Samsung Galaxy S5...a goner?
April 27, 2014 10:27 PM   Subscribe

So I didn't really want to use a question on this, but earlier today I was out taking the camera on my new S5 for a spin. The results are beautiful. The problem is that at some point during the day, I managed to drop my phone about four feet onto the metal footplate of my electric wheelchair. I'm wondering if this may have killed the maniacally fast autofocus I thought I had going for me earlier in the day.

A couple of details:
- Conditions outside were nearly perfect ( early afternoon sun, little wind) during the time I was able to get the good shots.
- I can't remember if any of the pictures were taken after the drop.
- I have the phone in a hard-edged case but the camera really isn't protected at all unfortunately.
What has me worried is that, rather than the 0.3 second autofocus that so many reviews rave about, it now takes the phone a good 2-3 seconds to get a lock. Granted this is:
-Indoors, with low (but not dim) light
-Using the flash

Am I going crazy over nothing? This is really just me obsessing because I'd rather not have already permanently screwed up a $600 phone , days after I got it.

I only worry because I know that, in the past, drops have been pretty much fatal to the autofocus on my regular cameras. I don't know if it's because the mechanisms inside the lens get shaken or moved out of place or what have you...
Anyway, photogs of this a thing that might happen and do I go whine to T-Mo about it? Let me know!
posted by marsbar77 to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: i haven't used the S5, but i have used the S4, HTC one, nokia lumias, iphone 5/5s/etc.

When it needs to use the flash for AF assist(which is to say, every time you're taking a photo with flash on most phones), it needs to fire the flash, on some fancier phones adjust how much power it's putting into the flash, focus, and then fire the flash again and capture the image.

I would test it outside in direct sunlight. If it struggles again... how recently did you get it? The next step would be going to the tmobile store and testing it next to one of their demo units. If it's obviously worse off, I wouldn't feel bad at all about complaining to them that it was defective out of the box.

Cell phone camera focus units vary in durability from model to model. Most iphone ones are unbreakable(the 4 though, notably, had a really break-y camera that would get weird discolorations as well). However, several friends who have had galaxy s3's and s4's have complained about weird soft focus problems and such after not even having their phones that long(and posted example photos on facebook, etc). Most of the people i know are spazzes who drop their phones a lot... see where i'm going with this?

So no, you are not going crazy. Test it out first, but the type of damage you're describing is very much possible.
posted by emptythought at 11:00 PM on April 27, 2014

Going from daylight to indoors on smartphone cameras will usually alter the focus time like that, yeah. You can verify it either way tomorrow when it's bright outside.
posted by MillMan at 11:02 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Any camera will take considerably longer to autofocus in dim light than in bright sunlight. There's just a lot less data to work with, contrast primarily. If it's dim enough that it also has to fire the flash or AF-assist lamp, that will make things even worse. It's a totally normal and somewhat unavoidable behavior. The focus will be softer overall as well (even after the phone has locked on) due to longer shutter times and wider apertures.

Don't assume your phone is broken until you've tried it again under similar lighting conditions. A bright sunny day is basically the best possible situation in most ways, and anything else will require more work to get the same technical quality of photo.
posted by Scientist at 6:37 PM on April 28, 2014

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