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Monday, 10 January 2011

5mpix camera shoot-out: HTC Desire Z vs. Nokia N900 vs. Nokia E72

I've been taking quite a lot of photos with Nokia N900 earlier and even if I didn't regard their quality as the best ever, these shots were just fine and perfectly acceptable for less important occasions to me. However, ever since I've got HTC Desire Z in my hands, I was quite baffled with its camera quality. Main thought was along the lines of is this really that bad or is it just bad impression?

So I went and did totally non-scientific and hugely subjective comparison of camera capabilities of the most modern mobile devices I currently have at hand: HTC Desire Z, Nokia N900 and Nokia E72, all of which have 5 megapixel camera sensors. Results were, frankly, quite surprising to me.

The idea was to take series of photos of the same object with all three devices in a row. Most photos were taken outdoors while weather wasn't great, which I reckon is actually a good thing when it comes to comparing camera quality. All photos were taken with totally default camera settings with no tinkering with things like white balance, flash firing (always set to auto) etc.

Each photo can be clicked an viewed in original size, untouched by any post-processing software.

Shot 1

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72 - shaky hand, my bad

Nokia N900
E72 is a winner here, quite clearly, even if picture is a bit shaky. Colours are quite nice. N900 a bit too bright, especially the clouds. Desire Z too dark with noticeable noise.

Shot 2

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
E72 a winner, again. The best colour and brightness balance. N900 again too bright. Picture taken with Desire Z is simply a disaster (which is clearly visible in full-res).

Shot 3

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
This pics should really be seen in full-res, zoomed in to see the text on the board clearly. All seem more-or-less fine but in detailed zoom artificial noise can be seen on DesireZ's photo. And it's too dark, too. Nokias beat HTC once again, and again I personally see E72 as producing the best photo, while N900 gives a bit red'ish tint.

Shot 4

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
Very similar to shot 2 - Desire Z disaster, E72 nice contrast and colours, N900 pretty good too, yet a bit too bright.

Shot 5

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
This time round I think N900 in pretty much on par with E72. HTC yet again produces too dark and too noisy picture with very little colours.

Shot 6

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72, with flash

Nokia N900, with flash
Hmm, I'd say this time round HTC did pretty well job even if flash didn't fire like in Nokias. All photos are comparable, yet I'd rather say I like HTC's best, N900's not far behind and E72 (featuring shaky hands) worse this time.

Shot 7

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
This one's tough, as I don't like any of the pictures, really. Just all are bad. However, if I've had to make a judgement, I'd say N900 > E72 > Desire Z. Btw, can you spot differences between these photos? ;)

Shot 8

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
In this case I think that Desire Z isn't bad at all, E72 slightly too dark but I like the sharpness and the fact that clouds in upper right corner are nicely balanced out and not over-bright. Photo taken with N900 would be the worse this time round, I think. Seems like glow from the clouds are filling the whole thing.

Shot 9

HTC Desire Z

Nokia E72

Nokia N900
Similarly, E72 nicely balanced out clouds in the corner. N900 and HTC not bad, yet Desire Z is slightly too noisy, which make the whole picture a bit purple'ish.

Results

So here's the surprise. In my personal, unscientific and highly subjective test, business-oriented and slightly dated Nokia E72 has outperformed Carl Zeiss-powered, multimedia-oriented N900, while HTC Desire Z turned out to be cheap imitation of digital camera. Picture quality offered by HTC Desire Z was acceptable in devices from 2-3 years back but definitely not in modern £400-worth upper-class devices like that.

11 comments:

  1. what camera app did you use on the n900. the orginal nokia one, or the fcam or blessn900?

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  2. As expected the N900 camera was WORSE than my N95 8GB, but way better than the HTC chinese crap.

    They just slap a 5MP camera label for the fun of it!

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  3. if you could, try default settings with a different app on n900. i like your real test method not ratios and other bs but from what i see a *Tweak* to the n900 is to alter the white balance and exposure down a litte and tada.. Carl Ziss lens is *supposed* to be really good top notch stuff but in a phone it could be a totally different matter..

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  4. My NOkia N900 has a darker images so im kinda disappointed.

    i was surprise you have a Nokia BH-503 too so I will keep mine since you're using one too

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  5. What about playing with the exposure of the N900. Usually my pics improved when I play with those settings.

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  6. I seriously don´t know what firmware-based Desire Z you used or if it was a Beta version because pics on mine don´t come out like that at all. It´s not a brilliant camera, you´re right about the noise (lucky we have a few apps like Vignette or ProZoom which improve quality) but pics I´ve taken are a lot better than the ones you took with your unit.

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  7. I took these pics with CyanogenMod 6.1.1, based on Android 2.2, however I must say that after upgrading to CM7 (Android 2.3) pictures are noticeably better (still not perfect, tough).

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  8. Maybe you should check your Monitor? Even in the pic you send here are the Desire Z Pictures better than the Nokia ones in some cases and you write they are worse...

    E.G. Pic 7. Nokia Pics have no contrast and verry bad colours - Desire is much better

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  9. Your Desire's camera is badly needing a white balance. It's in the menu.

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  10. For a fair comparison you really should have used the stock firmware for the Desire Z - for that 'as retail' comparison. Otherwise, for all I (or you, or anyone else) knows, this says nothing about the actual physical camera and htc software, and everything about the quality of unofficial firmware replacements.

    ReplyDelete