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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Camera Hands-on Review: Smart hardware, fun features

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Samsung’s flagship phones always boast some of the very best mobile camera tech, and the mighty Galaxy Note 8 is no exception. This 6.3-inch mega-phone offers Samsung’s first dual-lens snapper, packed with smart hardware and some nifty features, and we’ve gone hands-on for this first look Note 8 camera review.

Rumours and hearsay before the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus launch had us all thinking that Samsung’s new flagship mobiles would arrive packing a dual-lens camera on the rear. Of course, this was not to be, although the S8 phones still rocked our socks with their excellent optics.

Perhaps Sammy’s double snapper simply wasn’t ready in time, because at long last we finally have this tech in our hands. As well as a frankly enormous 6.3-inch display, waterproof S Pen stylus and some premium specs, the fresh new Galaxy Note 8 also serves up the much-discussed dual-lens camera. We went hands on ahead of the new Note’s launch and so far we’re very excited indeed.

For everything else you want to know about the brilliant new Note, head over to our massive in-depth Galaxy Note 8 hands-on review. We also have full information on the Note 8 UK pricing, if you’re already sold.

Galaxy Note 8 camera hands-on review: Specs

Housed on the rear of the phone is a 12MP f/2.4 telephoto lens, as well as a 12MP f/1.7 wide-angle lens. These work together seamlessly and remarkably both feature Optical Image Stabilisation, to cut down on blur and judder when snapping pics. This means that even when you’ve zoomed in to take a close-up shot, the Note 8 should offer stabilisation to counter any hand shake. Definitely something that isn’t found on other smartphones.

Rounding off the camera specs is an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with f/1.7 aperture lens. This can shoot up to QHD video on demand, with full autofocus. There’s no stabilisation around the front however, which is typical for a modern mobile.

Galaxy Note 8 camera hands-on review: Photo modes and quality

Image quality certainly seems strong from our initial tests, as you’d expect from Samsung. You can zoom up to two times with that telephoto lens without any dip in detail levels, with the camera automatically choosing which lens is in play as you pinch in and out.

You can also use both lenses at once with the Dual Capture feature, which takes two photos at once: one zoomed in with a bokeh-style background effect, as well as one that’s pulled back with uniform focus. You can then choose which snaps to keep.

Samsung’s new Live Focus Mode also creates a bokeh effect, with the ability to adjust the degree of the background blur both before and after the shot is taken. Boosting this to max levels did seem to soften the edges of your chosen subject in our hands-on session however, something that rivals like the Nokia 8 manage to avoid.

And you get most of the Galaxy S8’s camera features packed into the Note 8 as well, including those AR stickers and face masks. These can turn you into a cat, clown and all manner of other creations, most of which are both hilarious and unsettling at the same time.

We’re yet to test the Note 8’s photography chops in low light, although the lenses seem to cope admirably with bright skylines. That tricky contrast is ably handled by Samsung’s HDR tech. We’re expecting the wide-angle lens, with its large aperture, to produce quite detailed and grain-free photos at night time.

Galaxy Note 8 camera hands-on review: Video quality

From our hands-on session, we’re so far impressed as always by this Samsung handset’s video chops.

You can swap to video mode with just a tap of an on-screen button, which allows you to shoot in up to 4K resolution. Alternatively you can drop down to QHD or Full HD, or even lower if you want to share a clip online without killing your data allowance. The Note 8 also supports Full HD at 60 frames-per-second, although you can’t take photos at the same time as shooting a clip at this frame rate.

With the front-facing camera, you can shoot up to QHD resolution footage. You don’t have a 4K option like the Nokia 8 offers, but to be fair, 2K is still perfect solid for a selfie cam.

Image stabilisation is in play for all of the top resolutions and in our preliminary tests is very impressive indeed. Like the OnePlus 5 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium before it, the Note 8 can all but eliminate that judder as you move around. That makes any footage shot while walking considerably more enjoyable.

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