Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Nokia Lumia 1020 - first comparison based on a few shots

You might have read I'm more or less enjoying a short "time-out", but some shots are just too "important" not to share I guess. Like these ones, coming from the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the brand new Samsung Galaxy S5...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the first comparison with shots coming from the Samsung Galaxy S5. Today I was happy to be invited to an event called the Samsung Experience Day here in The Netherlands, and I asked if I would be allowed to take a few shots with the Samsung Galaxy S5 (and take those with me) and to compare them with a Nokia PureView device.

There was not a doubt in their mind, and since it would be necessary to take a few shots outside as well, they even let me borrow the brand new Galaxy S5 from the national Marketing Manager. You'll understand I couldn't take that with me for a very long time (and they didn't let me leave the building alone either :-). So although I only had a few minutes to make these shots, I'm very grateful for their trust and the opportunity they've given me to share them here.

But not without a few disclaimers first (you know me by now).
- First, maybe I should have grabbed the Lumia 1520 with its 20MP sensor, for a more "fair" battle with the 16MP results of the Galaxy S5. I didn't, I guess I just wanted to compare the Galaxy S5 to the best smartphone camera at the moment.
- Second: light outside was awful (nothing but grey clouds).
- Third: for some weird reason my Lumia 1020 reset itself (for the first time ever, great timing), while making shots, so I appear to miss one high-res shot. Since I have only a few, I decided to share them all nevertheless.
- Fourth: I guess I was so excited to be able to give the Galaxy S5 a try, there are quite a few things I forgot to capture (like screenshots of the different camera settings).

So although this post is limited in some ways, it will just have to do for now.

HDR
To start, first two shots only from the Galaxy S5 itself - one with HDR off and one with HDR on. The difference is obvious, the effect fantastic, but the really great thing is that you will see the effect of using HDR in the screen even before you make the shot. No need to explain why that's great - and I could add that there (still) is no direct HDR option in Nokia Camera (why not?).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Test HDR - off Samsung Galaxy S5 Test HDR - onJust one test with two shots, and I think the result speaks for itself. Like I said: you can immediately see the difference in the screen before capturing it. I really think that's a great feature and moreover, there's a direct button in the screen to control HDR (on/off).

Resized shots
Next, the few shots I managed to capture - resized to fit this page, and the 640 x 360 crops.

Now of course, since I chose the Lumia 1020, we have three quite different sizes here... 5MP from the Nokia PureView, 16MP from the Galaxy S5 and 34MP from Nokia's "high-res" (I didn't use the 5MP/Raw setting). They are not very comparable in fact, so I decided to share these results as are.

One more thing before I go and share what I got though.

It struck me that the Galaxy S5 will actually give you the highest amount of MP (16MP that is) in 16:9 aspect ratio. I've never ever seen that before - usually you'll need 4:3 to get the most out of your sensor. So either the sensor is even larger than 16MP but  Samsung won't let you use the full 20MP (in 4:3), or they did some magical trick to squeeze the best quality in 16:9. Honestly, I don't know. Ideas are welcome.

Now the results. I will first share the resized shots I got from the Nokia Lumia 1020 (the 5MP result) and the Samsung Galaxy S5 (16MP). All setting are on automatic, and apart from resizing the shots, I didn't change a thing.

In all comparisons, you'll see the Nokia Lumia 1020 first, the Galaxy S5 second. Let's begin with two cars that caught my attention. First the Alfa Romeo outside, next a Fiat 500 in the large hall inside the building.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Alfa Samsung Galaxy S5 - Alfa

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Fiat Samsung Galaxy S5 - Fiat

You may find this hard to believe, but after resizing and cropping et cetera, I really see the results next to each other when I'm working on the post. And I'm quite surprised by these results, but before jumping to conclusions, let's have a look at some other outside shots I got. I'm looking forward to the result as much as you are to be honest. Again, Lumia 1020 first.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 1

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Building 1

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 2

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Building 2Light
After these shots, I think it's safe to say the Galaxy S5 gives you a much brighter, lighter picture in general. Up to the point where you might think it's less "natural". It's hard to prove - like I wrote, the weather outside was (once again) far from ideal but at least the light was very constant (it was a solid grey morning).

The Galaxy S5 really seems to "try to make the best of it" in some way. Getting more light in the shot than was actually there at the moment. I have to be honest though. In my shots - I always try to make more than one at least - I also found this one, coming from the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 2b

Taken only seconds apart, it appears to be even brighter than the shot coming from the Galaxy S5! Why? Because in automatic settings, the Nokia Lumia 1020 suddenly chose to use ISO-400 in this case, instead of ISO-100. More about ISO a bit later on - you'll be surprised.

I'm only sharing this to show I've learned it's hazardous to jump to conlusions too fast. Light is a tricky thing, like with colors. Most mobile photographers I know want the scene to be captured as "realistic" as possible.

We have seen how difficult it is to get the "right" colors with the Lumia 1020 earlier. Many users - including me - thought the colors were way too saturated at first and Nokia actually changed that with the Black update. Yes, they really do listen to their customers' feedback.

In this case, there doesn't seem to be  great difference in color rendition, but like I've shown there seems to be quite a bit of difference in how Samsung's sensor deals with the amount of light.

This may also account for the color difference in the marble floor under the Fiat 500. It's almost white in Galaxy's view, whereas the Lumia shows much more colors and hence more "warmth" and even contrast in that particular shot. Is that a color or light difference - you tell me :-)

ISO
I find it remarkable that the S5 has given me brighter results in most cases, but I'd need much more time and shots to be sure about it.

One more very remarkable thing though: as I wrote, all settings were on automatic on both devices. If you look at the ISO, you'll see the Nokia has chosen ISO-100 in most cases (once more, I didn't put it there manually).

But the Galaxy S5 shots are all captured with ISO-40!  And give such a bright result? Does that mean it has a much larger aperture? If someone has an explanation for that I'd be happy to read it.

Crops
So let's move on to the crops, the details, the "pixel peeping" some like to make fun of (like if details aren't important :-)

I'll share the crops from the shots in the same order, according to size - so 5MP (Nokia), 16MP (Samsung), 34MP (Nokia). As always, the 5MP crops will show more of the scene, and you get "closer" with the same sized crop of the 16MP results from the Galaxy S5. And remember the 34MP results from the Lumia 1020 do not benifit from "oversampling" and are likely to show more noise.

For some reason the Lumia 1020 appeared to have a software problem while capturing the Fiat 500, so I can't share crops from the high-res results (no, it's not a lame excuse, it's just the way it is but  I still want to share what I got).

So first the Alfa Romeo's front wheel: you'll see crops from the 5MP Lumia shot, the 16MP Galaxy result and the 34MP Lumia high-res capture without oversampling.

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Alfa 8MP 640 x 360

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Alfa 640 x 360

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Alfa 34MP 640 x 360

I must admit I'm surprised to see the detail from the edges are even  smoother in the 34MP (not oversampled) result coming from the Lumia 1020, than on the 16MP, pretty pixelated result from the Galaxy S5.

Let's move on to the Fiat 500 - the one where again I'm really sorry to say the Lumia 1020 for some reason refused to save the high-res result. So in this case, I can only compare Nokia's 5MP with Samsung's 16MP (again in that order).

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Fiat 8MP 640 x 360

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Fiat 640 x 360

I would really have loved to be able to share the detail from the 34MP shot as well, but it's simply not on my device :-/

Next, the two outside shots of the building where the event took place. It's not much, but I was very happy to have been given to opportunity to make these shots outside at all. The order is again 5MP (Lumia), 16MP (Galaxy), 34MP (Lumia).

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 1 8MP 640 x 360

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Building 1 640 x 360

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 1 34MP 640 x 360

And one more time - 5MP, 16MP and 34MP (you know which is which by now :-)

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 2 8MP 640 x 360

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Building 2 640 x 360

Nokia Lumia 1020 - Building 2 34MP 640 x 360Even compared to the 34MP result of the Lumia 1020, I still see quite a bit of compression in the Galaxy S5's result, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. But although many people seem to think so, I'm not an expert.

I just try to make as similar shots as possible, copy the results to my PC, resize, crop, post and compare - in that order. The outcome is often a surprise to me, too, like in this case.

To be totally honest, I expected a bit more from the Galaxy S5's camera, but it's quite early to judge and these are just a few shots, or should I say "carefully made snapshots". Maybe a future software update will bring some improvement as well.

Moreover, there's more to the S5's camera than this - like speed. We all know it takes quite a bit of time before you've started the camera on the Lumia 1020 (or 1520 for that matter, and I know the Icon is pretty slow as well).

The Galaxy S5 really is much faster than that, and it looks like Nokia can really use some improvement in that respect. Also, the autofocus on the S5 appears to be really fast, like Samsung is promising in some promotional shots I've seen. But it´s not like the Lumia's are slow in that respect.

Like I wrote several times, I only had a limited time to play with the Galaxy S5, but I was shown a functionality which looks a lot like Nokia Refocus - or the Lytro for that matter - enabling you to focus on the foreground or the background after capturing the shot.

That's great of course, but the Galaxy S5 only offers those two points of view (in a combination of two shots), whereas Nokia Refocus offers a maximum five points to focus on ( check this post). Is it extremely important? Nah, it's a nice feature and I just wanted to let you know you now have this option on the Galaxy S5 as well. It will give you a result with a pretty insane size though, the resized shot below is no less than 18MB originally!

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Blue carpet

Again, however short it was, I'm very grateful for the amount of time I could spend with the Galaxy S5 camera and even honored that Samsung was happy to send me the results from their phone to mine (via WiFi Direct) to share here.

I"m really looking forward to get a review sample of the Galaxy S5 and do a lot more testing, in better light conditions and preferably in more colorful surroundings. For a first test, I think this comparison, however limited, has been quite revealing to begin with though.

I'm looking forward to your reactions as always - and yes, all the original shots are on OneDrive and I shared them on Flickr as well. And once more: if you appreciate what I'm doing at the PureViewClub, don't hesitate to hit the "donate" button on the right side of this page :-)

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