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Nokia’s PureView flagships, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and: Jolla (2)

Let’s go outside for a change. To a very small general aviation airport in my neighbourhood.  Carrying three Nokia PureView devices, the Samsung, Sony and Jolla.

Yes, I know the comparison isn’t completely fair, the Jolla being cheaper and never “camera centric” and all that. True. But its camera sotware has been recently updated and the Jolla still costs you €400: you might expect a pretty good smartphone camera module for that kind of money as well I guess?

There has been some confusement about the amout of MP the Jolla’s camera has – and I’ve been adding a bit to it as well, I’m sorry to say. Based on a too quick glance on the internet  I thought 3264 x 1840 pixels equals 4MP – but obviously (just do the math) it’s 6MP.

Now why is Jolla mentioning 8MP for its camera? Probably because the sensor is that big – you know, like the 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 have a 41MP sensor, but you will only get 38MP in 4:3 and 34MP in 16:9 aspect ratio.

Like – for instance – the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a 13MP sensor but will only give you that in 4:3, and “only” 9.6MP in 16:9. The Jolla gives you 6MP in 16:9 and you can’t change the aspect ratio to 4:3. So I guess it’s 8MP when you would have had the possibility to use 4:3 – maybe after a future update.

Enough numbers. Let return to the small aviation airport. The light was bright, it was a clear afternoon and the clouds on the horizon made for an impressive scenery. All camera settings were on automatic – I didn’t change the white balance, didn’t put any focus to “infinity” (although that might have been wise in this case).

The shots aren’t very interesting from an artistic point of view (although the clouds are beautiful). But to see how the different cameras cope with the contrast of the bright sunlight and the darker foreground – I think that’s what makes these shots worth your while. And the 640 x 360 crops, of course, showing which offers you the best detail.

First the two smallest resolutions, 5MP coming from the Nokia Lumia 1520 and 1020 (shown in that order). Both devices chose ISO-100, the difference is remarkable – the light was exactly the same.

7 Nokia Luma 1520 Sky

7 Nokia Lumia 1020 Sky 5MP

Now one might argue the grass looks very green in the last shot, but on a very bright sunlit afternoon, it actually looks this green. I think the 1020 has done a better job here – maybe because of the bigger sensor? Who knows… You’ll see quite a bit darker shade of green in all the other shots though.

Next, the 6MP result of the Jolla (ISO-100 as well)

7 Jolla Sky

Two devices on 8MP, first the Nokia 808 PureView (ISO-64)

7 Nokia 808 PureView Sky 8MP

Next the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (in Superior Auto mode choosing ISO-50)

7 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Sky

And last, the 9.6MP shot from the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which seems to have the biggest problem with the light contrast (also ISO-50)

7 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Sky

Next: the crops from all phones, in the exact same order.

First the Nokia Lumia 1520, followed by the Lumia 1020.

7 Nokia Lumia 1520 Sky

7 Nokia Lumia 1020 Sky 5MP

No doubt in my mind the Nokia Lumia 1020 gives the best result.

The difference with the Jolla is once again immense.

7 Jolla Sky

Comparing crops from the two 8MP results is interesting as well of course.

First the Nokia 808 PureView oversampled result of its 41MP sensor…

7 Nokia 808 PureView Sky 8MP

…versus the 8MP oversampled result from the 20.7MP sensor of the Xperia Z1 Compact:

7 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Sky

The difference is quite clear – apart from the small plane :-) Last, the same 640x 360 crop coming from the 9.6MP result of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (no oversampling is involved here)

7 Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Sky

I think in this case once again, Jolla loses. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 takes 5th place, followed by the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact.

Nokia takes the lead, in my opinion with the Nokia Lumia 1520 in third place, 808 PureView second and the Lumia 1020 as the winner. Not because I simply want it to win, but clearly since it handles the contrast best and shows the most detail in the crops.

You’ll find all the original shots on Flickr (the same set as from the previous comparison of the six smartphone cameras). As always, I’m looking forward to your opinion as well: what’s your favorite shot?

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16 Responses

  1. Shaun

    You CAN change the Jolla to use 4:3 and 8MP.

    Go into Settings, click on Apps, click on the Camera icon. Click on the Main camera’s photo resolution setting. 16:9 is 6MP, 4:3 is 8MP. You can also switch the front camera resolution there.

    Yes, it is a bit bonkers that it’s not settable from where you set ISO, WB, AF etc in the Camera app itself.

    In my experience, a bit of fiddling with the Jolla’s settings usually gets some decent results. The auto mode is not brilliant in many circumstances. It takes some quite good macro shots (for instance this from a tweet in dim northern england office light earlier today https://twitter.com/aegisdesign/status/449146966900236288 ) and I find it pretty good for usual phone snapshot snappy snaps which is exactly what I expect out of a phone. It’s got better in each release too so maybe there’s a bit more to wring out of the sensor yet.

    Nice to see it given an outing in a review of more expensive camera-centric phones btw.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Well Shaun, that’s very helpful and truly inspiring I must admit. I would have *never* looked for the possibility to change the settings over there…

      That is a bit bonkers indeed – changing the aspect ratio is certainly something I’d be looking for in the settings menu in the camera app itself. So it really is 8MP after all…

      Nevertheless, I’ll be making a few new comparisons soon – like with the 808 PureView on 8MP (no other smartphone camera stands a chance) and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (oversampled 8MP results as well). I’m really looking forward to it, I must admit.

      I disagree on one thing though: I do expect a lot more from my smartphone than “snapshot snappy snaps” – that’s in fact what this whole community is all about: expecting enough imaging quality from your smartphone to be able to leave your DSLR at home (or not even bother to buy one at all B-)

  2. Jamie

    Love these comparison articles :) By the way, Marc, will you be including the Oppo Find 7 in your future posts? I’m just wondering how its 50MP Super Zoom mode stacks up against the Nokia PureView models and company.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Well… Would like to, of course. No idea how to get my hands on one, tips are welcome.

      But as they wrote on Petapixel.com: “the 50MP statistic is actually an image processing trick. When the phone is set to super zoom mode, it snaps 10 consecutive photos extremely fast, then picks the best four and combines them into a 50MP final image.” So it’s not a 50MP sensor.

      It’s a bit like Apple bragging about it’s seemless panorama shots on the iPhone 5, leading to shots up to 28MP (see my rant here: http://pureviewclub.com/2012/5750).

      So if I’d have an app to combine four high-res shots from the Nokia Lumia 1020, I’ll get a 4 x 34MP – 136MP. This is all about software, really.

      • mike

        That revolutionary sensor from Oppo that could beat Nokia is just a sales trick??? Wow! I believed that it was close to Nokia camera flagships and I was happy to see that an outsider managed to achieve what serious competitors (like Sony) didn’t. It really dissapoints me that they don’t say the truth, a 13 MP sensor that creates 50 MP images by just compining them. That would be much better!

  3. 1.nokia 808 pureview 2.nokia lumia 1020 3.sony xperia z1compact 4.nokia lumia 1520 5. samsung galaxy note 3 6.jolla

  4. mike

    Marc!!! After a week I check the site and I see 5 new posts!!! You are amazing! :) Well, once again great comparisons. I ‘m surprised to see Jolla in the game too! It seems it has a pretty decent camera, maybe close to the quality of lumia 920/5/8, which have also an 8/8,7 MP camera. It has done a very good job for a decent sensor!

    As for the others, personally I don’t like the trend of over-processing (extreme sharpening/contrast/saturation/noise reduction), so despite the good results of Z1 compact, Note 3 and lumia 1520, I prefer the better detailed photos from the two big sensor devices (808 & lumia 1020). To my eyes nothing else comes close enough to the professional images of nokia 808. Better details, better texture, more natural photos, less artifacts, much better quality at all. If only it had optical image stabilization, it would be the best for every light condition.

    The lumia 1020 in this comparison washes out the green field due to noise reduction. That dissapoints me a bit, because it the only “modern” camera smartphone that tries to get close to the more classic “king” nokia 808 in terms of details.

    Thank you again for the great comparisons Marc!!! :)

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Haha Mike, I’m seriously trying to take more time for other stuff – like life. But you know, a blog like this is like a little child in your mind – you just can’t leave it alone for too long. Maybe one day I’ll feel it’s big enough to take care of itself for a while :-)

      • mike

        Marc, I think I really get what you mean. This blog is more a part of joy than just a work that you “must” do. Therefore it is a very inspiring site for everyone who loves photography, professionals and beginners and that is amazing! I’m a big admirer of this site and the only think I could tell you is just keep going with this great work, but as you did until know (as something you enjoy too), so you will keep some free time for yourself, too. :)

  5. egg

    In the First shot 1020 produced less dark photo, because u moved horizon line. In this shot it was around 60% sky and 40% grass, while 1520 gets 70% sky and 30% grass – that’s why it aligned exposure to sky in center of frame, leaving foreground underexposed. That’s what I think at least :) off 1020 still wins, but I’m waiting for 1520 camera with 4,5-5′ screen. Its good enough for me, and saves photos much faster.

  6. Freak

    Again, amazing 1020 FTW!

  7. civichief

    I just expect a good enough camera from Jolla. It is my hope as one of the last european mobile Phone company