Megapixel counts and optical zoom capabilities are constantly thrown around by smartphone makers, but when four of the most popular camera phones are put to the test, which one wins out? The Guardian supplied Dan Rubin, editor-at-large at Photographic Journal, with Apple’s iPhone 5s, Nokia’s Lumia 1020, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Zoom and Sony’s Xperia Z1 to see which phone makes for a better camera.
Rubin began by judging each phone based on its ergonomic appeal. The Samsung phone was quickly dismissed as the most unwieldy of the bunch, as Rubin described it as “more a camera that has a phone attached to it than the other way around.” The rest were deemed compact enough for pocket storage, although none had any particular advantages over the others in this department.
Next, Rubin tested the dynamic range of the phone lineup. Each phone handled a mixed dark-and-light shot fairly well, although the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Apple iPhone (especially with HDR mode turned on) seemed to edge out the others. To demonstrate color reproduction, Rubin photographed a wall plastered with graffiti. Once again, the Lumia 1020 came out on top, this time right alongside the Sony.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Galaxy S4 Zoom had the most detailed and far-reaching zoom functionality. None of the other phones could match the sheer distance of the Zoom. Rubin also praised the stabilization of the Lumia 1020, which allowed him to take very clear shots even while zoomed in.The Xperia Z1, despite its high megapixel count, took a noticeably blurry, unattractive photo when zoomed in, and the iPhone 5s fared only a little better.
Rubin’s verdict came as a bit of a surprise: As an iPhone owner, he said that he didn’t see anything that would convince him, even as a professional photographer, to convert from the iPhone 5s to a new platform based on its camera alone. Each phone has its benefits (except for the Xperia Z1), but the iPhone 5s is Dan Rubin’s winner. That said, Rubin still does give a nod to the Lumia’s “industrial design, the quality of the pictures it takes, and how easy it is to use.”