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The Note 10's 6 best camera tricks and how to use them

The Note 10's 6 best camera tricks and how to use them
The camera on Samsung's Note 10 Plus has a few new tricks. Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy Note 10 Plus is shaping up to be a solid smartphone with long battery life (that charges ridiculously fast) and a killer display.

Of course, there's the camera on the Note 10 Plus. Samsung added some new tricks, giving the camera a new night mode, augmented reality features, and the ability to capture just the audio you want when recording a video.

We've been using and testing the camera and found a few features you'll want to master to get the most out of your Note 10's camera.

Take bright photos and selfies at night

Unlike the S10, which launched without a standalone Night mode (and got one later), the Note 10 has it from the start. Not only can you take better photos at night photos with the trio of back cameras, but the Note 10 also brings Night mode to the front-facing camera.

Using Night mode on the Note 10 is simple -- select it as a shooting mode in the camera app, and then make sure to hold your phone really steady while it captures the photos. Night mode uses the limited amount of light available in a scene and amplifies it to create a well-lit photo where one typically wouldn't be possible. You do need some light in order for Night mode to work.

Air Actions give you more freedom from having to tap on the Note 10's display for every interaction. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Use the S Pen to its potential

Use the Note 10's S Pen to remotely control the camera. Instead of acting only as a simple shutter release when you press the S Pen's button (a feature we got in the Note 9), you can now switch between modes, zoom in or out, and flip between the front and back cameras using Air Gestures.

With the camera app open and the S Pen in your hand, press and hold the S Pen's button while gesturing to the right, left, up, down or in half circles in either direction to control various aspects of the camera (Pro tip: rotate your wrist for the half-circle gestures instead of trying to air-draw a half-circle). If you forget what gesture does what, tap on the Air Command button on the Note 10's screen to reveal a cheat sheet.

I've found that quick, short gestures are key to getting Air Gestures to work every time. Remember, the S Pen's button acts as a shutter release as well -- handy for family selfies and group photos. But it can also lead to accidental burst photos if you hold in the button and are slow to use Air Gesture. Yes, I've done it -- a few times.

AR Doodle has plenty of drawing tools. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Sketch across the sky -- or on someone's face

Using the S Pen of the Note 10, you can add your own personal artwork to the real world and capture it on video. AR Doodle is built into the camera app's video mode. Begin your own AR Doodle by opening the camera app, switching to the video mode and selecting the AR Doodle icon. It's the square with a squiggly line through it. AR Doodle is available with the front and back cameras.

AR Doodle has two modes: Face or Everywhere. Face will put a box around a person's face, letting you know that's the area you can draw on. As you draw, each doodle will anchor to that exact spot.

Surely, more artistic people than myself could have done better. Jason Cipriani/CNET

Everywhere will let you draw on your immediate surroundings after you pan your phone's camera around, letting the phone capture the data it needs for AR Doodle to work.

As you draw, you have various tools and options such as colors, different pens and size of digital ink. Pick a subject that's stationary, and draw or write in one continuous motion. I repeatedly attempted to draw a stick figure standing on a boat (an artist, I am not), but because I would lift the S Pen off the display for each arm or leg, the body didn't appear as one cohesive drawing. I scrapped that idea and wrote across the sky instead.

Live focus video is pretty fun to use. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Capture fancy bokeh video

Live focus photos add a bokeh -- or blurred background -- effect around a person or another object. With the Note 10, Samsung has expanded the live focus feature to video.

Live Focus Video is its own camera mode you'll need to select in the camera app and works on both the front and back cameras.

You'll need to be fairly close to your subject, within 0.5-1.5 meters according to the camera app. Before you press the shutter button to begin recording, you can preview one of the four different effects that are available.

The four effects are: Blur, Big circle, Color point and Glitch. Each one applies a unique look to your video and has a slider that lets you adjust the strength of the effect.

The Note 10's video editor is really well done. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Edit, combine videos right on your phone

The Note 10's Gallery app now comes with a pretty impressive video editor built into it.

Open the Gallery app and either open a video you want to edit and tap on the Edit button that looks like a pencil. Several editing tools will show up along the bottom of the screen for tasks like adjusting playback speed, adding text, trimming the clip and adding stickers.

At the top of the screen is an Add button that you can use to add more clips to your project. When you have more than one video clip, you can add transitions between by tapping on the "-" button between the two videos. You can also add background music and text to the entire video.

Have some fun with the video editor and get creative with your videos.

Capture better audio when you shoot video

If you've ever captured a video of someone talking or a street musician playing your favorite song, only to watch it later and realize all you can hear is other people talking and cars passing by, then give the Note 10's Zoom-in Mic feature a try.

Take two seconds to turn on Zoom-in Mic. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You'll need to turn on Zoom-in Mic on your Note 10 before you can use it:

  1. Open the camera app and tap on the settings gear.
  2. Scroll down and select Advanced recording options.
  3. Toggle the slider next to Zoom-in Mic to the On position.
The microphone will show you the audio's zoom level. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Once it's turned on, anytime you record video and zoom in on a subject, the Note 10's microphones will amplify any sound coming from the area you zoomed in on. For example, if you're recording a video for a school project or work, zooming in on the person talking will highlight their voice, lessening the impact of background noise. The same goes for recording a musician in a noisy coffee shop.

As you zoom in, a microphone icon will show up on the screen, letting you know the level of zoom the microphone is using. It goes from 0 to 10, based on how much you zoom.

We're constantly updating our Note 10 Plus review with latest test results, thoughts, and details. The Note 10 is currently available for preorder and will be in stores starting this Friday, Aug. 23.

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Topic: #galaxy note
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