Here’s my second post about the Samsung Galaxy S5, which may as well be the best Samsung camera smartphone so far – not counting the S4 Zoom which was more like a compact camera with GSM functionality.
Before you are tempted to ask me: yes, I would like to compare it to the HTC One M8 as well, but I don’t have the review sample yet – and I don’t want to wait for it either. Same goes for the Sony Xperia Z2 by the way.
In this post you’ll read some more about the S5 and you’ll find a few shots to compare it with the Nokia Lumia 1020 – generally excepted as the best smartphone camera of our time.
Let me start by writing something about the new camera interface Samsung put in the new Galaxy S5. First of all, it’s fast – starting it up (just by swyping the camera icon on your locked screen) is a lot faster than starting up the Nokia Lumia 1020, but then again: which smartphone camera isn’t.
It’s something we just have to learn to live with since we appreciate the results that are really worth waiting for. But for fast snapshops or a fast sequence of shots, the Lumia 1020 simply isn’t the best smartphone in town and we know it.
Second, Samsung’s camera user interface is much improved, as you can see in the screenshot below – this is what you reach in one click once you’re in the camera module. You see it’s quite easy to change a lot of different settings, and if you’d like a icon somewhere else you can just drag it there.
Also note you get the maximum resolution of 16MP in 16:9 aspect ratio (5312 x 2988), which I haven’t sseen on any other smartphone before (usually, you’ll need 4:3 to get maximum result). And you’ll see ISO is not highlighted: you will have to turn Picture Stabilization off before you can manually change the ISO settings.
Then of course, the remarkable way Samsung implemented HDR . Again, I’ve never seen the result you may expect from HDR in the screen before even capturing the shot. I really wonder how Samsung does stuff like that, but it works like a charm. I posted about it earlier, here’s another example.
Something in the foreground of a pretty light sky is bound to become dark, as you can see in the first shot.
Using HDR, it sudddenly is like someone hit the light button.
Again, at least as far as I can tell, this is not done with a combination of different shots – the way you usually realize a HDR result. How they do it, I don’t know. Like I wrote in my previous post, although the effect is not as “natural”, I’m quite sure this will become a very popular feature of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Since I’m into comparing stuff, this is what I got from the HDR camera app on the Nokia Lumia 1020
It’s good to know however, that this is possible on the Lumia 1020 application since you actually have three shots to work with: you can’t change the HDR result you get from the Samsung Galaxy S5.
Most people probably don’t even want to, and if so, there must be plenty of HDR apps for Android as well – they probably won’t be as fast as on the S5 however, and you won’t see the result before capturing the shot.
Another remarkable thing about the Galaxy S5 is that it includes the possibiliy to change the perspective in the shot – so if you use that function, you’ll be able to “refocus”. This is limited to the foreground and the background only, it doesn’t offer more “points of focus” like Nokia Refocus does (I’m still very proud of my own example).
For some reason however, on the Galaxy S5, the end result is no less than >20MB large! That means that Samsung doesn’t compress the result after saving the “focus” you’d like to share. But it also means that sharing the result is pretty tough for your data consumption :-)
Here’s a resized version of one of my attempts, I’ve uploaded the original version on Flickr (you have been warned, it’s a >20MB download but I think you’ll really like the result – in fact I think it’s somewhat sensational).
To show exactly how much detail you will find in this shot once you download the >20MP original, here’s a (resized) 100% screenshot
So now we’ve come to the flowers, my favorite subject by far I guess. There’s much more to write about the Samsung Galaxy S5 (like it’s water resistant, something I’ve been waiting for to find in Lumia devices quite some time ago to be honest), but I’d like to share and compare some results from both the Galaxy S5 as the Lumia 1020 before this post gets way too long.
Here we go, back to my mother’s garden. First: the famous Dutch tulips, in the bright morning sun :-) Since the Galaxy S5 is the subject of this post, you’ll see the results from that smartphone first
I made 100% screenshots of all three (!) results: the 5MP from the Lumia 1020, the 16MP from the Galaxy S5 and the high-res result from the Lumia 1020. I’ll share the crops from small to large resolution (so from 5MP up to 34MP)
It just seems the Samsung got more lucky with dealing with the incoming light. But as you can see, details are also very decent coming from the Galaxy S5.
Next up, a few charming small purple flowers I don’t know the name of (sorry). Again, Galaxy S5 first, Lumia 1020 second.
Both look good I must say this time! Just a slight difference in color. Let’s have a look at the screenshots again, from 5MP, 16MP and 34MP.
Again, I must say the Samsung Galaxy S5 is doing a very impressive job… You know I can be extremely critical in pixel peeping, but in this case I have to rely on you I guess, to see what would be the “best” result.
More flowers, some sensational yellow tulips. The Samsung Galaxy S 5 gave me quite a bit darker result in this case, which most likely has to do with the light at the time I took the shot. It was a windy day, so a few trees could have been casting their shadow without me noticing it. Moreover, the flowers were moving while I took the shots, but they are too nice to discard in my opinion.
As I said, it’s quite dark from the Samsung I’d say, but how about the screenshots?
Difference in light, a slight difference in sharpness as well – most likely due to the wind – but marginal differences I’d say, and quite impressive results from both smartphones!
I have one more flower to compare for you: the classic dandelion.
Still a windy day, so not easy to capture both the exact same way. But still, again I’m impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S5 – contrast is very good in this shot as well I must say…
What about the screenshots? Again, you’ll see them in the order of 5MP, 16MP and 34MP.
Well, it’s up to you I guess. I really love the result I got from the Lumia 1020, but the detail in the Samsung Galaxy S5 is stunning too. In fact it’s sharper even, but keep in mind the object (the dandelion) was a moving target – the Samsung may have been a bit more lucky this time.
Shall we do one more? Here’s a wheelbarrow resting on its back for a long time… – S5 first, Lumia 1020 second.
And the screenshots in the order you must know by now
Well… what can I say. In how the Galaxy S5 captures this scene, I see some rougness in the edges of the leaves (pixelation). But the Galaxy’s sensor does seem to cope with the contrast better – the wheel of the barrow is a bit less “burnt” than with the Lumia 1020.
All settings were on auto on both devices. No doubt the Lumia 1020 can give you far better results offering Raw .DNG (something Google has promised to bring to the Nexus device, but I haven’t heard about it for a long time).
We already know the HTC One M8 probably doesn’t stand a chance in this league, but I’m still looking forward to test it nevertheless. And I’m looking forward to see how the new Xperia Z2 will perform in shots like these even more.
But so far I have never seen any Android camera come this close to – or (to be completely honest) even surpass – Nokia’s PureView technology. You’ll find all original shots from this post on Flickr. Please have a look at those and tell me what you think.
I’m still not done testing of course, but after this comparison I must admit I’m really impressed with what Samsung has been doing with the camera of the new Galaxy S5. In fact, I have the impression it’s the first real contender since I started the PureViewClub. Coming from me, that’s a compliment :-)