If you interested in my roadtest and review of the Samsung S8 and S8+ models please see my earlier posts. This post is a reflection on how the Workshop attendees reacted to the S8 phones, by being plunged straight into a photography competition to win one of the handsets. (The photographs in this post are all by the workshop attendees)
Everyone adapted quickly to the handset, compliments were made regarding the quality of the feel of the phone. The buttons and fingerprint reader are situated on your natural phone grip and the photographers had no problems with access to the phone or using the camera.
The main attraction for me and the attendees was the huge, and beautifully sharp screen. Both models have an 83% screen ratio. It looks fantastic on the more discreet S8, but on the S8+ it is hugely impressive. This screen paired with the 1.7 Aperture lens (great for dramatic depth of field) and the 1.4 umpixels (very large pixels that can pick up a huge amount of tone even in low light) gave a startlingly crisp, well toned image with a rich and sensitive colour range. The screen has been extended to almost the very edges of the phone. By using bevelled glass and a bigger screen, the S8/S8+ screen now has what Samsung have termed The Infinity Display.
Our photographers became quickly confident using the on camera processing and I saw some good use of perspective shifts, saturation boosts, adjustments to contrast, exposure, cropping and some filter use, with the intensity dialled down for a more refined effect. A couple of the bloggers were dabbling with the HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode.
There was some use of the Pro mode and photographers experimenting with long shutter speeds and using the selective focus to create images with a dramatic depth of field and some nice bokeh, as in this shot:
As a professional photographer, I work with high level, specialised equipment daily. High level equipment yields greater results in the right hands. I feel like I am still learning everyday, which I firmly believe is a positive thing. Today; I am genuinely surprised how powerful and advanced the camera and screen is on the Samsung S8 and S8+. The huge 12MP 1.4 umpixel sensor gives you rich and balanced tones from the darkest of environments to blazing sunshine. The 1.7 aperture is substantially large and will allow you extreme depth of field, and the ability to maintain a decent image quality while shooting in dark areas. In Pro Mode, with Selective Focus selected, you have all of the same control settings of a DSLR (Shutter Speed, Aperture/Selective Focus, ISO, White Balance). By using this mode, you will not only get a thorough understanding of how your camera works, but also how to push the camera to its limits. The additional HDR mode is well tuned. The on camera post processing/editing is powerful and extensive. In addition to the range of filters, you have advanced editing options as found in Photoshop and Lightroom such as Perspective Adjustment, which is great for making all of your angles unnervingly perfect. Myself and the Workshop attendees found the editing software easy to use, and quite refined. Often adding a filter and reducing the intensity would produce a nicely refined image, and if you are looking to present images for an article or blog post, using the same editing process for all of your photographs should give a sense of appropriateness to the photographs as a collection.
The phone handles well, naturally and intuitively. While they share some similarities with some of their competitors, in the way the user interfaces with the handset - it feels like Samsung have strived to examine and improve every aspect of the interface. For example; the print, iris and face recognition, the pressure sensitive glass front screen, the home button placed under the thumb's natural grip, the quick shortcuts; they all contribute to the sense of ease of use. Combine this with some serious camera, lens and screen design and you have a high spec, stylish and powerful piece of tech.