06-04-2020 10:49 PM
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  1. neil74's Avatar
    I recently returned a OnePlus 8 pro due to screen burn-in and thought I would take a punt on the S20 ultra rather than go back to the S20+, I purchased it from John Lewis in the UK so unlike some retailers (looking at you Carphonewarehouse) they do have generous and fair returns policy.

    Firstly I like it a lot more than I thought I would, it does not feel too big and just feels planted and more solid than the OnePlus did and the extra screen jump from the plus is noticeable IMO too. Here comes the but though which is that the camera is a mess when used indoors, yes it has the trademark Samsung blurry vision if your subject even thinks about moving a fraction but I knew that going in. The biggest issue though is the autofocus, now I also kind of also knew about this going in but with 3 rounds of fixes and many seeming happy now I hoped it would be ok and in a lot of conditions it is ok but in some it is just a mess. I used to shoot for a living and it actually reminds me of the Canon 1D MK3 that I briefly owned (a camera that was the tipping point in a decision to move to Nikon) It just seems to be attracted to focus elsewhere in the scene if there is something with more contrast even if that is not near where you are putting the AF point, that and sometimes it would just back-focus for no reason at all! Have added a few examples below.

    Appreciate that this is torture test with the dark cat and higher contrast elsewhere in the scene but it is one that an iPhone 11 or Pixel has no issues with. I must have taken 20 images and every one had the cat soft and was either front or back focussed on the pillow or chair. I tried fixed AF and also tracking but this did not seem to change the results, interestingly I also tried Gcam go and ZGCAM and hit the same issue which points to a hardware constraint maybe? I am also on Exynos FWIW.

    I might actually go down the Samsung support rabbit hole and see what they say.....
    Attached Thumbnails S20 Ultra - Autofocus is a mess after latest update!-20200506_150639.jpg   S20 Ultra - Autofocus is a mess after latest update!-20200506_150400.jpg   S20 Ultra - Autofocus is a mess after latest update!-20200506_150253.jpg   S20 Ultra - Autofocus is a mess after latest update!-20200506_145941.jpg  
    05-06-2020 10:14 AM
  2. neil74's Avatar
    Update, forgot to add that this issue seems most prominent when focussing close ish, I am not talking macro here but 1 to 2 ft which should be comfortably outside the minimum focus distance which I think is about 6 inches.
    05-06-2020 11:09 AM
  3. jweimn's Avatar
    Update, forgot to add that this issue seems most prominent when focussing close ish, I am not talking macro here but 1 to 2 ft which should be comfortably outside the minimum focus distance which I think is about 6 inches.
    So it's an issue with the lense hardware itself, I forget the exact technical details with it but when you are close in on a object it blurs the edges quite a bit. From what I kept reading on it there isn't really any kind of software update that can actually fix it.
    05-06-2020 12:08 PM
  4. cardboard60's Avatar
    It seems, sometimes, the updates change how some things operate..
    And mess up some others..

    Why.
    05-06-2020 12:21 PM
  5. Mooncatt's Avatar
    From what I've seen described, I suspect it's the wide aperture causing a shallow depth of field, made even more shallow due to the closeness of the subject. Not a defect, just a hardware issue people don't understand or expect.
    blackhawkhot and Gray Area like this.
    05-06-2020 12:22 PM
  6. jweimn's Avatar
    From what I've seen described, I suspect it's the wide aperture causing a shallow depth of field, made even more shallow due to the closeness of the subject. Not a defect, just a hardware issue people don't understand or expect.
    That's what I was thinking of! It's a shame Samsung didn't take it into account
    05-06-2020 12:32 PM
  7. donm527's Avatar
    Maybe this would help people get an understanding of depth of field in this video... He shows a great way to explain it at the 8:30 mark. This guy is more photography specific but I like the way he explains things. The video is about the Xiamo Mi Note 10 but it uses the exact same 108mp Samsung sensor used in the Ultra which he also says has the exact same problem. He did also review the Ultra if you want to hear techy camera stuff about the Ultra.

    From what I've seen described, I suspect it's the wide aperture causing a shallow depth of field, made even more shallow due to the closeness of the subject. Not a defect, just a hardware issue people don't understand or expect.


    05-06-2020 12:53 PM
  8. neil74's Avatar
    From what I've seen described, I suspect it's the wide aperture causing a shallow depth of field, made even more shallow due to the closeness of the subject. Not a defect, just a hardware issue people don't understand or expect.
    Yes and no.

    I get the shallow depth of field (I used to shoot a lot of stuff FF with a prime) these shots though we're focused on the cats face very deliberately so this is either a focus calibration or accuracy issue.
    05-06-2020 12:57 PM
  9. donm527's Avatar
    Well, it's a first gen new sensor for them so... first gen issues. If you believe past articles, they are already moving on to 150 mp sensor with the S21 and beyond. Samsung is going for the numbers games like they often do. Too much to hope but I hope they really been making changes that might show up on the Note 20.

    https://www.sammobile.com/news/inter...ng-considered/

    That's what I was thinking of! It's a shame Samsung didn't take it into account
    05-06-2020 01:00 PM
  10. neil74's Avatar
    I think the sensor size is overplayed too, the ultras sensor is really not big enough alone for such a shallow depth of field nor is the f-stop that wide relatively speaking.

    Something else about the lens/sensor combo maybe? Or likely just an issue with the accuracy of the phase detect AF
    05-06-2020 01:03 PM
  11. jweimn's Avatar
    Well, it's a first gen new sensor for them so... first gen issues. If you believe past articles, they are already moving on to 150 mp sensor with the S21 and beyond. Samsung is going for the numbers games like they often do. Too much to hope but I hope they really been making changes that might show up on the Note 20.

    https://www.sammobile.com/news/inter...ng-considered/
    Yea I saw that, but the question is even a higher mp sensor would make the issue worse?
    05-06-2020 01:04 PM
  12. blackhawkhot's Avatar
    That's what I was thinking of! It's a shame Samsung didn't take it into account
    It's the shooter that needs to do that. All lens have their strengths, weaknesses and limitations.
    Back up and make sure the AF lock on point is on the subject's closest eye if doable.
    These pics seem to have a bit of cam shake too.
    Gray Area likes this.
    05-06-2020 01:20 PM
  13. blackhawkhot's Avatar
    I think the sensor size is overplayed too, the ultras sensor is really not big enough alone for such a shallow depth of field nor is the f-stop that wide relatively speaking.

    Something else about the lens/sensor combo maybe? Or likely just an issue with the accuracy of the phase detect AF
    Is the AF being used right?
    Are all the supporting apks functioning correctly?
    Make sure none are disabled.
    Clear the caches for all of them, there are quit a few, clear data it that doesn't work.
    >Boot menu>Clear System Cache *this*
    Then try again.
    Gray Area likes this.
    05-06-2020 01:26 PM
  14. neil74's Avatar
    It's the shooter that needs to do that.
    These pics seem to have a bit of cam shake too.
    Maybe, but I don’t think so. Look at the last one, you can clearly see it is sharp on the cushion behind his head.

    He happens to be in his favourite spot again right now, just fired off this one with an 11 pro. First attempt in arguably worse light and looks fine. Did a few more with the s20 ultra and the got the same as earlier.
    Attached Thumbnails S20 Ultra - Autofocus is a mess after latest update!-fcfe4850-af06-4b21-9c98-4921b60d0d77.jpg  
    05-06-2020 01:38 PM
  15. blackhawkhot's Avatar
    Maybe, but I don’t think so. Look at the last one, you can clearly see it is sharp on the cushion behind his head.

    He happens to be in his favourite spot again right now, just fired off this one with an 11 pro. First attempt in arguably worse light and looks fine. Did a few more with the s20 ultra and the got the same as earlier.
    That's an AF lock on miss. The AF searches for high contrast targets. Try getting a lock up on the eye.

    Pro cam bodies are much better at this, you use a point AF lock.
    A lense like the Canon 50L or 70-200 f/2.8 L could grab that easy.
    05-06-2020 01:55 PM
  16. Mike Dee's Avatar
    That's what I was thinking of! It's a shame Samsung didn't take it into account
    They probably did take it into account.
    05-06-2020 03:42 PM
  17. neil74's Avatar
    The sensor is smaller than even a 1” compact and I never saw DOF this shallow on the RX100 or G7x I used to own even wide open.

    Oneplus 8 pro has a similarly large sensor and I found that to be pretty good (other than the burn in!)

    It would make zero sense to go with a fixed aperture that forces such a shallow DOF on the main camera so I cannot believe this was intentional.
    05-06-2020 04:07 PM
  18. blackhawkhot's Avatar
    They probably did take it into account.
    Hard to say with Samsung... they're like a bunch of rabid gerbils in a boom box.

    If I can grab good face pics from 3 ft out with a 50L f/1.2 wide open, it should be doable with this.
    Back up a bit, 1 foot even a few inches more can make a big difference with a lense like this.
    Learn to see as the cam sees then work within its parameters. All lens have limitations...
    05-06-2020 04:09 PM
  19. Mike Dee's Avatar
    Hard to say with Samsung... they're like a bunch of rabid gerbils in a boom box.

    If I can grab good face pics from 3 ft out with a 50L f/1.2 wide open, it should be doable with this.
    Back up a bit, 1 foot even a few inches more can make a big difference with a lense like this.
    Learn to see as the cam sees then work within its parameters. All lens have limitations...
    Yeah...that's the exact analogy I was thinking of.....though I've never heard gerbils in a boom box.

    I don't have any issues with the way the Ultra shoots because I do what I have to take the shot I'm looking for. It's not a great fit for those who want to take effortless snapshots.
    05-06-2020 05:50 PM
  20. neil74's Avatar
    Hard to say with Samsung... they're like a bunch of rabid gerbils in a boom box.

    If I can grab good face pics from 3 ft out with a 50L f/1.2 wide open, it should be doable with this.
    Back up a bit, 1 foot even a few inches more can make a big difference with a lense like this.
    Learn to see as the cam sees then work within its parameters. All lens have limitations...
    Bang on, back up to 5 or 6 feet and it is much better. I just would not expect to see limitations like this on a phone. Plus of course a shallow DOF would not matter so much if it focussed where you wanted it to.
    blackhawkhot likes this.
    05-07-2020 02:35 AM
  21. neil74's Avatar
    I did some more testing today close (ish) shots again but this time in better light and whilst not a perfect hit rate the results were a lot better. So my current thinking on AF are as follows:

    1 - At medium to long distance it focusses ok in most lighting conditions
    2 - At closer range (2-3 feet) in medium to low light (i.e. indoors) it struggles to focus accurately and depending on the subject might not focus properly all
    3 - At closer range (2-3 feet) in good light, it will focus ok but you have to be careful. Still not a anywhere near a perfect hit rate though but most were acceptably sharp
    4 - AF is just slow across the board

    I am leaning towards thinking these are quirks that will have to be worked around rather than a faulty device, whether it is acceptable for a £1200 phone is another question. What I do think though is that the benefits of a having a larger sensor do not appear to be evident on the ultra, but some of the drawbacks are!

    YMMV
    05-07-2020 10:42 AM
  22. blackhawkhot's Avatar
    Bang on, back up to 5 or 6 feet and it is much better. I just would not expect to see limitations like this on a phone. Plus of course a shallow DOF would not matter so much if it focussed where you wanted it to.
    Thank you.
    Shouldn't have to go that far back but that all is dependent on how much of the subject -you- want in the field of focus.
    With the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 lense it's -designed- to be shot wide open, it's literally it's sharpest aperture setting.
    This is not a design flaw at all. Most lens are sharpest when stopped down to about f/5.6 but as you stop a len's aperture setting down you lose the pop effect you get wide open. A bigger concern is bokeh.
    https://photographylife.com/what-is-bokeh/amp

    The background blur that's in the background adds impact to the pop of the in subject that's in focus. Boken needs to be creamy smooth to be pleasing otherwise it can break the image by being a distraction. That's one of the reasons you pay top dollar for a lense, bokeh.

    So shooting wide open with wide aperture is not bad if it's designed to be used as such. In skilled hands they can produce one of a kind images where the subject seems to jump out at you.
    Beautiful. The pop is a good thing.

    Remember photography is art. Content and framing are critical. Some subject blur is acceptable if the content is excellent.
    It's purpose is to provoke a reaction from the viewer.*

    Figure out what distance you need to be to get the desired depth of field as the aperture setting is fixed.
    Simply backup more for greater depth of field or get closer to the subject for more pop on them.
    Use it to your advantage

    *The L lense I mentioned has superb flare control; you can shoot directly into a backlight subject and grab a great image.
    Like this, this is what a pro cam and lense can grab, lined up and shot in a second or two. Note there's some motion blur with the boy nonetheless it's a stone cold keeper:
    Attached Thumbnails S20 Ultra - Autofocus is a mess after latest update!-copy-ss1.jpg  
    05-07-2020 11:35 AM
  23. neil74's Avatar
    Usually have be standing a fair bit further back when using a 70-200 though!

    I used to mainly use a 50 1.4 and 85 1.4 on Nikon (sometimes the 35) and tended to stop them down to 1.8, just found them sharper there, whilst still (on FF) giving very nice background separation.
    blackhawkhot likes this.
    05-07-2020 11:57 AM
  24. blackhawkhot's Avatar
    Usually have be standing a fair bit further back when using a 70-200 though!

    I used to mainly use a 50 1.4 and 85 1.4 on Nikon (sometimes the 35) and tended to stop them down to 1.8, just found them sharper there, whilst still (on FF) giving very nice background separation.
    No not for headshots, a couple feet out. This is the best street shooter there is. It's sublime.
    You shoot this puppy wide open
    The old 50L f/1.2 is another favorite. Incredible flare control. Gave some trouble but I wuved it.
    05-07-2020 12:17 PM
  25. Kizzy Catwoman's Avatar
    I recently returned a OnePlus 8 pro due to screen burn-in and thought I would take a punt on the S20 ultra rather than go back to the S20+, I purchased it from John Lewis in the UK so unlike some retailers (looking at you Carphonewarehouse) they do have generous and fair returns policy.

    Firstly I like it a lot more than I thought I would, it does not feel too big and just feels planted and more solid than the OnePlus did and the extra screen jump from the plus is noticeable IMO too. Here comes the but though which is that the camera is a mess when used indoors, yes it has the trademark Samsung blurry vision if your subject even thinks about moving a fraction but I knew that going in. The biggest issue though is the autofocus, now I also kind of also knew about this going in but with 3 rounds of fixes and many seeming happy now I hoped it would be ok and in a lot of conditions it is ok but in some it is just a mess. I used to shoot for a living and it actually reminds me of the Canon 1D MK3 that I briefly owned (a camera that was the tipping point in a decision to move to Nikon) It just seems to be attracted to focus elsewhere in the scene if there is something with more contrast even if that is not near where you are putting the AF point, that and sometimes it would just back-focus for no reason at all! Have added a few examples below.

    Appreciate that this is torture test with the dark cat and higher contrast elsewhere in the scene but it is one that an iPhone 11 or Pixel has no issues with. I must have taken 20 images and every one had the cat soft and was either front or back focussed on the pillow or chair. I tried fixed AF and also tracking but this did not seem to change the results, interestingly I also tried Gcam go and ZGCAM and hit the same issue which points to a hardware constraint maybe? I am also on Exynos FWIW.

    I might actually go down the Samsung support rabbit hole and see what they say.....
    Gosh that is one Beautiful cat though. Also am sure i heard that the exynos version uses a different camera sensor to the snapdragon version, but that may be in the standard and plus versions though.
    05-07-2020 01:16 PM
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