Learning To Love the S20 Ultra’s 108-megapixel Camera Setting

Learning To Love the S20 Ultra's 108-megapixel Camera Setting

Learning to love the S20 Ultra’s 108-megapixel camera setting. First things first. The Ultra’s 108-megapixel camera is its most enticing feature. It promises wildly detailed photographs with bright color that you can crop for maximum detail.

You won’t take most of your photos in 108 (let’s call it 108 for the sake of simplicity). This is a photography setting you have to choose, and these images take up to eight times the amount of storage space as a default photo, at least in my experience. In automatic mode, photos resolve to 12-megapixel shots.

What? How? Through a long-extant concept called “pixel binning,” every nine “pixels” becomes a superpixel. The idea is to make photos brighter and sharper by making each of the 12 “pixels” larger and therefore able to draw in more light. In theory, more light means better photos.

I was largely impressed with pictures I took in 108, especially once I learned this mode’s sweet spot. Some photos taken in 108 made photos unnaturally saturated and flattened shadows and details — both when viewed on the phone and on the computer.

Mid-distance and far-away shots produced more detailed imagery when I cropped in, but I got a lot less detail when trying to use the setting too close up. If you want to simulate a macro, getting as close as you can to the center of a flower, fascinating knot of wood or brand logo is just as likely to introduce more image noise, not less, when you crop in tight or zoom in on the phone or laptop screen.

But use it with the mindset of “shoot now, edit later” and you may find yourself ecstatic with the results. You can (and should) check out some of my favorite sample photos.

Again, I wouldn’t recommend using 108 for every photo, but when you do — like when I grabbed that photo hanging out the car window, or when you don’t have time to get closer to the thing you want to shoot — you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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