iPhone Camera Performance

by admin on January 9, 2009

iPhone 3G vs Nokia N82 vs SE K800i

I had been holding off getting an iPhone because I liked having a half decent camera phone. I thought changing from the well regarded Nokia N82 to an iPhone 3G would leave me bitterly disappointed with the image quality. Although I would never consider a camera phone as a replacement for a dedicated camera, there are plenty of times it’s all I have and given the right conditions, the results can be more than satisfactory.

So after a long hesitation, I finally succumbed to peer group pressure and grabbed the latest iPhone 3G.

I have to admit I was instantly surprised when I took my first photo and found there was very little shutter lag and the image looked awesome on the large iPhone screen. I’m used to being very frustrated as a lot of the pictures I take with my phones are opportunistic shots of my kids and usually the shutter lag prevents me from getting the shot I was after. Not so with the iPhone camera. Obviously this has to do with the fact there is no auto focus system but instead the lens is a fixed focus type.

At the end of the day, I don’t care what technology is used if the phone delivers reasonable pics of the shots I want.

After using the iPhone camera for a few days I decided to compare the image quality with my previous 2 camera phones, a Nokia N82 and a Sony Ericsson KE800i. These 2 phones are highly respected in the area of imaging. The Nokia N82 is probably still about as good a camera phone as you can get. It has a 5mp sensor and carl zeiss auto focus lens. Both the Nokia N82 and the SE K800i have xenon flashes which allow them to take pictures in total darkness, the iPhone 3G simply can’t compete there.

The K800i and N82 have macro mode which I used in the “Pot” and “Boxes” shots, the iPhone 3G just had to do it’s best.

It is well noted that the iPhone 3G has no video mode out of the box. I say “out of the box” because there are some work-arounds for those happy to experiment. The N82 has a very good video capability and can in fact shoot in VGA (640 X 480) at 30fps, the iPhone 3G can’t compete here and the K800i’s pathetic low res and low frame rate video is not even worth mentioning.

Here are some example videos.

N82_flower.mp4

N82_fan.mp4

K800i_fan.3GP

K800i_flower.3GP

Believe it or not, I’m actually typing this on my iPhone while watching the kids play on the trampoline, try doing that with my previous camera phones.

The 3 pictures below are 100% crops. obviously the iPhone 3G has a lower resolution so you can see more of the clock.

iPhone (original is 1600 X 1200)
iPhone 3G

Nokia N82 (original is 2592 X 1944)
Nokia N82

SE K800i (original is 2048 X 1536)
SE K800i

As you can see, the iPhone 3G can hold it’s head high and the large bright screen makes taking pictures a pleasure. I admit in low light the N82 and K800i will win out with their xenon flashes.

iPhone 3G
iPhone 3G Clock

Nokia N82
Nokia N82 Clock

SE K800i
SE K800i Clock

Here are a few more sample images from the 3 camera phones. The “Pot” and “Flower” shots were deliberately taken in direct sunlight to see how the devices would handle harsh shadowing.

iPhone 3G
iPhone 3G Pot iPhone 3G Flower iPhone 3G Cube iPhone 3G Boxes iPhone 3G Tree iPhone 3G Clock iPhone 3G Fan iPhone 3G Bottle
Nokia N82
Nokia N82 Pot Nokia N82 Flower Nokia N82 Cube Nokian N82 Boxes Nokia N82 Tree Nokia N82 Clock Nokia N82 Fan Nokia N82 Bottle
SE K800i
SE K800i Pot SE K800i Flower SE K800i Cube SE K800i Boxes SE K800i Tree SE K800i Clock SE K800i Fan SE K800i Bottle

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