- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has been launched with a 108-megapixel camera and 100X Space Zoom feature
- The Space Zoom feature is being touted by Samsung as a key highlight of the phone
- The feature uses a mix of optical and hybrid to zoom to achieve impressive results
Samsung's flagships for 2020, the Galaxy S20 smartphones, are finally here. The series sees the company populating the premium end of the market with as many as three new phones. While the most modest of them is the Galaxy S20 -- which also shares a lot with the Galaxy S20+ when it comes to the spec sheet -- it is the Galaxy S20 Ultra that stands tall as not just the biggest phone of the line-up, but also the most innovative one.
Although it flaunts the same spec sheet as the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+, the S20 Ultra crucially differs from the two when it comes to the camera set-ups on display. The rear set-up of the phone gets four cameras. The first lens is an ultra-wide 12-megapixel lens sat next to the primary 108-megapixel wide-angle lens. There's also a 48-megapixel lens on the device, with the set-up being completed by a ToF lens.
Apart from looking fancy on the spec sheet, this quad-camera set-up on the S20 Ultra brings to the table some real-world benefits in terms of new features and improved performance. The most interesting being the phone's ability to click images in 100X hybrid zoom using its telephoto lens -- in comparison to the Galaxy S20 and the Galaxy S20+ which support hybrid optical zoom of up to 3X and total zoom of 30X.
All about the 100x Space Zoom
Samsung is marketing this feature as Space Zoom, a technology that uses a combination of optical and digital zoom -- including AI-powered zoom. While the process may appear simple, it actually isn't.
As the company explains, it not only involves traditional methods of hybrid zoom but also uses multi-image processing by roping in results from the device's massive 108-megapixel primary lens to reduce quality loss at high zoom levels so that users can experience Super Resolution Zoom when clicking shots in 100X.
To break it down further, the device can do up to 4X zoom in optical mode by folding the 48-megapixel periscope style lens, which can then further push out lossless images up till 10X in Hybrid Optic Zoom.
Interestingly, Samsung claims that these images will actually be lossless, and the user would not notice any drop in image quality up until the 10X mark. After that, we venture into territory that Samsung calls Space Zoom.
As you move upwards in the zooming scale, the device starts to employ more aggressive AI-based digital zoom and image processing methods to help you go up to 100X. Although, one needs to keep in mind that this climb up the zoom ladder comes at the cost of image quality.
In essence, this isn't very different from certain other phones offer in terms of hybrid zoom. However, what Samsung offers here is the promise of going up to 100X zoom, unlike its competitors which max out at 30X-50X zoom.
Massive 108-megapixel lens
Although the primary lens of the S20 Ultra is used to fetch extra data for the Space Zoom feature, its work doesn't just end there. This 108-megapixel ISOCELL Bright HM1 sensor also acts as a major standalone attraction for the device.
It uses light-enhancing technologies for clicking bright and detailed 108-megapixel photographs and 8K videos at 24 frames per second even under extreme lighting conditions. While there's a lot going on in the background, the most important thing to note is Nonacell, which is essentially Samsung's upgrade on its previous generation Tetracell technology. This new tech allows the new 108-megapixel lens in question to shoot in 108-megapixel by stitching together 9 instead of 4 adjacent pixels.
Samsung claims the biggest gains from this are achieved in low and mixed light conditions, where the lenses real-time HDR technology optimises exposures to produce more natural-looking videos and still photographs.