It’s a hard time being a traditional digital camera manufacturer as total sales of standalone digital cameras (SLR, Mirrorless and Compact) continue to dive. The recent launch of flagship smartphones with 2x optical zoom like the Samsung Note 8 will only accelerate this trend.
The graph below was created by photographer Sven Skafisk and the yellow part showing smartphone camera sales only shows a fraction of how much these dominate overall camera sales, if I hadn’t cropped the photo height you would have had to scroll down the tall yellow columns for ages.
As I mentioned in my recent indepth Note 8 camera review I found the 2x optical zoom quite handy. Scott too found the inclusion of a 1.6x optical zoom on the OnePlus 5 handy in his review of the phone.
The Note 8 back main camera has a dual LED flash and takes 12MP photos using a 1/2.55″ size sensor with large 1.4µm sized pizels at f/1.7 aperture. The second back camera used for optical 2x zoom is also 12MP but with a smaller 1/3.6″ sensor, 1µm pixels and slower but still impressive f/2.4 aperture.
The main Note 8 back camera is relatively wide angle with 77 degree field of view at 26mm (35mm lens equiv) and the second zoom camera lets you capture field of view 45 degrees at 52mm.
At time of writing DXOMark had rated the Note 8’s optical zoom photos as superior to all currently sold smartphones including the iPhone X.
I thought I’d test this claim at a NSW vs Victoria cricket match I attended recently. Bearing in mind the sky was overcast, the photos are in order from 1x and 2x (good optical zoom quality) to 3x, 4x and 5x (surprisingly decent digital zoom results).
I recently sold all my high end Canon SLR gear and L lenses because as I got older I found them too heavy to carry around. Samsung’s Note 8 is currently my main camera while I decide whether to buy a pocketable high end compact camera like the Sony RX100 V.
Of course the Note 8 doesn’t capture images as well as a high end compact or SLR. However it’s much more convenient for composing photos, viewing and sharing them.
The day is coming probably sooner than we expect when high end flagship camera phones will have better than 2x optical zoom and clever enough software algorithms to be able to take photos at a similar quality level to high end compact digital cameras.
Samsung has allowed Ausdroid to keep this unit to compare against other flagship phones with optical zoom