Though cameras are one of the key features of smartphones, there aren’t many handsets with an advanced camera lens or/and software. Moreover, good smartphones often suffer from bad camera apps, and this is a problem for many manufacturers. Even top phone makers have not yet found a good solution to this issue, because besides a powerful camera lens, there are a myriad of features defining the smartphones’ cameras. And it refers not only to hardware and software, but also to pricing, promotional campaigns and so on. Take, for example, the Nokia 808 PureView with contract – it can’t be affordable for everyone. So this niche is still infantile but once manufacturers start paying more attention to it, the pricing policies will be regulated as well.
photo by phonetechno.blogspot.com
To find out which smartphone is packed with the best camera we’ve conducted a research, the results of which can be found below.
The fifth position: LG Optimus 3D MAX
Launched just recently this handset is the follow-up to the first 3D capturing and viewing smartphone in the world. All in all, when the Korean company released the original Optimus 3D, the phone made a huge stir around it. The net was even filled with talks claiming LG designed a revolutionary handset. But after a few weeks of usage people realized it’s not so appealing as it seemed at first sight. There is no great difference between the two handsets, the Optimus 3D MAX and Optimus 3D, but the former is better armed. So we decided to bring THIS cameraphone to the ring.
The LG Optimus 3D MAX is packed with two 5MP modules. The lack of one of them will make it impossible to take 3D pictures or videos. The UI is not changed too much, and this is the case, when software yields the hardware. The LG Optimus 3D MAX clearly depicts the current state of this market, because either software makers fail or the hardware makers. The Optimus 3D MAX camera app includes only the usual scene modes and color effects. One important thing to note is the ability to switch between 3D/2D shooting while filming.
The photos taken with this phone come with gloomy colors and narrow dynamic range, though honestly, we mustn’t wait for much from a 5MP camera lens. As to 3D photos, there is a slider to adjust the 3D depth before you start shooting.
Video recording in 2D mode can be performed at 1080p with 30fps, but in low light conditions the footage becomes quite noisy. The next disappointing feature is the maximum resolution of 3D shooting, which is limited to 3MP, meaning the 5MP camera can be wholly used only while taking 2D shots. Therefore, 3D videos should be taken at a low level, 720p. All videos are saved in MP4 format, but if the 2D mode’s bitrate is almost 17Mbps, the 3D’s bitrate is 12Mbps.
However, it’s one of the first smartphones offering glass-off 3D content, and we welcome LG’s decision to create such a smartphone.
LG Optimus 3D MAX sample photos
LG Optimus 3D MAX sample videos
The fourth position: HTC Evo 3D
The HTC Evo 3D is the first 3D viewing and shooting smartphone in its kind launched in the US.
To take 3D videos and pictures the company located two 5MP camera lenses with dual-LED flash on the back of the phone. The interface is standard, though the manufacturer added several effects and tweaks. 2D shooting takes only 3 seconds, afterward users can save it and jump to another shooting. But if you want to take 3D snaps it will take 6 seconds.
Though the phone sports dual-LED flash, it is not able to take best-quality pictures in low-light conditions. On the other hand, the Evo 3D is perfect for macro photos.
Like the previous phone, this one too can record 3D videos at 720p only, though they come only with 29fps.
On the whole, the HTC Evo 3D is very similar to the LG Optimus 3D MAX, but the Taiwanese company owns the best UI among Android devices, that’s why 3D shooting with this handset is way more comfortable.
HTC Evo 3D Sample Photos
HTC Evo 3D Sample Videos
The third position: Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S
Like the original Xperia Arc the photo taking functionality of the phone is one of the selling points of the Arc S. It comes with an 8.1MP Exmor R camera sensor to create bright and vivid images. The only problem while shooting is that in some places the brightness is a bit much because the sensor seems to exaggerate colors a little. The strongest part of this camera is its software. There are a myriad of options you can choose from, for example, the 8MP camera can be used only when shooting at 4:3 aspect ratio, whereas capturing images at 16:9 format will drop the camera to 6MP. Choosing Normal as a capturing mode, users will be able to choose any from the eight scenes. However, the camera app is very fast when using. The company has made an interesting change — instead of viewing the usual image preview, user’s five recent shots will be shown.
However, this handset comes third in our top five due to the camera. I mean the Exmor R sensor is back-illuminated like the one found on the iPhone 4/4S. It combines an innovative arrangement of the photo diodes to take photos at the fine pixel structure. But not everything is perfect in it, as its 1/3.2″ size is too far from the 1/1.83” of the Nokia N8.
There is no Xenon flash, but when taking night shots especially in Night Scene mode you will get a perfect video. Anyway, the standard videos are shot at 720p with 30fps, though we’d like to see sharper videos. There are six focusing modes, three metering modes, and four white balance setup options. Scene modes give an ability to capture any kind of photo, but all these features have been seen on the Arc.
The newest additions to the Xperia Arc S are Sweep Panorama and “3D” Sweep Panorama pictures. Choosing the direction in which the phone will be going – left, right, up or down, and slowly rotating it 180 degrees the panoramic picture will be taken. Though this handset doesn’t sport two cameras, the 3D Sweep Panorama mode makes it possible to take three-dimensional snaps for 3D HDTV viewing. This is the most welcomed feature of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, which brought the phone to the third position of our top five.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Sample Photos
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Sample Video
The second position: Nokia N8
The Nokia N8 is the most popular cameraphone in the world despite its running Symbian^3 OS. It was the first smartphone to sport 12MP camera with autofocus and Carl Zeiss optics (28mm f2.8). This camera is too quick at activating, firing and processing. While many people will think the speed this phone shoots at can affect the image quality, the truth is everything in this 12MP camera lens works perfectly. Below is the full list of the Nokia N8 camera features provided by PhoneArena:
- Scene modes (auto, user defined, close-up, portrait, landscape, sport, night and night-portrait).
- Self timer (off, 2 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds).
- Color tone (normal, vivid, black and white, sepia).
- White balance (auto, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent).
- Exposure (-2 to +2 in increments of 0.5).
- ISO (low, medium, high).
- Adjustable contrast.
- Sharpness (hard, normal, soft).
Besides macro, indoor and noise handled shoots, users are pleased with the photo editing option of the N8. They are: rotate, re-size, crop, add clipart, distort, draw upon, speech bubble, frame, red-eye correction, stamp, color effects, tuning and animate.
As to video recording, the Nokia N8 takes only HD videos at 24fps. There are also video editing, clip trimming, text adding, photo interspersing options. After all these actions you can stream the video and photo content to the HDTV for larger viewing.
Nokia N8 Sample Photos
Nokia N8 Sample Video
The first position: Nokia 808 PureView
Finally, we reached the best cameraphone, which is yet not released. Nokia has been working on this technology for five years. As a result, those who considered themselves mobile photographers can soon get their hands on a mid-range smartphone that boasts of a 41MP camera. The sensor of the phone offers:
- Carl Zeiss optics of focal length: 8.02mm.
- 35mm equivalent focal length: 26mm, 16:9 | 28mm, 4:3.
- F-number: f/2.4.
- Focus range: 15cm – Infinity (throughout the zoom range).
- Construction: 5 elements, 1 group. Lens surfaces are aspherical:
- One high-index, low-dispersion glass mold lens.
- Mechanical shutter with neutral density filter.
- Optical format: 1/1.2”.
- Total number of pixels: 7728 x 5368.
- Pixel Size: 1.4 microns.
But as NokiaPhones.net notes, the main advantage of this technology is not hidden only in the sensor. The PureView technology’s innovation is called oversampling, which allows users to take photos at smaller sizes while keeping the image quality, lossless zoom and excellent low light performance at the highest level. This is very important for smartphones, because usually their storages are limited to 16 or 32GB. So to keep some free space in memory card, Nokia decided to create a new technology that will reduce the image size but take high quality pictures.
Seems the Nokia 808 PureView is the only smartphone that combines the best hardware with a corresponding software, that’s why it is on the first position of our top five.
Nokia 808 PureView Sample Photos
Nokia 808 PureView Sample Video