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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera and video modes explained and reviewed

We test and review the Galaxy Note 7’s bonus camera modes and settings, including the Pro capture mode, Selective Focus and Motion Photo, as well as Samsung’s special video modes like Hyperlapse and Slow Motion.

Samsung’s massive new phablet, the Galaxy Note 7, packs in plenty of cool new features like the innovative iris scanner. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the excellent 12-megapixel camera, the same very dependable snapper found in the Samsung Galaxy S7. Check out our full Note 7 camera review for our in-depth analysis.

The Note 7’s camera packs loads of special bonus features too, incuding the ability to shoot animated panoramas, hyperlapse video and plenty besides. Here’s our run-down of the Note 7’s camera modes.

How do I access the Note 7’s bonus camera and video modes?

First of all load up the Note 7’s camera, which can be done with a double-press of the home button. Once you’re in the camera app, just swipe your finger right across the screen. This brings up the camera modes menu and allows you to select a special shooting mode.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera modes reviewed

Here’s our run-down of the Note 7’s special photo features.

Galaxy Note 7’s Pro camera mode

The Note 7’s auto mode is one of the best around, dependable in almost any situation. However, if you want total control over your shots, the camera also packs a Pro Mode to fiddle with ISO level, white balance, aperture level and more.

More advanced photographers will appreciate having the option to tweak the Note 7’s camera settings, for more artistic results. You also get more complete control over the camera’s focusing, including spot and central options.

The Note’s Pro mode is definitely one of the better ones out there, but the auto mode is so good that we can’t see it getting much love.

Galaxy Note 7’s Selective Focus camera mode

Since the Galaxy S5 was launched back in 2014, Samsung’s premium phones have all featured Selective Focus. Switch to this mode on the Note 7 and then tap the shutter button to take several simultaneous shots, with the lens automatically switching between near and far focus. When you head to the Note 7’s gallery app, you can then change the focal distance manually (see example photos below).

Take a look at our Selective Focus explained feature for more info.

Galaxy Note 7’s Motion Panorama camera mode

As usual you can also shoot 360-degree panorama scenes on the Note 7, by turning in a slow circle while keeping your hand as steady as possible. If you’re shooting a still landscape, then the mode works perfectly well. However, if you have moving subjects in sight then they’ll come out all blurry and disfigured as usual.

For the Galaxy S7, Samsung also added a new ‘Motion Panorama’ feature, which actually animates the scene when you swipe left and right through the image in the gallery app. The end result is basically a video pan, which you can skip through either forwards or backwards.

This Motion Panorama feature returns for the Note 7 and it’s once again pretty pointless. We’d be surprised if even one percent of Note 7 users realise it exists, and you might as well simply shoot a 360-degree video of your surroundings, which is less restrictive and includes audio.

Galaxy Note 7’s Virtual Shot camera mode

Virtual Shot is yet another old camera mode, this time introduced in last year’s Galaxy S6 mobile. Likewise, it’s another camera feature that’s unlikely to get much use in real life.

Essentially what you do is wander a full 360-degrees around your subject, taking multiple photos from every possible angle. These are then pasted together by the Note 7 into a kind of inverse panorama, where you can move around the subject and see it from different sides by tilting the phone.

Of course, your subject has to remain nice and still or Virtual Shot doesn’t work too well. Hence, don’t even bother trying with your kids or pets. And we’re still yet to think of any real-life applications that make sense (why wouldn’t you just take a video?).

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 video modes reviewed

You can shoot Full HD, Quad HD and Ultra HD 4K video on the Galaxy Note 4, but you can also shoot slow-mo and hyperlapse video, as well as live broadcast your life to the world. Here’s our run-down of the Note 7’s special video modes.

Galaxy Note 7’s Live Broadcast video mode

If your life is so utterly fascinating that you have to stream live video of your day via social media, then we have some great news. Samsung allows you to beam your existence direct to YouTube with the Note 7, so your adoring fans can watch you decide which brand of organic porridge to buy.

Galaxy Note 7’s Slow Motion video mode

We love busting out the Note 7’s slow motion video mode whenever we’re shooting some kind of action scene, like the kung fu moves that are usually on display when a shiny new phone lands at Recombu HQ. You can either have the whole video play back in slow motion or select specific segments to run in slow-mo, while the rest of the video plays out normally.

Galaxy Note 7’s Hyperlapse video mode

Hyperlapse is essentially the opposite of Slow Motion mode, where a few minutes of footage is played back at super-speed, lasting just a few seconds. Chances are you’ve seen this used in nature documentaries, where the sun dips across the sky and the landscape darkens before your eyes. Sexy.

Other special Samsung Galaxy Note 7 camera settings and features

Buried away in the Note 7’s camera settings, you’ll find some more special features. Tap the cog icon on the main camera screen and you can access the menu to fiddle with these settings.

Shooting RAW images with the Galaxy Note 7

In the camera settings menu, tap ‘Picture size’. At the bottom of the sub-menu, you’ll see an option for saving RAW files. GIve this a tap and your photos will be saved in an uncompressed format, as well as the usual JPEGs. Note that you can’t view back RAW photos in the Note 7’s gallery app.

Galaxy Note 7’s Motion Photo camera feature

A few years back, HTC was the first phone manufacturer to introduce ‘living photos’ with its Zoe mode. This captures a brief video clip of whatever you’re shooting as well as the photo, which is then played back as you skim through your photo gallery to bring each shot to life. Microsoft did a similar thing with Living Images, while Apple brought in its own version for the iPhone 6s. Now Samsung has leaped into the fray with its own Motion Photo setting.

Motion Photo mode works as expected and is mostly pointless, although you can skip back in time a second or so and save an image from the video, which could be helpful if your final shot wasn’t perfect for any reeason.

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