Another concern with shooting at f/1.5 is that focus might be softer for subjects that aren't close to the camera. But from our testing so far, the difference in clarity really isn't that noticeable. My shots of a cocktail glass in a dark bar appear almost as crisp in f/1.5 as in f/2.4, although you'll notice a bigger difference if you get super close to the subject. The good news is, if you know what you're doing and want to achieve a very shallow focus effect, you can. If not, you won't notice a significant difference in clarity between the two levels.
The S9 and S9+ use 12 images per shot to smooth out noise, and thanks to the built-in DRAM, are able to do so quickly. While we can't observe this in action, the results are evident. There are fewer color specks in general, compared to photos from an S8, and outlines of objects are crisp, which seems to indicate that the MFNR is working. The Dual Pixel autofocus also appears to be effective -- despite my hands shivering in the cold, there is little motion blur in the wide aperture shots.
Upon closer inspection, though, I noticed that edges of buildings appeared muddy in many shots. It looks like Samsung's processing software still introduces artifacts that are noticeable when you zoom in, but for your Instagram and Facebook uploads the photos will be more than adequate.
We still haven't pushed the S9+ very hard, or spent all that much time with it, so it's difficult to figure out any major issues and trends so far. What I can tell now is that the Dual Aperture feature really does make a difference. You're getting a whole two stops more to play with. All other things constant, images shot at f/1.5 are noticeably brighter than those at f/2.4.
Live Focus, super slow-mo and other features
Thanks to the telephoto and wide-angle lens pair on the S9+, you get features like Live Focus and Dual Capture, which snaps two pictures at once -- one up close and one further out. Live Focus helps you get pictures with a nice blurred background while retaining shallow depth of field, but so far appears to struggle in low light. Super slow-mo, which records video at 960 fps, also requires a fair amount of light to work well.
My footage of senior mobile editor Chris Velazco trying (very hard) and failing to catch a moving flower with his mouth in a dim restaurant is barely visible. That's not surprising, though -- at such a high frame rate, most cameras need a ton of light to capture anything decent.
Overall, the new low-light features seem effective but the results ultimately aren't extremely impressive. The extra large opening will come in handy especially in really dark scenarios, though, so night owls may reap better photo opps with this phone. Still, we'll be putting the S9s through their paces in a full review soon, so stay tuned to see if we learn anything different.
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