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Camera evolution: See image and video quality skyrocket from the original Galaxy S to the Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S family. From left to right – Galaxy S, Galaxy SII, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S5.

The Samsung Galaxy S family. From left to right – Galaxy S, Galaxy SII, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S5.


We often say that technology in the mobile industry is advancing at almost discomforting levels. Your single core flagship smartphone from several years ago sounds pathetic when put next to the upcoming beasts with Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 810. RAM also went way up – from 512MB to up to 3GB/4GB. The same kind of jump is also true for display sizes and resolutions, internal storage, connectivity features, and, yes, also the camera. But as time goes by, and we continue reinforcing this notion of rapid improvements, we're more and more in need of an actual, real-world showcase of this supposed progress – and not just with numbers. Today we'll be doing just that by pitting the original (and quite ancient) Galaxy S flagship against the very current Galaxy S5.

On paper, the upgrades are staggering. The image sensor got bigger and more pixel-dense, the software more sophisticated, the aperture bigger, and the underlying algorithms – more refined. Oh, and did you know that the original Galaxy S didn't even have an LED flash? That's right, no night photography for you – at all. The Galaxy S5 is also a much more capable camcorder. It can record at resolutions of up to 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) versus only 1280 x 720 with the Galaxy S. Even the selfie camera got a nice bump.

In order for you to be able to actually spot the differences, we down-scaled the S5's 16-megapixel shots to 5-megapixels (the resolution of the Galaxy S' camera) and then got our hands busy cropping identical scenarios. While these 100% crops are representative in terms of the improvements in detail and noise levels, the included full-sized, original shots at the end of each gallery below should not be skipped over, as they also paint a pretty telling picture. Use those to get a better sense of the rift between the two sensor's dynamic ranges and color reproduction and don't rely solely on crops.

We'll stay out of your way and let you focus on the shots at hand – obviously, the Galaxy S5 is the undeniably better shooter, so if that wasn't made crystal clear so far, then here it is. Let's get cracking.

Outdoors


Let's start with a few outdoor scenarios shot during the mid-day. Improvements seen in multiple places, including panoramas, which are enormous on the Galaxy S5 in comparison with the Galaxy S.


Indoors


You're not always shooting landscapes outside. Perhaps even more often than that, you'll be snapping images indoors, where light isn't quite as abundant. This, in turn, tests the camera sensor of your phone. Let's see if and how much more sophisticated the camera of the much newer Galaxy S5 is in comparison with the Galaxy S.


Video


Lastly, let's check out the improvements in video quality. As previously mentioned, the Galaxy S5 can shoot up to 4K UHD resolution video at 30 framers per second (FPS), which means many, many times more details than the 720p, 30 FPS footage produced by the Galaxy S. Details aside, the camcorder on the GS5 is significantly better in areas such as noise reduction and color accuracy.


Conclusion


We expected no surprises going into this, and were met with none. That's a good thing, for it underscores the fact that improvements are still being made. Sure, the rate is slowing down as diminishing returns kick in, as they say – the last 10% require 90% of the total effort. It's probably safe to say that we have now entered that phase.

23 Comments
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posted on 26 Jan 2015, 09:18 7

1. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3535; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Why is the Galaxy S better in some shots XDDD Especially the one of the Infiniti logo.

I mean that has to be fake look at number 4 of the outdoor shots WTF XDD

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 10:09

8. adecvat (Posts: 256; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Marketing.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 10:46

12. FluffyBled (Posts: 507; Member since: 10 Sep 2014)


In fact if you look at the zoom level ... you will realize Galaxy S photos are way smaller :D

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 18:59 1

19. oldhamletman (Posts: 72; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)


big hype, but it completely ignores the complete superiority of the Lumia 1020... until phone arena decides to be so radically Android biased, they will never be a serious review source

posted on 12 Jan 2016, 18:21

27. JoshN (Posts: 157; Member since: 01 Apr 2015)


i have Lumia 1020 an whilst the camera is amazing it takes 10 seconds to open !!!

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 19:36

20. Settings (Posts: 1497; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)


Now Samsung want S5 to look crappy to make the S6 look awesome. Right timing, just as he said its marketing.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 09:23 4

2. drassem80 (Posts: 11; Member since: 21 Jan 2015)


Well. The one thing that have not changed is touchwiz ( except maybe s5) and it was and still really ugly

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 10:02 5

7. TreyTreyTaylor (Posts: 626; Member since: 21 Dec 2010)


Your ugly.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 15:12 1

17. AhmadAlsayegh (Posts: 293; Member since: 18 Jul 2011)


*you're

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 11:35 1

14. tinyfirefly (Posts: 1; Member since: 26 Jan 2015)


/news/The-evolution-of-TouchWiz-5-years-of-change_​id55639

No. Just no.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 09:29 6

3. chocowii (Posts: 435; Member since: 30 Jan 2014)


Now do Xperia S up to Xperia Z3.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 09:52 5

5. kkmkk (Posts: 471; Member since: 06 May 2013)


you mean sony Ericsson arc to sony z3

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 10:36

9. RajRicardo (Posts: 389; Member since: 28 Feb 2014)


Damn right. I owned both the Arc S and the Xperia S and I gotta admit those cameras performed a lot better than the current Z3. I'm not talking about Auto or Manual modes..but about how the pics came out in general.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 12:32 1

15. Alex13.8 (Posts: 8; Member since: 24 Dec 2014)


What are you talking about man? Have you ever had an xperia z3 in your hands? What are you all talking about z3's camera? It's an awesome snapper. I've got 2 xperia z3 devices, I have also xperia z1 and two years ago I had an xperia Z device. All of them have a great camera. I'm fascinated by z3's camera. It's an awesome camera. None of you had this phone but all of you judge. Come on peopl!!! Before posting those stupid things take z3 and go out to shoot some awesome shots and than say. If you cannot take a good picture don't say that the phone performs badbadly, maybe the person that holds this camera cannot do it properly. Go on instagram, Flickr and see what people can do with xperia's cameras. Go and see and than make comments. The guy from my country won an international mobile camera competition and won xperia z3. He took an amazing photo with his xperia z1 device and won. AN INTERNATIONAL SMARTPHONE CAMERA COMPETITION MAN!!! That means that all smartphones could take part in that competition. Go and see his results. Go and the results of any other xperia z3, z2 or z1 owner's result. I won a photo camera competition with my old xperia z1 as well. If you just use your brain and know the camera settings you will always have a great shot. Non of the smartphone have 20 mpx camera on market. Thanks to it you can crop your image and you won't loose the image quality. I'm taking a lot of great shots with my z3 and z1 and I'm taking part in photo competition and people like my photos. I'm not a professional photographer. Don't blame Sony if you just cannot take good pictures because this is not a bad device but bad person who cannot take a good shot.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 11:04

13. CanYouSeeTheLight (Posts: 1116; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


You mean Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 to Sony Z3

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 09:38 2

4. lhtbinh1909 (Posts: 89; Member since: 02 Apr 2013)


Lumia, LG G serie, Sony Z, HTC One serie also please

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 09:56 2

6. NoFanboy (Posts: 298; Member since: 18 Nov 2013)


I wish this would actually load right on mobile.

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 10:45 2

11. PapaSmurf (Posts: 10439; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Loaded perfectly fine on my 6 Plus over LTE.

posted on 27 Jan 2015, 02:56

21. shahrooz (Posts: 716; Member since: 17 Sep 2013)


get UC browser ASAP

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 10:38 1

10. seven7dust (unregistered)


Nice to see the differences

on a different note , I still think the S2 had the best design of them all, Samsungs chanes since then have gone from okay to really bad
S3 was okay
S4 was below average
S5 is just plain bad.

Hope they go back to that style with the s6

posted on 26 Jan 2015, 12:38

16. .KRATOS. (Posts: 310; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


I still use galaxy s2

posted on 27 Jan 2015, 08:15 1

22. tiara6918 (Posts: 2027; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


s1,s2 and s5 has the best designs. s3 and s4 looks like a soap

posted on 28 Jan 2015, 13:08

26. javy108 (Posts: 1004; Member since: 27 Jul 2014)


I like S3 xD

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