I try to spend a week or two with phones and integrate them into my daily life so I can give readers my opinion on how they perform beyond the initial new and shiny period. Real world usage scenarios are what end up driving whether or not I purchase a device and I wanted to share my recent experiences with video capture of basketball games. I was hours away from buying a new phone, yet ended up sticking with my own phone instead after comparing video I captured in the same gym.
UPDATE: After reading the opinions of readers I brought my daughter, the basketball player, into the office and we viewed all the games I shot with these different phones. It turns out that the Droid DNA had good color, but was way too jittery to watch for extended periods. The iPhone 5 was very good with clarity and color, but limited by zoom and there was the presence of artifacts as movement occurred with the phone. The Lumia 920 clearly was the best in the end and a couple of videos looked like I zoomed in too far and that messed up the quality. Zooming back out showed better results.
As a result, I just returned from the store with a red Nokia Lumia 920 that I will be using to capture video this week to confirm our conclusion that the optical image stabilization of the Lumia 920 really does rock.
My middle daughter is a fantastic athlete and excels at soccer and basketball. She wants to play in college and while the team captures official full game video that we get access to later in the season, I wanted to capture video for her to then edit into highlight films to send along to colleges during the season. I have been thinking more about dedicated video cameras and maybe that is the smarter option, but I have access to so many phones that capture 720p and 1080p video I figured I would try them out first.
I spent over a month with the Nokia Lumia 920 before sending back the eval unit and was impressed with the optical image stabilization during video capture as I was out and about. It does extremely well at preventing shake in videos, that are readily apparent when I take video with the HTC Droid DNA and other smartphones without stabilization. I was prepared to go out and purchase my own 920, but I then decided to try out the HTC Droid DNA and Apple iPhone 5. It turns out that the Droid DNA actually captures video with better color representation, but the minor shaking of my hand is picked up and bothers the heck out of me. Both of these devices zoom in and I found I had to zoom in just about 25% to better capture the action closer to Mal that looked to still maintain quality. I can easily capture still images from the video I capture on the Droid DNA, even later when I am viewing the video on the DNA or my TV via the Media Link HD device, so that is quite helpful. The iPhone 5 excels as a still digital camera even with minimal settings and options and as you can see in my short video clip below it actually does very well at video too. It doesn't support zoom during video capture, but the color representation is good, focus is great, and it doesn't appear to shake as much as the Droid DNA. I recently found 3rd party apps for the iPhone 5 that let you zoom in a bit so plan to test them in future games.
I put together a couple of very short clips that show the HTC Droid DNA, Apple iPhone 5, and Nokia Lumia 920 to let you judge it for yourself. I do have hours more video that provide more comparison content too. Keep in mind that uploading and sharing the video generally reduces the quality a bit and these are not long video clips. One issue I ran into on the Droid DNA is the limited memory capacity. I had one movie downloaded to watch on the DNA and shot action from one basketball game. I then reached maximum memory capacity while recording a second basketball game and had to jump to another device. I wish the DNA had at least 32GB and/or a microSD card slot. I do like that the DNA has integrated zoom as well as more controls than the iPhone, but the iPhone video capture is quite good as well.
High school basketball with iPhone 5, Lumia 920, and Droid DNA from Matthew Miller on Vimeo.
The Nokia Lumia 920 does a good job of video capture and the OIS is pretty amazing. I am going to cut out my stupid commentary, I have lots of trouble keeping my mouth shut during these games, so audio quality was not judged during this particular scenario test. If it was then the Lumia 920 would lead because it actually does a great job of audio capture. I am planning to use the Droid DNA and iPhone 5 for the rest of the season. Do you use your smartphone to capture video and if so, what device does well for you?
Related ZDNet coverage