The Galaxy Note 2 is very much an enlarged, slightly tweaked Galaxy S 3, and nowhere is this more evident than the camera system. In fact, after lots of digging I’ve determined that almost all of this is exactly the same as the Galaxy S 3, which isn’t a surprise at all. Samsung has tweaked the camera UI and added features, and compared to the Note there’s definitely a marked improvements, but for Galaxy S 3 users the experience is entirely the same.

To start, the Galaxy Note 2 uses the same 8 MP S5C73M3 CMOS as Galaxy S 3 on the rear facing camera, which is a CMOS which on paper has specs up to par with the competition. There's no official disclosure about this part, but people still know about the specs. Optical format is 1/3.2" which is very common right now, 1.4µm square pixels, and of course the sensor is backside illuminated. From what I can tell the optical system on top of that is exactly the same as well, F/2.6 with a focal length of 3.7 mm. From what I’ve seen of the Galaxy Note 2 camera, performance is as expected basically the same as Galaxy S 3.

Likewise the front facing CMOS is a S5K6A3, also same as Galaxy S 3, which is 1/6" format with 1.75µm BSI pixels and a total size of 1412 x 1412 pixels. Captured images end up being 1280 x 960, F/2.8 with focal length of 2.5 mm.


Milbeaut ISP Roadmap

In addition, Samsung continues to use a discrete Fujitsu Milbeaut 5th generation ISP (Image Signal Processor) for their cameras, you see references to this as M5MO throughout. This is the same setup as I saw on the Galaxy S 2, and though I didn’t dig into the original Note I bet it’s there too since that camera was analogous. There wasn’t much of a jump in camera performance between the Galaxy S 2 and 3, it seems as though Samsung is largely content keeping things the way they are this generation, perhaps waiting for the next generation of the Milbeaut ISP or a dramatically different CMOS to come around from Samsung Semiconductor before they mix things up. Meanwhile F/2.6 isn’t the most aggressive target for a fast optical system, considering other players are at F/2.0. I think Samsung expects those interested in a smartphone with emphasis on camera to go after the Galaxy Camera or something.

This sign just comes off sounding so sarcastic (sample Galaxy Note 2 Photo)

To evaluate still image quality we turned to our standard set of tests which seems to keep growing. That consists of a scene in a lightbox with constant controlled illumination of 1000 lux taken using the front and rear cameras with as close to the same field of view as possible, images of a distortion grid, GretagMacbeth ColorChecker card for white balance checking, and an ISO12233 test chart for gauging spatial resolution in an even more controlled manner. Because I’ve moved houses and lighting will never ever be exactly the same, I have decided to move the three test charts into my lightbox as opposed to putting them on a wall and illuminating them with studio lights. This warrants a completely new set of comparison images, hence the smartphone 2012 camera bench for the three charts and front facing camera.

There’s a lot to go through here, but the test charts tell the most objective story. To me, flipping back an forth between Galaxy S 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 confirms what I already know, that performance is very similar between the two because they’re basically the same system. Locations 3–7 remain in the bench photo locations, and unfortunately due to time constraints I could only get photos on the one day I was in town with some overcast skies and not the usual lighting I like.

Honestly probably the biggest improvement over the original Note is that the center purple colored spot is completely gone as you can see with the following toggle.


Samsung’s camera UI continues to be very comprehensive and offer a wealth of options and shooting modes. I spent a lot of time playing around with HDR, which now has a Normal and Strong mode that adds even more dynamic range with exposures bracketed even further from the center. There are a couple of those in the MISC gallery of camera shots.

S Pen and Samsung's Take on Android 4.1 Camera Analysis - Video
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  • HanakoIkezawa - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    I haven't had this problem with my note or with my sister's iphone4s with the Kia soul. have you tried going to the store to see i it defective or tried to see if it fails to work with other cars?

    I do agree that some kind of Bluetooth testing would be nice to see with future reviews
    Reply
  • abhi.12 - Friday, November 09, 2012 - link

    what is the response of galaxy note 2 with other languages like hindi. I am searching for a device in which i can take notes in hindi. Is it responsive enough to write. Reply
  • Random Guy99 - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    That the iPhone 5 is more powerful and has better battery life than the note 2 despite it having a battery 3 times larger and a quad core chip. The A6 must have far superior architecture and you can see how far optimisation goes and googles lack of it. I guess that's the problem that is bound to happen when one company doesn't make both hardware and software. Reply
  • MichaelEvans - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Just got a new Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Am thrilled!! I have a graphics design salon in New York and use it to doodle ideas while on the go. Then because I'm on AT&T's 4GLTE I send the doodles to myself at home and it’s very cool. Reply
  • anhminh1232002 - Tuesday, January 01, 2013 - link

    Hello everyone

    The G-sensor doesn't seem to work when the screen is off.
    I am using Note 2 Galaxy Samsung.
    I tried Justflip to flip to turn on the screen. The screen wasn't on at all.
    Please tell me if the is a fix for this bug.

    Thank you.
    Reply
  • mgrant - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    S-Note is pretty nice looking, and as you say OneNote is feature rich and you've got lots of content in it which you can get at if you install the OneNote Mobile app on your phone.

    But what about creating notes using the pen in S-Note? Is there some way to say store those notes in a Dropbox and get at them on the laptop? What would you edit them in? So far, about the only thing I've found is that you can export an image (pdf or jpeg) of the S-note note into dropbox and view the static image on your desktop. That's not so useful.

    Is there anything out there that lets one have notes across platforms, that can use the pen, and preferably stores stuff in my existing dropbox account rather than making me pay yet another cloud storage service?

    There's Evernote, but it doesn't work directly with S-Note. You can export a static image into Evernote as a sort of final resting place for the note, but this is unfulfilling at best.
    Reply
  • Amit kumar - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Yeah its amazing device. It is taller, leaner, lighter with shinier packs. I got all statistics about this phone this site as well. www.gadtecho.com Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    How much does it cost? Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    I mean the Galaxy note 2 or 3 Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    My mum does not want to buy 700 euros. So ...
    What should I do? How can I persuade my mum to it? HELP??!! PLEASE REPLY
    Reply

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