DxO Labs is branching out from its focus on rating and improving high-end camera image quality to include mobile devices — and its first test shows today’s best phone beats a five-year-old compact camera.
Yes, that the latest and greatest — Nokia’s 808 PureView — compared to a standard Canon pocket model. We are a bit surprised that these tests show the phone doesn’t at least match today’s basic pocket models, given its price and ballyhooed imaging technology… DxO notes that the Nokia 808 PureView sensor “is not out-performing the new generation of DSCs, and that there is a long way to go to attain DSLR image quality.”
The more basic question is how does a $200 iPhone or Galaxy compare to a $200-400 standalone camera’s image quality? DxO used its new DxOMark Mobile protocols to compare two 12-megapixel devices under a tungsten illuminant at 20 lux: Sony’s Xperia S smartphone and Canon’s Powershot S100 camera. The effect of small pixels on noise is apparent, DxO says: visual noise is around 4 times higher for the phone. Other phones “aggressively prevent noise” by softening images.
The Samsung Galaxy SIII captured full HD video “with better quality than those of the Canon Powershot S100,” DxO reports.
“Most of today’s competitive smartphones sport a camera with a sensor of at least 8 megapixels,” DxO says. “This is a far cry from one of the world’s first mass-produced camera cellphones, the Sharp-made J-SH04, which had a sensor resolution of 110,000 pixels, or just 0.1-Mpix. Nokia has blown all of these specifications out of the water with its new, bulky, 41-megapixel Nokia 808 PureView. But shrinking and squeezing more megapixels onto a sensor’s surface does not necessarily translate to better image quality. Smaller pixels and their reduced area-size absorb less light, which consequently leads to a reduction in their signal-to-noise ratio, often leading to noisier images.”
When designing DxOMark Mobile protocols, the company says it wanted to “compare mobile cameras with other kinds of digital cameras.”
The new measurements are dedicated to camera image quality data for cellphones, smartphones, and digital tablets. DxO Mark Mobile “aims to help consumers analyze and compare the still and video performance of mobile devices by freely providing them with its industrial-quality scientific measurements,” the company says. “In addition to measurements made in the laboratory under perfectly-controlled environmental and lighting conditions, we also conduct perceptual analyses of shots taken in the field. We reproduce the everyday conditions that people commonly encounter when using these devices so as to reliably analyze and report on their image quality.”
DxO says its fully-reproducible testing protocols conform to international standards established by the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA), the international Imaging Industry Association (I3A), and the Camera Phone Image Quality (CPIQ) working group.