Get to know the Galaxy Note 8’s awesome dual camera

Galaxy Note 8: The final word

The good and bad of Samsung’s most power-packed phone.


by Jessica Dolcourt

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 is the latest phone to join in on the dual-camera craze. With the added camera, you can capture shots that have a bit of depth to them, which when done right, look amazing. There are also a few more benefits such as true 2x zoom — up to 10x digital zoom — and a new Dual Capture feature.

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your shiny new double camera on the Galaxy Note 8.

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X1 or X2

When your first launch the Camera app on the Note 8, you’ll notice a new button with the label of X2. This button will activate either respective camera, depending on which camera you’re currently using.

By default, the Camera app launches in X1 mode, thus the X2 button. Tap the button, however, and the button changes to X1 as the camera switches to the telephoto lens.

Of course, X1 is the standard wide angle camera setup you have on all phones. The X2 setting changes to the new telephoto lens on the Note 8. Zoom up to 10x is possible, but after 2x it’s done digitally and photo quality will take a hit.

Despite what some may think, just switching to X2 does not activate the new Live Focus capture mode Samsung is so proud of.

Live Focus

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A Live Focus photo captured on the Galaxy Note 8 with full blur applied. 


Jason Cipriani/CNET

Switch to Live Focus with a tap on the Live Focus button. The camera will switch to the telephoto lens, and add a slider to adjust the amount of blur applied to the background.

View the changes as you adjust the amount of blurriness, also referred to as bokeh, in real time on the Note 8’s screen.

Along the bottom of the screen is text, aimed at helping you capture the best shot possible.

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An example of the Note 8’s Live Focus interface and guidance. 


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Some examples of what you might see include “Live Focus is available” when a subject has been identified and the Note 8 can do its magic. Or “Live Focus not available due to shooting conditions” when the subject is too far away, or there’s not enough information for it to differentiate the background from the subject. 

Two more messages I’ve seen include “Stay around 4 feet away from the subject to take a Live focus picture” and “Can’t use Live Focus. Not enough light.”

Dual Capture

An optional feature, Dual Capture saves two photos with each press of the shutter button when Live Focus mode is in use. One photo is the blurry, sometimes good Live Focus photo, the other is a wide-angle shot.

The benefit of capturing both is you may have two share-worthy shots from one capture. Who doesn’t want that?

To use and view Dual Capture photos, open the camera app and tap on Live Focus. A series of buttons will be on the left or top of the screen, depending on how you’re holding it. Tap on the button that looks like two pieces of paper, or photos, stacked on top of one another. When the button is white, Dual Capture is turned off. When it’s yellow, Dual Capture is enabled.

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Go back, adjust the level of blur applied to a photo or view the extra wide angle shot in the Note 8’s Gallery app. The photo on the far right is a wide angle photo captured with Dual Capture enabled. 


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Viewing a Dual Capture photo is easy. Open the Gallery app, then tap on the photo. The editor will show three options when viewing a Live Focus/Dual Capture photo. Tap Wide Angle, make any desired edits and then share. To go back to the Live Focus version, tap Close-Up

Things to keep in mind

When using Live Focus, the tips Samsung provides within the app are sure to help, but there’s more to it than that. CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt took the Note 8’s camera out for some testing, and found it to excel in well-lit environments with natural light, especially when using Live Focus.

Remember the Note 8 uses software and hardware to add depth, or blur, to a photo. Because of this it can, and often does, get the exact edges of your subjects wrong leading to blurred hands, hair or clothes. Try and pick backgrounds that are far away from the subject, and don’t match too closely in color for the best result.

Also, adjust the blur before taking the photo so you have a good idea what the end result will be, even if it’s not quite perfect when you capture the shot. You can always go back and fine tune it. 

Lastly, leaving Dual Capture enabled will take up added storage space on your Note 8. If you have a large microSD card, leave Dual Capture turned on at all times — you never know what you’re going to catch. Otherwise, leave it disabled and only use it when you’re at a concert or special event.


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