Spring in focus with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Like a lot of people, my phone comes with me everywhere, and it’s my go-to device for capturing the moment. From events, to travel, and heading to the park with my family, my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is my favorite device for photos and video because of its dual cameras, loads of features, and great performance in all kinds of lighting conditions.

There are a lot of reasons why I love my Note 8, but the biggest is versatility. My DSLR camera is fantastic, and I have some great lenses for it too, but my Note 8 fits in my pocket, I can start shooting at a moment’s notice, and it’s powerful enough to capture great photos or video, in bright or dim lighting conditions.

For one thing, there’s the dual-cameras–one wide-angle and one telephoto–and they work together for Live Focus mode to give you full control over the blur effect in your portraits or closeups. With Live Focus mode, the Note 8 actually captures two photos, one with each camera, so you can view either photo, to see the closeup or the wide angle shot from the same moment.

Offering 12 MP each, the cameras are excellent for prints, cropping, and editing, and you can shoot in raw format as well for pros who want to do a bit more with their images.

In terms of macro photography–shooting things close up–the Note 8 is also my favorite. I have a good macro lens for my camera, but I can get a lot closer with the Note 8’s lenses, especially zooming in.

A great example of this is shooting food, like the shot you’ll see below from Panama 66. The Note 8 excels at food photos, or shooting flowers and plants, fine details, or anything else in miniature.

High Park's Chess House
High Park’s Chess House

The cameras excel as well with landscapes and wide angle photography. The wide angle camera on the Note 8 is fantastic for shooting vistas and wide-open scenery, and with High Dynamic Range (HDR), the Note 8 keeps any view beautiful and alive by preserving a range of details. For instance, shooting a hill with a bright sky, the HDR effect ensures the dark areas and the bright areas aren’t completely washed out, capturing key details in shades of colour.

And then there’s video. The Note 8 has become my go-to for shooting video, especially when I travel. The cameras can shoot up to UHD, 3840×2160, and also offers FHD at 60 frames per second. For tricky shots, going to Pro mode can deliver a range of effects, including blurred backgrounds behind your subjects, or you can use the 2x optical zoom to get a nice, close angle at concerts and events.

Combined with a stabilizer for your phone, like the excellent DJI Osmo Mobile 2, you can also capture professional-looking video without a big camera rig. With little to no editing, the results can be breathtaking. Watch my video from the opening of the Samsung Experience Store in Toronto for an example of a video shot with the Note 8 and the DJI Osmo Mobile. For one example of a video shot without a stabilizer, check out my trip to Fogo Island.

Aside from the camera, the Note 8 has a number of features that I love too, from the S-Pen, to the excellent battery life, quick charge, and the Edge Apps for quickly launching my favorite apps. It’s an all-round great phone, and the S-Pen in particular makes it easy to hand write quick notes, even when the screen is off, while the battery is slightly larger than the Samsung Galaxy S9 (3300mAh versus the S9’s 3000mAh), but slightly smaller than the Galaxy S9+ (3500mAh).

I’ve been using the Note 8 since last September, and I’ve shot thousands of photos with it, and it’s a great deal, especially if you want to upgrade to a device that includes a stylus. It’s also only going to become an even better deal this year, although it will also be hard to resist the draw of Samsung’s next device, which is of course expected to be the Note 9.

Look for more videos shot on the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on my personal YouTube channel.

W. Andrew Powell lives, sleeps, eats, and breaths movies and entertainment. Since launching The GATE in 1999 Andrew has enjoyed being a pest to any publicist who would return his calls. In his "spare time," Andrew is also an avid photographer, and writes about leisure travel and hotels around the world.