Samsung M8910 Pixon12 preview 1: Firing the first rounds

GSMArena team, 25 June 2009.
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Update: Our detailed preview article is now live!

A dozen of those m'pixels

The world's first commercially available 12 megapixel GSM handset, Samsung M8910 Pixon12, sports a maximum image resolution of 4000 x 3000 pixels. It's an autofocus unit, of course, and there is both xenon and LED flash unit on board. Those give the Pixon12 both the extra light output in extreme darkness and the video light functionality that's otherwise impossible with the xenon flash.

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 is the second handset to sport 28mm (in 35mm terms) wide-angle lens after the Nokia N86 8MP. Again, for those of you unfamiliar with the material we will explain that the 28mm lens gives you roughly 20 percent larger angle of view when looking through the viewfinder.

We are also glad to see the automatic lens cover that the Samsung M8910 Pixon12 features. The Pixon12 is pretty well geared when it comes to software features too. The anti-shake digital image stabilization, geotagging and viewfinder gridlines are all here and so are face detection, smile shot and blink detection. The ISO sensitivity can go as high as 1600 but you will hardly end up with any usable photos at that setting.

The Samsung proprietary wide dynamic range option isn't available here but we are guessing it is replaced by the auto contrast feature. The latter though was only available when recording videos on our unit, but that may as well be a bug.

The Pixon12 sports a Smart auto mode, which picks the best scene preset according to the shooting conditions and the subject much like the LG GC900 Viewty Smart (it was called Intelligent shot by LG). Compared to the regular auto mode the Smart auto gives the phone control over many more of the phone settings such as contrast, color balance, saturation, etc. thus tweaking the output (probably favorably) to a far greater extent.

Finally, the Samsung M8910 Pixon12 is the first handset to feature tracking touch focus. All you need to do is hold your finger over the subject you want to focus on and watch as the crosshairs follows it on the viewfinder. Once you press the shutter key, it will focus on it and proceed to capture the actual shot.

Not your usual suspects

For this quick and dirty photo test, we used whatever we had handy. We'll try to find a better match for the Pixon12 awesome imaging claims in the final review (something along the lines of a point'n'shoot camera with a zoom range starting at 28mm).

So here go probably the strangest rivals you will see in cameraphone shootout. We took the 8 megapixel Samsung INNOV8, a now discontinued point'n'shoot Canon PowerShot A620 and a now discontinued DSLR camera Canon 350D.

We screwed a cheap ultra-zoom lens on the Canon 350D, which doesn’t produce any spectacularly high image quality, especially at the 28mm end (35mm equivalent) and even offers poor results toward the edges of the frame. Add to this the conservative approach of the DSLR image processing and you will understand why the Canon 350D images look noticeably softer than those of the other opponents. Keep in mind however that these images respond a lot better to sharpening in post processing.

Here's a quick roundup of all our opponents in this makeshift shoot out:

ResolutionResolution in pixelsImage aspect35mm equivalent
Samsung M8910 Pixon1212MP4000x30004:328mm
Samsung i8510 INNOV88MP3264x2448 4:335mm
Canon A6207MP3072x23044:335mm
Canon 350D +Sigma 18-200mm8MP 3456x23043:228.8mm

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12
Samsung M8910 Pixon12 • Samsung i8510 INNOV8 • Canon 350D • Canon A620 • 100% crop

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12
Samsung M8910 Pixon12 • Samsung i8510 INNOV8 • Canon 350D • Canon A620 • 100% crop

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12
Samsung M8910 Pixon12 • Samsung i8510 INNOV8 • Canon 350D • Canon A620 • 100% crop

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12
Samsung M8910 Pixon12 • Samsung i8510 INNOV8 • Canon 350D • Canon A620 • 100% crop

Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12 Samsung M8910 Pixon12
Samsung M8910 Pixon12 • Samsung i8510 INNOV8 • Canon 350D • Canon A620 • 100% crop

Final words

If you've paid attention to all those images up there (and we bet you have), you should have noticed that the Samsung Pixon12 produces pleasant images with correct colors.

The perfect edge to edge sharpness shows the use of a high quality lens. The Pixon12 contrast is a little high, which usually makes the photos look more attractive, but the good news is that this rarely results in overblown highlights.

Overall the images processing is very good and rock solid with only a slight touch of oversharpening. As it seems Samsung R&D team have struck a nice balance of relatively low noise levels and well presented fine details.

We were also surprised to see that a 12 megapixel cameraphone can reach the detail resolved by a true DSLR (given the favorable light conditions, of course).

If you know anything about digital photography (which we pretend we do), you probably wouldn't even consider putting all those devices on a single table (and yet we did). We even went as far as publishing the results of our totally unprofessional battle of the digital snappers of all calibers.

To put this into a perspective, we were just impressed by the Samsung Pixon12 image quality when it arrived today and we unleashed it against that unusual crowd just for the fun of it. Don't worry, we'll apply our more serious and balanced photographic approach to shootouts in the final Pixon12 review that's hopefully due next week.

And until then, don't forget that we should be able to show you more of the non-camera-specific part of the Samsung Pixon12 in a second preview some time tomorrow.

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