The first Nokia 3 megapixel camera phone, N80, just hit the market. The Sony Ericsson K790/K800 might follow soon and it comes with the famous Cyber-shot logo. We decided that it will be interesting to test the photo capabilities of the two phones head to head.
For the sake of the comparison we also included Sony Ericsson K750 in this photo review. It is undoubtedly one of the best 2 megapixel camera phones on the market, alongside with its brothers W800 and D750, of course. This way you will be able to decide which of the 3 megapixel phones takes better photos and also if the new phones are worth the upgrade.
Please note that the firmware of the Sony Ericsson K800 is not the final one, while we are using the final retail version of Nokia N80. The quality of the pictures of K800 may or may not be better when the phone is officially released. Also note that we are comparing only the imaging part of the phone here. This article is not a general phone comparison and will not tell you which phone is better and even less which brand is better.
If you look at the pictures you will notice that it says "3 megapixels" on the Nokia lens and "3.2 MP" on Sony Ericsson - it's just a matter of marketing, the two cameras have exactly the same resolution - 2048 x 1536 pixels, or 3.15 megapixels. It is quite funny to read on the forums about 0.2 MP difference. BTW, the new Nokia N93 has the same resolution and the camera is presented as "3.2 megapixel".
The big difference between the competitors is not the resolution - it is the lens. Sony Ericsson K800 has autofocus lens, while Nokia N80 uses fixed focus with macro mode. Of course, the autofocus system is more advanced, but you pay for the perfectly focused photos with shutter delays. You may miss the action if you are not used to the autofocus delay. For example trying to capture running children can be a challenge because of the focusing lag. You can solve this problem in K800 by setting the focus to infinity. After doing this the camera in K800 behaves like fixed focus camera and you can capture the action better.
Both cameras have rich sets of controls. You can set the pictures size, compression, white balance, flash mode. The exposure compensation is a lot more usable on K800 (by moving the joystick left or right) than on N80, where it is buried in a menu. Instead of implementing real manual controls the manufactures have chosen to use "scenes", called "shooting mode" in Nokia N80. You can select scenes like Portrait, Landscape, Sport or Night Portrait and the camera will hopefully adjust to the situation.
The digital cameras use the EXIF headers of JPG files for storing information about the capture. Apart for the time of photo, Nokia N80 stores only the flash mode and the white balance setting. The two Sony Ericsson models store more complete EXIF information, including the really useful ISO and shutter speed values. This data can tell you for example if your pictures are blurred because of wrong focus or low shutter speed.
Sony Ericsson added one unique feature of the Cyber-shot cameras to K800 - BestPic mode. It is very useful for capturing some kind of action or the right expression of your subject. Here is how it works - you press the shutter button only once and the camera takes 9 photos in a really fast sequence. Than you have the option to review the photos and select which ones you would like to save.
Not much difference in the resolved detail between the 3 megapixel competitors here. On some of the photos N80 looks slightly better, on others K800. Anyway, we prefer the silk look of the Sony Ericsson pictures. The resolution advantage of the 3 megapixel cameras over the K750 is obvious.
On these pictures you can see that Sony Ericsson K800 has wider dynamic range than Nokia N80 - the two pictures are equally exposed, but K800 shows more details both in the highlights (look at the white cloud) and in the shadows.
Downsampled to 1024 x 768