• Our Nexus 5/LG G2/iPhone 5s/Lumia 1020/HTC One/GS4/Sony Z1/BB Z30 camera shootout

    Low light:

    For the low light test we went to my basement where I have my tools. We used a Milwaukee miter saw and stand as a base. The Milwaukee red is difficult to capture correctly in this light and many cameras will try to over-saturate it. The saw blade has writing on it which can be difficult to capture in low-light. Thereís a yellow organizer full of screws, marettes and other misc items. They provide some fine detail which can be lost if there is aggressive sharpening. The yellow Dewalt drill is another difficult colour to capture. Finally, the insulation in the background is actually more of a peach colour - itís another colour which is difficult to capture properly.

    Since we shot the photo only a few feet from subject we used a tripod with a phone attachment. This helps take any camera shake out of the equation since most cameras will use a slower shutter speed to try to capture this image. It also allows us to be somewhat consistent with our framing. The original files are here.



    The Z1 doesnít do so well here. There isnít much detail, noise levels are very high and the white balance is on the cool side. The picture looks very processed because the Z1 uses very aggressive noise reduction followed by strong sharpening so noise ends up looking splotchy. Not all is bad though, the Z1 seems to have good dynamic range here - if you stick the photo in an editor and raise the shadow levels it actually managed to capture the area below the tool box which is holding up the yellow organizer. Another nice thing is that it used a shutter speed of ⅛ of a second which should be hand-holdable if you try taking the shot a couple of times.



    Youíd expect the HTC One to do well here and it does. Thereís a fair amount of detail. Colour accuracy is fair - itís slightly warm. Noise levels arenít too high though the noise itself doesnít look that nice because itís been processed away. Surprisingly, the dynamic range isnít as good as I thought it would be - itís not bad but you have to raise the shadow levels much more than the other photos in order to bring out the details under the box. The shutter speed is 1/7 which is very usable since the One has built-in image stabilization



    I was pretty surprised at how well the Lumia 1020 did here. Detail is very high, and while there is some noise it just looks like film grain. White balance is slightly cool. It used a shutter speed of ľ second which is a tad on the long side - even when you consider that the 1020 has a wide-angle lens and image stabilization. I wonder if the Lumia 1020 is able to use its sensors to tell when itís on a tripod and use a longer shutters speed. Here the 1020 is the clear winner among the phones.



    Hereís something funny, when you have a dark scene, the Samsung Galaxy S4 automatically switches to low light mode. Thatís cool right? Sort of - the thing is, night mode appears to shoot multiple exposures and then flattens them into one photo with the light detail from multiple shots. I think itís sort of cheating. If you disable the GS4ís night mode it takes a really dark photo which isnít usable unless you turn the flash on. Interestly, Steve noticed that the GS4 actually takes better low light photos if you turn HDR mode on instead of using the night mode. We included the picture taken with low-light mode because the regular shot is basically all black.

    Anyways, as it turns out, even with the cheater mode, the GS4 captures very little detail in low-light mode. Colour accuracy is off - the drill is is orange instead of yellow. There is a lot of noise and the shutter speed is pointless since it shoots multiple exposures.



    I canít say conclusively but I think the LG G2 also has a low-light cheater mode. I say this because the G2 didnít record the shutter speed in the JPEG EXIF information. The LG G2 captures an average amount of detail. White balance is quite good here. While there isnít a ton of noise itís due to the fact that there is a lot of noise reduction and then sharpening so a lot of the noise turns into splotches. The dynamic range isnít bad. There is a decent amount of detail captured.



    The Nexus 5 is too warm here. The insulation is pink (itís more of a pale peach colour) and the piece of wood is reddish. Detail is not bad - you could say that the writing isnít as sharp as some of the other phones here but thatís more of a function of sharpening than detail. Noise levels are bordering on obnoxious. It used a shutter speed of ⅙ which is a little on the slow side but probably acceptable since it has optical image stabilization



    The iPhone 5s does a good job with detail here. There is a lot noise but when you zoom out it looks natural and not over-sharpened - just look at the Stanley logo on the toolbox. The noise reduction algorithm on most phones will reduce it to a blur. White balance is almost spot-on, it even beats the real camera in this regard. Dynamic range is good and the shutter speed is actually 1/15 which is very usable.



    For some reason the Blackberry Z30 takes a really dark photo. It would benefit from some post-processing here. Thereís a fair amount of detail and the noise is also fair. The Z30 doesnít do a ton of post-processing so the noise looks nice. Dynamic range is actually pretty good if you raise the shadow levels. White balance is slightly cool. The shutter speed is ⅕ is a little on the slow side for a non-stabilized lens so youíd probably want the z30 to shoot multiple shots if there isnít much light in case some of them have shake.



    Finally we have the real camera, the Panasonic DMC-G5. No surprises here. It captures the most detail, and has the lowest noise levels. Dynamic range is really high. The shutter speed is ľ second which is slow but acceptable since I was using a stabilized lens. White balance but compared to the iPhone 5s itís slightly cool so thatís a bit of a shock.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Our Nexus 5/LG G2/iPhone 5s/Lumia 1020/HTC One/GS4/Sony Z1/BB Z30 camera shootout started by howard View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. realjet's Avatar
      realjet -
      How does the HTC Rezound compare with these cameras? I currently have a Rezound and it seems to take good pictures (better than my Droid X or iphone 4) that I used to have.