Our Photo/Video Compare tools are designed to give you an idea of how well a given camera performs in real-life conditions, and how it stacks up against its peers. Being able to look at the images produced by up to three devices side-by-side is immensely helpful in figuring out how good a given cameraphone actually is.
While we still take "real-life" outdoor photos with all of the devices we review (which you can check out in the reviews themselves), those are frequently at the mercy of the weather, and not as easy to reproduce all year round as we would like. That's why we designed this test to be as objective as possible - all samples are taken in controlled conditions in our studio, at the same time of day under the same lighting.
The tools allow you to judge a cameraphone's performance not only in terms of resolved detail, but also image processing (noise reduction, sharpening) and camera lens distortion.
With the Photo Compare Tool, you'll be able to choose from one of three different charts, and up to three devices to compare. Each device is listed with its native resolution, but you can scale all the sample photos to see how cameras of different resolutions compare against each other. A good 8MP camera, for instance, will typically be sharper when scaled down to 5MP, but sometimes the lower-res camera will win out when you equalize the resolution.
Our Video Compare Tool allows you to compare still frames taken from videos captured with the phone. We've set up two test scenarios: one under normal lighting conditions and one under low-light to give you an idea of how the handsets fare in different environments. The motion in the Ferris wheels will allow you to see how much fine detail survives the post-processing, as well as the compression levels, noise levels and so on. Of course, a still frame doesn't tell the whole story - there's also framerate, rolling shutter effects and other considerations which the tool doesn't cover, but it's still a good starting point.
We also have our resolution chart shot on video. It shows how much of the available resolution is retained when shooting video. Just like in the Photo Compare Tool, the three charts are accessed by clicking on their names below the main sample image. Other tested devices are listed alongside their natively supported video recording resolution.
For both tools, at the bottom of each device selection field you'll find a list of reference cameras available, which allow you to see how a particular cameraphone compares to a professional DSLR unit, such as our in-house Canon EOS 5D Mark II. You'd be surprised at how well certain cameraphones stack up against these heavy hitters.
Keep in mind that only devices reviewed after November 2010 will have compare tests available, and only cameras with 720p video recording and higher will have video compare.
More info about video and photo compare can be found on the tool pages themselves, or you can check out the following section of our video site tour.