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Samsung Galaxy A7 Camera Review: The triple camera-wielding device that can go a long way with some tweaks

This is a comprehensive test of how the triple camera setup on the Samsung Galaxy A7 performs in the real world.

Samsung Galaxy A7 Camera Review (3)

Highlights

  • Galaxy A7 packs three camera sensors in a vertical arrangement on the top left side of the device.

  • Samsung has added electronic image stabilization during video recording.

  • The secondary sensor is used for depth mapping and the third sensor is used for ultra-wide images.

Samsung India launched its latest smartphone device, the Samsung Galaxy A7 in the Indian market a couple of weeks ago. This is the first smartphone by Samsung that comes with a triple camera setup in the market. For context, the device comes with Exynos 7885 SoC with an octa-core CPU clocked at up to 2.2GHz. The device sports up to 6GB RAM, and up to 128GB internal storage. Samsung is offering two variants for the device, the 64GB internal storage and 4GB RAM variant for Rs 23,990 and the 128GB internal storage with 6GB RAM variant for Rs 28,990.

The device is already on sale. Interested users can go to the Samsung Online store or Flipkart, or any offline Samsung store to buy a device. The company is also offering a Rs 2,000 cashback offer for users who are using their HDFC Bank credit or debit card to purchase the device online. We already played with the device for some time at the launch event to flesh out preliminary thoughts that the Galaxy A7 is an interesting mashup of innovation and good design. However, I got my hands on the device and have been using it over the past week.

Considering that a full review is still a few days away, I thought it was only fair to focus on the highlight of the device, the triple camera setup with a detailed camera review. During a recent trip where Samsung invited the media to take the Galaxy A7 for a spin, I spent my time using the device and putting the camera through its paces. So without further waiting, let’s dive into the triple camera setup of the Samsung Galaxy A7.

Samsung Galaxy A7 Camera specifications

Before we can dive in how the triple camera setup performs in the real world, let’s revisit the specifications of the camera sensor and lenses that Samsung has opted for. Starting at the back of the device, the Galaxy A7 packs three camera sensors in a vertical arrangement on the top left side of the device. The primary camera sensor comes with a 24-megapixel sensor with the phase detection autofocus system and f/1.7 aperture. The secondary sensor comes with 8-megapixel resolution, f/2.4 aperture and an ultrawide lens with 13mm focal length.

Watch: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 First Look

Last but not the least, the third sensor sports 5-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture while functioning as the depth sensor. The camera could shoot video in up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. Moving to the front of the device, Samsung has added a single camera sensor with 24-megapixel resolution and f/2.0 aperture.

The company states that the back camera comes with pixel binning technology to improve the quality of the images takes in low light conditions. To simplify, pixel binning technology takes multiple pixels and then combines them to get a single pixel with the information taken from multiple pixels. This improves the color reproduction, sharpness, and details in the final image. The device also comes with a scene optimizer mode which identifies the scene and applies appropriate settings for a better image.

Samsung Galaxy A7 Camera Interface

The camera interface for the Galaxy A7 is similar to the software of any other Samsung Galaxy device in the market. Samsung has added a number of modes in its camera software including Panorama, Pro, Beauty, Live Focus, Auto, Scene Optimiser, Slow Motion, AR Emoji, and Hyperlapse. The company also added a button to switch to the ultra wide lens in the Auto mode.

The only other mode that makes use of the ultra wide lens is the Panorama mode which means that you can’t make use of the third lens in Pro or Scene Optimiser modes. The Auto mode also comes with two buttons, one for Bixby Vision and the other for ‘Social’ where users can directly take images and then share them with their friends. Other buttons allow users to apply and preview filters, toggle Flash, change the aspect ratio of the photo, switch to front camera, and change settings of the app.

Diving in the settings app, users can enable or disable HDR, change the resolution of the photos, and videos are taken from the front or the back camera, toggle Timer, enable ‘Shooting methods’, and more. Users can also edit the modes that are visible in the camera mode. Other options include disabling the electronic image stabilization while recording videos, toggle Grid lines, location tags, preview images and even enable floating camera button.

Samsung Galaxy A7 Camera performance

I had pretty high expectations from the triple camera setup ever since the company first announced the device almost two weeks back. Ever since I received the device, I have been trying to push the camera setup to its edge to check how it performs.

However, after extensive testing, I believe that the camera software needs some optimizations to make better use of the hardware. The camera algorithms and software could use some tweaks for better quality images in low-light conditions. I will dive into the details in the sections below.

Daylight

The images taken on Samsung Galaxy A7 during the daylight, in ideal lighting conditions are good with fair color reproduction, dynamic range, and sharpness. Though, the software seems to be a bit aggressive in noise reduction while affecting the texture in the images. If you can ignore that then the image quality from the camera is on point.

Night-time

Night-time or low-light conditions are an issue for the Galaxy A7. Despite my hopes and the pixel binning technology, the images fell short in low light conditions with no details, or sharpness in the images. Though, it is worth taking a note that the images a border-line passable if you just want to post them on your Instagram, anything more or pixel peeping will show you the areas where the company needs to improve.

Triple Camera setup

The third camera sports the ultra wide lens for wide images. Talking about the observations for the performance of the third camera, the ultra wide lens has considerably less dynamic range, sharpness, and somewhat inaccurate color reproduction. The lens also results in barrel distortion in the image giving a GoPro-like effect at the edges. Samsung has also not added the ability to manual focus with the ultra wide lens which means that you are at the mercy of the focus system in the software.

The second camera lens that is used for depth sensing does a fair job managing to isolate the subject most of the times in ideal lighting conditions. It does struggle in low light or night time with the subject isolation. But it gets the work done.

The primary camera sensor is good but as a “triple camera setup” the company needs to issue updates to improve the quality of the images in challenging conditions.

Video recording

I shot a number of small videos with the device and they were decent in good lighting conditions but similar to the photo quality, the video quality fell in challenging lighting conditions. Considering that the Galaxy A7 is a camera-centric device, Samsung has not added the ability to shoot video recording at 60 frames per second. The device does come with electronic image stabilization during video recording as mentioned previously.

Final thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy A7 comes out with an impressive spec sheet on paper. And you can’t help but have raised expectations when interfacing with the device. Considering what we have seen with its flagship Galaxy and Note series, there’s a long road ahead before we have a well-rounded experience. With Samsung’s new strategy to focus on bringing new features and experiences down to the mid-range, we hope to see more feature-laden and performance heavy devices in this price segment in the times to come.

This is not a comprehensive review as we will be putting out a detailed review of the device in the coming days which will focus on other aspects of the Galaxy A7.

In the meantime, I will keep a close watch on any software updates that Samsung may roll out for any possible camera improvements.

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  • Published Date: October 8, 2018 5:34 PM IST