Samsung has extended the camera capabilities of the Galaxy S21 Ultra with the release of Expert RAW. It’s an official app that only takes photos in RAW format and also allows Pro controls (such as shutter speed and ISO control) for the phone’s telephoto lenses. So I immediately tested it to test it against Samsung’s automatic mode. The latter is quite astonishing, even if it sometimes suffers from oversampling and increased contrast.
I took the Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Expert RAW app for a test drive around our Capitol Christmas tree. I was shooting mainly with the ultra-wide lens and 3x zoom, expecting to produce lower quality photos in darker environments due to the narrower aperture of these lenses (F2.2 and F2.4 respectively. ).
In my testing, I found that images captured with the Galaxy S21 Ultra using Expert RAW can suffer from significant noise around objects. Still, removing this noise in post-processing was surprisingly easy, even for photos captured at higher ISO. Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of my photos.
Here are two ultra-wide shots:
And some zooms:
Of course, there are pros and cons to using Expert RAW, but we can expect Samsung to fix the issues with future versions of the app. We hope Samsung will release the app for other devices as well, as only the Galaxy S21 Ultra is supported at this time.
You can download Expert RAW from our APK archive here.
Good things about Expert RAW:
- There aren’t any overly sharp areas and the shots have a DSLR feel
- You can use the Pro mode controls for all camera lenses
- Very crisp zoom results (again, no areas that are too crisp)
- You get a lot of information if you like to edit your photos in post-processing
The less good things:
- Large file sizes because images are saved in RAW format (20MB +)
- You will not be able to recover highlights in certain lighting conditions
- Not suitable for fast moving objects
- Only available for the Galaxy S21 Ultra at the time of this writing