Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera review: consistent quality, stunning detail

“The Galaxy Note5 is a versatile shooter, impressing with its quality across a variety of situations”

Even after all these years, the rivalry between Apple and Samsung continues in the flagship space. While the Cupertino giant tries to offer a superior user experience, the South Korean behemoth plays the specs game by bestowing its devices with higher-res displays, powerful processors and multiplied megapixels. While performance remains a subjective opinion with both parties offering different operating systems, in the camera department, Apple has been able to deliver a superior shooting experience with just 8-megapixel cameras (not counting the latest iPhones, which offer 12MP sensors). However this year, Samsung changed that equation with its flagship, the Galaxy S6 (and its curvy sibling, the S6 edge), which we believe raised the bar for smartphone shooting.

Samsung Galaxy Note5 01

Now, the brand has introduced the latest iteration to its Note series, the Galaxy Note5 (unboxing | first impressions), which flaunts the same pair of sensors as the S6 duo – a 16-megapixel shooter at the back with f/1.9 aperture and a 5MP front-facing camera. A dual-LED flash complements the primary snapper for providing illumination in poor lighting. Let’s take a look at how the shooters perform in different situations. The images have been taken in an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Long shot

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera samples - long shot

If we had to describe this shot in one word, we would say ‘beautiful’. With so many elements, the Note5’s 16MP snapper does proper justice to the scene. The camera also captures an impressive amount of detail, and if you view the image in its original size, you’ll find that you can even read the signs in the distance clearly.

Close up

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera test - close up

Our impression continues over to the close-up image captured with the phablet. The Ixora flower looks extremely pleasing to the eyes, and colours are also reproduced well. The focus is spot on too, as the flower is in sharp focus and the leaves aren’t, thus offering a nice bokeh effect.

Close up (zoomed in)

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera test - close up (zoomed in)

The Ixora flower is made up of a cluster of tiny flowers, and that’s what you see when we magnify the previous image. What’s amazing though is that if we didn’t tell you that the shot embedded above was cropped, you might have assumed it to be a normal image – that’s the level of detail the Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera is able to capture.

HDR off

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera review - HDR off

With the HDR mode becoming quite popular to improve contrast in images, it’s important to check how the device modifies a scene. The above image is taken to know just that, although it does seem to be pretty good, both in terms of colour reproduction and sharpness.

HDR on

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera review - HDR on

Turning on the dynamic range does help the image as it seems to be brighter and all the colours appear pleasing, though the effect is probably as drastic as we’d have expected.

Front shot

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera quality - front shot

Nowadays, having a top-notch primary camera isn’t the only requirement. Users are also looking for a good shooter at the front to satiate their selfie needs. The Galaxy Note5 features a 5MP secondary snapper, which should suffice for most useres. It offers vibrant colours and good sharpness, as can be seen in the case above.

Low-light shot

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera quality - low-light shot

Most phones struggle in low light, although the Note5 seems to fare slightly better. Its camera is able to capture all the objects in view, which in this case are pebbles and their colours have also been reproduced reasonably well. That said, the image surely is quite grainy, and appears soft as well.

Low-light with flash

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera quality - low-light shot with flash

With the flash on, the same scene is illuminated evenly as the colourful pebbles are easily visible now. The good thing is that the flash has offered uniform illumination. 

Night shot

Samsung Galaxy Note5 camera quality - low-light shot

Capturing moving water is a problem for most smartphone cameras, and shooting such scenes in poor lighting makes it even tougher. However, Samsung’s phablet overcomes this challenge quite well thanks to its fast shutter speed. The image captures most details and more importantly, there’s no halo effect around the light sources.

Based on the images, the verdict is quite clear – the Galaxy Note5 is a versatile shooter, impressing with its quality across a variety of situations. You’ll love the details being captured by the 16MP sensor, and the colours are also reproduced naturally. The wider aperture of f/1.9 helps in dimly-lit conditions as it’s able to let in more light.

The Samsung Galaxy Note5 is of course more than just a camera, and that’s what we’ll be talking out in our review. It’s being prepped as you’re reading this, so keep an eye out to know if the Chaebol’s latest phablet deserves your moolah.

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