I’ve been testing the Galaxy Note 10’s camera for almost a week, and it’s clear that Samsung is trying way too hard to make photos look good

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Taken with the Galaxy Note 10. Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I’ve been using the Galaxy Note 10 for a few days now, which has given me a good chance to take some photos.

The Galaxy Note 10 has three cameras that actually take photos, and a fourth for depth-sensing for apps like the 3D Scanner and the tape measure app.

Suffice it to say, then, that all you really need are the three lenses that actually take photos:

  • The primary lens is 12 megapixels for regular photos.
  • The ultra-wide-angle lens is 16 megapixels and takes, well, ultra-wide photos.
  • The zoomed lens is 12 megapixel for better shots of objects further away.

The results are mixed, in my opinion. The Note 10, as well as previous Samsung smartphones, don’t always take photos that I like, mostly due to an over-excited HDR mode in Samsung phones. And HDR is as present and glaring as ever in the Note 10.

Samsung fans must like the intense Samsung HDR enhancement, because the company keeps it very active with every release, and the artificial enhancements are only getting more and more intense with every new model.

Either way, have a look at what the Galaxy Note 10’s camera can do:


Here’s New York City from outside Business Insider’s office. The Galaxy Note 10’s camera is looking pretty good so far …

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… upon closer inspection, details are crisp and clear, but colours seem a little washed out.

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Bringing things back to nature, the Galaxy Note 10’s camera makes greens look overly bright — almost neon. The lighting is also pretty flat, a result of Samsung’s obsession with HDR (high dynamic range).

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HDR takes several photos at different exposures to reveal details in dark areas, but I’d argue that Samsung’s HDR is too much. Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

For reference, here’s the same photo taken with the Pixel 3, which looks a lot closer to what I actually saw than the Note 10’s photo.

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This one looks way better in my opinion, but it’s up to you. Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Here’s another example of Samsung’s overactive HDR, which makes photos look weird, in my opinion. My cat, Wally, looks like he’s been heavily photoshopped.

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The lighting on Wally’s fur is even all over his body, even though there should be a darker shadowy part around his belly. Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Doesn’t it feel like this tree should be a lot darker? (And I’m telling you right now that the grass is not that neon colour.)

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You can turn off Samsung’s HDR in the Note 10’s settings, but it doesn’t seem to do very much. For this totem pole, I took two photos with and without HDR. I honestly can’t tell which one is which.

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Here’s the other photo of the totem pole, which may or may not have HDR enabled.

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Still, the Note 10 takes nice photos of scenery …

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… and it’s not totally inept in the outdoors.

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It can handle indoor lighting very well …

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… in fact, the Note 10 handles indoor photos extremely well. It takes better photos indoors than outdoors …

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… and I’m a huge fan of ultra-wide cameras on smartphones.

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Selfies look pretty nice, too. Can you tell I never, ever take selfies?

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Night mode … is there, sure, but it’s not very good. You have to stay very still while taking photos in night mode, just as you do with the Pixel 3’s Night Sight. But you absolutely don’t get the same result with the Galaxy Note 10.

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The Galaxy Note 10 has the makings of a good camera, but a lot of the photos are somewhat ruined by Samsung’s over-eager enhancements. That’s just my opinion, as many millions of Samsung owners surely love the photos their phones take.

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