Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 review: Medium extra large
Good 8MP camera
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 has an 8MP camera just like the one on the Mega 6.3, which captures photos of up to 3264 x 2448 pixels. There's a 1.9MP camera on the front, but there's no dual-shot mode like on the Galaxy S4.
The user interface is based on the Galaxy Camera interface. A virtual shutter key and a capture video button are always available in the viewfinder, so you don't have to switch modes. However, this is certainly not the most convenient solution, particularly in situations where you're shooting full resolution 8MP photos, but are forced to frame your videos in a 4:3 viewfinder.
The Mode button brings up a carousel of different shooting modes, each mode comes with a descriptive image and text. When you get familiar with those modes, you can switch to the grid, which drops the descriptions but is faster.
There are more settings in the top left corner, but they won't be used very often. Nevertheless, there're a number of interesting options here like the setting for the volume rocker to act as a still shutter key, a video shutter key or a zoom lever. Another interesting option is contextual file names - the Galaxy Mega 5.8 will name photos with your location (GPS needs to be on for this to work).
You can customize the shortcuts available here, but most people will probably stick to the Mode selector.
There are relatively few manual settings, the Galaxy Mega 5.8 just gives you an ISO setting, white balance and exposure compensation.
There are a few less mode options on the Mega 5.8 than its larger 6.3-inch cousin. Gone are modes like HDR, Drama, Night, Eraser, and 360 photo, but you get Burst shot mode, as well as Panorama, Sports, Beauty face, and more.
Best Photo and Best Face snap multiple photos and let you pick the best one (in the case of Best Face, you can tweak each face in the photo individually), while Beauty Shot does some automatic touch up.
Sound & shot captures a photo and records ambient sound. It sounds pretty cool - for example, you can hear the sea gulls in a beach photo or the roaring of car engines at a race - but we had problems sharing the shot. All the Galaxy Mega 5.8 would send is the still image, a JPEG, while the sound remained on the phone. Shame that Samsung didn't use the standard Audio note feature of JPEG photos for this one.
Photos have a lot of fine detail and low noise levels. Colors are slightly fairly accurate, but contrast is somewhat too low occasionally. We have, of course, seen more detailed output from 8MP shooters, but the Mega 5.8 is still a nicely competent cameraphone.
Photo quality comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 has the previous generation of flagships to contend with in our Photo quality compare tool.
1080p video camera
The Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 stores videos in MP4 files at 30fps with a bitrate of 17Mbps. Stereo audio is recorded at 120Kbps and a sampling rate of 48kHz. These are the same numbers you'll find on the Galaxy S4. You can also capture 1080p photos during recording, but it's hard to see the point in that.
Touch focus is available before and during video recording and you can switch back to continuous autofocus. The continuous autofocus tends to trigger a bit too often, so it's nice to be able to switch between the two.
Videos captured with the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 have a an average level of fine detail, and certainly not as good as the S4. They also have rather low contrast, just like some of the stills, which takes some of the fun out. Noise levels are low, while colors are similar to those in still images - overall accurate but slightly oversaturated.
Here is an untouched 1080p@30fps sample from the Galaxy Mega 5.8 you can download.
Video quality comparison
You can also take a close look at the quality of Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 videos in our Video quality compare tool. There are a number of phablets and even tablets you can pit it against.