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How To use the New Samsung Galaxy S21 camera features

Director's view, the new zoom lock, and 10-bit RAW - these are some of the rather interesting camera features that you will find on the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S21. Yes, we know these are not entirely new features and were already found on its predecessors, nevertheless, I would still like to take this opportunity to explain some of these exciting camera features of the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra in greater detail in this guide.

All of these features are native to Samsung’s pre-installed camera app. Needless to say, you’ll find additional features such as Night Mode or Portrait Mode on the handset itself, but I have decided to focus on features that you can only find on this device. 

8K Video Snap

Let’s start with the 8K Video Snap feature! This is basically just an export function for frames that you have captured in an 8K video. Hence, expect the footage resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels to be set apart – which is roughly the equivalent of an impressive 33 megapixels. When compared to exported Full HD or 4K images, you are able to change the image resolution afterward without experiencing any serious loss in detail.

To use the feature, you will first have to launch the video mode in the camera app. Check out the subsequent procedure in the following images:

Samsung Galaxy S 21 8K Video Snap

In 8K mode, you can export photos at 33 megapixels / © NextPit

Select the entry 8K / 24 in the video resolution section (only for the main camera)

Go ahead and record a video of your subject

Go to the recorded video in the gallery, play it back, and pause at the desired moment.

Select the best single image via the video playback bar

Tap on the screenshot icon in the upper left-hand corner and the 8K photo will appear in your gallery

Take note that the frame rate for 8K videos is limited to 24 frames. Hence, the Galaxy S21 may raise the exposure time of each frame up to 1/30 of a second. Thus, you should make use of 8K video snap in as much light as possible. This is because the longer the exposure time, the higher the risk of experiencing motion blur, which looks downright ugly especially with exported single frames.

Single Take

In “Single Take” mode, the new Galaxy S21 models are able to record images with different focal lengths and videos at different speeds simultaneously. This allows you to shoot a subject for a maximum of 15 seconds, change the angle and wait for a while as the images come together. In the Gallery app, you are able to pick from a range of images and videos that were created in Single Take.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Single Take 1

The “Single Take” feature allows you to change the focal length afterwards, among others / © NextPit

Go to the “Single Take” menu item in the camera app

Select how long you want the shot to be

Capture a video of the subject for a maximum of 15 seconds

Samsung Galaxy S21 Single Take 2

The Galaxy S21 will then automatically create pictures and videos from the recording / © NextPit

Now head to the gallery and tap on “Single Take” in order to select one of the pictures or videos.

This mode is especially handy when you only have a short time with the subject. Thanks to Single Take, you can alter the composition, focal length, and style at a later time.

Director’s View

If you have a little extra time on your hands when shooting videos, then you should be familiar with the Director’s View feature. Basically, this is a shooting mode that shows you live viewfinder images from all cameras – simultaneously. You can also capture selfie videos and main camera footage at the same time, courtesy of Director’s View.

Samsung Galaxy S 21 Directors View

In the “Director’s View” mode, you can keep an eye on things via the live preview of the triple camera / © NextPit

Go to the “More” menu in the camera app

Select “Director’s view”

On the right side of the screen, you can now see the live preview of the individual cameras

The icon at the top left corner lets you control the way the selfie image is displayed

Note: While the selfie image can also be seen, only one focal length is recorded at a time

Space zoom with zoom lock

You already know about the Space Zoom feature from previous Samsung smartphones, for example, the Galaxy S20 Ultra or the Note 20 Ultra. However, the so-called “zoom lock” is a new addition to the Galaxy S21. The Galaxy S21 focuses on the subject in a rather clever manner and thus manages to prevent any kind of shaking when you are all zoomed out. When changing focus of your subject, the previous subject “sticks” a bit in the middle of the picture.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Zoom Lock

The new zoom lock / © NextPit

Swipe down on the zoom selection in the image preview to access the space zoom feature

Now focus on the desired subject and tap on the display for a second

Now the subject should remain centered and stabilized

Zoom-Lock doesn’t necessarily ensure you end up with better photos, but the standard shots of space zoom are stabilized. However,  this feature is rather practical for selecting the subject. If you are into bird watching or would like to capture airplanes, then this function has its uses.

10-bit RAW & HDR10+ video

I would like to talk about the formats or “standards”, in the new Galaxy S21 models, very briefly here. Only the bit depth in RAW format is new, but in order to obtain better photos and videos, you should know about the 10-bit RAW format and video shooting in HDR10+.

When shooting with 10-bit RAW, the Galaxy S21 stores raw sensor data in addition to JPEG (or HEIF) shots from the camera. While a maximum of 256 color values per pixel can be stored with 8 bits, we are looking at 1,024 color values with 10 bits. Thus, the images can theoretically contain more than 1 billion colors instead of just under 16.7 million colors. However, you would have to “develop” RAW images in an image processing program after capturing them, while being prepared to experience significantly less loss of quality during processing.

Samsung Galaxy S21 HDR Gif

The artifacts are most noticeable when zooming in with the Galaxy S21 / © NextPit

The HDR10+ standard allows you to capture higher contrast and brightness shots when recording video. The standard was developed by Samsung and Amazon Video and is supported by the manufacturer’s own UHD TVs, among others. If you own such a TV, it’s best to experience the difference for yourself. However, I discovered a lot of artifacts when trying it out – and this is something that I’ll be investigating further for my review.

Do you have any unanswered questions about the camera features of the Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra? If so, write to me in the comments and I’ll try to clear up any ambiguities in this article!


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