(Click for full size images)

Apple has made it clear that it isn’t going to get into the megapixel race with the likes of Nokia and Sony when it comes to the camera system used in its iPhones. The new iPhone 5s has the same 8-megapixel shooter as previous generations, but Apple is touting a brand new camera system for the device that includes a new five-element lens designed by Apple, a F2.2 aperture, a sensor with a 15 percent larger active area, auto stabilization, and bigger 1.5 micron pixels. However, the big new standout feature for the camera is a dual LED “True Tone” flash that should vastly improve shooting in poor lighting conditions. The real question is, how does Apple’s new camera system in the 5s stack up against some of the best smartphone cameras in the game: That’s the 41 megapixel PureView camera in the Nokia Lumia 1020, and the 20.7 megapixel camera with Sony Exmor RS mobile image sensor packed into the Sony Xperia Z1.

Recombu put together the comparison above which shows how the three cameras perform under the same nighttime lighting conditions for a portrait. We’ll let you decide, but, as the site points out, the iPhone 5s seems to do a much better job of producing accurate colors:

Admitedly, the dual-LEDs can’t rival the illuminating clout of the Nokia Lumia 1020’s Xenon flash, but with its combi warm and cool LEDs, the 5S clearly delivers a significantly more accurate shot – just look at the white canopies!

With the camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 one of the device’s big selling points, it’s not surprising Nokia has gone after Apple in the past with attack ads claiming the iPhone 5 takes subpar photos.

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19 Responses to “iPhone 5s camera w/ True Tone flash vs Nokia Lumia 1020 & Sony’s Xperia Z1”

  1. iPhone 5s: Natural but a bit faded
    Nokia Lumia 1020: Very detailed but quite saturated
    Sony Z1: A mix of 5s and 1020 but a bit blurry

    Personal opinion


  2. The photo from Nokia looks totally idiotic. 5s and Xperia, great photos but I kinda like the 5s photo better.


  3. I do not believe this …
    The z1 and iPhone 5s does fine, but the Lumia 1020 is set to a wrong whitebalance, and the Lumia 1020 is the only one with a manuel whitebalance setting.
    When you take a image with a camera it knows the colortone of the flash so the whitebalance will match that.

    The exif data says that Lumia 1020 was on auto whitebalance – so…


  4. The Nokia looks horrible. 5S and Experia, I like them both for different reasons. The 5S has a better skintone and the Experia does a better job in lighting out the general scene/background.


    • Lmao! The iPhone’s outdoor shot is much crisper than the Lumia’s, and the Lumia’s indoor shot with flash turned the guy’s skin red.

      Devin is a known MS slappy. His opinion is as far from gospel as one can get.


  5. RP says:

    Flash is the only winning point the 5s has against the Lumia. Lumia’s low light photos and video are light years better than the 5s in every respect. There is no comparison. Period.


  6. by the look ,5s -original colors
    Nokia-little different(gud pic)


  7. my bf is being a dumbass and saying your experiment in inconclusive because iPhone photo is smaller in size then the other two, like it makes a fucking difference. Seriously dude just shut the fuck up! He’s been an apple hater for ever yet i give him an iPhone and it’s all he plays with, but he still wants to talk shit when other people praise it. he really is fucking stupid!


  8. jlword says:

    I wholly agree that megapixels are certainly not the who story when it comes to the effectiveness of the camera. Yet regarding the Lumia 1020 and the 41 megapixel capabilities within a larger and relevant context of the entire camera system employed by Nokia/Micrsoft give it an edge over both the iphone and HTC One. Just as the iPhone the Lumia 1020 has a f/2.2 aperture. Additionally the Lumia has a six (6) element lens system in contrast to the iphones 5 element lens system, and true optical image stabilization where the 6 lens, are balanced on a tiny ball bearings and actively balanced by small motors. This is in contrast to iphones digital “optical image stabilization” which in reality is not true optical image stabilization. Where the Lumia via, balancing on ball bearings combined with stabilization via small motors keeps the lens system stable, allowing light from a very sharp image to hit the sensor evenly evenly producing a blur free image; Apples method takes a series of images, blurred and sharp whatever is captured, and compiles them together digitally to present a composite image that reflects the best of the shots. I believe Nokia’s true OIS presents and provides a truer and more accurate reflection of the memory one is attempting to capture.
    Additionally since we are speaking about camera performance, the video camera should also be considered. The slow motion ability, and the ability to take pictures while taking video, the iphone is capable of are great and worth mentioning. However without true optical image stabilization as found on Lumia devices, it is highly probable that video taken with the iphone will suffer much greater instability, poorer low light performance due to this instability and as a result of this instability poorer light capture over all during low light videoing such as during concerts since the capability of “combining multiple images” to present the ideal image is not likely replicated when using video as is done when taken a photo with the iphone’s execution of digital OIS. The Lumia device , is able to keep the lens system stable during liw light video recording, thus improving light capture. This coupled with the less frequently mentioned auidio capture improvements on a Lumia during video recording is an amazing accomplishment by Nokia and Microsoft.
    Now when considering camera capabilities, the power of control found on an actual camera is presented on the Lumia 1020 in a way NEVER implemented on a smartphone before. Though the Lumia 1020 takes great pictures using the automatic settings under varying conditions, unlike the iphone 5s, the 1020’s user interface via the default Pro Cam app, provides manual control over the FLASH, WHITE BALANCE, FOCUS, ISO, SHUTTER SPEED, and EXPOSURE VALUE.. Nokia and Microsoft has ensured that automatic settings are excellent under most conditions but having the option to improve upon an image via this Pro Cam interface, that shows in real time the affects of changes on a subject, as you adjust elements such as ISO and shutter speed, for example under low light conditions to ensure optimal light exposure are great. Having an ISO range from 100 – 4000, the ability to reduce shutter speed to provide longer light exposure is a powerful ability on a smartphone. Creative shots such as the streaking lights of passing vehicles at night can be produced by extending the shutter time for example. An effect many photographers have created with professional cameras. The ability to adjust focus for objects, provides great blurred backgrounds as well with a sharp image of the subject one has chsen to fous upon in the foreground; another great photographic goal. Nokia provides a brief interactive tutorial for the “regular Joe” to bring him up to speed on the various camera functions/settings.
    Finally National Geographics (a publication we know that holds photography in high esteem) Award Winning Photographer Steven Alverez went on a 10 day assignment armed ONLY with a Lumia 1020. His Assessment in his own words are -“I’ve used a lot of smartphones, but the Nokia Lumia 1020 is extraordinary. There’s never been anything like it. Until now, I could only get images like this using a professional DSLR camera.”
    http://www.nationalgeographic…. His images will appear in National Geographic.

    Additionally the 1/1.5″ optical format of the Lumia 1020 compared 1/3″ optical format(inversely) makes the sensor size of the Lumia much larger than the smaller size sensor of the iphone 5S. The light gathering abilities of the much larger sensor of the Lumia gives it an even greater edge. The sensors light capturing abilities come into play even before the megapixels are considered.

    The Lumia 1020 saves two images, a high resolution 34 or 38 megapixel image which, having captured so much data can be reprocessed, zoomed in “post picture taken”, to “capture” the image you want without loosing much image quality – lossless zoom.
    The other amazing thing the software does is take the raw data captured via the great optically stabilized Carl Zeiss, six (6) element lens array and the huge 41megapixel BSI sensor and over samples that data, reducing noise and compiles a five (5) megapixel image, each pixel of which contains up to seven (7) oversampled 1.1 micron megapixels. Essentially, megapixels with up to seven times the data. Thus, this oversampled five (5) megapixel image contains a great amount of detail from all of the light captured via the (6 ) element lens array, the f/2.2 aperture, the large 41 megapixel BSI sensor and the 1/1.5 optical format- the individual megapixels of the 5 megapixel image in essence are (though not a technical term) super-pixels or true ultrapixels in that they each contain, due to the over sampling, up to seven(7) times as much information as each 1.1 micron megapixel would contain alone.
    Again even though the iPhone 5s has 1.5 micron “ultra pixels” it’s 5 element lens system and smaller optical format, inherently provide less light for even those ultrapixels to work with compared to the Lumia 1020 under most conditions. This coupled with the lack of true OIS really compromises the 5S’s low light performance compared to the 1020. Only in conditions such as outside, on a bright sunny day, would sufficient light be supplied to reduce the light capturing advantages of Lumia 1020 in that the less capable low light abilities of the iphone 5S would not be an issue. Unfortunately for the ihone most pictures are not taken outside on bright sunny days.

    Also one might find interesting Nokia’s White Paper which explains it’s camera system far more articulately than I am capable of doing which shows how the 41 megapixels are optimized within the context of the entire camera system (6 element lens, OIS, BSI sensor algorithm etc.) So yes 41 megapixels mean very little if the lens, software and sensor are not optimized to work in great cohesion with such high resolutions . Fortunately Nokia and Microsoft have done far more than throw more megapixels into the megapixel race.

    Additionally the Nokia is not without its nifty camera tricks, allow 10 picture burst most, the ability to remove moving objects from an image, the ability to create motion focus, the ability to create gifs, the ability to choose best shot, great action shot and change faces.
    It is also notable that Apple, to my knowledge, did not present their camera as “the best camera on the market.” Apple is a very confident company. It knows when it has done something exceptionally well or has surpassed (or has perceived itself to have surpassed) it’s competitors in a particular area. When this is the case, they are historically vocal about it. The notable absence of them positioning the camera as the best camera on a mobile device is quite possibly a telling concession to the likes of Nokia/Microsoft in that area in regard to the Lumia line, particularly the 1020.

    These links may prove interesting:
    Nokia Lumia 1020 White Paper

    Want absolute purity? Think about NOT reframing that Lumia 1020 photo!


    Smartphone camera sensor sizes visualised, light gathering ability calculated


    • jlword says:

      Video Comparisons Between Iphone 5s and Lumia 1020

      It must be remembered that Nokia has been a leader in mobile phone camera technology for years.
      With their PureView technology that has been part of their popular Lumia line they have differentiated themselves from the competition. Devices such as the Lumia 900, 925, 928 have popularized their camera phone achievements. These and other devices in their Lumia line include incredible technological advancements in real Optical Image Stabilization(5 to 6 lens array balanced on tiny springs), great low light performance and sharp defined images.
      The internet is littered with comparisons between the photo taking and video recording abilities of these devices and the competition. These comparisons showed in the vast majority cases Nokia PureView technology implementation in the Lumia line of Windows Phones as superior to the camera technology of the competition.
      Last year Nokia ADDED, with the Symbian 808 device, the vast 41 megapixel capabilities to its already established and proven superior Pureview technology repertoire.
      They then took that 41megapixel camera and ADDED it to the advancements pioneered on their Lumia devices via the Lumia 1020.
      Many articles that present comparisons between the 1020 and the competition lead with statements such as “instead throwing more megapixels…” or “megapixel battle…” in an apparent criticism of Nokias approach of developing a 41 megapixel camera.
      However, such an approach is either an honest ignorance of Nokia’s leading position in cameraphone technology and how the addition of a 41 megapixel sensor is an addition to an already superior implementation of such technology via Pureview, or it is a deliberate omission to focus on the fact megapixels alone are not the whole story, and then focus on the approaches of the competition while ignoring the foundation technology the 41 megapixel is based upon. It must be acknowledged that 41negapixel camera was ADDED to technology that had ALREADY advanced beyond the competition.

      Again the 6 element lens system physically balanced via OIS on tiny ball bearings and kept stable via tiny motors helps to produce very images by collection a lot of light and keeping the light focused and stable as it directs it to the sensor. A sensor which is much larger than the competition at 1/1.5″ compared to the iPhone at 1/3. This alone allows for more light and sharper images EVEN BEFORE the 41 megapixels come into play. The Lumia’s physical design with is simply more capable of collecting light. Couple that with a xenon flash, when needed, and the Lumia technological advancements remain on top even BEFORE the 41 megapixel come into play.

      Look at the difference in the video performance as evidence of a the Lumia 1020’s better lens system and OIS for collecting more light and producing shaper images. The Lumias 41megapixels allow for awesome zoom, and high red images. But the story runs much deeper into dome groundbreaking industry leading technology.


      Also note, utilizing the stock Windows Phone camera app takes advantage of the f2.2 aperture, large BSI sensor, 6 element OIS stabilzed lens system and produces amazining photos without the ability to manipulate a high red 41 megapixel image. Just a testament of the camera advancements that Nokia has achieved beyond the 41 megapixel sensor.


  9. techblogseo3 says:

    Hi am Brosnan, its really great comparison.Now a days mobile market every phone having different features.customers are not able to decide which is good to buy.That’s major important to get good one in all is little different to choose.thanks for your content…
    Some of like this news in my website too:http://techtechiegadgets.wordpress.com/


  10. Hary Pati says:

    So, looks like based on 1 picture comparison, everyone is jumping out of joy. I love iphone, but credit should be given where it’s due. It’s a known fact that Lumia 1020 is better than any phone camera as of now, including iphones.
    Below is a good review of Lumia’s camera. I believe, it will get even more better with future SW updates.