Grand 5 megapixel shootout: The usual suspects
Some sample images
We've spent a lot of time looking at the images at different magnifications on the screen and it's still hard to announce a clear winner here. The main obstacle here is the amount of sharpness applied in the post processing, which can easily be mistaken as detail.
Some of you might not agree, but we think that Samsung G600 delivers slightly less details than the rest, while Nokia N95 delivers slightly more. Anyway, the results are pretty close to a tie.
Samsung G600: 5/10 • LG Viewty: 6/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 7/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 6/10
The dynamic range is a very important aspect of the photo quality of each camera. There is no way to fix the blown highlights (the parts of the image that have turned white), which are the most prominent result of the limited dynamic range.
By far, the worst performer here is Samsung G600. We are not sure if this is because of an inferior sensor used, or because of the artificially high contrast applied in the post processing, but G600 loses more details in the highlights than the other contenders. There is not a big difference among the other three, but our opinion Nokia N95 performs slightly better than Viewty and K850.
Samsung G600: 2/10 • LG Viewty: 5/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 6/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 5/10
We will use our Canon A620 samples to judge the color accuracy of the 5 megapixel contenders. As we've already mentioned A620 is not the most accurate camera in terms of color representation, but it's pretty close to what the consumer wants - pleasant and vivid images.
In most of the samples, Nokia N95 8GB is closer to A620 than the rest of the phones. Samsung G600 comes second, but while it masters the hue, it oversaturates the general colorfulness of the image (otherwise known as chroma).
Sony Ericsson K850 and LG Viewty are on par with each other, but compared to Canon A620, their results are too red - an effect, which is a little more pronounced in Viewty.
Samsung G600: 6/10 • LG Viewty: 3/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 7/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 4/10
The way the camera processes the images is more important than it sounds. Even the best processing can't create miracles from a small sensor and cheap lens, but wrong processing can ruin the results from even the best hardware. (For years the exact processing routines are the best kept secret in the digital camera industry. Often, competing brands use essentially the same sensor and similar lens in competing models and good processing is the only way to have an edge with the image quality)
From what we see in the samples, Samsung G600 is the only camera, which scores particularly bad in this test - it oversharpens the images and that ruins the image for further editing. In the case of G600 the oversharpened also draws attention to the overexposed areas of the photos, by emphasizing the edge around these areas.
You also get excessive amount of jagged diagonal lines, also known as a "staircase" effect. Overall, the images by G600 look a lot more like what we expect from photos taken by a phone, than the competitors.
Nokia N95 8GB uses an effective noise suppression technique. The main difference we see comparing it to the N95 classic is that the noise suppression was tuned down and now it's a lot harder to find example of a photo, where some detail is lost because of the noise processing. Have in mind that this has also been fixed in the N95 classic with one of the latest firmware updates.
|"...The way the camera processes the images is more important than it sounds. Even the best processing can't create miracles from a small sensor and cheap lens, but wrong processing can ruin the results from even the best hardware..."|
Sony Ericsson K850 also uses noise suppression routine, but it is less intelligent than the one of N95 and in certain places it simply eradicates the really fine details. You can see how much details are sometimes lost in our G800 review. The noise suppression algorithm also sometimes has a problem with the edge detection thus removing significant amount of detail in low contrast areas of the image.
LG Viewty just processes the images "less" than the contenders. You can see more noise in the shadow areas and the images don't have the "punch" N95 images have. This approach however is best if you plan to edit the images on the computer later, but we are not quite sure how much of the cameraphone owners do this.
If Samsung G800 was participating in this test, it would have deserved a sure 10 as in our opinion the processing there is just right.
Samsung G600: 2/10 • LG Viewty: 6/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 8/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 5/10