Grand 5 megapixel shootout: The usual suspects

GSMArena team, 22 January 2008.
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Exposure and focus accuracy

It's quite important to have reliable automatics, because wrong parameters can ruin an otherwise promising photo. For the score here, we just browse all the taken photos and count the bad results (which you don't see published).

There were literally no mis-focused images, which speaks well for all contenders. The most frequent problem we saw was over exposure and Samsung G600 and LG Viewty did this more often than K850 and N95.

Samsung G600: 6/10 • LG Viewty: 6/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 9/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 8/10

Lens quality

When low quality (read: cheaper) lens are used in any camera, that can bring a host of troubles such as barreling or pin cushioning, lens flare when shooting against the a strong light source, purple fringing along the edges of fine elements such as tree or bush branches, and finally corner softness, which is a case of uneven corner-to-corner sharpness along the photo.

Well, we are satisfied with the results here - none of the tested cameraphones exhibited significant amount of corner softness. We only saw some heavy cases of purple fringing with the Sony Ericsson K850 and the LG Viewty.

Samsung G600 also did show some purple fringing but it didn't show up in every photo.

Samsung G600: 6/10 • LG Viewty: 4/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 7/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 4/10

Flash


Samsung G600 (full) • LG KU990 Viewty (full) • Nokia N95 8GB (full)


Sony Ericsson K850 (full) • Nokia N82 (full)


Samsung G600 (full) • LG KU990 Viewty (full) • Nokia N95 8GB (full)


Sony Ericsson K850 (full) • Nokia N82 (full)

As we promised, we bring on Nokia N82 for this test. As you see it outperforms the rest of the phones in this test by a wide margin. It features a stronger flash and this is clearly seen - it doesn't need to boost the sensitivity (and add noise along it) to produce the well lit pictures.

Comparison here is somewhat tricky. Two of our contenders (Samsung G600 and Nokia N95 8GB) have LED lights, while the rest feature xenon flash units. The xenon lights are a lot stronger, but they can only produce impulses (typical speed is 1/1000 sec). The LED flash are a lot weaker, but they can still deliver significant amount of light by staying on for a lot longer, for example 1/5 sec.

"...As we promised, we bring on Nokia N82 for this test. As you see it outperforms the rest of the phones in this test by a wide margin. It features a stronger flash and this is clearly seen - it doesn't need to boost the sensitivity (and add noise along it) to produce the well lit pictures..."

This should explain why G600 produces well lit photos, it just keeps the shutter open and the LED for a lot longer than the xenon mobiles. You can take a passable photo in the dark with such mobile, but you can't freeze the action as with Sony Ericsson K850 and Nokia N82 for example. So you are likely to take a blurry shot, unless your subjects sit still. Nokia N95 8GB gets low score here, because it produces uneven light, you can see it against the white wall. And finally, we are quite disappointed with the LG Viewty results here - those are some very weak results for a xenon flash.

Samsung G600: 3/10 • LG Viewty: 3/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 2/10 • SE K850: 6/10 • Nokia N82: 9/10

ISO test

Testing the camera performance in low light is a bit hard. When shooting in low light conditions, the cameras drastically decrease the shutter speed in order to capture more light. That means motion blur is very likely to occur.

It's easy to deal with it when you have a real camera - you just use a tripod. In the case of camera phones however we don't have that option. Thus a low light cameraphone test might be misleading if our hand trembles with one of the contenders.

So, we decided to give you an ISO test instead. Because the cameraphones boost the ISO in low light, this test will give you a very good idea how they will behave in the dark with flash switched off.


Cropped ISO test images

What we see first is the great results of Samsung G600. However, our opinion is that G600 cheats with the ISO setting – it delivers comparable results from ISO 100 to ISO 800, something even the high-end DSLR-s can’t do. Since Samsung G600 doesn’t write EXIF data, we can’t confirm our suspicions, but we are leaving it out of the test. From the other mobiles Nokia N95 8GB copes better with the high ISO settings, slightly better than Sony Ericsson K850. LG Viewty comes last, and someone could really wonder why the ISO 800 setting is so heavily advertised.

Samsung G600: N/A • LG Viewty: 3/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 6/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 5/10

Macro


Samsung G600 (full) • LG KU990 Viewty (full) • Nokia N95 8GB (full)


Sony Ericsson K850 (full) • 100% crops


Samsung G600 (full) • LG KU990 Viewty (full) • Nokia N95 8GB (full)


Sony Ericsson K850 (full) • 100% crops

As you see from our samples LG KU990 Viewty is superior in this test. For some reason it just has a better field of view (it keeps more details in focus). In addition to this, Viewty offers manual focus, which can be of great help when shooting low contrast scene or a dynamic macro scene.

The other contenders, relying entirely on the auto-focus will be hardly usable in such conditions. Nevertheless, among the other three contenders we tend to favor the Sony Ericsson K850 results.

Samsung G600: 5/10 • LG Viewty: 9/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 6/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 7/10

Video

When it comes to video recording capabilities, it's a rather easy fight. The Sony Ericsson K850 offers only QVGA@30fps, Samsung G600 VGA@15fps or QVGA@30fps, while the Nokia N95 and LG Viewty - VGA 30fps.

Viewty uses more advanced compression (DIVX) and has a unique 120fps shooting mode, so it was a clear cut winner from the very start. You can see some 120fps samples in the LG KU990 Viewty review here.

Samsung G600 sample video
LG Viewty sample video
Nokia N95 8GB sample video
Sony Ericsson K850 sample video

Samsung G600: 4/10 • LG Viewty: 10/10 • Nokia N95 8GB: 8/10 • Sony Ericsson K850: 2/10

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