The Galaxy A7 (2018) comes equipped with three cameras - a primary one (which we may call normal, regular, wide or whatnot), an ultra wide angle one (note the 'ultra' bit), and an additional one to aid in depth detection for portraits. The primary module (in the middle of the array) uses a 24MP sensor behind a 27mm-equivalent lens with an f/1.7 aperture and phase-detect autofocus.
The ultra-wide cam's lens is fixed-focus, has an f/2.4 aperture and covers a 120-degree FOV which it projects onto an 8MP sensor.
The third camera (top one) can't be used on its own, but the specsheet says it's a 5MP unit with an f/2.2 aperture lens. It boggles the mind why the arrangement is entirely different from the A9's top-to-bottom ultra-wide/telephoto/primary/depth setup, but hey, it's Samsung's puzzle to put together, not ours.
The camera app is practically the same as on any other current Samsung phone, with the exception of the camera module toggle. The tree designation we saw during our hands-on time with the A9 (2018) is here as well, with the single-tree mode for telephoto missing - you get three trees for ultra wide and two trees for normal wide. As on the A9, there's no pinch to zoom functionality for switching between the two cameras - the gesture only works on the main cam for digital zoom.
Basic operation is business as usual with side swipes for cycling through modes and up/down action for toggling between the rear and front cameras. There's an AI-powered Scene optimizer mode that should recognize 19 types of scenes and adjust parameters accordingly. We kept it off, as it doesn't make that much of a difference, plus we tend to prefer to add the effects after. The shown modes, as well as their arrangement, can be tweaked in settings.
Live focus mode is present, naturally, to justify the 5MP module's presence. There's also a Pro mode, but there's hardly anything pro about it - you can only choose ISO (in the 100-800 range), exposure compensation (-2/+2EV in 0.1EV steps), and white balance (presets, but no light temperature).
Those would be some pretty nicely detailed 12MP shots, only they're 24MP, and there's certainly not 24MP of detail when examining them at 1:1 magnification. In some scenes, the HDR algorithms have a particular beef with textures, and foliage tends to end up looking overprocessed and blotchy.
Dynamic range in our test scenes looks reasonably wide, thanks to keeping the HDR (rich tone) setting in Auto all the time - the snail's shell isn't all blown out, so we'd say that's our litmus test passed. The high-contrast scene with the iPhone mural is handled well, too.
Colors are pretty great too, with deep reds and lively yellows and greens (where available at this time of the year).
The wide-angle camera captures very distorted images - the barrel is strong with this one. Meanwhile, ultra wides from LG and Huawei offer practically the same diagonal field of view, yet are much better corrected for distortion. They are also flagship models, while the A7 (2018) makes no such claims, so there's that. That said, the distortion could also be enjoyable if you like that old-school action cam look.
The ultra-wide camera has a slightly colder (and, well, duller) color rendition and can't match the main one for dynamic range. Then again, with so much in the frame, you can't salvage all highlights and shadows.
In low light, the Galaxy A7 (2018)'s images aren't spectacular. Dynamic range is pretty tight, there's a general softness, and little pixel-level detail, plus colors are muted. On a positive note, noise is well controlled.
The ultra wide-angle camera at night produces further desaturated images. Unless you have a well-lit scene, we can't imagine why you'd want to use this camera at night.
While the Galaxy A9 (2018)'s 5MP dedicated depth detection cam is rendered very much unnecessary by the telephoto, the A7 doesn't have a telephoto, so some help with depth information is appreciated. Indeed, portrait shots have pretty accurate subject separation, with the usual caveats, of course. The overly aggressive sharpening in facial features (hair, pores) looks pretty bad from up close.
There is the hardware limitation of taking headshots with a wide angle camera (which the A7's 'normal' one essentially is) - you'll be uncomfortably close to your subject. On the other hand, rear camera self-portraits are much easier to frame this way.
In addition to letting you adjust the blur level while taking the portrait, you can also do it post-shot in the gallery. Here's a comparison between two levels of blur close to the extremes (the range is 0-7).
The logical next step after the real world samples would be our Photo compare too. We've picked the Oppo F9 and the vivo V11 to pit against the Galaxy A7 (2018), but that's just to get you started - other options are a few clicks away.
The Galaxy A7 (2018) has one more 24MP camera - this second one is on the front. It's not as good as the main one on the back in terms of specs - the aperture is dimmer at f/2.0, but more importantly, it lacks autofocus.
Which isn't terrible for a selfie cam all by itself, but we found the focal plane to be much too close to the phone for our liking, it's certainly not at arm's length. If it's just you that needs to be in the frame, that's fine - you'll eventually learn the optimum distance. However, if you'd like to benefit from the camera's wide-ish 26mm-equivalent lens and fit more people in the frame, you're likely going to end up with blurry mugs - blurrier than they need to be, at least. We do like the skin tones, much better than on the main cam, in fact.
Selfie portraits aren't bad either, though the processing algorithms here do take away some of the sharpness, even if you've gotten the focus distance right. However, at fit-to-screen magnifications they're very good overall.
The Galaxy A7 (2018) has a very basic video recording feature set - the top mode is 1080p/30fps, and there isn't even 1080p/60fps. At least you can record video with the ultra wide angle cam too.
Videos are encoded using the h.264 codec with no option to change it in settings. They have a bit rate of 17Mbps while audio is recorded in stereo at 256kbps, and those numbers apply to both cameras.
Video footage from the main cam is of very high quality, particularly for the class. Detail is abundant, and there's really no noise to speak of. Contrast and dynamic range are excellent too.
The above holds true for ultra wide-angle clips, where the A7 is very much on par with flagship entries in the field.
There's video stabilization available for both the main and the ultra wide angle cam and it works really well. It stabilizes the camera shake from our walk in the park nicely, but there's a different issue there that ruins the positive impression - focus is insecure and we found it to hunt. The fixed focus ultra wide cam exhibited no such issues.