More photos are snapped every year on smartphones now than traditional cameras, a dramatic shift. The images have gotten surprisingly good, and they're so easy to share.
So when Apple introduced the new iPhone 5s with a greatly improved camera that it said was the best ever, Los Angeles based tech columnist Jefferson Graham decided to take it out to see how it compares with two other hot models.
The recent Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone has the most advanced camera features ever seen on a smartphone — a 41-megapixel sensor (twice as many as any top consumer camera) and oodles of manual adjustments any pro would love. And the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the top rival to the iPhone, with a generous 13-megapixel camera.
Let's start with the specs:
IPHONE 5S: The new camera has the same 8 megapixels as before, but Apple says individual pixels are more mega than competitors'. Each pixel is larger — up 15% from the iPhone 5. Additionally, the new iPhone 5s has a larger lens opening, at f. 2.2, up from 2.4. That means better ability to shoot in low light (evenings, parties, indoors). New features include "burst mode" — hold your finger on the shutter and shoot up to 100 images in fast succession (good for getting a perfect shot of a moving baby or dog) — slow motion for video and a new dual flash system that gives 2 LED lights for what promises to be a more flattering image. Exposure control: all automatic. The phone comes with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of internal memory, and has a 4-inch screen with 1136x640 resolution.
SAMSUNG GALAXY S4: The 13-megapixel camera has 12 shooting modes, including automatic, panorama, night shot, sports and others. Exposure is all automatic. The phone comes with 16 or 32 gigabytes of memory. You can add storage via a micro-SD card. The phone has a 5-inch screen, with 1920x1080 resolution.
NOKIA LUMIA 1020: The whopping 41-megapixel sensor (a dual sensor with 41 megapixels for the bigger "pro" files and 5 megapixels for the smaller "auto" versions) is supported by a sharp f 2.2 lens by renowned German lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss and both auto and full manual controls. Every other smartphone camera we've ever used has been fully automatic, leaving little choice to the photographer. On the Lumia, you can adjust the white balance, shutter speed and focus. The device comes with 32 GB of internal memory. But the full-resolution images can be 10 megabytes or higher, and memory will go fast. There's no slot to add memory. The phone has a 4.5-inch screen with 1280x768 resolution.
for testing Jefferson clicked some pics, below is the final result
• The Galaxy has great specs and the best HD screen we've seen on a phone, but we weren't blown away by the overall photographic results. Shots in broad daylight were fine, and we liked the color rendition at Tuttle's, but low-light was so poor and sharpness less than the others we have to grade this at No. 3.
• As a photographer, the Lumia should be my overall winner. It certainly is in sharpness and low light. But I didn't like the controls; the phone is heavier than comparable competitors; and the white-balance issues were bothersome. Potential purchasers should note the lack of apps available for the phone — 150,000 Microsoft says, vs. nearly 1 million for iOS and Android. That's still a lot of apps. but notable omissions include the world's most popular photo app, Instagram, along with Vine, Camera+ and Snapchat.
• We didn't expect to put the new iPhone at the top of the list. It's just a basic, point-and-shoot camera. But beyond the extreme low-light example, the iPhone produced the most consistent, best overall results — amazing stuff for a feature tacked onto a device built for e-mail, Web surfing and phone calls. The images weren't as ultra-sharp as the Lumia's, but they were extremely sharp; they had better color in more situations and great results nine out of 10 times. The camera was a joy to use, and while the screen size of the phone isn't as impressive as either the Galaxy or Lumia for viewing, the final results are what matter the most.