The best in smartphone photography 2013
2 Our favorite camera smartphones of 2013
With the number of smartphones that were launched in 2013 and the camera modules getting better with each new device generation picking our favorites is not an easy task, but we'll try anyway. Please note that our picks are not necessarily based on the scores in our reviews but also on more subjective factors. Essentially, these are the mobile devices we most enjoyed taking pictures with in 2013, for the reasons we explain below. In no particular order:
Nokia Lumia 1020
If your number one priority on a mobile device is image quality there is no way you should pass up the Nokia Lumia 1020. With its large 1/1.5-inch sensor, innovative digital zoom and Xenon flash it takes better pictures than any other current phone in the market by nearly every metric. We also liked the well-designed camera app with its full manual control and two-way physical shutter button.
In combination with the optional camera grip the Lumia 1020 provides as much "real camera feel" as you could possibly want and a firmware update has just added RAW capability too. It should make the Lumia even more attractive to enthusiast users.
Of course nothing comes for free in life and you have to pay for the Nokia's large image files and great detail with a generally slightly sluggish performance and slower shot-to-shot and start-up times than most of the competition. Whether you find this negligible or nauseating depends on your personal style of photography.
Availability of apps for both imaging and general use is another point to consider. The 1020’s Windows Phone OS is slick and snappy, but its app support, especially in the imaging area, is not quite on the same level as Android and iOS yet.
Sony Xperia Z1
Compared to other ecosystems the Android world arguably offers the largest choice of devices which makes picking a favorite even harder. That said, after some contemplation we settled on the Sony Xperia Z1 as our favorite Android smartphone camera of the year for a number of reasons. Image quality is not necessarily the most important one though.
Despite its larger than usual 1/2.3-inch sensor the Z1 does not produce better pixel-level image quality than some of the competition with smaller sensors but exposure, contrast and color are usually excellent and the Sony was arguably one of the smartphones we most enjoyed shooting with over the course of the year.
This has got a lot to do with Z1's very angular shapes which, in combination with the excellent two-way shutter button, giving it more of a camera-like feel when shooting pictures or video than other devices. The shutter button also provides very quick access to the camera app which means you're more likely to capture that decisive moment.
Add the superb build quality with glass front and back, the very good battery life and snappy performance to the mix and you've got yourself a device that is an excellent companion in any situation, not just for taking pictures. The Z1's water- and dustproof seals mean you can keep snapping, even when hanging out on the beach or snorkeling (though Sony only recommends fresh water use).
Apple iPhone 5s
The original iPhone was the device that put mobile photography on the map and although the competition is putting Apple under pressure in many ways, the latest generation iPhone is still an excellent choice for smartphone photographers, especially if you're already invested in the iOS ecosystem.
With its new iOS 7 operating system the iPhone 5s is an excellent phone with a very good camera. Image quality under most conditions is among the top of the class of “conventional” smartphone camera units: you have to look to the Nokia Lumia 1020 to find something that’s hands-down better across the board. In addition, the 5s offers a very good flash that, thanks to its innovative two-LED technology, produces notably accurate color, and the phone also offers an excellent panorama mode.
The 5s’ powerful processing makes for class-leading burst speed and excellent responsiveness. The camera app is very easy to use, for some photographers maybe even too easy as there is very little potential for manual interference. If this works for you will very much depend on your shooting style and personal preference.
Looking forward to 2014
Two or three years ago, when I spotted a photo opportunity and did not carry a camera, I would not even bother to get my phone out of the pocket, simply because I preferred no photo at all over one with the image quality my phone could provide.
Looking at the devices we've had the chance to use this year it's obvious that the industry has come a long way. The 2013 class of top-end smartphones might not replace your DSLR or enthusiast compact, but the latest models have already forced the consumer compact camera market on its knees and are a more than viable solution for those days when you've left your camera at home. To many users image quality is not even necessarily the number one priority. They are more than happy to compromise a little for the ability to edit and share images on the go.
But there's no doubt the 2014 smartphone generation will offer something for everyone. Pixel-peepers and image quality perfectionists should be looking forward to larger sensors and the ability to record and edit RAW files. Gadget enthusiasts will be able to enjoy new features and apps that we can't even imagine right now, curved screens, more processing power and better battery life among other innovations.
For now we can only speculate what 2014 will offer to smartphone photographers but we can't wait to get our hands on the first new devices at the CES and MWC trade shows and test them thoroughly, as always with photographers in mind. Let us know in the comments what features you would like to see on your next smartphone.
Sony has added a 12-24mm F2.8 to its top-shelf 'G Master' series of lenses. It's the widest constant F2.8 zoom currently offered for full-frame, with a hefty price tag to match: it will sell for $3000 when it ships in mid-August.
Take a look at the view from Sony's new ultra-wide F2.8 zoom – we paired it with the a7R IV for some initial shooting.
Canon's EOS-1D X Mark III is one of the best DSLRs ever made. With fast burst speeds, great video quality and impressive autofocus, the 1D X III is equal parts cinema rig and sports shooter. Find out how it fares against steep competition in our full review.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that Nikon will announce successors to its Z6 and Z7 camera systems by the end of the calendar year.
Canon says the event, set to take place at 14:00 CEST in two days on July 9, will be its 'biggest product launch yet.'
The Verge Video Director, Becca Farsace, shows how she built a custom Raspberry Pi camera with effectively zero coding knowledge over the course of just three days.
The EOS R5 has been in the works for some time, and Canon has published a handful of specifications, but there's still plenty we don't know. What are you hoping to see from Canon's forthcoming flagship camera?
Canon's CE-SAT-IB satellite camera was destroyed alongside six other satellites during Rocket Lab's ironically-named 'Pics or It Didn't Happen Mission.'
This sample gallery includes images from our recent review of the Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD zoom lens. Check out these photos to see how it performs, from wide-angle to telephoto and everything in between.
The Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD provides a wide zoom range in compact, weather-sealed design. Find out why it's Chris and Jordan's new favorite travel lens.
Kodak Portra 800 is a wonderful and versatile color film. And any rumors of it being discontinued, we're pleased to report, are simply untrue. That's a good thing, because it's capable of producing lovely results in all sorts of conditions.
Boering has left the World Press Photo without much of an explanation from either him or the organization, but he tells DPReview the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the WPP to change the way it makes money.
The standard-size deck of playing cards features unique photography-oriented artwork and act as cheat sheets for photographers.
The Sony ZV-1 and Panasonic Lumix DC-G100 are the first cameras we've seen that are overtly designed with vlogging in mind – and the changes they represent could have implications for the future of all cameras.
The utility allows the E-M1X, E-M1, E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III and E-M5 Mark II cameras to be used with video conferencing apps over USB.
Olympus is showing final images of its under-development 150-400mm F4.5, which it says will arrive this winter. An unspecified macro and 8-25mm F4 Pro have also been added to the lens roadmap, and the E-M1X's AF gains bird detection.
The scam, which involves sending fake copyright violation notices, has been circulating on the social media platform since at least June 9.
Fujifilm is one of just two producers of tape media (the other being Sony) and it is hard at work on a breakthrough that will allow single tape storage drives to offer 400TB capacities in the coming years.
The National Parks Service says it's investigating the incident, which took place just two days after the park opened following a shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional full frame lenses are usually large and have fast apertures. In this episode of DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan argue that there's a need for slow professional lenses – inspired by some of their favorite Micro Four Thirds lenses.
The camera maker joins Olympus, Fujifilm and others is a legal tussle over US digital camera technology patents held by DigiMedia Tech.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) photographs the sun every 0.75 seconds. In its first decade in space, the SDO has captured more than 425 million images of the sun. NASA has compiled these images into an amazing time lapse, come check it out.
The lens is available for Leica M, Sony FE, Nikon Z and L-mount camera systems, and now holds the title as the world's widest rectilinear lens for full-frame camera systems.
Tamron's new 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 is a versatile zoom lens for Sony E-mount. Well-suited for travel photography, it's compact, lightweight, and fast/quiet to focus.
Fujifilm has announced that its GF 30mm F3.5 R WR wide-angle lens for its medium format cameras will ship in late July or early August.
Fujifilm's latest lens is a sharp, reasonably compact and well-built wide-angle for the company's GFX medium-format cameras. We took it out and about in the warm Seattle summer with the company's 50 and 100 Megapixel camera bodies to see what it can do.
Fujifilm has issued firmware updates to the GFX 100 and GFX 50 models, with the 100MP camera gaining the most significant improvements.
Although the channel is still growing, it currently has nine videos that offer concise overviews of just a few of the cameras Japan Camera Hunter founder Bellamy Hunt has sitting around his Japanese storefront.
ON1 has launched ON1 360, the latest version of ON1 Photo RAW 2020 with ON1's new Photo Mobile application for iOS, iPadOS and Android mobile devices. The new solution syncs raw processing between your mobile device and computer.
Switching screw-on filters between lenses of different thread sizes is much quicker with the Revoring adjustable step-up ring. It uses a sprung iris that expands to fit a range of filter thread sizes, so a single filter can be used on multiple lenses