Smartphone cameras are a funny thing. While we keep seeing an improvement in the megapixel count, we’re not necessarily seeing an actual improvement in the quality of photos. Often times things are blurry, out of focus and, especially in low light, just don’t look that great. Part of the problem here is the sensor size used in many devices, as they just don’t get enough light to make a picture look good. Part of the problem is the lack of any kind of optical image stabilization which attempts to use gyros and other sensors to mitigate the natural shaking of the human hand when trying to take a still photo. While megapixel count isn’t everything as HTC has shown us with the One series, it does a lot for making prints of the photos you’ve taken and moving those memories onto something other than just social media sites. Today we’re going to look at some shots taken with the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3, HTC One M8 and of course the iPhone 5s for good measure. While we normally don’t do Apple news here at Android Headlines, there’s no doubting the quality of Apple’s cameras, as they are often used as a benchmark when talking about smartphone photos in general. The setup here is inside an LG building and the photos were taken with each phone on auto mode, no HDR or any other sort of enhancements, so what you see is what you get. This is likely more representative of normal shooting conditions with most people, and should help many in their smartphone purchasing decisions over the next few months when considering the camera.
On the left we have the full scene, and on the right we have 400 x 400 pixel 100% crops of the photos from each device. These crops were taken from a random place in each photo and help represent the full quality of the photo in general. The first shot is an overall shot of the elements on the table, zooming into the croton and the watermelon shows just how good the optical image stabilization on the LG G3 really is. While the sensor itself is the same size as the 13MP on the Note 3, the image is considerably sharper, and the example is even more extreme when taking the Galaxy S5’s 16MP photo into account. HTC’s One M8 holds up incredibly well and again proves that resolution isn’t everything, rather taking in more light really does help your photo even when you don’t have OIS. The iPhone 5s looks excellent overall, but falls slightly short of the G3 on resolution alone.
Scene 2 brings the shot a little closer in and drastically reduces available light, meaning that most of these phones are going to have a difficult time both auto focusing on the right subject and grabbing enough light to take a stable image. Once again HTC’s One M8 proves that light is king in shots, while the G3 shows just how much both laser auto focus and OIS+ make up for sheer pixel size. The G3 is not only more in focus than all the other devices, it’s also sharper and higher resolution overall.
This time another macro shot of something with finer detail. Corn silks are notoriously small and annoying, and these are the perfect types of things to test a camera’s macro abilities on. Once again the Galaxy S5 is the worst of the bunch, with the Note 3 coming only slightly ahead, followed by the iPhone 5s, HTC One and ultimately the LG G3 murdering the other ones. OIS+ shows us once again that camera shake is the biggest problem with smartphone photos after light, and while the HTC One is a little overexposed it’s every bit as sharp as the G3 because of the pixel size on the sensor. Even so the sheer resolution of the G3’s photo coupled with the sharpness gives it the clear advantage.
Scene 4 takes a great look at a shot with so-so lighting overall, but strong backlighting on the subject. At this point it’s pretty obvious that OIS+ does an incredible job of getting you the right shot at the right time, and the laser auto focos on the G3 is tops for focusing on the right subject right away. As it stands the G3 is the only phone that picked up the top right edge peeling off of the G3 logo on the wall clearly, while you can only sort of make it out on the iPhone 5s and Note 3. The Galaxy S5 is once again the worst of the bunch, with blurry imagery all around.
The last scene is pretty much awash for all the phones. This is a better lit scene with lots of light pouring in from the extremely large office building window to fill the sensor of the phone. As a result, image processing tends to take the cake here, and you really have to nitpick to find a bad photo here. The HTC One M8 loses this one just out of sheer resolution, and there’s really no clear winner. Overall the G3 looks like the new camera to beat, and LG’s new Optical Image Stabilization Plus is the new technology to watch out for.