The Galaxy S23 Ultra records video up to 4K60 with all five of its cameras. The main camera on its back can also record 8K, and it can now do it at 30fps - gone is the 24fps limitation of previous Galaxies. Video stabilization is available in all these modes, but you can also turn it off if you have alternative means of supporting the phone.
8K capture is always encoded in h.265 HEVC, while for the other modes, you get to choose between h.264 or h.265. Regardless of video mode, audio is recorded in stereo and gets a 256kbps bit rate.
8K footage (80Mbps bit rate) is a meaningful improvement over the previous model, and it's not just the extra 6 frames per second. For one, it now uses the full width of the sensor, unlike the S22 Ultra, which only captured a relatively tight center crop. It's also sharper and better detailed than what the old model could muster, and it offers an advantage over this very Galaxy's 4K - apparently, that detail we saw in 50MP stills translates into video as well. Having said that, the point of shooting 8K on our smartphones still eludes us.
Give us some of that good old 4K any day. 30fps and 60fps clips (50Mbps and 80Mbps, using h.264) have essentially the same quality, which is always nice to see. It's some very good quality, too, with great (if not the most naturally rendered) detail and no noise. The dynamic range is respectable, the white balance is on point, and the colors have just the right amount of saturation (which you may have to trust us on, given the dreary weather in the usual samples).
The ultrawide doesn't discriminate between 30fps and 60fps, and both modes produce identical results. The thing is, however, they're not so praiseworthy - particularly in terms of sharpness. The older Ultra's ultrawide videos, which weren't class-leading or anything, are sharper and better detailed. We have no grounds for complaint about the global parameters - color and dynamic range leave little to be desired.
You probably expect it by now, but let's confirm that 4K30 and 4K60 clips have the exact same quality on both telephotos. There are no unpleasant generational surprises, and the S23 Ultra's zoomed-in videos are looking pretty great - nice and sharp on the 3x, a bit less so, but still perfectly acceptable on the 10x. Some minor tweaks in color and contrast in the processing make for a slightly different look this year, but there's nothing objectionable about the end result.
The S23 Ultra's main camera records excellent low-light videos. It captures a wide dynamic range, contains the highlights with minimal haloing, and develops the shadows quite respectably without turning them into a noise-fest. Colors also don't appear to suffer from any degradation at night.
Here's a different scene to illustrate the improvement in quality from the S22 Ultra to the S23 Ultra.
The ultrawide wasn't much good during the day, but in the changed context of ultrawides at night, it's actually delivering a comfortably above-average result. While it's not as sharp and detailed as the main camera, it's got good detail still, and it maintains excellent global properties.
The teles aren't fans of the dark and record rather noisy videos. That said, the 3x zoom's clips can be considered usable.
Both the main camera and the ultrawide on the S23 Ultra offer great electronic stabilization. Walking shake is smoothed well, handholding the phone and pointing it in one direction makes for nearly flawless steadiness, and pans don't introduce any unwanted abrupt movements.
Both teles show an improvement in stabilization, and where the S22 Ultra had some residual fine shake in its zoomed-in clips, the S23 Ultra minimizes that to just a gentle floatiness.
Selfie videos are very high quality and capture excellent detail, wide dynamic range, and generally accurate colors (unless the sun's blazing through your hair and directly into the camera, that is). We also didn't observe any focus hunting, which could be the bane of autofocusing selfie cameras. The one issue is that the otherwise excellent stabilization robs you of some coverage, and fitting your head in the frame (in landscape) could be problematic. Even a very short selfie stick will do the job, though.
Here's a glimpse of how the Galaxy S23 Ultra compares to rivals in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete picture.