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Two smartphones with 20MP sensors: Nokia Lumia 1520 vs Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (3)

No, these are not the best shots I got artistically, but I’ll share them anyway since I believe they’re interesting in itself. In my previous two comparisons, I shared shots from the 20MP results from both the Nokia Lumia as the Sony Xperia.

In the first comparison, the Sony obviously lost, in the second comparison - in bright sunlight - its result was already a lot better and some might just prefer it since it simply looks sharper at first sight.

I promised some shots comparing the Sony on its “Superior Auto” setting, and compare that with the Nokia Lumia 1520. In Superior Auto, you can only shoot in 16:9 at the moment, but it wouldn’t suprise me if an update will change that, since in Barcelona I’ve seen 4:3 in the same setting on the Xperia Z2.

So I need to choose 16:9 on the Lumia 1520 as well, but: which setting to choose? Everything on auto? Change the white balance? I didn’t have much time to experiment since the sun was setting when I took these shots, but the differences are interesting.

There was another “problem”: Sony’s 8MP versus Nokia’s 5MP resolution. Some advised me to shoot on high-res with the Lumia and manually adjust that to 8MP, but I don’t have the software (nor the knowledge) to “oversample” shots on my PC . Moreover, I think it’s fair to show what you get as a consumer just using the device.

Here are the few shots I captured in the setting sun. As usual, Lumia 1520 first, Xperia Z1 Compact second, both on auto settings (so the Xperia on Superior Auto)

2 Nokia Lumia 1520 - tree - 5MP

2 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - tree - 8MPAs you can see, the difference are marginal – the only thing is you’ll get a bit more of the scene with the Lumia 1520 (as usual, I didn’t move an inch). Next, two crops from these two shots – again you’ll see that choosing 640 x 360, you’ll get “closer” in the 8MP shot of the Xperia Z1 Compact.

2 Nokia Lumia 1520 - tree - 5MP 640 x 360

2 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - tree - 8MP 640 x 360I think it’s safe to say that shooting in these modes, in this case the oversampled results are quite similiar, although there seems to be a small difference in light. That’s a matter of taste however.

Next, a close-up from a sunlit tree, now with both devices on manual, white balance set to “sunny”.

Nokia Lumia 1520 - bokeh tree manual and manual white balance - 8MP

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - bokeh tree manual and manual white balance - 8MPIn this case, the Lumia 1520 seems to give a bit “darker” result. To be honest, in that moment, I can’t remember which is the more accurate shot as far as the light of the setting sun is concerned. Let’s have a look at the 640 x 360 crops of these shots.

3 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - bokeh tree manual and manual white balance - 8MP 640 x 360

3 Nokia Lumia 1520 - bokeh tree manual and manual white balance - 8MP 640 x 360In my opinion, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact does give a bit more pixelated result, but the differences are again marginal I’d say.

And last – this time without cropping – I’ll share three shots of a similar scene. First: the Nokia Lumia 1520 on auto settings, followed by the Nokia Lumia 1520 with white ballance changed to sunny.

4 Nokia Lumia 1520 - brenches auto settings - 5MP

4 Nokia Lumia 1520 - brenches manual white balance - 5MPNow to be honest, I’m really surprised about how huge the difference is. And in this case I’m very sure the second shot is much more realistic – I think it’ll be obvious for everyone to notice the first version (on auto) is way too green…

To conclude, this is the same scene coming from the Sony Xperia Z1 in Superior Auto, captured from the same distance. Again, I didn’t move an inch: notice the consequences of the different focal length.

4 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - brenches auto settings - 8MPI tried it twice, both times with the same result – not sure why the Xperia seems to have so much more trouble capturing this scene – the bright light coming from the right? Since I got the same result twice I thought it’d be useful to share the difference, moreover since I’ve seen this “hazy” effect more often on Sony’s Xperia devices (and I know I’m not the only one either).

As far as using settings is concerned, I found these results a bit confusing. I usually compare devices with all settings on “auto”, since I always figured that’s the way most people will use their smartphone anyway, and it will show you best how devices react to similiar circumstances. In this last example however, it’s clearly of major importance to choose the setting that suits the circumstances best.

Apart from the last result I got from the Xperia Z1 Compact, I think this short comparison has shown that when you’re using the Xperia Z1 Compact in it’s Superior Auto setting, you may expect very acceptable results. The only thing is the settings menu is quite limited, but like I wrote I suspect an update will bring some improvement there – think I’ll write about Sony’s settings some more in a next post.

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11 Responses

  1. Ziad Mohamed

    Great comparison marc…just look how Lumia 1520 gives more deeper DOF more than Xperia Z1 compact…this is truly awesome putting in mind that Lumia 1520 sensor is even smaller than the Xperia Z1 by 20%

  2. Asle H

    Hi, Marc. Great work on doing these comparisions. The web is full of phone vs phone picture quality, but hardly no one mentions the audio quality of captured video. Great visuals, but crappy sound is a real show stopper. I have yet to test/listen to an Android/ios device that captures distortion free concert level audio (maybe apart from the HTC one). How does the Sony match up against the Pureviews of Nokia?

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Hi Asie,

      Thank you! And good idea, I will try to make a few comparisons of the Xperia Z1 Compact and the Lumia 1020 and 1520.

      We all know why the first HTC One has been doing such a good job – it’s Nokia’s Rich Recording technology in there. Without paying for it, so that was a lost trial for HTC – I have no idea if they actually ever changed the chip in later versions.

      Meanwhile, check out my posts about Rich Recording. It was one of the reasons I fell in love with the Nokia 808 PureView, and it still realizes fantastic sound quality on the Lumia 1020 and 1520. You’ll find them here http://pureviewclub.com/tag/rich-recording

  3. Angie

    Hey Marc

    Thanks for all the great work with the comparisons of the Z1compact, I am now the proud new owner of a Lumia 1020 with camera grip… Just a bit stumped with the Full Res and 5MP together as you only see one photo in the camera album right?

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Hi Angie, congrats!

      True, first you’ll only ‘see’ the 5MP. Try to zoom in, you can only get a bit closer. Next, choose “open in Nokia Camera”. Zoom in again. You’ll be amazed :-) Also, try to “reinvent zoom”, and you can even turn the shot as you wish.

      The same does not apply to 5MP and RAW – in that case you can only open the 5MP file on the phone.

      When connected to your PC, you will see both files in the Camera Roll by the way, so you can easily copy them.

      • Angie

        Hi Marc, thanks for tip! You right I was amazed :-) Very happy with my choice. Once again thanks for all the hard work you do here :-)

      • Andy

        Thanks for the tip… I was wondering that too ! :-)

  4. TakWAI

    The main issue with nokia pureview camera is the white balance performance.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Do you think so? I believe that since the Black update most of the problems have disappeared and white balance has become really useful – like I’ve shown in this post for instance.

  5. hanstj

    Hi Marc,

    Have you ever used ProShot app. In my Lumia 920, it allows many different resolution option (From 8MP max, all the way down to 0.3MP). So, I am guessing this app also allows other than 5MP oversampled shots for Lumia 1520?

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Not really. If I’ll go into testing different imaging applications, it would need to be for a seperate post, not for a comparison I think.