Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Shutter Lag and the EXIF ​​Mystery by Jose Antunes

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Shutter Lag and the EXIF ​​Mystery by Jose Antunes

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: shutter lag and the EXIF ​​mysterySamsung says its advanced Exynos 2200 ISP (image signal processor) has no shutter lag at 108MP… but that’s not really what I see when I shoot with my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Marketing hype is one thing, reality the other: Samsung devices have always been prone to lag when you press the shutter on your smartphone camera, and it hasn’t changed when you opt for the company’s actual flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S22. Ultra. You see, the problem is that by introducing its own image signal processor, the advanced Exynos 2200, the company says it comes with double the bandwidth to support resolutions up to 200MP and zero shutter lag at 108MP. Also, you can connect up to seven cameras and run four of them at the same time. With the help of the AI ​​engine, the ISP also offers custom color, white balance, exposure, and dynamic range options for each individual scene.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: shutter lag and the EXIF ​​mysteryWhile that sounds great on paper, the more I explore what the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra smartphone can do, the more I feel like Samsung fails to explain to users, and us photographers, how it all works under the hood. I’ve asked Samsung a few questions since the smartphone was released, from the effective MFD (minimum focusing distance) of the lenses used (crucial information for some serious photography and data that is usually included in the specifications) to the internal functions of the Expert RAW app, and I haven’t gotten any responses yet. The first questions were asked last February, so…

Lag when you shoot is a reality with the S22 Ultra. So “zero shutter lag” is a marketing thing that is not visible in the real world. Lag, for those unfamiliar with the name, is the delay between the moment you press the shutter and the exact moment the photo is taken. Try to capture the children playing and you will understand what lag is. Since I don’t usually photograph people, I had to try it myself, after a photographer friend who used the S22 Ultra to photograph children told me that she felt like I was “losing my touch”… It’s not like that, it’s the S22 Ultra lagging behind…

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Shutter Lag and the EXIF ​​3 MysterySamsung… where is zero shutter lag?

Other smartphone brands have handled this aspect, but I’m not sure how much relies on Artificial Intelligence. For example, Google’s Pixel 6 smartphone can take photos of people with sharp faces, even if the rest is blurry, thanks to a clever trick its AI does. Not sure how I want to go though… Just give me shutter speed control and the promised “zero shutter lag at 108 MP” that Samsung talks about, also extended to other cameras/lenses, and I’ll be happy . And to make things even better, a focus system that is faster and more accurate under low light levels than what is now available… Do you think I am asking too much? Well, it was Samsung who said that they are building smartphones for photographers…

As it stands now, it’s as if the S22 Ultra is more for photographers, who don’t care much about how the whole photographic process works and, yes, those who look at images of the Moon taken with the 100x digital zoom, meh! – and say “wow”… No, don’t get me wrong, I took some fantastic pictures with my S22 Ultra, but I’ve accepted, coming from film and conventional digital photography, that I need to trade resolution for emotion. and they have lower expectations when it comes to telephoto lenses.

That said, I’ve had fun exploring the Galaxy S22 Ultra (images posted here and in other articles should give you an idea), and I’m just getting started as there’s a lot to test, but I feel like Samsung delivers their “photographer smartphones” without instructions. Imagine having your next camera without a manual! It just doesn’t make sense… also because with the S22 Ultra you don’t just have to fight the AI, sometimes, to take your shot instead of the shot the engineers think is correct (what does the “Best Shot” information mean? that appears on the screen? mean?). It doesn’t end there though, because even when you think you’re in control, like when you use the Expert RAW app, which is said to be the tool that gives photographers the most options, you find that the AI ​​is still messing with your settings. and decide for yourself.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: shutter lag and the EXIF ​​mystery
EXIF information of the DNG and JPEG of the Expert RAW application

A Samsung mystery: EXIF ​​​​and digital zoom

A good example comes exactly from RAW expert – which Samsung continues to promote without REALLY explaining what’s under the hood. The app is, on paper at least, ideal if you want to use the power of RAW, as it creates a DNG file alongside a JPEG. Logically, you’d think of JPEG as similar to DNG, with some added automatic photo editing. This is how it should be. But if you want to check the EXIF ​​information of both files, you’ll discover, when shooting with the 3x and 10x telephoto lenses, that while the DNG is a result of the S22 Ultra’s optical lenses, the JPEGs appear to have been taken with the sensor. primary (108MP) on the 23mm camera and the result is…a 3x crop and…a 10x crop. Yes, it is digital and not optical…

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: shutter lag and the EXIF ​​mysteryWhile I understand that the idea behind using the Expert RAW app is to use the DNG files for editing, if you decide to use JPEG, it’s good to know that it’s apparently based on information captured by the main sensor with a crop applied. .and not the telephoto lens you used. Samsung doesn’t explain these things anywhere (if that’s how it works at all), but it would be nice if it told users, at least those who are interested, about the mechanics behind capturing photos using Expert RAW.

The most disconcerting thing though is that if you cover the main camera, when you use the Expert RAW app and shoot images with the 3x and 10x telephoto lens, you still get a couple of images, DNG and JPEG, one optical and the second. with what some call “a digital zoom”, according to EXIF… But how was the JPEG, which is based on a 3x or 10x crop, supposedly from the 108MP sensor, captured if the lens was covered? Can someone at Samsung explain this?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Shutter lag and the EXIF ​​4 mystery
EXIF Information in Pro Camera App JPEG and DNG Files

Pro mode and EXIF ​​data

But the surprises do not end there: if you use the Pro mode of the basic camera app and take photos with the two telephoto lenses -3x and 10x-, when you open the EXIF ​​​​from the DNG and the JPEG, you will realize that both files were made with the chosen optical focal length, meaning there is no “digital zoom” involved. At least, that’s what the EXIF ​​shows…

It’s really puzzling why Samsung has designed the camera systems this way, and even more baffling why they don’t explain to photographers the how and why behind the way the two apps and the S22 Ultra work. As this model, due to its focal length coverage (16 to 230mm), is the one photographers will choose if they want a smartphone to replace a camera, it makes sense for Samsung to be open about how it implemented the part of the camera. camera. of the device I think we would all learn something, and that includes the engineers behind these cameras. Perhaps Samsung’s next smartphone won’t be delayed, like the S22 Ultra is now…and less mysterious when it comes to how it works.

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