Samsung G800 review: Camera with a phone

GSMArena team, 14 December 2007.
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Indoors

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850 Samsung G800 vs. SE K850 crops
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full) 100% crops

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850 Samsung G800 vs. SE K850 crops
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full) 100% crops

Samsung G800 goes yellow again, but this is expected with artificial lighting. Most cameras show this scene in similar colors. What's more interesting here is the amount of detail G800 shows. It doesn't need comment; it just shows significantly superior results.

Samsung G800 9/10 Sony Ericsson K850 4/10

Flash performance

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full)

We are not great fans of flash photography, but our observation is that for a large amount of the potential cameraphone users the flash is a very important feature. It seems that the Sony Ericsson flash is almost two times more powerful than the one of G800.

Samsung G800 5/10 Sony Ericsson K850 8/10

Zoom

It is not really fair to compare optical vs. digital zoom. We knew right from the very start that the G800 results will be a lot better. This is more a comparison between optical and digital zoom, so we are leaving it in this test.

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850 Samsung G800 vs. SE K850 crops
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full) 100% crops

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850 Samsung G800 vs. SE K850 crops
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full) 100% crops

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850 Samsung G800 vs. SE K850 crops
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full) 100% crops

As we expected, there is a substantial difference even at 2x, but at 3x you can see how much more resolution G800 captures with its optical zoom lens.

We were expecting the G800 to lose sharpness towards the tele end and it did. This is usually the case with the ultra compact optical zoom system and G800 is not an exception.

Samsung G800 8/10 Sony Ericsson K850 2/10

Close-ups

Samsung G800 Sony Ericsson K850 Samsung G800 vs. SE K850 crops
Samsung G800 (full) Sony Ericsson K850 (full) 100% crops

Both mobiles have very good macro mode. You can go really close to your subject and capture fine detail. Everything we saw in the outdoor photos holds good here too.

Samsung G800 8/10 Sony Ericsson K850 7/10

Video

The G800 and K850 video specs are exactly the same - 320x240 pixels resolution at 30 fps and MPEG4 compression. As we expected, the results are nothing spectacular. The video clips taken with both mobiles look decent on the phone display, but are not suitable for anything else. It's interesting that the optical zoom can be used in camcorder mode too with G800. Most digicams disable the optical zoom when shooting video, because the lens mechanism produces audible noise that gets recorded.

Samsung G800 3/10 Sony Ericsson K850 2/10

Browsing the results

When it comes to previewing your pictures, the Sony Ericsson K850 is a sure winner. When viewing a photo on the Samsung G800, one can clearly see banding and dithering - two undesired effects that have nothing to do with camera quality. Instead, they are faults of the display and its color settings. The G800 also has a rather clumsy image gallery. You cannot zoom when previewing images in fullscreen landscape mode, while in portrait mode zooming is nowhere near a straightforward drill. Before you even think of zooming, you have to select the Zoom option from the image context menu. Then the actual zooming is performed in really small steps and is slow enough to make you forget about using that feature once and for all.

When it comes to using the display as a viewfinder, the Sony Ericsson K850 is a clear winner again. The K850 display is among the best performers under direct sunlight Sony Ericsson have offered lately, while the G800 is rather illegible in similar light conditions. The reflective coating almost turns it into a mirror when exposed to direct sunlight.

Samsung G800 3/10 Sony Ericsson K850 8/10

Camera shootout conclusion

Now we have tried to put the cameraphone contenders to test in situations that they are likely to encounter in real life. We've also tried to make the best shots they are capable of. We didn't end up with usable photos 100% of the time, but we've concentrated only on the ones that are worthy of entering in this shootout.

When it comes to hardware equipment, the Sony Ericsson K850 leads only with the powerful xenon flash and the orientation sensor. The Samsung G800 however offers 3x optical zoom and face recognition so the two cameraphones are almost even and none can tip the scales in its favor.

When it comes to camera interface and previewing the images taken, the Sony Ericsson K850 marks a good lead as its interface is better looking and more user-friendly - it has all the right settings right there on the settings toolbar and the BestPic mode is an impressive feature.

"...When it comes to hardware equipment, the Sony Ericsson K850 leads only with the powerful xenon flash and the orientation sensor. The Samsung G800 however offers 3x optical zoom and face recognition so the two cameraphones are almost even and none can tip the scales in its favor..."

Finally, when it comes to photo quality, the Samsung G800 clearly has it all with better resolution, color accuracy, noise handling. It has its own quirks, but those can be fixed with some fine tuning of the camera processing algorithms. So essentially, we can safely conclude that we like the G800 camera better than the K850 one. However, the G800 should not rest on its laurels since the K850 is not among the leaders of the 5-megapixel brethren in terms of camera quality.

The battle of the 5 megapixel cameraphones will undoubtedly continue throughout the next year. The fact that the Samsung G800 has a better, more capable camera doesn't necessarily mean that the G800 will reap huge market success. After all there are a number of important factors that determine how well a mobile phone does on the market. Currently, there are some other highly competitive 5-megapixel offerings on the market, some of which easily surpass K850 in photo quality, too.

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