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    How is 100x 'Space Zoom' possible on the Galaxy S20 Ultra?

    How is 100x 'Space Zoom' possible on the Galaxy S20 Ultra?
    One of the biggest stand-out features of the new Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is its "Space Zoom" camera feature that allows you to do a mind-boggling 100x zoom when taking pictures or shooting video. This sort of zoom is what you'd expect from a small telescope, not a smartphone, but don't let that huge number confuse you. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra can't do 100x lossless optical magnification, but it can, indeed, do a crazy zoom through a lot of hardware and software trickery. Here's how it works.

    The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is the only model in the S20 family equipped with a 'periscope' lens. It has a 48MP sensor and can do up to 4x optical zoom on its own, but you can go up to 10x without losing any quality, thanks to what Samsung is calling a "Hybrid Optic Zoom". Although this isn't purely optical magnification, Samsung says that up to 10x zoom you won't really notice any drop in image quality. We're inclined to believe, based on what we've seen thus far, but we've already seen smartphone cameras that fare great at this zoom level. But what about 30x, 50x, and beyond? Well, the new "Space Zoom" feature on the Galaxy S20 Ultra promises to take you as far as 100x zoom, albeit without any grand claims about picture quality.


    How the Galaxy S20 Ultra does 100x "Space Zoom"




    We've already seen phones can go as high as 20x or 50x zoom, but the Galaxy S20 Ultra goes twice as high. Still, its method for doing so isn't quite as revolutionary as its name may have you believe. In fact, Samsung is using the same concept that allowed Huawei to push P30 Pro's periscope camera to do 50x zoom, only Samsung now has higher-resolution camera sensors and more powerful hardware to achieve this.

    The Galaxy S20 Ultra achieves 100x zoom by leveraging two high-resolution camera sensors and the power of on-the-fly image processing. Simply put, after you pass the 10x threshold, the phone will rely heavily on digital methods to maximize the potential of the telephoto camera and its 48-megapixel sensor by cropping, sharpening, and otherwise attempting to improve the result on the fly using software. But since algorithms can only go so far, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is also pulling data from the massive 108-megapixel sensor of its main camera and combining it with the image data from the telephoto camera to deliver the final result. Having access to more image data from both sensors, and combining it, is what allows the S20 Ultra to achieve "Space Zoom."

    From what we've seen so far, however, image quality at 100x zoom isn't nearly as crisp as what you get on lower levels of zoom, although it is still mighty impressive to be able to do something like this on a smartphone. Big numbers aren't everything when it comes to photography, so we will be putting the incredible zooming abilities of the Galaxy S20 Ultra to the test in our review and pitting it against the current zoom champion, the Huawei P30 Pro.

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    12 Comments

    9. pego99

    Posts: 127; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

    It's all smoke and mirrors. Until Apple does it its fake. Samsung mainly copies Apple. So until Apple perfects the optical zoom tech be forewarned as the Samsung thing is fake.

    10. cevon3239

    Posts: 247; Member since: Jan 01, 2020

    The only way to have 100x optical zoom, you would need a huge sensor or some type of attachment. When Apple finally does it, the tech will have matured and other OEMs will already have a better version before Apple gets involved.

    8. Mikele

    Posts: 199; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

    I'm a Samsung experience user but not in any way think the S20 Ultra would be the change that we Samsung loyalists are expecting in the new iterations of Galaxy S20 Series. The Ultra is the ugliness one (Size) and camera hardware set up is nothing to write home about compares to OEMs with periscope before Sammy, even Xiaomi MI Note 10 camera set up would do same like S20 Ultra

    6. adecvat

    Posts: 684; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

    P30 Pro 5x optical S20U 4x optical, other digital

    7. vincelongman

    Posts: 5842; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

    Also the S20/S20+ have 1.1x optical, rest is digtal/software That's how they can record 8K without being at 2x

    11. ben7337

    Posts: 8; Member since: Oct 31, 2012

    Do you have a source on the 1.1x zoom? I know the S20/20+ don't have 2x or 3x true optical zoom, but can't find a source on the actual number, besides your 1.1x zoom comment.

    12. ben7337

    Posts: 8; Member since: Oct 31, 2012

    True, but the P30 Pro also had to use a 1/4" 8MP sensor, and had an f/3.4 aperture. Samsung is maintaining a similar aperture at f/3.5 but fit in a 1/2" 48 (or 12) MP sensor, so that sensor has 4x the area and much larger subpixels. I'm still a bit disappointed they only got 4x optical zoom, but it's better they kept it at 4x and went with a much larger sensor, than fitting in 5x zoom but with a smaller sensor and worse low light performance. Though I kinda doubt the camera will perform well in low light at 4x zoom anyway.

    4. gadgetpower

    Posts: 354; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

    The camera setup is the ugliest among smartphone.

    5. Jason2k13

    Posts: 1491; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

    Agree, lucky we're looking at the front only.

    3. pego99

    Posts: 127; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

    If Apple doesn't have it its just over hype. Apple is the true innovator Samsung just copies Apple.

    2. Alcyone

    Posts: 666; Member since: May 10, 2018

    This isn't the future of movie camera tech. It's a gimmick, since Apple didn't do it first. /s Passing up, waiting for 2021 graphene batterys/chargers.

    1. oldtymer

    Posts: 82; Member since: Jan 31, 2020

    It sounds cool, as long as everythign else still works well.. standard pics and what not
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