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Low light camera performance test: Galaxy S7 vs Galaxy S6 edge+

Low light camera performance test: Galaxy S7 vs Galaxy S6 edge+

Well, folks, as expected, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are now a reality and chock-full of the latest and greatest smartphone hardware. Some may be surprised by this, but Sammy actually knocked down the resolution of its flagships' cameras to 12 MP from 16 MP in their predecessors. However, contrary to a belief that is still somewhat popular, it's not all about the megapixels. Sensor, aperture, and pixel size are also pretty important factors that determine how much light the camera is able to capture in the short period of time that a snap is taken. For the price of reducing the camera's resolution by 4 MP, Samsung gained individual pixels sized at 1.4 μm — a substantial upgrade over the 1.12 μm pixels of the Galaxy S7. The aperture and sensor have also grown to F1.7 and 1/2.5", from F1.9 and 1/2.6" on the older flagship.

OK, OK, enough numbers and technical words – how does this affect the new Galaxies, exactly? Well, the new cameras should be able to perform noticeable better in low-light conditions. Think no-flash bar shots, twilight photography, and even night shots. The Galaxy S6 and its siblings was pretty good in those areas, considering it's a smartphone and not a professional grade camera, and we were curious to check how the S7 does. Of course, a short hands-on time is not enough to put the camera through a lot of different conditions, but Samsung at least had set up a box for low-light photography tests.

The box in question has a picture set up inside it, and the luminance inside measures at 1.5 lux, according to Samsung (1 lux equals the amount of light that falls on a one-square-meter surface that is one meter away from a single candle. In other words – it's pretty dim in there). We had both a Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy S7 set in Pro mode and both had their settings at identical levels — 1/6 shuter speed and ISO 640 – cookie-cutter values for dark environments. So, the difference you see between both pictures comes entirely from the different sensors and any possible changes into the post-processing algorithms, which we have no access to.

Galaxy S6 edge+
Galaxy S7
Galaxy S6 edge+ Galaxy S7

100% crop 1


Galaxy S6 edge+
Galaxy S7
Galaxy S6 edge+ Galaxy S7

100% crop 2


Galaxy S6 edge+
Galaxy S7
Galaxy S6 edge+ Galaxy S7

Admittedly, it's not a mindblowing distinction, especially when we view the images in normal zoom, as most consumers would. The Galaxy S7 produces a slightly brighter image. One could argue that it's also slightly more yellowish, but since we don't know how exactly the box looked from the inside, it could also be said that it's the Galaxy S6 edge+ that produces a more blueish image.

Zooming in for a 100% crop, we can see that the older Galaxy introduces a bit more grainy noise when compared to its successor. Again, it's not a difference that might cause one to immediately sell their Galaxy S6 and pre-order the S7, but we appreciate the upgrade to an already great camera. You can check out or even download the full images from the gallery below and inspect them up close at your leisure. What do you think?

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posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:04 7

1. tedkord (Posts: 12285; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


More brighter?

posted on 03 Mar 2016, 03:34

76. NewroticSlob (Posts: 102; Member since: 09 May 2013)


Much more...! :)

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:06 9

4. DoggyDangerous (Posts: 896; Member since: 28 Aug 2015)


I cant see any big difference. S7 is marginally better than S6 Edge+

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:49

18. bur60 (Posts: 853; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)


Let me tell you this, this is a picture of a picture, so a static object which relies on lighting directed to it. If you took the picture in reallife you would see a huge difference because the scenery really gives off light that goes into the sensor. Just wait for actual comparisons. I think it's pretty good

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 13:37 1

42. joevsyou (Posts: 850; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)


yes this is a picture of a picture, however this isn't just some picture on the wall. the box was made with the purpose of testing a camera

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 10:15 3

22. nodes (Posts: 748; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)


as expected from Galaxy S6 S, it's only an incremental upgrade, wait for S7 next year.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 11:07 1

33. Macready (Posts: 1133; Member since: 08 Dec 2014)


It's hard to compare still, because the S7 has a 26mm equiv lens, while the S6 has a 28mm equiv lens, the latter thus resulting in a larger magnification. So if you compare the same object in the picture, the S6 has a head start in terms of detail when taken from the same distance

The above combined with the extra megapixels and different sensor aspect ratios, means that the S6 has 55% more pixels to cover the same subject shot from the same distance. Some of that will be lost in NR, because pixel level noise will be higher too, but in theory, more pixels allow for better NR too.

That being said, I expected a slightly larger difference in detail/noise balance, mostly because of the extra light from the larger aperture and the slightly larger sensor. Even if it only accounts for about (or slightly less than) half a stop total improvement on paper. RAW will be more enlightening.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 13:36

41. joevsyou (Posts: 850; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)


thats not a bad thing, Samsung is on the top when it comes to camera's on phones and the s6 packs a amazing camera already. the s7 takes it to the next level with the duel pixels for fast focusing speed and better lighting. With that test above the s7 took a picture of what it really should look light while the s6 put a tint blue across the picture

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 15:27 1

48. HomerS (Posts: 223; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)


This test was ment to show how much faster the S7 can autofocus on the image and that it is less grainy. Phonearena totally missed that.

Check the test out:
https://youtu.be/7G-7wJM7hcc?t=8m31s

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 17:12 2

55. joeytaylor (Posts: 464; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)


The S7 autofocus is nuts. ..played with it today at best buy

posted on 25 Feb 2016, 16:04

73. epdm2be (Posts: 556; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)


Thanks for pointing this out and providing that link. I was also totally unaware of this.
That auto-focus on the S7 is indeed incredibly quick. Wow.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:06

5. KillTheKardashians (banned) (Posts: 93; Member since: 19 Feb 2016)


saw better comparisons on youtube

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:06 1

6. willy.4 (Posts: 53; Member since: 14 Oct 2015)


I thought you gave sources for posting's ... Anyway they won't let me post the link where I saw this yesterday .... on Samsung news site .... It will explain it in greater detail.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:14 2

9. paul.k (Posts: 165; Member since: 17 Jul 2014)


It's the official Samsung box at the Samsung booth. We are pretty sure they don't change the picture inside for every different reporter that comes by :)

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 15:30 1

49. HomerS (Posts: 223; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)


This test was ment to show the autofocus speed of the dual pixels and not how much more light it can process.

The light test was with the model in the dark room.

I thought you guys knew this?!

posted on 29 Feb 2016, 07:04

75. dd11 (Posts: 11; Member since: 20 Jul 2010)


Out door not-so-low light tests: allaboutsamsung.de/2016/02/das-samsung-galaxy-s7-e​dge-bei-schlechtem-licht-ausprobiert/

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:25 3

13. ibend (Posts: 5119; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


source? what source?
I believe its from MWC, and they shoot it with their own hand (just like other tech site)

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:19

10. nebula (Posts: 620; Member since: 20 Feb 2015)


It seems S6 and s7 both are a little off colour ( magenta vs green) but S7 is brighter

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:25 2

12. GreenMan (Posts: 1439; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


Still can't hold a candle against my 8 Year Old DSLR!

Now, don't tell me things I already know... I'm well aware that I'm trolling...

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:44 3

15. Supraman21 (Posts: 326; Member since: 09 Jun 2010)


No s**t, Sherlock.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:44 14

16. TyrionLannister (unregistered)


Can your 8 year old DSLR record in 4k?

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:48 2

17. GreenMan (Posts: 1439; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


@TyrionLannister Fair Enough, lad!

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 10:16 2

23. nodes (Posts: 748; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)


not that different with 5 mins recording.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 10:21 6

24. TyrionLannister (unregistered)


You stop at 5 min. Start again 0.1 sec later and stitch them together later.

When there's a will, there's a way ;)

posted on 25 Feb 2016, 01:15

61. Prizm (Posts: 9; Member since: 21 Feb 2016)


Or do HDR?

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:50 2

19. bur60 (Posts: 853; Member since: 07 Jul 2014)


Can you stick your dslr into ur front pocket?

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 09:55 4

20. GreenMan (Posts: 1439; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


@bur60 Well, I can't stick a 5.7" Phablet in my front pocket, either!

So... Right back at ya!

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 10:27 3

25. Pattyface (Posts: 1636; Member since: 20 Aug 2014)


Someone's wearing skinny jeans again

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 10:48

28. iushnt (Posts: 1785; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)


I stick my mediapad x2 in my front pocket.

posted on 24 Feb 2016, 16:16

51. tedkord (Posts: 12285; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Disco is dead. Lose the skinny jeans. I carry my Note 5 in my front pocket every day, and it's in a good sized case.

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