Saturday, August 15, 2015

High end smartphone cameras are approaching the quality of compact cameras

Just came across this article comparing the Galaxy S6 camera to the Sony RX100, a €350 compact. It's not quite there yet, especially when you zoom to 100%, but I'm very impressed with how close the results are. It's amazing how quickly these things have improved, though maybe not so surprising considering it is one of the prime features of smartphones being carried around by nearly two billion people.

With so much funding behind it engineers have managed to make all kinds of innovations tackling some of the seemingly impossible obstacles inherent in having a smaller camera. I'm convinced they will keep doing so and the gap will be negligible in a few years.

Even at this point I don't think I will be buying a compact camera again but will go for a high end smartphone instead. Besides the much better form factor a smartphone can also do things like GPS tagging, timelapses, 4K video, slow motion video, HDR burst. And there is a large choice of apps allowing you to get your favorite interface and features.

A top of the line expensive smartphone now also looks like a much better deal to me as it saves me from buying a compact.


annom said...

Impressive how phone cameras have evolved and the pictures they make with such small lenses and sensor!

Still a difference, but very close. I need to zoom to find differences. The S6 images look a bit less natural, more auto-post-processed or 'enhanced', which probably is true.

I believe there still is a big advantage in usability, control, and general user experience of a camera designed as camera. It is more fun to use a dedicated camera. Although I haven't tried the S6.

Also, I prefer to choose a camera and lens. Also prefer to choose a phone for its features. It's more difficult to find everything you want in a single device.

For me, there are still too many trade-offs when combining a phone, camera and laptop into a single device (smartphone, phablet or tablet).
I like to have a powerful portable laptop, a small phone, and a dedicated camera. Will probably buy the Sony Xperia Z4 Compact as phone. The S6 is simply too big.

cybrbeast said...

It's a shame that post-processing is baked into the S6 and not freely adjustable as far as I know. But now we are also getting phones like the LG G4 which can shoot RAW photo's allowing you or an app to do all the post processing.

Whether a dedicated cam or a phone has better usability depends on the camera interface vs the camera app on the phone. The phone allows you to choose your own camera app. The dedicated camera does have the advantage of having buttons for a lot of actions.

I agree that you'd rather not want to have to make a tradeoff between the camera you want and the other phone hardware. Project Ara could provide the perfect solution for this problem. You could just plug in your favorite camera module, and also upgrade it without upgrading the rest of the phone. You could even have changeable lenses with such a system.