Samsung i8510 INNOV8 exhibits the best, most mature, image processing. Its results can easily pass for a low end point'n'shoot digicam. SE C905 is not bad either but has some issues with fine detail due to its noise suppression algorithm.
Samsung Pixon fails to deal with noise in the shadows, while the Renoir produces somewhat oversharpened images and the "staircase effect" on diagonal lines is clearly visible.
Update 05 Dec: We received a retail unit of the Samsung M8800 Pixon and it has much better image processing than the pre-release sample we used for this shootout. The noise levels are now much lower, suggesting that a more effective noise reduction algorithm has been used. In most photos the Pixon even manages to generate the least noise among all contenders but some fine detail has been sacrificed. You can check the photos from the new unit here. The Samsung Pixon score for this part has been updated.
The INNOV8 lead is most pronounced on photos of foliage or grass. Most of the time you can easily spot individual leaves, where the other phones produce but color smudges of no distinct shape or detail.
SE C905: 7/10 Samsung INNOV8: 9/10 Samsung Pixon: 8/10 LG Renoir: 3/10
Looking at all the photos we took for this test (not only the actually published ones), we can say focus accuracy is remarkable across all our 8MP shooters. Whichever you chose, you can be sure you won't end up with blurry photos as long as the light is enough.
The only misfocused samples were taken in macro mode and those don't count, as the wind was messing with our subjects.
Exposure accuracy wasn't bad either. All 4 cameras were consistently good at exposing. There were cases when C905 got it just a tad underexposed while the Pixon went to overexposing, but nothing serious.
SE C905: 8/10 Samsung INNOV8: 9/10 Samsung Pixon: 8/10 LG Renoir: 9/10
We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of purple fringing in all our contenders. That's some great news for all photo enthusiasts looking to use a phone as a backup of their camera. The purple fringing ruins plenty of shots and is generally hard to get rid of using software editing.
LG Renoir scores best at edge-to-edge sharpness. Basically it delivers the same level of sharpness both in the center of the frame and near the edges.
Samsung INNOV8 is not bad either. Sony Ericsson C905 is otherwise good, but had some issues with flare, reducing the image contrast when shooting a very bright subject. Samsung Pixon is a real letdown here - it really loses detail towards the edges. In addition, it suffers from vignetting in some photos.
Both the sample Pixon units we received also had a case of lens misalignment, which resulted in partial blurring of the image - and in some cases that rendered the photos unusable. We haven't included those photos in this competition for the sake of fair play but you'll notice uneven sharpness on almost all Pixon shots.
Update 05 Dec: Luckily the retail Samsung M8800 Pixon unit we received has all lens issues solved. It has great sharpness across the frame and the vignetting we noticed in the previous samples is all gone. As things stand now the Pixon lens quality is quite close to that of the Samsung i8510 INNOV8. The Samsung Pixon score for this part has been updated.
SE C905: 6/10 Samsung INNOV8: 8/10 Samsung Pixon: 7/10 LG Renoir: 9/10
Two of the phones in this shootout, C905 and Renoir, feature a xenon flash. In our test we can clearly see the advantage it gives to C905, but the LG Renoir flash performance is an utter disappointment.
The LG Renoir flash pictures are almost on par with the LED-equipped Samsung contenders. In flash mode the Renoir is instructed to expose as if it has a strong light source but the feeble xenon flash results in underexposed photos. Automatic white balance makes things even worse, adding a heavy bluish tint on all flash photos.
The only advantage of the LG Renoir flash is that it allows for faster shutter speeds, which to an extent might help capture moving subjects in low-lit scenes. It still is almost certain they will turn out underexposed.
SE C905: 8/10 Samsung INNOV8: 2/10 Samsung Pixon: 2/10 LG Renoir: 3/10