The Galaxy S22 Ultra is equipped with a quad camera system that is for the most part identical to the one found on last year's model. The highlights include a nona-binning 108MP main unit, one of only two aufocusing ultrawides in Samsung's lineup, and not one but two telephotos reaching up to 10x optical zoom.The camera system of the S22 Ultra (bottom) is very similar to the one of the S21 Ultra
We'll start with the teles because while they may look the same as on the S21 Ultra at a passing glance, they are, in fact, different. The nominal resolution of both is the same at 10MP, and both have kept the zoom magnification and aperture of the lenses - the 3x zoom unit has an f/2.4 aperture, the periscope 10x stands at f/4.9. Both are still stabilized too.
So where's the difference, you ask? In the sensors. The S22 Ultra swaps the S21 Ultra's 1/3.24" type units for smaller 1/3.52" ones and pixel size is now 1.12µm as opposed to the 1.22µm on the previous model.Seemingly identical, yet different - the telephoto cameras of the S22U (left) and the S21U
The ultrawide camera on the S22 Ultra is carried over and it uses a 1/2.55" sensor with 1.4µm pixels and dual pixel autofocus. The lens has an aperture of f/2.2 and covers a field of view of 120 degrees.
It's this S22 Ultra and the S21 Ultra that maintain exclusivity on what should by now be a widespread feature - autofocus. Perhaps it's counterintuitive we're ranting about it in the review of the phone that does have it, but this particular reviewer is especially bitter because his S22's ultrawide is fixed-focus.
The primary camera uses the same ISOCELL HM3 sensor as last year's model, a 1/1.33" type imager with 0.8µm pixel size. With its Nonapixel color filter array and 9-to-1 pixel binning you could think of it as a 12MP unit with 2.4µm pixels, though that's a very simplified take. The lens has an equivalent focal length of 23mm - it's one mil wider than the S21 Ultra and you can easily spot the difference in coverage in side-by-side comparisons. The aperture is again f/1.8 and the lens is optically stabilized.
The selfie camera, meanwhile, appears to be entirely the same. You get a 40MP 1/2.8" Tetrapixel sensor with 0.7µm pixels behind a 26mm f/2.2 lens. Tetrapixel means 4-to-1 binning in Samsung speak, so you should expect 10MP images, but also bear in mind that the phone shoots in crop mode by default for 6.5MP images with a 32mm equivalent focal length.
The camera app on the S22 Ultra is the same as on every other recent Samsung with whatever minor visual tweaks OneUI 4 might have introduced. For example, gone are the tree indicators for zoom level, now replaced with more specific numerical stops, and selected mode from the carousel is highlighted with a gray background as opposed to the outline found on the previous OneUI.
Little else has changed in looks or operation. You still switch modes with horizontal swipes while vertical swipes toggle between front and rear camera. Double press on the power button works for launching the camera from any state (stand by, in-app) and once in the camera another double press will switch between front and rear too.
The viewfinder has buttons for access to the settings menu, flash modes, self timer, aspect ratio (where the full-res 108MP mode is found), Motion photo, and filters. The modes on the near end can be rearranged, and you can add others from the More pane, and remove ones you don't need immediate access to.
The video viewfinder swaps some of the icons, giving direct access to resolution and frame rate modes, as well as a toggle for the Super steady stabilization mode.
Samsung coined the word Nightography this year, which they use as an umbrella term to promote their advancements in low-light photography and videography. Night Solution, for example, is the AI magic that takes multiple exposures of a dark scene, discards the blurry or too noisy ones, and merges the good ones into a single good-looking photo. It works under-the-hood in Photo mode, Night mode, and Portrait mode (where it kicks in automatically when light levels drop below 13 lux). We do believe this type of processing has existed for a while now, without being called a Solution.
Video Nightography, meanwhile, is a combination of stabilization and automatic frame rate selection. The S22 Ultra's main camera has OIS that can correct for angles 58% wider than the S21 Ultra (another clue that the lens is different this time around), while the electronic stabilization now features 4 times higher motion sampling frequency which should help get it more data to feed the algorithms.
The Auto FPS feature should be able to adjust frame rate from 60fps (which you should know better than to use in the dark in the first place), all the way down to 15fps thus letting the phone capture more light for each of those frames. Since 15fps is too few frames for smooth video, the phone will synthesize intermediate frames to fill in the gaps and bring things to a watchable 24fps.
Another photography-related aspect of the S22 Ultra is the Expert RAW app. Launched in beta on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and now available on the S22s in finished form (other models to get it in the coming weeks), Expert RAW is a better Pro mode of sorts. It offers the combined benefits of multi-frame HDR and the malleability of the DNG format, letting you tweak your photos around after the fact in post-processing.
The interface is very similar to that of the Pro mode in the main app, only here you do get an optional histogram - missing for years in the main app.