How to take High Quality Photographs with the Samsung Galaxy S6

On Tuesday July 28th 2015, I presented myself front and center at the Samsung Experience Store in Tropical Plaza in Half-Way-Tree.

I had travelled all the way from Milk River, Clarendon to cover an important story related to the Samsung Galaxy S6 as described in Samsung Galaxy S6 and Edge at MWC 2015 coming to Mash up Jamaica, or more specifically, the taking of photographs with the camera.

I arrived at 10:09 am, a tad late but feeling a tad odd. After all, today is a Tuesday.

Why would Samsung have an event on a Tuesday instead of a weekend?

Especially when their last big launch, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge, was at the Pegasus Hotel on Friday April 17th 2015, some three (3) months ago as reported in The Future is Now as Samsung Galaxy S6 launches in Jamaica?

I was in for a surprise…of sorts, as the lucky Number 10, which is a Triangle Number, meant that great things were in Store, pun oh so not intended!

Pro-Photographer Jeremy Francis and the S6 – Roaming the Island for the S6 Summer Smartphone Experience

As I waltzed in through the door, I realized I wasn’t the only person who thought this odd; the Store was practically empty of decorations and journalists save for the Gleaner and the Observer.

Already at the back, ten (10) white faux leather chairs with stainless steel bodies had been set up, with three (3) facing the audience for the guest speaker. Apparently this wasn’t meant to be a huge Press Release but a quiet launch of sorts.

The man of the moment, professional photographer Jeremy Francis, was to be front and center of the action.

A fairly rugged, experienced lookin’ gentleman dressed in jeans and sporting a grizzled cut, he was prepping to introduce Samsung’s latest initiative that was cooked up by Samsung’s Marketing Manager Karen Gardener to promote the Samsung Galaxy S6.

This basically involved him doing a presentation of some photographs he’d taken while traveling the length and breadth of Jamaica, snapping some breathtaking postcards of life on our beautiful island.

This event was developing rather Nicely, I said to myself as I sat down at the front with the journalists. Again, no puns, please!

S6 Summer Smartphone Experience – Jamaica’s Culture experience through the eyes of a Photographer

Started promptly at 10:30am, the promotion, called the S6 Summer Smartphone Experience, was introduced. Promoted on social media with the hashtag #S6Summershot, the aim was to introduce the S6 as a pro-photography alternative for the masses.

This meant not carrying around the large Camera, such as the Samsung NX1, a dSLR that had won several awards at the TIPA (Technical Image Press Association) in April 2015 as chronicled in Samsung NX1 wins 10th TIPA award. Basically Samsung was gearing up to cannibalize their Digital Camera business in Jamaica and possibly the Caribbean.

To his credit, pro-photographer Jeremy Francis managed to keep me awake for most of the two (2) hours that he spoke and fielded questions from the audience at the end in the Q&A session.  He didn’t display much in-depth technical knowledge about the Samsung Galaxy S6, plainly obvious sans his neatly and well prepared cue cards.

But he did speak from his wide-ranging experience as a photographer, which was strongly on display. He extolled the virtues of the high art of photography as he explained the back-story behind the photographs.

These he took from willing volunteers as he went on what looked like a photo-journalists road trip around the island, Hill an’ Gully Ride Style.

Pro- Photographer assessment of the S6 – Great for Selfies and Social Media but not an Analog Camera Replacement

The main thing that struck me as he described using the Samsung Galaxy S6 was how easy it was to take photographs with the S6 protruding Rear-Facing 16 Megapixel Camera.

Just point and press the Home Button.

There is a complementary front-facing 5 Megapixel Camera, but apparently didn’t take many pictures with that camera, as it’s mostly used for selfies anyways.

The S6 handles light flares and glare very well and automatically compensates for the colour temperature, so no Lens flares, Star Trek Style, poppin’ up in your photos. The photographer also spoke of the ease with which he could review a picture after it was taken.

He could then apply the various filters that enhance the image or evoke a particular mood in the viewer of the photograph. Strangely enough, as he spoke and skipped through the images on the Samsung Galaxy S6, the images that appeared on the Samsung TV synched from the S6 looked a little washed out and pixilated as you zoomed in.

Professional Mode vs Auto Mode – More Control but lower Picture Quality

This was possibly because they were taken in Professional Mode, which allowed him to have more control over the camera’s settings.

The typical, less experienced casual photographer would most likely use the Camera in the Auto Mode, where the S6 automatically adjusts itself to give the best possible picture depending on the lighting conditions.

In Auto Mode, shutter speed instant and the auto focus functions almost instantaneously, making for sharp and crisp photos, at least on the screen. The colours will therefore look very vibrant on the 5.1’’ Quad HD Super AMOLED Screen which has a resolution of 2560×1440 that translates to 577ppi (pixels per inch).

However, once displayed on a larger 2K or 4K screen, the obvious lack of detail became apparent, a fault not of the 16 Megapixel CCD (Charge Couple Device) but of the small aperture on the Camera. Also the camera has no Telephoto lens capability, being able to take images a few meters away, not hundreds of miles away, as the S6 has a very small lens.

He made the point that the Samsung Galaxy S6 was more for taking pictures for posting on Social Media as opposed to being a replacement for an analog or a dSLR Camera, as the resolution level wasn’t there.

Still, the S6 certainly had a lot of bells and whistles, such as grid focus and Panoramic Mode that allowed the photographer to create a wide angle shot by stitching together several images.

It also has a Burst Mode for taking pictures or capturing the perfect image of a rapidly moving subject, a bonus for Nature photographers. It also has Real-time HDR (High Dynamic Range), OIS (Smart Optical Image Stabilization) and IR Detect White Balance, ensuring that every image, once take in Auto Mode, was free of jitter associated with motion.

Motion distortion free images, even under very bad or dark lighting conditions, makes this an action Camera on the go, even with its ginormous screen. It just needs some accessories to become a truly Professional Camera replacement!

Limitations of the S6 Camera – Telephoto Lens attachments needed for Professional Photographers to warm to S6

That being said, the Q & A section exposed the limitations of Samsung Galaxy S6.

The S6 doesn’t come with long exposure mode, which would allow you to take time-lapse videos of events occurring in Nature that occur over a longtime scale. Often referred to as hyperlapse and available via an App from Facebook owned Instagram called Hyperlapse, time-lapse videos allow the Naturalist or Biologist to records events that occur over a long time scale.

Software then compresses the videos into a film that plays at twelve (12) times or faster, replaying the events in a shorter time. This isn’t native to the Samsung Galaxy S6, which to me is sad, as with a 16 Megapixel capable CCD, it would make for great 4K quality time-lapse videos.

Teachers, if they could purchase one, would use it to capture video events of Nature events like plants growing as well as the stars for a class on Astronomy.

Then there is the issue of the quality of the images themselves.

Certainly, they look great on the 5.1’’ Quad HD Super AMOLED Screen. But when displayed on the 2K Screen used during the Presentation, it was clear that the image quality was due mainly to the smaller 5.1″ screen and wouldn’t translate well to a 4K Screen.

A simple way to remedy this would be for Samsung to make a Telephoto lens attachment for Professional photographers. Already such attachments exist, such as the MP-Mall Samsung Galaxy S6 4 in 1 Camera Lens Kit.

Geezam - How to take High Quality Photographs with the Samsung Galaxy S6 - 01-08-2015 LHDEER (2)This Lens Kit includes a 12x Telephoto Manual Focus Camera Lens with Tripod. You get a choice of three (3) quick connect lenses including:

  • Fisheye Lens
  • Macro Lens
  • Wide-angle Lens

The MP-Mall Samsung Galaxy S6 4 in 1 Camera Lens Kit comes in a protective casing with a Microfiber Digital Cleaner for cleaning the lens of the Samsung Galaxy S6. But most interesting is the fact that it’s packed with a mini tripod, which is great for taking not only long-range photos but time-lapse photos using Instagram’s Hyperlapse App.

Geezam - How to take High Quality Photographs with the Samsung Galaxy S6 - 01-08-2015 LHDEER (1)I personally would like the Samsung Galaxy S6, but not for taking long-range photographs. Rather, I’d like to use it for taking microscopic images for which I’d need an attachment to allow the 16 Megapixel CCD to capture microscopic images.

Such attachments exist for the S4, such as the Micro Phone Lens 15x that works with any smartphone. But this is a kickstarter and it’s aimed primarily at the Crowd funding market; Samsung needs to make one of their own.

Other devices, such as the Microscope and Telescope Adaptor from Modern Photonics also exist, but these are adapters to connect to a pre-existing microscope or Telescope.

Samsung needs Camera Accessories for the S6 – Telephoto with Tripod for Pro-Photographers

The takeaway from the session as I left at 12pm to go to MICO University College was simple. The Samsung Galaxy S6 has an excellent camera; the lens aperture is just too small.

To really get quality photographs, Samsung has to sell Telephoto Lens attachment and Microscope Attachment with a tripod to expand the usability of the Smartphone and appeal to pro-photographers like Jeremy Francis.

Professional Photographers represents a fairly sizeable untapped market would like to use the S6 for more than just taking sample photos before shooting Music videos of films.

It might cannibalize their dSLR Camera biz, but at the same time it would drive sales of the Samsung Galaxy S6, as photography is one of the many passions of Jamaicans and Caribbean Nationals!

Here’s the link:

US$34.55 MP-Mall Samsung Galaxy S6 4 in 1 Camera Lens Kit At Amazon

US$42. MP-Mall Samsung Galaxy S6 4 in 1 Camera Lens Kit at Brando

Microscope and Telescope Adaptor from Modern Photonics from Amazon

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.