Samsung Galaxy S camera shootout

November 15, 2010

4 carriers, 4 phones, 4 variations, 4 cameras!

Samsung’s Galaxy S for the US market – the Vibrant (T-Mobile), Captivate (AT&T), Epic 4G (Sprint), and Fascinate (Verizon) – share the same core specs, but diverge in appearance and implementation.

How do these similarities and differences affect camera performance and user experience? Find out after the break…

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About the Nokia N8

April 28, 2010

Nokia N8

Congratulations, Nokia. The brouhaha surrounding the Nokia N8 is almost as epic as the recent kerfuffle about the iPhone HD (my nomenclature). Fantastic PR Job!

What do you mean that “leak” was not intentional? Oh well, any advertising is good advertising…

So, about the N8. Color me cautiously thrilled. The short of it is that the hardware is spot on (finally), but the verdict is still out on the software (predictably). Or maybe I’m just a sucker for a nice cameraphone :)

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Nokia N86 8MP camera

February 17, 2010

There are two ways to look at the Nokia N86 8MP:

1) It’s Nokia’s flagship non-touch media-centric smartphone, the successor to the mighty Nokia N95/N95-3/N95-4, and a proper substitute for the disappointing Nokia N85.

2) It’s Nokia’s flagship cameraphone, the rightful successor to the awesome Nokia N82, now packing an 8 megapixel sensor and a wide angle, variable aperture Carl Zeiss lens.

Maybe it’s a little bit of both?

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Pictures taken with the Nokia N900

November 5, 2009

The Nokia N900 camera is really quite good. In fact, even with pre-release firmware, it walks all over the competition!

It’s no surprise. The N900 comes from a long lineage of great 5 megapixel phones from Nokia, such as the N95 and the N82. It features Carl Zeiss optics (with auto-focus and macro), a dual LED flash, and a sliding lens cover – as such, it’s virtually identical to the N97 camera…

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Samsung T929 (Memoir) camera

July 20, 2009

It’s been almost 6 months since I picked up the Samsung T929 (Memoir), the first subsidized 8 megapixel cameraphone in the US, and I’m overdue for a review :)

Over the years, I have tested a plethora of 5 megapixel devices – the i-mobile 902, the Nokia N95/N95-3/N95-4, the Sony Ericsson K850i, the Nokia N82, the Motorola ZN5 (ZINE), the Nokia N96, the Nokia N85, the Nokia N79, and more recently the Nokia N97

There are now several 8 megapixel cameraphones available from Samsung (Pixon, Memoir, INNOV8, Omnia HD), LG (Renoir, Viewty Smart), Sony Ericsson (C905, W995), and Nokia (N86 8MP) – not to mention upcoming 12 megapixel units.

I’m getting a Nokia N86 8MP review unit soon, but so far I’ve only played with the Samsung i8510 (INNOV8), the Samsung i8910 (Omnia HD), and of course the Memoir.

For over 4 months I used it as my primary imaging device, and 1000+ pictures later, I have to say that the Memoir features the best camera I have ever enjoyed on any phone – and by a wide margin!

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Noise – a case study

March 8, 2009

Other pictures taken with the Samsung T929 (Memoir) are available on my Flickr account.

So I decided to do a little experiment: take 3 pictures with 3 devices (one each) at night in the same location around the same time! The goal? Evaluate how megapixels affect low-light performance.

The megapixel myth tells us that more megapixels is not necessarily better. It generally means smaller pixels, which means more heat, which results in more noise, which impacts low-light performance…

Of course there are many variables here: differences in optics, sensor type/size, image-processing/noise-reduction software, and more. Because this is meant to be a real-life test with real-life devices, I can’t control these variables – I can only pick suitable devices.

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Pictures taken with the Nokia N85

March 7, 2009

In 3 months of ownership, I snapped nearly 1000 pictures with my Nokia N85, US version, including some truly great ones! That covers most of the pictures taken during my holiday road trip to New Orleans.

Right about now, you probably expect me to write a glowing review of the N85 camera, but I can’t – it’s pretty nice, but it’s not good enough.

Despite almost identical specs, it falls short of the cream of the 5 megapixel crop: the Nokia N82, the Nokia N95, the Motorola ZN5, the Sony Ericsson K850i, and the i-mobile 902

The culprit? Noise, noise, and more noise – just like its sibling the Nokia N79, the Nokia N96, and the 3 megapixel 5800/E71/E66. Do you see a trend here?

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Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

February 17, 2009

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic may just be the most significant device to come from Espoo since the N95

The N82 and E71 were both worthy devices, and the N97 will surely be significant, but the 5800 marks the start of a new era for Symbian: touch.

It’s also packed with the kind of features usually associated with Nseries phones: 3.2 megapixel Zeiss camera (with auto-focus, macro and dual LED flash), 3G, WiFi, a micro-SDHC slot, and GPS. Most importantly, It’s affordable, and it’s here today!

I’ve been using the Euro/Asian model (UMTS/HSDPA at 2100 MHz) for a couple months now (thanks to Molly at Nokia Blogger Relations) – the US model (UMTS/HSDPA 1900/850 MHz) will be available soon.

So what makes the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic so special?

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Nokia N96 camera

January 24, 2009

The Nokia N96 camera has a lot to live up to. It follows in the footsteps of Nokia’s amazing N95 and fantastic N82 cameras and it bears the expectations of excellence bestowed upon a flagship device!

It has the same impressive features as its predecessors: 5 megapixel sensor, Carl Zeiss lens, auto-focus with macro and VGA video recording. It also incorporates a dual LED flash, which improves upon the N95′s single LED flash, but falls short of the N82′s xenon flash. Like some versions of the N95, the N96 is missing a lens cover.

Overall, the N96 camera takes very nice pictures, but it’s not good enough for a flagship phone. Noise is a problem – perhaps Nokia is using a smaller sensor to make the phone thinner, or perhaps the firmware is lacking, but low-light performance is noticeably worse than the N95 and the N82

Colors and exposure appear well balanced in most cases, but bright spots (like neon) tend to be smeared in low light. The shutter button on the N96 is almost flush with the body, making it more difficult to use.

Ultimately, I can’t recommend the N96 camera when other devices like the N95 8 GB perform better and offer almost the same features at a lower cost – but that’s just my $0.02 :)


Podcast: Talking with Matt #4

January 11, 2009

Here’s my latest audio podcast (37 min) with Matthew Bennett, recorded outside Farley’s! It’s also available as a video podcast on his blog

In this edition, we discussed (amongst other things) the worsening low-light performance of Nokia’s latest crop of devices (N96/N85/N79/5800/E71), vs. Nokia’s former devices (N82/N95) and vs. other camera phones, from the spectacular i-mobile 902 to the pedestrian T-Mobile G1.

Other topics include the impressive Palm Pre, and how Nokia should bite the bullet and support Android on the N97 (in addition to Symbian), or just eat the zombie’s brains buy Palm and support WebOS on the N97 :)

Click here to subscribe to this podcast.


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