We all needed a break (or two) to wind down from all stressful work. With my last moments using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, I decided to join a trip with my high school buddies (whom I haven’t seen for more than a year) down to a farther part of the south in the Philippines’ biggest island.
Quite an unprepared trip
Our original plan back in June 2021 was to go to a beach resort in Nasugbu, Batangas — then something happened.
Heavy rains poured a week before our reservation date, but that wasn’t the main reason why we changed course. The infamous Taal Volcano seen from the popular City of Tagaytay had a phreatomagmatic eruption in the last week of June. Since then, the Alert Level quickly went from 2 to 3. It was hazardous and dangerous considering the amount of Sulfur Dioxide in the air.
Not wanting to risk ourselves being exposed to air contaminants, we decided to look for another location that isn’t that strict and is readily available. An unheard place in Quezon was the only choice. Being first-time travelers to Unisan, we didn’t know what to expect.
We weren’t fully prepared. After packing all of our stuff, we all met then let Waze (plus my map literacy) do the job to help us reach the farther part of Quezon.
It took over five hours traveling from Calamba, Laguna to our intended destination. Naturally, these included traffic, fast food, convenience store, and restroom breaks. There was also lack of internet data connection and direction confusion along the latter part of Lucena City. But we persevered and reached our destination.
Star-studded sky, literally
Touchdown, Unisan! Frankly, none of us expected that it’ll be a great place to stay. But the moment the stars showed up (including shooting stars or meteors in their scientific term), I was already astounded.
The water felt so cool to touch but it also looked clear even if it was pitch-black. The only thing that buzzed us was the series of lights seen from a distance. We just thought it was a shore-based plant/factory. After all, we’re looking at the other part of Marinduque — which is another province in a secluded island not directly connected to the part of Luzon.
A morning of cool breeze
While some of my friends had an early morning sleep after drinking all-night, I decided to just stay awake since I wasn’t feeling sleepy.
Funny thing was, some of my friends asked us to wake them up for the “sunrise” but as far as I know, the sunrise won’t be visible in this area since it’s facing west — and I was right.
While they were disappointed that there was no “sunrise” view, seeing the early morning view made my eyes and heart.
I also decided to take an early morning walk. Through the telephoto and wide lens of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, I was able to take the shots above. I didn’t fully soak the device though due to my fear of having water-resistance issues even if it has an IP68 rating. It still protected the phone while shooting an almost soaked shot of the boat to capture its reflection on the water.
…then it felt like it was a hot summer
After being awake for 36 hours straight, my mind and body decided to rest. Then, the scorching heat outside — alongside their loud noises and smell of hotdogs and grilled fish being cooked — woke me up.
To my surprise, my friends were able to visit the nearest market — which was several kilometers away — and cooked-up a feast for lunch. It felt more refreshing with a fresh Buko Juice (Coconut Juice). For dessert, there were some classic Pinipig and Cheese popsicles being sold by a vendor nearby.
But all before that, I ate some classic Pancit Canton with hard-boiled egg on top for early breakfast. My friends also gave me spoonfuls of their Tapsilog — a combination of Tapa and Itlog (sunny side-up egg). Even though I’m not a huge fan of pork, I still enjoyed it — especially because they’re free food. 😅
As obvious as it gets, I wasn’t really prepared for this set of groufies but for the sake of making memories, I had to show my face anyway.
My other three friends from the early morning shoot decided to sleep. This time, I decided to tag along since I was already energized to walk along the sandy shore again (after heavy rain poured for around 10 to 15 minutes).
Nothing’s too early for some photoshoot
I clearly know my main role in this group — to shoot lots (I mean lots) of photos. I was lazy to lug around my heavy DSLR so I decided to just shoot with the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Three of my high school friends and I decided to take an early morning walk to discover what’s on the other part of the shore. This what I was talking about from the earlier section.
I was stoked upon seeing how clear the water was up close. From that point, my mind told me to take some photos of them along the sea. I was just as glad with how the Galaxy S21 Ultra performed as how my friends were with the results.
Of course, I had to ask a friend to take some photos of me, too. While I wasn’t certain about my friend’s photography skills, I just directed her to do the same style of shot I did for them. Fortunately, she managed to take a couple of “Instagrammable“ portraits (that I never posted because I don’t have that beach-perfect body).
Let the splashing begin!
After our satisfying lunch and some walk along with two of my friends, we decided to call the rest for the shoot they all have been waiting for.
The fast AF (autofocus) and shutter speed of the Galaxy S21 Ultra was able to take these studio-grade shots. Instructing my friends to just do their thing like the camera wasn’t there, I was able to take candid shots that also perfectly captured the motion of water.
With some color adjustments, I made the shots look more dramatic. The unedited shots were a little bit on the underexposed side since they’re all facing against the bright sky. Still, I was able to adjust the exposure without ruining the shots — even if they’re just photos with a JPG file format.
Even in a group shot like this, the Galaxy S21 Ultra managed. Not only it captured all of my friends, it also managed to preserve a candid-looking shot while still keeping all of them (plus the splashing water) in focus.
Unexpected breathtaking views
As the old saying goes, don’t judge the book by its cover. Upon seeing more breathtaking views, I immediately regretted how I underestimated what Unisan, Quezon had to offer.
My favorite pair of lenses are obviously the 3x and 10x telephoto lenses of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to capture these photographs (that I casually apply as my phone’s wallpaper). The iPhone I’ve been using for quite a while only has a single camera anyway.
Even these tropical-looking shots I captured above were taken from the zoom cameras of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. If you’re still not amazed, scroll below to see more.
Sunset straight out of a dream
It was this time of day when Unisan, Quezon truly looked magical. I tried color-grading it to depict how it really looked like in real life.
The shots — taken using different lenses — perfectly preserved my memory of the sunset at Unisan. It looked surreal; as if I was dreaming. I almost cried since couldn’t believe I was there the whole time. Surely, no matter what type of lens you use, you can never go wrong with them.
I managed to take some transitioning shots too. From the pre-sunset phase to where the sun has fully set, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera superiority still reigned all throughout. The last shot was taken with Night Mode on. Using regular mode already displayed bits of grain all around.
As the day came to an end, I quickly set up my tripod and mounted the Galaxy S21 Ultra. We made sure to preserve the memories of our quick beach getaway with silhouette shots along with the sunset.
All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and were post-processed using Adobe Lightroom and VSCO.
Before our trip, we made sure all of us were safe and COVID-19 negative. We submitted all of the required documents needed. Some of us were already vaccinated prior to the travel date, which was held last July 2021. Face masks during the trip were only removed for the sake of the photoshoot. Social distancing protocols were still followed.
24 Hours is a series on GadgetMatch.com where we showcase our travels through a smartphone camera’s perspective. It’s also a documented guide on things to see and do in a city in case you happen to plan a trip there.
First 24 Hours with the iPhone 14
Bluer than Blue!
September 11 marks a historical day not just for New Yorkers, but for (almost) everyone in this world.
With a memory that lives forever in our heads, Michael Josh has tried commemorating it.
He went to the pier along Brooklyn Bridge to recreate a shot he wanted to do for so long.
Can’t wait to see how the shot turned out? Or just curious how the iPhone 14’s gonna last throughout the day?
Head over now to our iPhone 14 First 24 Hours video to feed your curiosities.
First 24 Hours with the iPhone 14 Pro Max
Battery & Camera Champ?
Aside from the usual one day usage, it’s also a great time to see the streets of New York, at least virtually.
With the new cameras of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (including a 48MP sensor),
is it suffice to say it’s worth upgrading to this year’s iPhone?
Here’s Michael Josh’s first 24 hours with the new iPhone 14 Pro Max for you to find out more.
vivo V25 and V25 Pro: First 24 Hours
Impressive all around!
For the uninitiated, smartphone manufacturer vivo makes the V-series, apart from the more premium X-series. The V-series is its midrange line that inherits a lot of the flagship features its more expensive brothers offer. It’s also got fun selfie camera features, as well as a more colorful, dynamic design.
The V25 and V25 Pro are the latest in the series, and we partnered with vivo to talk about our experience using both phones for the first 24 hours. We took them around New York City to test out new camera tricks during the day and at night, as well as to give you an idea what it might be like using the V25 Pro in the real world.
Lunch and Errands
We started the day by unplugging the V25 Pro at 10am at 100%. Errands had to be run around the city, which took almost 4 hours.
We then headed to Urbanspace meet some friends for lunch. It’s a food hall with lots of yummy options to choose from, and I opted for a caramelized pork banh mi.
While waiting for my order, I took some video samples using the V25 Pro’s rear camera. For a lot of smartphones photographing and filming at Urbanspace is not as easy. It’s moody with random light sources here and there but the V25 Pro’s 64MP OIS Ultra-Sensing Camera took the challenge like a champ. Watch our YouTube video here.
After lunch we walked over to Grand Central Terminal to take the subway to a Mediatek event. We were running late but we had to take a few photos using the V25 and V25 Pro because this station is stunning.
Even if it was quite dim inside the station, these shots came out great thanks to the V25 series’ 64MP OIS Ultra-Sensing Camera, which minimizes blur and supports a longer exposure time, resulting in clearer and brighter images.
When it comes to videos, the V25 series uses a Hybrid Image Stabilization (OIS+EIS) feature to deliver smooth videos even in low light. The X-series has long been known for great video stabilization so it’s good to see that come to its more affordable models. So, we also filmed a few clips during our subway ride.
Processing Power and Color Changing Design
At the Mediatek event, we got reunited with a lot of our fellow tech YouTubers, including Enobong Etteh (@booredatwork, Joshua Vergara (@jvtechtea), and Danny Winget (@superscientific).
Both the V25 and V25 Pro are powered by a MediaTek 5G system on a chip. The vivo V25 is powered by Mediatek’s Dimensity 900, a 6nm chip with exceptional AI camera features.
Meanwhile, the V25 Pro is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1300, an octa core CPU with boosted AI performance and HyperEngine 5 which provides a suite of gaming related optimizations.
At the event however, we got our friends to talk about the color changing design of the V25 and V25 Pro.
Our V25 unit turns from golden yellow to a rich orange tone when exposed to the sun or UV light. While the V25 Pro goes from a lighter blue to a deep blue. This is thanks to the Color Changing Fluorite AG Glass material that vivo used.
Both Joshua and Danny liked how eye catching the V25’s color is. I personally love anything blue, so the V25 Pro is my pick.
At the event we also got to test the V25 Pro’s 32MP Eye AF selfie camera. It’s got autofocus, so even if you’re dealing with moving subjects, it locks on them so selfies remain clear.
In one test we had Chay move in and out of frame. Autofocus detects her as soon as she comes back into frame and follows her along as she moves around the frame.
I also love the teleprompter feature which lets me put up a script to read while recording video. I might use it for my Instagram stories more often. It’s such a fun tool!
The MediaTek event took place on a gorgeous rooftop suite so while everyone was busy mingling, I snapped the rest of these photos.
We had a lot of fun catching up with everyone, showing them the new vivo phones, and taking photos that we almost forgot to do a battery check.
At 7:07 PM, the vivo V25 Pro still had 62% left. That’s 9 hours after unplugging it from the charger.
Back in Brooklyn
After the event, we headed back to Brooklyn to try and catch the sunset. This time of the year we get longer days so we had a few minutes left and I snapped more photos along the way.
Being able to film video at night is the holy grail of smartphone videography and with Super Night Video on the V25 Pro, I can shoot videos of the Manhattan skyline when it looks its best.
Super Night Video brightens and reduces noise when filming in low light.
It’s 8:30 PM, and I could just feel the hunger pangs so we decided to grab some tacos from Tacocina at Domino Park. But first, another battery check: 49% left in the tank.
Of course, we didn’t want to pass up on the chance to take a photo of the tacos, too. The camera always eats first.
While we were there it was also the perfect opportunity to test out the Bokeh Flare Portrait. There are five effects to choose from: default, hearts, stars, butterfly, and cherry blossom.
The vivo V25 Pro did a great job of separating me from the background despite how dark it already got. I can’t say which effect is my favorite but I think I’m gonna use hearts for now.
I was so hungry after the day we just had that I had to order another taco. While waiting I went and tested out the Time-Lapse feature on the V25 Pro as well. You can watch our video here to watch those samples.
More Photos at Night
Our next camera test involved having the subject in the shadows, with a well-lit background. We snapped a few around Domino Park, but it’s the one where Chay stood in front of the pillars that takes the cake.
For that we turned on Super Night Portrait. It uses AI to compensate for the lack of light on the subject. It’s of course not obvious in this photo, but in real life, Chay had barely any light on her face when we took the shot.
We couldn’t end the day without taking some artsy night time photos.
This first shot is of the Williamsburg bridge around Blue Hour. I visiting love Domino Park for views just like this one.
I love that Tacocina exists. It means you don’t even need to leave the park to get food and drink. I highly recommend their carne asada soft taco!
I always am a sucker for a mural. I love street art and the walls around Domino Park are lined with them.
I had to do it: an OOTD photo.
These blue steel towers are actually cranes from the sugar refinery that once stood in this area. I love how they kept them around and how they’re now like art pieces that illuminate the park at night.
I love this shot of Chay walking down the stairs from the elevated walkway.
We’ve got a few more shots for you from my walk home.
I was super impressed with this one of a food truck because it was much darker than the pic looks. I also love how the V25 Pro did not produce lens flares other smartphones tend to do when photographing lights.
Neon is always a challenging thing to film or photograph. I think the V25 Pro did an excellent job of this hair salon.
I thought this was a quirky way to end this photoshoot — a neon flamingo atop a building.
After almost 12 hours of use, and exactly 4 hours of screen-on time, the V25 Pro had 28% left at 9:39 PM.
I’m glad we ended our day in Brooklyn with night photography tests using the V25 Pro. It’s worth pointing out that V25 series cost half the price of higher end smartphones. Yet it more than delivers in terms of capturing stunning photos at night.
I guess I shouldn’t even be surprised, considering how the vivo X80 Pro, along with its predecessors, are some of the best smartphone shooters we’ve tried.
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