In our camera blind test, five existing high-end smartphones compete against each other! We have candidates from Oppo, Samsung, Apple, OnePlus and Xiaomi. We photographed the same subjects with all handsets. Now it is up to you, dear readers, to decide which photos you like best – without knowing which smartphone took the photo in order to avoid distortion.
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These are our challengers in this year’s camera blind test:
Setup of a camera blind test
We also took all of the subjects using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III as a reference point. We developed the RAW images as naturally as possible and tried to reproduce the same lighting conditions for each subject. There will no doubt be some degree of blurring, but we found the comparison interesting! Please do not be tempted to always vote for the photo that comes closest to that of the DSLR.
Since smartphones can cover a whole range of focal lengths these days, I had three lenses with me for the test: the fabulous Canon 16-35mm F2.8 III, a Sigma 50mm F1.4 and a Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro. The former was used for the ultra-wide and wide-angle comparison photos, while the latter was used for the portrait series and Canon for the telephoto photos.
Now to the smartphones: We used the factory settings of the camera apps for the blind test, and unless this was expressly stated for the respective subject, everything was photographed in automatic mode. We photographed all motifs three times with each smartphone and then selected the best photo.
In order not to reveal the identity of the individual smartphones through slightly different focal lengths, we cropped some of the images in order to get the same angle of view regardless of this.
1. Main camera (daylight, cityscape)
A simple warm up exercise: In daylight, smartphones shouldn’t have a problem keeping up with DSLRs. We shot in standard mode here.
2nd main camera (maximum resolution)
50 megapixels, 108 megapixels and maybe even more in the future? Smartphone manufacturers are currently trying to outdo themselves with ever higher megapixel numbers. After all, image sensors grow with the number of pixels, which ultimately benefits image quality. For this survey, we cropped the images to a value of 20 x 20% of the original.
Here you can see very clearly what to think about crazy resolutions. Take a look at how detailed the reproduction of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with its “poor” 22.3 megapixels is in direct comparison.
3. Ultra wide angle (nature)
Even more shots of nature, but this time from a distance. I find it exciting how differently the different smartphones interpret the light and weather situation. Apart from that, the detailed reproduction segment is also exciting to look at. Will the Oppo Find X3 Pro be the winner? After all, it has the largest sensor behind the ultra-wide-angle lens.
4. Ultra wide angle (cityscape)
For our second ultra-wide-angle comparison, we’re going straight to the heart of Berlin. The photo was taken exactly at the point of the wall that separated Germany into east and west. The metal struts on the right show where a watchtower once stood before reunification. Here I find the color rendering very exciting. What do you like – gaudy and “larger than life” or simply neutral?
5. Teleportrait (2x)
For the next segment, we have activated portrait mode on all smartphones. As a rule, the camera apps immediately set the focal length typical for portraits to 50 millimeters in 35 mm equivalent, which corresponds to “2x” compared to the main cameras.
In addition, these smartphones also try to blur the background. This is supposed to mimic the bokeh effect that the single-lens reflex camera creates with its 50 mm lens. in this case with the aperture open on F1.4. Another challenge is the accurate representation of skin tones. Which smartphone do you find most convincing here?
6. Telephoto in nature (5x)
After “2x” comes “5x” – and this is where Samsung and Xiaomi could gain an advantage. After all, the Mi 11 Ultra and the Galaxy S21 Ultra each have a periscope lens on board that can display this magnification natively. The competition, on the other hand, has to rely on the digital zoom. Do you like the two periscope lenses? Which of the two is your favorite?
7. Tele cityscape (4x)
For our second telephoto challenge, we reduced the zoom by one level again to reduce the advantage of Samsung and Xiaomi – they now also have to zoom digitally. Xiaomi’s large gap in the focal length range is probably noticeable here, as there is no additional focal length between 1x and 5x. We look forward to your votes!
8. Tele cityscape (20x)
In lap eight we aim for full zoom. With the DSLR, we cropped and greatly enlarged the image due to the lack of a longer telephoto lens. The same goes for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is limited to “12x”. Samsung and Xiaomi may once again have the best cards in hand with their respective periscope lenses.
9. Night photo (main camera)
Of course, recordings should not be discarded in poor lighting conditions, where (spoiler alert!) The differences become very large again. We photographed this subject with the main camera and in normal photo mode after we had cropped all smartphones to around 50 percent.
To give you an idea of the lighting conditions: With the DSLR, I took photos at ISO 3200 with an aperture of F2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/15 second. With this subject, pay particular attention to the dynamic range and the reproduction of details in the darker areas of the image. I also find it exciting how differently the sky is reproduced. Which smartphone conveys the best mood and wins your vote?
10. Night photo (ultra wide angle)
I’ve always been a fan of ultra-wide-angle lenses, especially Canon’s legendary 8-15mm fish-eye. That’s why I was just as excited when ultra-wide-angle cameras penetrated smartphones from the LG G6 onwards. Manufacturers are now equipping such camera modules, which are sometimes only suitable in daylight, with ever larger sensors. Oppo even uses the same IMX766 for the Find X3 Pro as for the main camera. This should be noticeable in the image quality in our scenario in poor lighting conditions.
By the way, it was very, very dark here. On the DSLR I shot with ISO 12,800; at 1/8 second and F2.8. I also had to tweak the sliders a lot and reduce noise, including in Camera RAW, to get a reasonably decent result. With the smartphones I activated the night mode everywhere and, if possible, set it to the maximum exposure time (tripod mode aside!).
11. Night photo (main camera, extremely dark)
Yes, it can be even darker – and I find the differences very strong. One smartphone even outperformed the DSLR in night mode, which really began to swim at ISO 12800 and 1/5 of a second. Of course, our EOS 5D Mark III is no longer the newest kid on the block, but it’s still a remarkable feat.
First of all, as you read this, thank you for participating and voting! The prep process for this article with all smartphones was a really exciting experience. I look forward to the results of the surveys. Who will be declared the winner in the end?
Next Wednesday we will cancel the blind test and let you find out which smartphone it is NextPit Community selected as winner. Wait for it!