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Next comparison: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs the Nokia Lumia 1020 – shades and lowlight (1)

Yesterday morning, just before work I made a few snapshots with the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Samsung Galaxy S5. Yes, it was a sunny day, but the scenes I captured had quite some shadow too. Next to that I managed to get one shot in a pretty dark studio – I will make more low light shots as I promised, I just didn’t have the time yet – too busy discovering Windows Phone 8.1 on the Lumia 1520 :-)

In general, you can see the Samsung Galaxy S5 gives you a bit brighter result when you put all the shots next to each other, like below.

Screenshots Lumia 1020 Galaxy S5See what I mean?

Of course, these are the shots you will see in detail in this post – in the exact same order. The resized version are from the 5MP shot of the Lumia 1020 (first) and the 16MP shot of the Galaxy S5. The difference in light is quite remarkable in the first shot.

1 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Blue house1 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Blue houseNext you’ll see the 640 x 360 crops I chose from parts of the shot, presented in 5MP, 16MP and 34MP. Note the Samsung Galaxy S5 gives you its highest resolution in 16:9 format. And note the 34MP shot coming from the Nokia Lumia 1020 is not (or hardly) using any “oversampling”.


1 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Blue house1 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Blue house1 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Blue house Pro__highresNow on the opposite side of this charming litte blue house, you’ll find the chairs stored for winter – the little “beach club” is still waiting for the season to start. First the Nokia Lumia 1020, next the Samsung Galaxy S5.

2 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Chairs2 Samsung Galaxy S5 - ChairsTo see if I would get some more light in the shot I tried HDR on the Galaxy S5 as well. You can see a clear difference on the wooden ceiling and floor.

2 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Chairs HDRNext, the crops – again 5MP, 16MP and 34MP

2 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Chairs2 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Chairs2 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Chairs Pro__highresNext, a classic pond nearby. Again,  first the Nokia Lumia 1020 (5MP) and Samsung Galaxy S5 (16MP). Note the much lighter stone tiles in the lower left corner of the Galaxy S5.

3 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Water3 Samsung Galaxy S5 - WaterYou know the drill: crops from the center of the shot, from 5MP (Lumia 1020 PureView), 16MP (Galaxy S5) and 34MP (Nokia Lumia 1020 high-res). In fact it’s pretty hard to compare, since however slightly, the water does move of course.

3 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Water3 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Water3 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Water Pro__highresHope you don’t mind me going on with two more shots :-) Also in this scene, you’ll see the lighter result from the Galaxy S5. Is it as natural? I don’t think so, but it’s not disturbing either.

4 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Path4 Samsung Galaxy S5 - PathAnd the crops – 5MP, 16MP and 34MP.

4 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Path4 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Path4 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Path Pro__highresLast, a reallly lowlight situation so many readers asked for, captured in a studio at work.

5 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Studio5 Samsung Galaxy S5 - StudioAnd the crops in the same order: Lumia 1020, Galaxy S5 and Lumia 1020 high-res (34MP)

5 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Studio5 Samsung Galaxy S5 - Studio5 Nokia Lumia 1020 - Studio Pro__highresI’ll leave it to you to make up your mind about these shots, I’m looking forward to your reactions below.

My next comparison will be completely dedicated to low light shots. Many people have been urging me to include the Nokia 808 PureView in a next comparison as well, I’ll try to do so. From what I’ve read, the S5 doesn’t really perform well in low light situations, but I’m looking forward to see how much I can squeeze out of the sensor.

I want to try out the available ISO settings on the Galaxy S5 as well (if offers up to ISO 800), so that will even take more time – I hope you’ll be patient :-) As always, you’ll find all the original shots on Flickr to check all the details for yourself. To conclude: if you like what I’m doing here, hit that “Donate” button on the right side of this page please. The site doesn’t maintain itself :-)

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27 Responses

  1. Oscar

    for now S5 is better than 1020

  2. […] seen the Galaxy S5 performing very well. Most remarkable was the Galaxy S5 shots turned out a bit brighter, losing some contrast along the […]

  3. buxz777

    to me the s5 shots do look a little over exposed / too light and it seems to like to remove the shadows or make shadows lighter which makes them less ”real” and ”atmospheric” , I like working with the 1020 especially in the shadows and working with things like clouds and light it really can get some great results

    I think in this comparison it is again quite kind to the s5 camera , the subject is still , lighting is good with some shadows and I think its not really putting the s5 camera to the test , I would expect quite a few top tier camera phones to get a decent result in a shot like this

    however for me and my eyes the 1020 shots just look more real and the shadow detail adds to the depth of the shot rather then a flat looking pic , yes removing the shadows does show more detail in the shaded areas and will come in handy when taking a portrait in shaded areas and such but it seems to try and do this with the shadows all the time

    another thing for me is the 5mp shots with oversampling do look cleaner and more pure then the s5 shots which seem to suffer from over active noise reduction? or maybe over sharpening? it captures detail well like this but it also lines don’t look as clean and pure and have more of a jaggered appearance to them , that’s one thing I also really like about the 808 and 1020 , how clean the shots come out and how much detail they still contain

    you do some great comparison work mate and I do love reading your articles and it is great too see a website be so unbiased on things , I know people accuse you of being biased sometimes but from the other side of the fence your articles have never come across like that to me

    I know your a very busy man with your own life to live but if you do a low light comparison this is where I would expect the s5 sensor to start showing its weakness , the whitepaper for the isocell sensor says it should allow better higher iso shooting with less noise and crosstalk but I don’t think it is going to help against the bigger sensor and better hardware in the 1020 which is much more geared to be an all round camera rather then a good camera phone ;-)

    hats of to Samsung for a nice daytime camera on the s5 it does look like it produces some nice shots in daytime , but it isn’t going to outdo the 1020 in many conditions and add that to no xenon flash , no rich recording , no ois etc then its obvious which camera is going to perform better in every day life when the conditions cant always be ideal ;-)

    great work mate , really good read , have a great weekend ;-)

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Last evening, I made some fantastic and quite revealing low light shots – with the Nokia Lumia 1020, Nokia 808 PureView and the Samsung Galaxy S5: I’m pretty sure it’s exactly what you are looking for and I’ll be more than happy to share them.

      Due to the Easter holidays and family visits however, I won’t be able to publish those sooner than Monday I’m afraid. They’re really something to look forward to, I promise :-)

  4. steve

    The 1020 photos seem more balanced all around exposure and sharpening and noise reduction. The s5 just dose not seem to manage the sensor very well. I think it overexposes photos most of the time and with no way to easily tap on a highlight in the picture to adjust exposure. It makes it very difficult to take well balance photo. My opinion is that while there is an extraordinary level of detail in good light the over all photos are not even on par with the 1520.

  5. Sab

    I think the reason you have left it to us to decide is because you haven’t much to say in Lumia 1020 favour ;-)

    This is an alarm for Nokia to enhance their technology and not to rely on the fact they’ve been the leaders since (relatively) long time, the distance between them and their rivals are shrinking rapidly.

    Samsung’s pictures are not bad at all… not bad at all.

    • Oli

      Yes, you are right. Pictures from S5 look quiet good. I think Nokia should work in future with components they can handle (program well). Whitebalance with lumia 1020 (bsi sensor) is just horrible.

      • Sab

        That was quite obvious to me, since most of the people so far prefer the old 808 pictures over all new phones, you can realize that Nokia’s photo hasen’t been improved since 2 years, at least in the daylight shot

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Actually Sab, I’ve been accused of being biased often, so I just like to leave it to the readers sometimes.

      But if you’re asking me for my opinion: I do like the colors of the 1020 better – the S5 seems a bit too bright to me. Check the “path”: the S5 is so bright it’s losing contrast in fact.

      And in the low light shot, the 1020 clearly shows sharper details.

      But you are right, the S5 isn’t bad at all. I’m still waiting for the opportuniy to make more low light shots.

      • Sab

        Yes, I also do like Lumia 1020 better, but others improvement is my concern, I’m awaiting anxiously S5 Zoom

  6. Huy

    Great comparison. S5 could replace my old 808 in term of shooting photos. But in reality i dont trust its durability.

  7. bigs

    Another excellent comparison Marc. Have to say although the S5 results is impressive, and in good light, there really is not that much difference between the 1020 and the S5 when it comes to noise and detail. That is where it ends though, as the S5′s image processing is somewhat consumer sharpened, which can give the perception that the image is more detailed. The 1020′s less sharpened image to me looks more natural. Still I believe Nokia should add an option as they did in the 808 which allows the user to choose the level of sharpness, saturation etc.

    Then there is the sensor size difference. The 1020′s sensor is still larger than the S5. Depending on the lens max aperture of the S5, the 1020 should be able to isolate subjects and de focus the background better than the S5.

    That being said this new “ISOCELL” technology used in the S5, means that not only is there lower noise, which is evident in the impressive low light crops, but also it means the issue of cross talk and photon bleeding in conventional BSI sensors has been finally resolved. This issue with BSI is partly the reason why it was so difficult to make the 1020 JPG image better than the 808 which had the older less sensitive FSI sensor.

    • neko

      it’s not actually sharpened. it’s just the noise reduction and contrast enhancement. i’ve been evaluating a lot of sample photos of the s5 lately and i can say it’s easy to notice the aggressive noise reduction and contrast boosting when you look into the full resolution. the details look like smudgy paintings but the noise is almost nonexistent.

  8. Hasko

    As ququon asked, will you make wp 8vs wp 8.1 camera comparison?

    I just got the Dev Preview of the 8.1, and do not really get it; IQ ISO wise is in most situations back to pre-amber release…some yellow cast evident again…

    But, camera does seem to run and operate much “smoother and faster”

    Is Nokia going to release any other camera firmware update on WP 8.1???

    …if not, I’ll go shoot myself now :)

  9. Matt

    I feel like the S5 is just as good as the 1020 for photography in most situations, minus obviously the low light. I guess the difference comes down to whether you prefer android or Windows at this point…until the Lumia 1025 comes out…

    • bigs

      even though the S5 may not be “as good” as the 5Mp 1020 in low light, there is always the option for the S5 user to oversample it’s image to a lower resolution which too will reduce noise in a similar fashion.

      Maybe Marc can try this?

  10. Thanks for such comparisons Marc, this time lumia 1020 wins ,but next camera test return king 808 pureview ))

  11. ququon

    Is there a comparison between wp8 and wp8.1 on lumia 1020 coming up? Thanks~ Good comparison by the way :)

    • Massis

      This would be utter nonsense, WP8.1 is not released. There is a preview version out, not optimised for a lot of things (including the native music app for instance) so I don’t see the point to compare a stable Black 1020 with a developer preview 8.1 beta without the Nokia layer (Cyan).

  12. chennakesavalu varadarajulu

    Nice.You are doing some good comparative analysis of flagship smartphone with Lumia1020 with special focus on Camera .
    From your analysis of previous&today’s part it is clear S5 houses a decent android camera but cannot compete with Pureview camera of Lumia1020.The exception is only HDR functionality.
    Any way ,you presented a factual comparison.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Thank you for your kind reaction. I will continue with a few more comparisons :-)

  13. Thanks for such comparisons Marc. I have been keenly following pureviewclub for over a year now.
    I personally think SGS5 does a wonderful job. The ISOCELL sensor is very good indeed.
    Barring the two 41MPx sans pareil from Nokia, none yeilds as good result. Be it the 20MPx sensors of Nokia or Sony. Just a personal opinion.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Thank you Achyut, I can see we share the same passion for mobile photography