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Samsung Galaxy S7 camera and video modes explained and reviewed

We test and review the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge’s special camera modes, including Motion Photo, Motion Panorama and Selective Focus, plus bonus video modes like Slow Motion and Hyperlapse.

We’re pretty chuffed with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge’s 12-megapixel camera, as you’ll know when you read our full Galaxy S7 camera review. But there are loads of special camera and video modes tucked away too, some of which are kind of cool and most of which are utterly pointless as usual.

Here we explain and review those bonus S7 camera features, which can be accessed by tapping the Mode button in Samsung’s camera app, or swiping right across the screen.

Also check out our S7 vs HTC 10 camera comparison and S7 vs Xperia X camera comparison to see how the S7 stacks up against rival cameraphones.

Galaxy S7’s Pro camera mode

In the S7’s Pro camera mode, you get full control over all of the usual camera features including ISO level, white balance, aperture level and so on. There are also various filters that you can tinker with.

Truth be told, we can’t see the Pro mode getting much love. That’s because the Galaxy S7’s auto mode is very dependable, picking the correct settings to produce a detailed and well-balanced photo in pretty much any circumstances. However, more advanced photographers will appreciate having the option to tweak and fiddle, to produce more artistic shots for instance.

Galaxy S7’s Motion Photo camera feature

HTC was the first phone manufacturer to introduce ‘living photos’ with its Zoe mode, which captured a brief video clip of your subjects and displayed this when browsing through your album, to bring each snap to life. Microsoft followed suit with Living Images, while Apple introduced its own version for the iPhone 6s.

Personally we can’t really see the point in this animated shenanigans, but that hasn’t stopped Samsung from adding it into the S7’s camera app, in the form of Motion Photo. The 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.

Galaxy S7’s Selective Focus camera mode

Selective Focus is something Samsung’s Galaxy flagship phones have boasted since the Galaxy S5. The idea is that the Galaxy S7 takes lots of photos with one push of the shutter button, switching between near and far focus as it goes. With that done, you can then change the focus of your photo after it’s been taken, from the S7 gallery app.

Check out our Selective Focus explained feature for more info. On the S7 it works much the same, and while it takes a while for the camera to shoot all of the photos in sequence, you can then effectively switch between near and far focus with just a tap.

Galaxy S7’s Motion Panorama camera mode

The Galaxy S7 can shoot 360-degree panorama scenes as usual, by selecting this mode and then spinning in a slow circle while keeping your hand steady. If you’re shooting a still landscape then the mode works perfectly well. However, the usual issues with unwanted motion haven’t been sorted, so panorama shots taken in crowded areas are still blighted with freaky disembodied limbs and the rest.

Samsung has also added a new ‘Motion Panorama’ feature, which actually animates the scene when you swipe left and right through the panorama image in the photo app. The end result is basically a video pan, which you can skip through either forwards or backwards. Like the Motion Photo feature, it’s completely pointless and unlikely to get much use in real life. You might as well just shoot a standard video, which is nowhere near as restrictive.

Galaxy S7’s Virtual Shot camera mode

Virtual Shot is another existing camera mode making a return from the Galaxy S6, and another one that’s unlikely to get much use in real life. You need to walk a full 360-degrees around your subject, taking multiple photos from every possible angle which are then pasted together by the Galaxy S7. When you view back a Virtual Shot image on your phone, you can then tilt the S7 left or right to move around your object.

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.

Galaxy S7’s Live Broadcast video mode

If your life is so fascinating that you have to share live video of your day via social media, then good news. The Galaxy S7 allows you to stream direct to YouTube, so your fans can watch your trip to the hairdresser’s or whatever, as it actually happens.

Galaxy S7’s Slow Motion video mode

Slow motion video is always worth busting out for those action scenes and the S7’s slow-mo mode certainly does the job. You can either have the whole video play back in slow motion or select specific segments, while the rest of the video plays out normally.

Galaxy S7’s Hyperlapse video mode

Likewise, you can shoot Hyperlapse videos using the S7’s camera, with typically solid results. Here’s a test video we shot of a busy London junction, which took around four minutes to film and lasts around 11 seconds.