It wouldn’t be right if we did a series of camera comparisons and left out the Lumia 920, which launched last year with one of the top mobile cameras we’ve ever see. When we pit the 920 against HTC’s self-professed UltraPixel game-changer, the results were a toss-up, particularly in low-light situations. When all is said and done, however, the HTC One is a better buy as a whole—better build, better software and better screen.
It’s a shame that the 920’s excellent camera is stuffed into a device that really won’t hit the same success highs as any flagship Android device. Now that the Galaxy S4 is here, with an octo-core-processor and 13-megapixel camera no less, Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 handset will just get pushed even further into the mobile mire. But not before making one last stand. Its camera is still crazy good, easily its biggest strength, even months after release.
If you saw our comparisons between the S4 and One, and S4 and iPhone 5, you’ll immediately notice these are those some pictures. We tried to best capture images during typical use-cases: out and about, in an office, during sunset, mid-afternoon. Neither hardware is being pushed particularly hard, ensuring we get competent results, and nothing too wonky. But it shows their capabilities.
There’s no picture comparing low-light performance (in a restaurant or bar), but I can tell you that the Lumia 920 absolutely spanks the S4 in situations like that. No contest. Like our other tests, we used the cameras with Auto settings so we didn’t have to fuss around with menus. Most average users will simply just take their phone out and snap a photo, that’s it. It’s worth mentioning that the S4 does have plenty of exciting shooting modes to keep things interesting.
What we want to know, ultimately, is which one captures the most detail while accurately representing color, and also how exposures look in different lighting situations. We already know it’s not all about how many megapixels a camera has—in this test 13-megapixels (S4) vs. 8-megapixels (Lumia 920). So how does Samsung’s latest hold up against Nokia’s greatest? Let us know what you think. One small note: the upper left, bottom left and bottom right corners were darkened slightly so the text would pop better. Also: you can click on the pictures to view the full-size version.
Update: We went ahead a snapped a picture of the S4 and Lumia 920 in really low-light conditions, and the very first picture in this post is the result.
Taken in a completely dark room save for a single candle beneath the little green Android guy.
Early morning shot, around 8:00 a.m., taken in the shade. The light source was coming in from the left; the flowers themselves are white.
Around 7:00 p.m. after a very blue day, very little haze. Visibility on the day was excellent. The light source is coming in from the left.
Backlit scene taken around 7:00 p.m. Same clear day with little haze.
In a dimly-lit room in our office. The magazine’s pages are an off-white, almost grayish-white.
During mid-day, around 3:00 p.m., in very harsh afternoon light. Very clear, high visibility, little haze.
Mid-afternoon, 3:00 p.m. The light wasn’t directly overhead, but since it was during the middle of the day, light was very harsh; you can tell by the shadows being cast.
Taken in the afternoon in some shade. Very simple close-up test.
Inside around 5:00 p.m., taken next to plenty of natural light with office lights overhead. The wall itself is white, while Jon’s shirt is gray. He, admittedly, has a pastier complexion.
No office lights for this one, just natural light coming in from behind the shot. The flannel is more of a darker blue/green combo, with white stripes.
In our office kitchen under three big lights; no natural light. The paint color of the wall is blue.