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An old farm at the river. Nokia, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Oppo: 7 smartphones, 8 resolutions (3)

Here´s the third scene I captured a few days ago during a sunny day last week, when I was testing the Nokia 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Oppo Find 7a.

The Nokia will let you capture in three different resolutions, the Lumia 1020 and 1520 give you two with the same shot, you can shoot in two resolutions with Sony’s Xperia Z2 and with the Oppo Find 7a. So in total I’ve been sharing thirteen shots from all devices.

You know the drill after the previous two posts I guess. First I show you the original scene – this time from the 5MP result coming from the Nokia Lumia 1520 (which I chose for no particular other reason than change :-).

2c Nokia Lumia 1520 River 5MP 640 x 360

In the next screenshots (again, they are resized to fit this post), I’ll be “closing in” on the old farm on the other side of the river. From HTC’s 4MP up to Oppo’s 37MP (in 16:9 aspect ratio). At least it’s interesting to see there are many different shades of blue in these results :-)

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The importance of peeping pixels

Here’s a post I just have to share with you. Steve Litchfield seems to be having the exact same thoughts as I’ve been having for the past weeks / months: why are we both so concerned with all the tiny details of smartphone photography?

I wrote about it myself a few weeks ago. Call me vain, but I’ll quote from my own post: “The higher the resolution, the more details you’ll see or get to work with. It will enable you to make sharper printed results, or bigger prints with great quality. And it will provide you with the possibility to zoom in (and crop) your shots before sharing or printing.”

Now Steve and I must be kindred spirits in some way, and I just need to quote some of his post as well. Don’t forget to read his complete post however!

- I’m not against image effects, I’m not against post processing, and I’m certainly not advocating others go around looking at their photos under a magnifying glass or zooming them in to see individual pixels. But there is method in my madness…

 - the only reason why most people don’t notice flaws in their smartphone photos is because they only view them on a phone screen and share via very low resolution versions on social media. 

- next time I do a head to head camera shootout and wax lyrical over the purity of the images produced, bandying about 1:1 crops, remember that I do this not because I intend to view the photos on a 50″ screen or printout, but because purity is important in the ongoing workflow with what you intend to do with the image later on.

These are just three quotes from an even more interesting post. Steve added a few very interesting examples, too. You can read it all here.

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An ancient castle. Nokia, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Oppo: seven smartphones, eight resolutions (2)

As you may already have read, a few days ago I’ve been testing the Nokia 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Oppo Find 7a. With each device I took several shots, when possible in different resolutions, so I ended up with way more than a hundred shots to select from. From all those shots I selected the very best.

First scene was from a bar in new restaurant in an ancient fort in the small city of Muiden. This time you’ll see the majestic outlook on the Muiderslot, an ancient castle that dates back to the 13th (!) century (check the link). It was a very sunny day, so the light was bright and constant (not hindered by any clouds that is, which is a bit of a rarity in The Netherlands).

Like the last time, I’ll show you one resized shot of the scene itself first, then I’ll “zoom in” to see how much detail you will get from the different reslutions. This is the Nokia 808 PureView’s 8MP result (resized to fit this post of course).

3a Nokia 808 PureView Muidersslot 8.3MP 640 x 360

I do realize there is a lot more to be said about coloring etc (there are some huge differences in the way the old bricks and the blue sky is represented), but I’m focusing on resolutions in this test first.

Like I wrote in the previous post, it ranges from 4MP in the HTC One M8 all the way up to the artificial 37MP in the Oppo Find 7a. Not the full 50MP resolution since I ‘m shooting in 16:9 and “artificial” since there is no 50MP sensor in the device – it combines four 13MP shots.

Here’s the full range (screenshot from my laptop) in the order I’m going to present them to you.

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Nokia, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Oppo: 3 scenes, 7 smartphones, 8 resolutions (part 1)

Luckily I had a few hours off yesterday afternoon and the weather was great, so I tried to find some interesting scenes to capture with no less than seven (!) smartphones.

I was travelling with the Nokia 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 and 1520, Samsung Galaxy S5 (still don’t have the K Zoom to test), Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Oppo Find 7a. With each I took several shots, when possible in different resolutions, so I ended with way more than a hundred shots to select from.

Now there’s only one way to do this – I won’t post all three scenes in one post, but stick to one scene per post. In this post, I will share only one resized version of the original scene to show you where all the 100% screenshots came from.

Then I will present you all 13 screenshots from the lowest to the highest resolution – so from HTC’s One M8 (4MP) to Oppo’s Find 7a (37MP in 16:9) First scene is a quite dark bar in a new restaurant in an old fortress in the very small but beautiful city of Muiden (definitely worth a visit when you’re in Amsterdam for instance).

Here’s the original scene (of course, you’ll find all the original shots on Flickr!). When possible, all smartphones were set to “lamplight” (Tungsten), since after some experimenting I was sure it would give the most appropriate result under these circumstances.

2b Nokia Lumia 1020 5MP Dark Cave 640 x 360Now here we go with the screenshots I made from the scene looking at it 100%… Starting with the 4MP shot from the HTC One M8 1 HTC One M8 Dark Cave 4MPNot bad of course – pretty bright but that’s what I expected from the “ultrapixel”. But keep in mind you can’t get much closer than this – this screenshot was taken at 100%. You’ll already get a bit more detail at 5MP. You’ll see the Nokia 808 PureView – darkest of all, but most realistic – and the 5MP results from the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 (in that order) Read more…

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The Verge: iPhone 5S best smartphone camera

It’s been a while and this might a bit off-topic, but I can’t resist writing about Verge’s new This Is My Next “buying guide for the future”.

The first episode is about the best smartphone, and the Verge bluntly states the iPhone 5S simply is the best you can buy: “two things really set the iPhone 5S apart: its camera and its ecosystem.”

Verge reporter David Pierce says: “The 8MP camera is the most consistent, sharpest, simplest camera smartphone camera you’ll find. Other smartphones offer cool features the iPhone doesn’t, but there’s just nothing that matches its picture quality or ease of use.

Well, I think there are far too many smartphone cameras around to just state the iPhone is best at being “most consistent and simplest”. And I simply refuse to believe that “there’s nothing that matches its picture quality“.

I’m quite sure it’s okay, I’ll accept it’s far above average even – but I won’t buy it offers the best picture quality. It won’t come as a surprise to you I believe the Nokia 808 PureView and the Nokia Lumia 1020 are King in this area.

Talking about Lumia, the Verge says: “You might find yourself looking at a Windows Phone like the Lumia Icon or the Lumia 925, but even though they have good cameras and hugely improved software thanks to Windows Phone 8.1, they still don’t have the app selection or general performance the best iOS and Android devices do.”.

When the smartphone camera is considered to be that important, not even mentioning the Nokia Lumia 1020 is almost hilarious. As I think the way The Verge is complaining about Windows Phone app selection and performance is pretty old-fashioned.

First runner up is the HTC One M8, although the camera is “the big compromise“. That’s sort of funny, since the camera was one of the most important reasons to prefer the iPhone 5S over everything else. It’s HTC’s design that wins here, since The Verge must know the second runner up simply has quite a bit more to offer.

Second runner up is the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the way The Verge is putting this smartphone down is seriously making me wonder if this wasn’t sponsored by Apple in the first place.

The Galaxy S5 “takes good but unspectacular pictures pretty much all the time. Actually anything about the S5 is good but unspectacular. I has a good screen, some useful software features and great battery life. And it’s waterproof, which I really like.

But it has a plasticy design, which is better than last year’s S4 but still not exactly attractive. And it’s still too full of overbearing and unnecessary software and bloopy sound effects to really be a great enjoyable device. There’s nothing terrible aobut the S5 except maybe the design, but there’s really nothing to be all that excited about either”.

Well… That reads like the S5 is actually very good in just about all respects (it’s even waterproof!) but the Verge simply doesn’t want to put it that way since the reviewer doesn’t like the design.

Other runners up are: Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Motorola Droid Maxx, Moto X – and as David Pierce puts it: “honestly that’s really the end of the list of phones you should consider“. Wait what?

Is the Verge seriously putting the Moto X in the same list as the Apple iPhone 5S, be it at the end of the list? There as so many other devices that could be put there. Is it because those are “not from America”? Speaking of which: where is the new Sony Xperia Z2? Where is the new LG G3? They certainly got very high marks in The Verge’s reviews.

This first episode of “this is my next” certainly looks very well produced and promising in that respect – as we may expect from the Verge. Other than that it looks like their advice about what should be your “next” is more about design than about pure quality.

As for me, the iPhone 5S would probably be my last choice. Here’s This Is My Next if you want to check it out all yourself. I wonder what you think.

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Nokia, bring more flagships to the battlefield

Recently at Computex, Microsoft has announced a few new Windows Phone devices coming from OEM’s like “Blu”, “Prestigio” and “Yezz” (see NeoWin,). It’s not really clear what these new Windows Phone devices will cost, but I assume these are all very affordable.

I’m convinced reaching out to “emerging markets” is the way to go – several major companies have reached a huge market with Android. Nokia has already been doing so for quite some time for Windows Phone (up to the point where they even introduced a Windows Phone look-alike on Android with the Nokia X-series).

Also during Computex, it has been hinted that HTC has a new Windows Phone device up its sleave, Samsung seems to have one coming up (the Ativ Core) and there are rumours about Sony and LG as well.

So far though, in the Battle of the Ecosystems, Nokia has almost been competely alone fighting for Windows Phone. The complete Windows Phone portfolio stilll depends on Nokia (now Microsoft Mobiles). And it’s a tough war to fight on your own.


The competition on Android has become overwhelming this year (like if it wasn’t last year or even the year before). But just look at this year’s most recent Android flagships. Samsung’s Galaxy S5, Sony’s Xperia Z2, HTC’s One M8, LG’s G3. As for completely “dedicated camera phones”, Samsung is releasing the Galaxy K Zoom with a 20MP sensor and 10x optical zoom. And there’s Apple of course, about to release the iPhone 6.

The Lumia 1020 was announced a year ago - a light-year in this industry. Even the next flagship Lumia 1520 is “from last year” (november). I really love it, but I do understand it’s simply too big for many customers. Meanwhile, Europe is still waiting for Nokia’s next flagship, the Lumia 930 (aka Icon in the US) – waiting for the official release of Windows Phone 8.1.

Now (more or less) three flagships in about a year isn’t that bad, but fighting for a complete ecosystem with only three modern devices a year looks like a mission impossible to me. In the same period Android has been showing off at least a dozen flagships, and of course even a lot more cheaper devices to please the crowds (and I’m aware of the fact the Lumia 520 was a bestseller for Windows Phone).

But I do wonder where the next PureView flagship with the famous 41MP camera sensor is? After all five years of R&D on the Nokia 808 PureView, the huge investment of bringing all those amazing innovations (PureView, Rich Recording, OIS) to the Lumia 1020 – where is its successor? What happened to “ZoomReinvented”? Did Nokia/Microsoft get bored with it?

1024px-Holman,_Cape_St_VincentDoes Nokia/Microsoft Mobiles need more flagships? Judging from the experience of just about all other smartphone companies, there simply is no other choice. It’s the flagship that gets the attention. Of course you’ll need a lot more less expensive products to sell to those who can’t afford it, but people will notice the brand thanks to its flagship.

It’s the Find 7 that got people interested in Oppo from China. A complete newcomer like OnePlus One gets major attention because it’s a flagship device (although it’s actually quite affordable). Apple hardly even cares about anything but the flagship (and its cheaper iPhone 5c even appeared to be quite disappointing).

For Microsoft, a new flagship device will be even more important – not just for the Nokia division it recently acquired, but also for the platform itself. No matter how good Joe Belfiore sells it, Windows Phone is in dire need of great ambassadors people can actually want to buy. Although I really get the focus on emerging markets and connecting the next billion et cetera – showing off with a a few extremely exciting flagships is quintessential.

Just like in the car industry: you will sell more of the less expensive products, but they won’t get you as much attention in all major media. It’s the flagship that really shows the world who you are and what you’re made of. It makes people long for your brand, hold it, use it, be part of it. The centuries old image is a metaphore for a reason: the flagship is the one to fight the war with.

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