Wouldn't have thought this: Samsung S4 Zoom beating even the Lumia 1020 in daylight?

Started Sep 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Menneisyys Senior Member • Posts: 1,458
Wouldn't have thought this: Samsung S4 Zoom beating even the Lumia 1020 in daylight?

In the comments section of “Shootout: Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nokia Lumia 1020 vs LG G2 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom”, I've, after having elaborated on the nighttime shots of the above-listed cameras, started to scrutinize their daylight performance.

I was shocked to see the lowly Samsung S4 Zoom beating even the Lumia 1020 in daylight. I, frankly, wouldn't have thought this – after all, the phone side of the S4 Zoom is a truly dumbed-down version of GS4. Actually, as it represents two-years-old technology with its low-res screen and old CPU (making it an absolutely no-no for my purposes, who do want the latest and greatest), I wouldn't have thought the camera is paid significantly more attention to by Samsung.

Let's take a closer look. For an even field of play, as with in my previous article comparing the image quality of the GS4, the iPhone 5, 5s and the Nokia 1020 where I used 8 Mpixel target images as a lowest common denominator, I've downsampled the image to a common size (here, to 12 Mpixel lower than the native resolution of all the tested cameras) so that noise, noise reduction and detail level comparisons can be meaningfully made. For downsampling, I used Preview in OS X 10.8 with extremely good export quality. For further cropping (see later), I used lossless PNG as the output format.

The downsampled 12 Mpixel images are as follows (no inline images as it's the 1:1 pixel crops that will be of particular interest, not these):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9979478423/ (Nokia 1020)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9979479143/ (Sony Z1)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9981144676/ (LG G2)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33448355@N07/9981101024/ (Samsung S4 Zoom)

And the respective crops of the center (so that corner lens softness – which does plague the 1020 – doesn't result in unreliable results) of the screen with sign texts, foliage and, more importantly, shadows so that we can also scrutinize shadow performance under good light:

(Nokia 1020)

(Sony Z1)

(LG G2)

(Samsung S4 Zoom)

As you can see,

- while it has double the base ISO than the Sony Z1, the Lumia 1020 still delivers higher per-pixel sharpness and much better foliage than the Z1: the Nokia delivers better image quality after downsampling, despite it shooting at ISO100, while the Sony shot at ISO 50. Actually, the Sony is by far the worst of the bunch: absolutely awful foliage and it's by far the most marred by noise reduction.

- when downsampled, the Samsung S4 Zoom has the best pixel-level IQ of all the four – even if you take into account that it has the widest FoV (in 4:3) – even slightly wider than that of the 1020, let alone the somewhat narrower Z1 and the significantly narrower G2; that is, it had the biggest handicap in the contest (the wider the FoV, the less pixels the camera has to render a certain area), while the G2 had the biggest advantage. It also has the best foliage rendition. The 1020, interestingly, is definitely worse than the Samsung S4 Zoom – and it has a little bit narrower FoV than the Samsung S4 Zoom, making the results of the latter even better.

- while the G2 is much better than the Z1 on the pixel level, you also need to take into account that it has a narrower FoV, giving it a sizable advantage.

Conclusion

All in all, the order of IQ based on these shots, from best to worst:

Samsung S4 Zoom
Lumia 1020
LG G2
Sony Z1

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