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Photography is my life. It’s what I am most known for, and it’s no surprise that the number one make-or-break decision point for me when purchasing a new phone is the quality of its camera. I’m one of those people who only gets a new phone every 3 or 4 years, and I tend to take really good care of all of my devices, so I’m not usually one to jump on the latest phone bandwagon. A new phone is a fairly big purchase for most people, and one that definitely impacts my own daily life since I do a lot of on-the-go work on mine. I am fairly hard to please when it comes to features, so I really do my homework before finally settling on a phone that I plan to use for the next few years. My husband goes through them so quickly, but me? I buy mine for the long run, and when I heard about the impressive specs on the new Samsung Galaxy GS8, I knew it might just be time for a new one!
I am forever pulling out my phone to capture life as it happens, so having a great camera within it is super important. Since this is usually my deciding factor when choosing one, it is obviously the most important to me. The new GS8 offers a whopping 12 megapixel rear facing camera, an 8 megapixel front facing camera, and a huge toolbox of bells and whistles to go along with it. I will be talking more about this impressive image making machine a bit later in the post, but first, I want to share a little about the phone in general and why I chose to buy an unlocked version.
The first thing I want to say is that I am not a fan of visiting my mobile carrier store. I have been with my company for over 6 years, and to this day I will avoid making a trip if I possibly can. I dislike the long lines, the laundry list of terms for upgrades and device changes, and I am not a fan of the salespeople trying to upsell me on every.single.thing. Being a researcher at heart, I do the work before I get there, I know what I want, and I don’t need a 45 minute consultation just to activate a new device. So, when I saw the just released Samsung GS8 and GS8+ being sold unlocked on Walmart.com I scooped one up, placed my order, and 3 days later it was delivered to my door.
So what does “unlocked” mean? It means that you can truly purchase a phone like you do anything else – without any strings attached. You purchase the device, and you can choose your carrier, data plan, services, features, and more! Unlocked by Samsung phones work on multiple U.S. networks, and setting up your phone is easier than you would think – all you have to do is pop in a compatible SIM card and voila, done!* It also has a standard limited warranty that guarantees it lives up to the exceptional standards that you expect from Samsung.
Moving on, the GS8 has the world’s first Infinity Screen, so the full width display goes from edge to edge. I love large phone screens, so this is a must for me! Another must? Water resistance, and the SG8 can handle a splash or spill with no problems. It has an IP68 water resistant rating, and when you have kids that constantly want to play with your phone, you never know what could happen. With this one, I don’t have to worry about sinks or accidental drink spillages.
Now that I’ve talked about everything else, it is time to dive in to just how amazing the camera on this phone is. It is truly a photography forward phone, and I am super happy to finally be able to play with it! If you are a fellow photographer, I know you will appreciate all the options that come with the SG8. If you aren’t a photographer, here are my tried-and-true tips for being the best phone photographer you can be, with this phone or any other phone. Enjoy!
FIND YOUR CONTROLS AND LEARN THEM.
This first one sounds like a no-brainer, but some people don’t even realize that they can adjust their phone’s camera beyond having the flash on or off. A few years ago it was unheard of, but these days you have the ability to control things like ISO, shutter speed, white balance, aperture, and even more! Not all phones have these options, but if you’re shopping around for one, the GS8 is fully loaded with an array of image capabilities. Right off the bat here, the GS8 gives you the option to shoot in auto if you want more of a “hands off” approach, and then advances from there:
- Pro is for those who want to control all of your manual settings (light, speed, depth of field, etc).
- Panorama is, well, a panoramic view.
- Selective focus allows you to choose a point in your frame, tap it, and the device blurs out from around it.
- “Food” is a really cool feature – it enhances colors, and spotlights your subject.
Once you select your mode, you can customize even further. Pro mode is my favorite, and as you can see the controls are very easy to navigate. You can also select a color scheme from pre-set filter options.
The second tip I have for taking better phone photos is to get close to your subject. This phone does have a great zoom, but when quality matters you don’t want to have to use it. I always suggest zooming with your body (getting physically close to your subject) for the best image quality. See how gorgeous the image below is? It really picks up some great detail because I was super close to it when I snapped. I also used he “selective focus” feature on the GS8, which adds depth by separating objects on different planes and slightly blurring the one in the background. This give the illusion of having a shallow depth of field, which in photography terms is hat gives backgrounds that buttery smooth texture.
It’s Okay To Crop
Years ago, when phones didn’t really emphasize the cameras in them, if you cropped and enlarged an image taken on one it would look like a fuzzy, pixelated mess. But guess what? These days, with phone cameras being better than ever, you CAN crop and save crisp clear images. So, if you can’t get the framing you want, or just can’t get as close to your subject as you would like, it’s okay! You can also set your aspect ratio (photo dimensions) in your tools menu, which helps you get used to working with your frame. I like to keep mine at 4:3, but the GS8 has several options to choose from.
I know I get super technical with the photography stuff. But really, the best advice I can give is to keep it fun! Don’t be too in to snapping the perfect shot that you miss the life that is happening in front of you. I love being behind the lens, but it isn’t always about finding the perfect shot. Luckily the GS8 has some fun real-time photo overlays to lighten the mood, and both my kids think it is the coolest thing ever!
¹ Wireless voice, data and messaging services on Samsung Unlocked Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge devices are compatible with most major U.S. GSM and CDMA networks. For these devices, wireless services are available on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile and CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular®. Visit www.samsung.com for more information on your device. Support for certain features and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot, vary by wireless service provider. Wireless voice, data and messaging services on Samsung Unlocked Galaxy S6 and Galaxy J3 devices are compatible with most major U.S. GSM networks. For these devices, wireless services are available on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Visit www.samsung.com for more information on your device. Support for certain features and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot, vary by wireless service provider.
SIM card must be compatible with area’s available networks. International calling, data services and coverage vary by network provider. Contact provider for details.
.² This Samsung Unlocked phone will work on any GSM or CDMA compatible network. For these devices, wireless services are available on GSM networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile and CDMA networks such as Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular®. Support for certain rate plans, features, and services such as VoWiFi and hotspot vary by wireless service provider. SIM card must be compatible with area’s available networks. International calling, data services and coverage vary by network provider. Contact provider for details.
³ For more information on Samsung standard U.S. limited warranty, go to samsung.com/customersupport/xxx