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IPhone 4S vs. Lumia 800: camera wars, round 1!

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On Monday afternoon a Nokia Lumia 800 review unit appeared on the doorstep, and after a quick configuration, I started snapping pictures. Why? Nokia (s nok) hardware is typically known not just for the great build quality but also for the excellent camera sensors that are often paired with Carl Zeiss optics. The Lumia 800 is no exception, so I shared a few pictures on Twitter last night, which raised comparison questions between the Lumia and the iPhone 4S (s aapl).

I haven’t spent nearly enough time taking pictures with both devices — and I haven’t tried any video capture with the Lumia yet — but I thought I would share a few unedited images taken this afternoon. All pictures were taken with the default settings, and I tried to take the exact same shot. Here are four comparison images, with more to follow when I provide a full review of Nokia’s latest Microsoft (s msft) Windows Phone handset.

IPhone 4S Lumia 800

Overall, the iPhone images appear warmer while there’s a darker, bluer look to the Lumia’s pics. The first two images are in relatively low light in the afternoon. The latter pair is outside in the final hour before sunset. All of the images can be clicked to see the full-size shot.

I have plenty of pictures to take yet before passing a final judgment, but based on these few pictures and some others I have taken in the past 24 hours with the default settings, I’m preferring output from the iPhone 4S. It’s very possible that scene modes and other software features could improve one, the other or both, but for the default mode — likely to be used by many consumers — the iPhone 4S looks better to me.

Boxing image courtesy of Flickr user mikecogh

15 Responses to “IPhone 4S vs. Lumia 800: camera wars, round 1!”

  1. Johan van der Wijk

    I’m quite disappointed by the fact that the pictures from the Nokia are so blue. I much prefer the warmer colours of the iPhone. But then again, I do have a ‘real’ digital camera so I will still buy the Lumia and not the iPhone :)

  2. The picture noise in the Lumina is appalling compared with the iPhone! In the cat close ups the cats fur in the Lumina picture is made up from a kaleidoscope of noise in parts. And take a close look at the bedroom background. Its not not just down to slight colour differences, anyone who thinks its is is not looking at the full size pictures or just doesn’t care about actual quality.

  3. Petri Ojala

    Considering that Lumia 800 isn’t “real Nokia”, I don’t really expect it to be the best Nokia can offer. We’ll have to wait 2012 what they’ll come up with.

    Considering how much 4S’s camera has been raved about, I’m actually pretty disappointed. While both will be fine for the Facebook shots, there’s still plenty of room for good point and shoots. DSLR’s are in different league.

    Looking the full size versions is pretty painful.

    PS. Lumia’s blue tint looks a bit like what iPhone 4 used to produce.

  4. To any, more than a decent, photographer knows that IQ from iPhone 4s is not just marginally better. IT IS MUCH better; The white balance is more than 3000 kelvin different, more shadow details, and clearly( pun intended) much more advance in noise reduction from the 4s. What’s a point of having high MP, but got smeared up by dumb noise reduction?

  5. Based on these photos, the iPhone 4S has superior color reproduction, low light performance, noise reduction, and auto exposure. The Lumia 800 might have a tinny bit better detail, but I think that’s just because the phone doesn’t doctor its images as much as the iPhone does with auto-white balance and auto-noise reduction. The Lumina suffers from fairly poor digital noise. In comparison to the iPhone, the Lumina’s color reproduction and low light exposure seem poor. As someone who likes cameras and does a lot of photography, I’m more impressed with the iPhone’s camera, not that I’d ever choose it over an SLR.