Galaxy Nexus camera: better than you may have heard (gallery)

Summary:The Galaxy Nexus has been slammed because of the camera, but as you can see in my image gallery it actually takes very good photos in the right lighting condition.

As I previously wrote here, the Galaxy Nexus specifications are top notch in nearly every department. One area where people are disappointed is in the 5 megapixel camera. I decided to conduct a small comparison of the Galaxy Nexus camera against a few other devices with photos I might take on a walk around the office and town. As you can see in my image gallery of photos taken I used the GSM unlocked Galaxy Nexus (Android), Apple iPhone 4S (iOS), HTC Radar 4G (WP 7.5), and Nokia N9 (MeeGo) to try to cover all the major smartphone platforms.

I captured the following photos, all in auto mode, to compare between each smartphone:

  • Pike Place Market in December
  • Nordstrom store front display
  • Colored leaf on a tree
  • A couple of characters on my desk
  • Charlie Brown's Christmas tree

I spend some time below walking through the Galaxy Nexus camera software in more detail after briefly mentioning it in my Ice Cream Sandwich walk through article posted yesterday.


Image Gallery: Check out several sample photos taken with these four smartphones in various situations.
Image Gallery: Shot with the Galaxy Nexus
Image Gallery: Office characters

Galaxy Nexus camera software

The camera software is pretty basic, but there are several options and functions I wanted to share with you. When you launch the camera (still a bit sad to see there is no dedicated camera button) you will see a bar on the right side of the display that shows the last image captured, image capture button, and mode selector (still, video, and panorama). Just to the left of this wide bar you will find the toggle for front or rear facing cameras, zoom slider bar, and menu button.

Still photo options

If you select the still photo option then you can tap the menu button and see the following settings to choose from:
  • Flash mode: Auto, on or off (no red eye flash is present)
  • White balance: Auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, and cloudy.
  • Exposure: from +3 to -3
  • Scene modes: auto, action, night, sunset, and party
  • Menu: location store toggle and picture size (QVGA to 5 megapixel)

Video options

If you select the video capture option then you can tap the menu button and see the following settings to choose from:
  • Flash mode: On or off
  • White balance: Auto, incandescent, daylight, fluorescent, and cloudy.
  • Effects: Big Eyes, Big Mouth, Small Eyes, etc.
  • Time lapse interval: You can customize to recored from 0 to 10 seconds
  • Video quality: HD (1080p), HD (720p), and SD (480 pences)
  • Menu: location store toggle and picture size (QVGA to 5 megapixel)

The effects are silly, but my daughter and I thought it was a fun way to be fairly interested.

Panorama mode

This mode allows you to capture things like a large concert hall or stadium full of people. Once you initiate a call you simply sweep to one side, following the tutorial

The camera is extremely responsive and there is virtually no shutter lag at all. I think you can see in my image gallery that the photos are actually quite good with the device.

Comparison Table

Here you can see my selection of first through fourth place in each of the five situations that I took photos. The lower the score the higher the ranking as it was simply a 1 through 4 rating scale between all four phones. The Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S beat the HTC Radar 4G and Nokia N9 by a huge margin, but were very close to the same. My rankings are simply how I personally see each photo in comparison to each other, but I will let you check out the image gallery and make your own judgement call too.
Galaxy Nexus Apple iPhone 4S HTC Radar 4G Nokia N9
Pike Place Market in December 1 3 4 2
Nordstrom store front display 3 1 2 4
Colored leaf on a tree 2 1 4 3
A couple of characters on my desk 1 2 3 4
Charlie Brown's Christmas tree 1 2 4 3
Total 8 9 17 16
I was surprised by how well the photos from the Galaxy Nexus turned out given that all I heard before testing it was that it was a failure and no good at all. For the specific photos I took, I found it to score just 1 point less than the iPhone 4S.

What about video?

I tested out video on all four phones and noticed the following:
  • Galaxy Nexus: Rich colors, sound capture appears to be decent
  • iPhone 4S: Very good video quality and audio capture was superb
  • Radar 4G: Colors were a bit washed out and video stuttered a bit
  • Nokia N9: Colors looked very real

I have to spend a lot more time with the Galaxy Nexus and video recording software.

Is there a clear winner?

As you can see in the table it is clear that there are two very good camera phones and then others that could stand for some updating. HTC is rolling out devices with very good cameras, but the Radar 4G is not one of them and I don't have an HTC Titan to test out since I heard that is quite good. The N9 does fine, but I found the photos from the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S to be much better.

[poll id="39"]

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, HTC, Mobility

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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