Every WP7 device has a lot of great features that go into its camera, and the Samsung Focus S is no exception. From the dedicated camera button to the various photo settings, you can't help but feel that a lot of thought has gone into the camera.
The 8MP image sensor is fairly mainstream for devices in this price range, and in fact, it's the very same module found in the Galaxy S2.
A dedicated camera button is a requirement for all WP7 devices, so naturally, the Focus S has one. The two-stage button allows for a half-press to focus and a full-press to snap the photo.
The camera button also acts as a shortcut into the camera app. All you have to do is hold the button down for a few seconds. Even from the lock screen, you can launch the camera and take an in-focus shot in about 5 seconds.
We'd love to see more smartphones with dedicated camera buttons. As long as you have plenty of natural light, photos come out very well. Colors can occasionally stand to be a bit more saturated, but everything typically comes out crisp and clean.
The Focus S also has a unique feature called Wide Dynamic Range that comes in especially handy with tricky lighting. With it enabled, you lose a bit of that crispness, but gain a great amount of detail in dark areas with strong backlighting.
Low light performance is a different story. The LED flash helps some, but if you're too close to your subject, it gets completely washed out; too far and you may as well not have a flash at all. Without the flash, photos are plagued with more noise than the front row of a metal concert.
Interestingly, though, the Focus S excels at macro photos. You can select the macro focus mode in the options, but there's typically very little need since the autofocus mode detects it quite well.
Apart from that, you get a few image effects (monotone, emboss, outline, etc); the ability to adjust the ISO, resolution, saturation, white balance, contrast and a few others that will likely go untouched; and an anti-shaking mode which, so far as we can tell, doesn't do a thing.
You can also use the 1.3MP front facing camera for photos. You get what you'd expect from a 1.3MP camera – nothing amazing.
Typical saturation and white balance from adequate natural lighting.
With Wide Dynamic Range turned off, branches only show as silhouettes.
Turning on Wide Dynamic Range gives more detail to the backlit branches.
Macro shots come out great.
Low light produces a very noisy image.
The flash makes a big difference in low light, but can wash out details.