First Galaxy S20 shootout

The weather and other external forces have slowed my shutter count down this week, but I had 20 minutes today to take a few shots, comparing the Samsung Galaxy S20 with the Olympus EM1 Mark II for a bit of fun.

Warning: pixel peeping and technical stuff explained below.

So, how is this a fair comparison? The Pro grade mirrorless Oly has a larger 20 MP (mega-pixel) sensor and interchangeable lenses, while the S20 has 3 build in cameras – a 12 MP “Ultra Wide” 2.2 mm (in 35mm: 13.0 mm) lens, a 12MP “standard” 5.9 mm (in 35mm: 28.0 mm) lens and a whopping 64MP 5.9 mm (in 35mm: 27.0 mm) lens which is mostly used for the “zoom”. The standard and zoom lenses have almost identical focal lengths so I’m not sure why Samsung even bothered to put the standard one in.

Anyway, let’s get on with some pictures, the results may surprise you – these were taken fairly rushed and the weather was changing quickly. I chose a spot with objects at varying distances and some straight poles to show any distortion. Let’s start wide …

S20 – 12MP Ultra Wide, unedited, resized.
EM1 II – Laowa 7.5mm lens, edited to closely match S20 image.

Out of the two photos above, first surprise, I actually prefer the S20 image! Colours are good and it’s nice and sharp across the entire scene. The detail in the distant mountain is impressive! (The light did change between the two images). The Laowa is manual focus and I missed it slightly in my limited time – the phone is obviously easier to use. The lenses are identical in equivalent focal length and offer similar distortion. The “Ultra wide shape correction” was turned on in the S20’s settings – Save options.

The two photos below are crops of the above two at pixel size – you can click on the images to see actual size.

S20 – .5X Ultra Wide 12MP crop @ 100% pixel.

The inset at top right was the pole that was cropped out. It shows some chromatic aberration (purple and green fringing on the edges), the S20 image is a tad over-sharp for my liking, while the EM1 is out of focus – so perhaps not an entirely fair comparison, I think if I’d nailed it they would be very close.

EM1 II – 7.5mm Laowa cropped @100% pixel.
S20 – 1X “Normal” 12MP camera (insert crop @ 100% pixels)
S20 – 64PM no edit, only resized.

While the two images above are similar reduced to this size, the 64MP camera has more detail and is a bit brighter. As I said previously, why is that 1X 12MP camera even there?

S20 – 64MP No edit – cropped @ 100% pixel.
S20 – 3x Zoom
S20 – 5X zoom (insert crop @ 100% pixels)
S20 – 10X Zoom (insert crop @ 100% pixels)
S20 – 30X zoom – unedited, not cropped, size is reduced.
EM1 II – 150mm zoom (inset cropped @100% pixels).

For web based photos, the S20 wins on Wide and Normal range 64MP images – even cropped at 100% it produces acceptable results using auto settings with no editing. To be honest, I don’t believe I just typed that!
I would think the Olympus would be better for large scale prints though.

Where the Galaxy falls down is it’s zoom. It’s definitely NOT out of this world – what a massive disappointment! Keep in mind this is the smallest and cheapest of the S20 series, but the 30x zoom is a marketing gimmick at best, producing realistically unusable images. Even at 10x zoom – a similar focal length to the 150mm Olympus, the images are degraded. From about 3x zoom, it just crops into the 64MP image and applies some digital “enhancement”, which isn’t a “zoom” at all!

To finish off, the image above is from the Oly 14-150mm (non-pro lens) @150mm, cropped and enlarged to the same area as the S20 30X image above, and the boats name inset is enlarged again – without any editing from the original jpeg file. Even with 64MP, the Samsung Galaxy S20 “zoom” just can’t compete with a larger 20MP sensor and decent glass.

For the most-part, I will still primarily shoot with the Olympus, while using S20 images for “behind the scene” shots and quick posts to Instagram (@tasviews) & Facebook.

When the weather picks up and time permits, I’ll delve into the S20 further. Future posts will include a look into “Pro” or manual mode, “Night” mode, “Live Focus”, some closeup tests and whatever else I can think of … if you have an idea or would like to see something – or have a question, let me know in the comments!

This weekend, we’re heading off to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake and one of Tasmania’s most spectacular National Parks! Hopefully there will be a post or two next week with some special wilderness shots – so please come back 😀 – Happy snapping.

14 thoughts on “First Galaxy S20 shootout

  1. I am amazed at how close the two cameras are in image quality, wow! The phone camera technology is getting better and better every generation. I’m strictly an IOS user though, but this model does a dandy job. My home state of Michigan has a Lake ST Clair too. Have a good weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment John, the results blew me away too! When I double checked the lake’s spelling I stumbled upon yours on the interwebs 🙂


      1. Your blog has some awesome photography! I have been looking into mobile photography and have done a bit on my Samsung J7 Sky from 2017 but its camera is not nearly as good as today’s smartphones. I ordered a Google Pixel 4a last week to replace my current phone, and I am hoping to see what that camera is like!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely, I only started blogging regularly here this year, I’m finding blogs and their owners more interesting, detailed and diverse here than other social media. Its easier for telling a story rather than a single image.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, It’s easier to carry and use than a DSLR that’s for sure. For the internet the quality is very good … but yeah, unfortunately the zoom is a big con not worth using. The S20 Ultra should be better, but I honestly doubt it would be that much better, especially at their claimed 100x zoom. I should drop into a phone store and have a play just to see.

      Liked by 1 person

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