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iPhone 13 Pro Max vs Samsung S21 Ultra Camera Test

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We faced the camera on the iPhone 13 Pro Max against the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to see which produces the best images, as lets be honest this is the main reason we all want the latest phones.

I’ll start by mentioning we are mainly going to look at the rear cameras performance with just photos, rather than videos.

Right let’s start things off by talking about the camera systems on each phone

The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max have, an ultra wide camera with f/1.8 aperture, a wide camera with f/1.5 aperture, and finally a telephoto camera with a f/2.8 aperture, which is a x3 zoom. All these cameras are 12 megapixels.

The Samsung has some pretty big numbers here, an ultra wide at 12 megapixels with a f/2.2 aperture, a wide camera with a massive 108 megapixels and f/1.8 aperture. Plus two telephoto cameras both at 10 megapixels, one x3 zoom, and the last a x10 zoom.

s21 ultra camera - Cheap Online Shopping -

I think on paper it seem Samsung has a massive lead, but photos come down to more than just megapixels

Ultra Wide Camera

Let’s start off with the ultra wide cameras. The ultra wide cameras have very similar field of view, however from my experience shooting side by side the S21 Ultra seems to edge ahead. The photos from the iPhone 13 are not bad, and I think the colours are more accurate, but the one on the Samsung S21 Ultra seems to handle dynamic range a little better.

As you can see in this image under the bridge, you can seem more details in the shadows and in the sky, meaning the dynamic range seems to be better. While on the iPhone shot you can’t even see the top of the pylon, however the colours were more real life on the iPhone, while the Samsung had a blue cooler hue over the whole image.

Wide Camera

Next we will move onto the main camera which is going to be the one used most. Although the Samsung has much more megapixels I would say this is a draw, they are both pretty sharp, occasionally the Samsung handles shadows better with more detail, but then the iPhone seems to be more consistent.

This is another photo taken by the bridge but this time facing under the bridge. You can again see the higher dynamic range of the S21 Ultra with bits of the sky coming through. But this time the Samsung is warmer in colour. The iPhone 13 exposes the image perfectly and has a very similar colour to the ultra wide and therefore being more consistent though each lens.

Telephoto Camera

Moving onto the optical zoom cameras, the x3 zoom is no competition in my eyes, the iPhone 13 Pro Max takes a much better image.

As you can see in this shot through the bridge the sign on the iPhone photo is much clearer than the photo from the Samsung S21 Ultra.

However, because of the extra lens on the S21 Ultra it means when you zoom very far away the iPhone 13 is unable to keep up.

In this 10x zoom image the iPhone is doing a lot of sharpening in post to try make it look sharp, however the samsung does not need to do that, therefore the photo looks a lot clearer and more natural.

I will add that I very rarely zoom that far, when I do I probably go to around 5x and this is where the iPhone is better as the x3 lens is better than the Samsung, because of this I would say it’s a draw between them both, but a slight edge to Samsung if you need to zoom really far.

Macro Photography

Moving onto something that’s just been added to the iPhone this year, macro mode. Macro photography is where you get really close to objects, this allows you to see really fine details.

Straight away the iPhone 13 Pro Max is ahead as the minimum focus distance is 2cm, where as on the Samsung S21 Ultra is it 3cm

Both are really impressive as you can get very close to things however I think overall the samsung is a little sharper, although it does seem to be digitally sharpened.

This baby concor that we found was interesting as it had spikes coming off it, this made it a challenge for the phones to get accurate focus which lead to the iPhones not being very sharp, where the Samsung as it’s that bit further away looks a lot sharper.

As you can see on this macro photo of bark on a tree both are shrap in the centre but are not at all around the edges. However the detail you can see is impressive, you can see iPhone is still going for the more natural look which I personally prefer. Where as the Samsung S21 Ultra is warmer and has lifted the shadows quite a bit, this removes some of the contrast in the photo.

Conclusion

So to conclude, I think both these cameras are amazing especially that they just fit in your pocket.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is very consistent in terms of the images it produces. The cameras have a good range and if you want to edit them, there are details in the shadows are there and dynamic range is also fantastic, but the look straight out the camera is a more flat, realistic photo.

Samsung have come along way with there cameras. These are great, the hardware is fantastic however the colours seem to shift depending on lens and situation. There is also a ton of digital sharpening and bring shadows up, this gives a sort of already edited look straight away.

I would be happy with either of these, however, iPhone 13 would be the pick for me as the best all rounder, plus I like to make the editing choices.

I hope this helps you choose between these phones cameras.

To buy iPhone 13 Pro Max accessories, or Samsung S21 Ultra accessories, head over to Mobile Fun.

Mark Holmes

Mark is our Product Marketing Specialist with a background of 7 years in marketing. When not researching about the latest tech gadgets to make his life easier he is most likely watching Formula 1.

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