buttery-smooth motion.
The Note8 offers EIS in all resolutions, all the way up to 4K. It can be toggled off in the camera settings in situations where you don't really want to sacrifice a portion of the frame for a stable shot. OIS is also helping in the background.
The EIS system seems to work even better when you drop the resolution down to 1080p.
Here is the video compare tool for the Note8 as well in both 4K and 1080p. Feel free to pit it against any contender of your choice.
What about that telephoto camera, you might ask? Well, it can capture video independently and keep up well enough with the main one. Since it has the MP to match, it can go as high as 4K as well. It even captures using the same MPEG-4 AVC format with pretty much identical bitrates.
In good lighting conditions, the quality is good, almost as good as the main one. Detail is plenty, noise is kept at bay. However, as the light goes down and conditions get more and more challenging, the darker 52mm snapper starts to lag behind a bit.
However, there are no solid grounds for complaining on the quality front. The only really troubling aspect of the secondary camera video capture seems to be the unreliable focus. We realize we are no longer working with Dual Pixel hardware, but even so, the random focus hunting seems too much. Perhaps it is a question of software tweaks more than anything else. We did receive an update while writing this review, with claimed camera app stability improvements on board, so perhaps improvements are on the way.
In its current state, you do have to pay extra attention to the focus while recording video with the telephoto lens. Tapping the viewfinder locks the focus and exposure in place and you should be ready to go.
Besides OIS, the 52mm cam get EIS as well, all the way up to 4K resolution. It works well, overall, but we did observe a few odd rapid jitters of the frame a few times while shooting. The primary camera exhibited no such issues.
The camera review wouldn't really be complete without adding the Note8's shiny new telephoto camera to our video compare database as well. So, we put in the extra work in both 4K and 1080p resolutions.
For some extra pixel-peeping pleasure, we are also including shorter, uncompressed versions of all the samples: