When it comes the camera of the your smartphone, the difference between a really good shot and something mediocre or even unusable, can often come down to the environmental conditions that you are dealing with, and that is especially true of harsh lighting conditions. Watch Mobile Geeks test the latest and greatest smartphones in difficult lighting conditions to see who really has the edge in the dark.
A strong back-light in any shot can cause problems for any photographer , even with professional gear, so how would a smartphone deal with the issue and prevent exposure problems? Digital CMOS sensors have progressed a great deal however, or so we are told. How much is real progress in sensor technological? How much is marketing?
MegaPixels vs UltraPixels: Who has the Edge in the Darkness?
Manufacturers like Samsung, and Sony who have their own proprietary solutions, talk up their own proprietary low light sensor technologies, and not surprisingly. The Japanese and Korean powerhouses compete as serious and significant vendors of DSLR shooters so, yeah they know a decent lens and a shutter when they see one. They also plough a similar marketing field with continued innovation based on Megapixels, and our thirst for more and more of them. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has four times that of the HTC One M8 with 16MP. Sony leads the race with 20.7MP on its Xperia Z2.
Meanwhile, vigorously defending its berth in the high-end flagship space, we have HTC, a company in virtual revolt with its preference for UltraPixels. This means you get larger 2µ (micron) pixels on your display compared to the more commonly used 1.1µ. HTC claims a larger F/2.0 aperture backed by a (admittedly meek sounding) 4MP UltraPixel sensor is a winning solution, but it certainly has had its critics.
HTC also claim they are letting in more light with their unique sensor array, but Sony and Samsung have invested a lot in their own their own propitiatory sensor solutions. Sony Exmor RS and Samsung’s new ISOCELL are both purported to boast great light optimization.
In my personal experience of using both, the camera arrays on the Xperia z2, HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5 are all very impressive, and each can claim victories in specific areas. Today’s test, however, was all about the demon that is back-light, one thing that can quickly turn your target object into a black smudge or a silhouette.
We went and found ourselves a nice strongly back-lit wide open space with that would prove a challenge to any smartphone. Watch Nicole provide identical shots of the scene using each of the smartphones, followed up with a short video test.
Check out the video below:
Here are the example photos we took:
HTC One M8
Samsung Galaxy S5
Sony Xperia Z2
My own personal opinion is that Sony pretty much owns the photo shoot, with its really responsive and intelligent Sony Exmore RS sensor. I think the video shootout is a little more challenging to discern, but I it is basically between Sony and Samsung. I remain a fan of HTC’s new camera on the M8 however, because of its additional depth sensor which livens things up, but the M8 clearly suffers in these back-lit conditions compared to other devices competing in this segment.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.