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Galaxy Z Flip camera test in beautiful Edinburgh

We put Samsung's new folding phone through a quick camera test in the UK's most stunning city.

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Andrew Hoyle / CNET

I picked up the folding Galaxy Z Flip from Samsung's Edinburgh store the minute the doors opened. You can read my early thoughts on what the phone is like to use, how it bends and so in my ongoing review, but here, I want to give some early impressions of the camera.

With a 12-megapixel standard zoom lens and a 12-megapixel super-wide camera, it's not exactly top of the class when it comes to imaging. Just compare that to the Galaxy S20 Ultra's 108-megapixel sensor or its 100x zoom lens. But any phone worth its salt needs to be able to nail some beautiful snaps when you're out and about. 

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I'm pleased with this first image. Taken with the standard zoom lens, the sky has a lovely blue color and the phone has done a great job of balancing the exposure between the bright sky and shadowy foreground. 

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I switched to the super-wide lens for this shot, trying to capture more of the steps in the foreground but still keep the beautiful Edinburgh Castle in the background. There's generally a good exposure on this scene, and plenty of detail too, although the colors are a touch oversaturated.

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A different composition using the standard zoom lens. The colours look more natural here and again the exposure looks great.

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Pin-sharp focus, spot-on exposure and vibrant colors. Nice work, Flip friend.

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The image looks basically identical with the super zoom lens, it's just been able to capture more of the scene. That's good -- I've often found that switching lenses on phones means getting different exposure and white balance which doesn't always look as nice.

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The phone does offer a zoom mode up to 8x, but it's digital zoom that crops into the image. As you can see here, the results don't look good. Fine for a quick snap, perhaps, but this isn't a phone that'll catapult you into wildlife photography stardom.

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Even at 4x the details look mushy.

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There's a 10-megapixel front-facing camera inside the phone -- you'll find it in a small punch-hole in the main screen. However...

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If you close the phone you can also take a selfie using the main rear camera with the smaller screen to help compose your shot. It's crisper, has much richer colors and better contrast. It's the better camera to use if you care about your selfies. The one thing I'm not sure about is why it defaults to a square aspect ratio when you do this. I'm sure that's something I'll figure out in time. 

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The colors in this pathway scene are oversaturated, giving it quite an unnatural appearance.

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Colors are potent here too, but I do at least love the even exposure between the sky and the ground. 

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The close focussing distance of the main camera let me get this nice low-down shot of these pretty snowdrops. The rich colors work well, making the green stems look lovely and fresh. 

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The auto HDR mode has really helped bring the bright sky under control here, giving it quite a moody atmosphere that works beautifully.

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Taken with the standard zoom lens, the colors look, if anything, a little washed out here, which is surprising given the camera's tendency to oversaturate. 

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Switching to the wide lens, things look a bit more lively.

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The wide lens also helped me capture this dramatic view under Edinburgh's Dean Bridge.

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Finally, this view of Dean Village and the delightful Water of Leith. The exposure is spot on and the colors are less saturated then previous examples, which makes this image much more true-to-life.

I'll be doing much more testing of the Galaxy Z Flip over the coming days, so stay tuned for more.