Friday 2 June 2017

Which Smartphone Has the Best Camera?

Smartphone Camera
Nowadays, smartphone cameras are remarkably good and it’s really difficult to take a bad photograph with a hi-end smartphone. Therefore, over the years, there have been major developments in this area as manufacturers look for more ideas to gain profits.

Over the past five years, more dual lens cameras have appeared which have an extra wide angle or have telephoto features. Some manufacturers have improvised on the front-facing camera concept, targeted at the large group of people who take selfies. In addition, some phones are made water-proof, for example the Apple iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7.

A few manufacturers have made an addition of 4K video facilities. Many provide HDR for high quality dynamic range images and some use the method of “stacking” like, for example, Google Pixel, where it captures a small sequence and merges the results into one image.

Like the LG G6, some smartphones have dual lenses and sensors and the results are combined. Therefore, a smartphone camera that may be the best for one user, may not be ideal for another. One will have to pick a smartphone on the basis of their requirement, i.e. what they want to shoot and accordingly make a choice that suits their needs.

A low-end or mid-range smartphone does not offer many special features and the quality in general will be mediocre. However, there are a considerable amount of low end smartphones that take impeccably good pictures in sufficient lighting conditions. Grainy pictures tend to be an outcome when the lighting is low causing image noise.

Image in Contrast with Reality

The primary technical dissimilarity between smartphone cameras and standalone digital cameras is that smartphones have tiny lenses and sensors. The smartphone’s result should be worse that the digital camera’s but it is not so. They produce top-quality results by utilising their processors that are powerful and graphics engines that are built-in, to develop the image data and make up for their technical restrictions.

Sometimes, smartphone images look unusual because they are over-saturated and over-sharpened. However, there are very few people who are satisfied with the actuality of the final image and rather prefer something that looks good by enhancing it.

In the process, the final image tends to seem a bit exaggerated. This also means there are some criteria to be kept in mind while choosing a smartphone camera. You may find a resemblance sometimes as different smartphones from the same manufacturer often use the same sensors and software for processing.

Possibility of Various Options

Smartphone photography saw a boost in progress with the launch of Nokia 808 PureView smartphone in 2012. Its 38-megapixel sensor captured a high resolution image and changed the whole idea of how excellent a smartphone camera could be. This model and its other variants, like the Lumia 1020, are still running in the competition with other smartphones though newer models have surpassed them. Today’s smartphone cameras provide a resolution of 4032 X 3024 pixels because of their f/1.8 lenses and 12MP 1/3in sensors.

Apple’s iPhone 7 has the same specification. Google Pixel may be providing the best smartphone camera with a somewhat bigger 12.3MP 1/2.3in sensor and an f/2.0 lens. A smaller number indicates a better smartphone camera. A 1/2.5in sensor is bigger and less noisy as compared to a 1/3in sensor while an f/1.7 lens is faster and gathers more light when compared to an f/2 lens. In terms of megapixels, the more the number the better outcome. A minimum of 10MP should be good unless large prints need to be taken.

The Verge has out together an informative group review of four of the primary options namely Apple’s iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, Google Pixel and LG’s G6. Also, iPhone 7 Plus and the just launched HTC U11 can be considered in the same league as the ones mentioned above.

A cheaper option would be the OnePlus 3T that has a 16MP 1/2.8in sensor and an f/2.0 lens. According to DP review, it is not the best option when it comes to class but still the performance can be considered fairly good and an even better one could be OnePlus 5. Budget-wise, Lenovo’s £159 Moto G5 is the best which has a 13MP 1/2.5in sensor and an f/2.0 lens.

There is also £249 G5 Plus with a 12MP camera with a faster f/1.7 lens. Both these smartphones offer auto HDR and have two modes namely professional mode, which gives manual control to the user and beautification mode.

DxO Marks

Someone who follows smartphone cameras will come across DxO Marks. DxO Labs provide a small camera and many other photo-enhancement programs such as DxOOpticsPro. Still, cameras and lenses have been tested by this program for years and the DxO Mark Mobile rating system was announced in the year 2012. It’s a testing system that analyses the smartphone camera’s performance and gives it a rating.

Accordingly, smartphones are allotted a score and a list with the top smartphones are available to help users in making their choice. The top 20 to 25 are the ones that are generally better than the rest. The reviews by DxO labs are usefully in selecting a smartphone. The Moto Z Force Droid and the Moto G Plus have been given a rating of 87 and 84 respectively. The iPhone 6 Plus (82), Huawei P9 (80), Google Nexus 6 (78) and the Lumia 1020 (74) have all been rated by this program too.

Camera as The First Priority

Some companies have given more importance to the camera instead of the phone. However, it is advisable to go for a cheap, compact camera for just the photographical aspect. Not only are there a wider range of options to choose from, the camera is more easy to handle also, which includes quicker zooming, framing and shooting.

There are some good compact cameras available, one of which is the Sony RX100V which is a little expensive but is tiny and compact with a one-inch sensor. Other options include numerous Canon PowerShots, from model G3 X to G9 X, the Lumix DMC-LX10 and also the one by DxO. Its relatively easier to carry a compact camera that fits in the pocket of your jeans rather than carting along a Nikon D90 along with a few additional lenses.

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