Camera phone comparison; iPhone 5, Note II, HTC 8X, Lumia 920 (photo gallery)

Camera phone comparison; iPhone 5, Note II, HTC 8X, Lumia 920 (photo gallery)

Summary: I think you can purchase any of these phones and be satisfied with the camera quality, but some have different strengths and features that may appeal to you more than others.


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  • Seattle waterfront: captured with Apple iPhone 5

  • Seattle waterfront: captured with Galaxy Note II

  • Seattle waterfront: captured with HTC 8X

Topics: Mobility, Apple, HTC, iPhone, Nokia, Smartphones

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  • Re:

    I know it's not your fault Matthew, but it's very hard to compare these pictures.
  • Is it me..

    ...or does the Note lose resolution against the others?
    The iPhone 5 underexposes by around 1/2 stop whilst the Nokia overexposes by around 3/4 stop and shades the others on detail. The Note and HTC 8X are all over the place exposure wise - particularly indoors.
    Generally they all look pretty good but I agree, the Nokia overall is slightly better than the iphone5 with the other two trailing somewhat for their inconsistency.
    • I like the 920

      As a resident of the northwest the 920 definitely does a good job of reproducing a gloomy Seattle day at the waterfront. The Note II did a terrible job in low light and the 8x seemed to bright and lacking color in certain situations. Of the pics here the 920 would be my camera of choice.
  • Why Why Why!!!

    Why mudt you put them in this slideshow format, put them all together so we can view them at the same time. This switching between them loses its value.
    • No

      It lets your eyes directly compare and to see the differences between current and previous more easily then you would do it having all of them on a one page
      Maria Davidenko
    • roll over

      Would like to see the image frame with thumbnails at the bottom. roll over the thumbs and it changes the frame.
  • Comparison

    It seemed like the Lumia 920 was doing pretty well, aside from a bit more saturation than I like, until the outside low light shot, where it fumbled the ball. Also, the Galaxy Note II die great until the inside low light where the image was unusable. What stands out in all the images is the iPhone 5, in every case but the last picture where the indoor low light performance of the Lumia 920 was excellent, but the iPhone 5 image was still very usable. I give it to the iPhone 5, hands down, Galaxy Note II second, Lumia 920 third.
    • I think it is between the iPhone 5 and Lumia 920

      For me I would take the Lumia, all the pictures require less photo editing to make them look like you would want them to look. I am guessing that lightening the shadows of the Lumia outdoor pictures will bring out the details in the dark areas.

      Matthew, did you also try to photo edit all of the pictures to see which look better after that?
      • My choices...

        without seeing the original scene:
        1. Lumia 920
        2. Iphone 5
        3. huge chasm
        4. HTC 8X
        5. Note II
    • disagree

      FWIW I looked very carefully & the Lumia nails it. I think soon they all will be about the same in quality, for now its a close call which is a good thing for consumers.
      Take Care
  • Optics

    Its not just the sensor, its the lenses and software too, if we take into account this, the Nokia has the best lenses on mobile devices, plus, it has the auto-focus feature upon touch, so, what if the person taking the picture touched the dock instead of the windows below before taking the picture, those details are not specified, I believe Nokia, then iPhone, then the other two, that´s the way I see it.
  • Sharpness of photo details count just as much as color accuracy

    Matt, you gave the edge to the Lumina 920 over the iPhone 5 in the Seattle Street view. However, notice how much sharper the text displayed on store front and traffic signs are in the iPhone 5 photos. Or, for that matter, just photo details like tree leaves or the edges of the building bricks are in the iPhoto pic.

    I think this review was a case where your bias towards the Lumina (as a personal device you really like - which is fantastically appropriate and without fault) over shadowed your critical objectivity.

    You really wished the Lumina did well - and it did. However, the iPhone 5 lens system is much better and gives a much sharper photo in day light.
    • the traffic signs on the iphone image are 20% bigger

      because of the difference in zoom level. re-size the iphone image to the same size and and you will get the same blur
    • Agree with kenosha77a

      Yeah, I could barely make out the words on the street signs in the Lumina pic, but they were crisp and easy to read in the iPhone 5 pic. Dunno if its just how the Lumina takes in the light, but the pixelation on the words were pretty bad when they get enlarged (I zoomed in at 400%). In comparison, the iPhone was pretty decent at that zoom level, way clearer.
      • even when zoomed to over 500%

        I pasted both pics into 2 MS-Word documents, zoomed both to 22", and it's so clear the the iPhone 5 is superior in terms of clarity and detail. The Lumina pixelates badly when it comes to the words on the street signs, it's barely readable, whereas the iPhone is still very clear. On the other hand, the Lumina has a really pleasant lighting to the pics, while the iPhone tends to be a bit darker.
    • One Way

      The 'W' in the One Way sign in the first set is very different between all the photos.
  • All four of these failed... make those gray skies look clear, blue, sunny, dry and warm. Oh, these were taken in the Northwest outside of August? Never mind.

    I agree it would be really nice to see them side by side when comparing them. It also hard to know what the hues, contrast, etc look like in person to really be able to judge which is more accurate, but sometimes that doesn't matter, as long as it is a good picture. The iPhone seemed to be consistent, but the Lumia might appeal to many that like the added vibrance of over saturation.
  • I take a lot of night/indoor photos

    so the 920 would take it for me. The iPhone 5 would be a close second as it seemed to do better in outdoor well lit situations though.
    Sam Wagner
  • please

    I have logged in just to say the zdnet's photo gallery needs a refresh.
    Loading the entire webpage content just to see the next image is very old fashioned.
  • Nature lover

    Hi guys,
    The beauty of photography art, guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.
    We all get to be right-- at least in terms of personal taste.
    While one person is partial to color, another is to definition and clarity.
    I agree with Matthew on that.
    To my eye... iPhone 5 shoots beautifully not only in terms of definition and clarity, but also in terms of color. Feels just right to me; not overdone, but just right. More natural.
    Of course, the low light 920 Lumina shot is super; nothing comes close low light wise.
    And, I sure could use that strength for shooting in my highly wooded back yard.
    Others like more color intensity, rays of the artist's palate... say Matthew.
    Um, iPhone 5 or Lumina 920? Tough to call. Really tough to call.
    Still, all four of these cell shooters are great! Fun article, Matthew. Thanks!

    (P>S> I also wish we could have done side by side comparisons, which could have been zoomed in on. Comparisons would have been so much easier. Thanks again, Matthew.)