Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Diary: Three Photo Modes That Delight Me

If we talk about the camera of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, then it meets the expectations of a modern flagship smartphone: separate lenses for wide-angle shooting and optical zoom, good shooting at night. At the same time, the camera of this model compares favorably (like this year’s flagships in the Galaxy S20 line) by shooting video in resolution up to 8K (7680×4320 pixels) and has several proprietary operating modes invented by Samsung developers, which I regularly use and which I want to talk about. These modes allow you to take great and expressive pictures effortlessly, using all the processing power of the flagship processor.


This shooting mode (in the Ukrainian interface it is called “One frame”) first appeared in the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy ZFlip, but here they also added the ability to adjust the shooting time from 5 to 15 seconds. In this mode, the camera records video in a resolution of 1440×1080 and simultaneously takes a series of 4 pictures000x3000, of which, using its own algorithm, it cuts several images, applying filters and videos with various effects selected by the algorithm, for example, fast reverse playback, looped video. What the algorithm will do is never known in advance, which adds excitement and introduces a certain factor of randomness in working with this mode. Why is he needed then? – you ask, if nothing can be controlled? The idea is that we never have enough frames to capture moments that cannot be repeated. Anyone who has filmed animals or children understands very well what this is about. In order to “feed” the algorithms more interesting data for processing and choosing the best results, it is recommended to change camera angles during recording. You can stop recording at any time by pressing the button.

In the Phone Gallery, such pictures are marked with a circle in the lower left corner of the frame. If you open this frame, then the whole series will unfold there. When transferring a series, for example, to a cloud service, both raw video with sound and the results of the algorithms will be sent. In this case, when filming the Shenborn castle in Transcarpathia, we got two pictures with filters (one of them is monochrome) and a short one-second video, edited by smartphone algorithms with a sound track.

The results of the pictures look like this:

And this is how the edited video with sound:

To some, such shooting games may seem too simple, and the problem being solved is far-fetched, but parents of children and pet owners will receive a lot of successful (and not very) short videos that they will brag to friends and relatives – very narrow, but very grateful audience. And if you think about it, the success of TikTok just means that people like such short videos.

Any frame can be designated the “best” and send the video for editing, where you can trim it yourself, add titles and overlay a soundtrack. It feels like the algorithms are still trying to determine whether you are shooting a video or choosing an advantageous angle for a static shot, and, accordingly, offer more photos or more videos. It is logical to assume that for this, what is happening in the frame is assessed and how much dynamics there is in it (if it means a lot, we are still talking about video). In general, a lot of experiments await the inquisitive photographer, although, I repeat, this mode is also available in other Samsung smartphones.

Live focus

Another mode, which is not unique to the Galaxy Note 20 Utra, but is only available in Samsung smartphones, is Live Focus (in the Ukrainian version, Dynamic Focus. The Ukrainian translation speaks more about this mode – you can change focus settings in it) object and change the blur and color filters of the image to achieve artistic and expressive effects.Of course, something similar can be done with other third-party software, but who from ordinary users will install them? All this wealth is already part of the native camera interface.

As a result, the result looks like this:

You can choose not only the filter, but also the focus point, thus highlighting the necessary objects in the picture. What exactly transmits the frame depends on this and what the viewer’s attention focuses on.

Final photo:

Interestingly, this is all true for the front camera, which allows you to take selfies.

Perhaps the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has one of the best front cameras I’ve come across. The picture was taken in low light conditions – in a car in a tunnel wash. The detail is, of course, impressive.

It should be said that there is a dynamic focusing mode not only for photos, but also for videos.

Night shooting

Night mode in smartphone cameras, along with the periscope zoom, which we’ll talk about later, has become one of the big technological breakthroughs in mobile photography of the last year. Night shots, which are essentially a modification of HDR, impress even the trained viewer. This achievement appeared due to the high processing power of modern mobile processors, capable of taking a series of pictures (the camera takes them, depending on the lighting, from 2 to 7 seconds), analyzing the image and processing it so that a bright picture is obtained. What amazes me most is that you can get bright pictures in the dark, even of moving objects. This suggests to me that in the near future the struggle will begin for night video shooting – where the count will go to 25-30 frames per second, in each of which it will be necessary to increase the dynamic range in real time in high resolution.

Here’s a nightly flashlight shot from a balcony. It looks, if not magical, then worthy, taking into account the fact that for several seconds, while the shooting was carried out, the objects moved. On the crop, of course, everything is not so impressive, but let me remind you that we are talking about night photography, not at dusk.

With the optical zoom, things get worse – the main camera has a larger aperture than the periscope.

Another frame with a crop – the flashlight is, of course, blurred, but I remind you once again that it was constantly moving and any previous generation camera would have removed just a light blurry spot instead.

To really appreciate the complexity of shooting, here’s what it looks like in a video that doesn’t (yet) have a night mode:

And so that you don’t have any doubts about the possibilities of night shooting, here are some shots in static scenes (the first frame is in the night mode, the second one is in the usual one, but with the automatic scene selection mode on:

Or here’s a shot where one light source is enough to get good results.

Three important things to know about the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s interesting camera modes:

  • Using the “multiframe»It makes it easy to capture the most difficult subjects in photography: children and pets. One click on the button and you already have several options for videos and successful pictures with filters selected by self-learning automation
  • Mode “live focus»Allows you to effectively highlight the desired fragment of the picture, using one of five options for blurring focus or lowering the color. And it works for both photos and videos.
  • Special “night mode»Will take a bright shot even with the minimum amount of light in the frame. In principle, this is true even for moving objects.

For those who want to know more

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