A Dutch windmill, by three Nokia PureView devices, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Oppo Find 7a

Yesterday was one of those typical sunny / cloudy days in The Netherlands. And I happened to be close to another typical Dutch scene: a windmill. But before showing you the shots and crops I got from the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 1020 and Lumia 930, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Oppo Find 7A, I'd like to touch on another theme.

On other sites I often read people reacting "mobile cameras are only good for snapshots". Others wonder what all these MegaPixels are worth - "you're not ever going to decorate your living room wall with one of your shots, are you?"

Well, no-one is I guess. But remember the VGA (640 x 480 pixels ) shot printed on A4 paper? You could recognize what it was, but that's it. Since the 5MP mobile camera, like on the Nokia N95, printing on A4 became a serious possibility. I have some great family shots in my home captured with the N95.

The higher the resolution, the more details you'll see or get to work with. It will enable you to make sharper printed results, or bigger prints with great quality. And it will provide you with the possibility to zoom in (and crop) your shots before sharing or printing.

So that's why I keep zooming in at 100% and keep making crops - just to compare which mobile will give you the best detailed result. It's not just about sharing your shots on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or wherever - it's a search for the very best imaging quality you can get out of your smartphone.

Most visitors here know all this of course, I just felt I needed to explain it once more, since I'll be sharing a lot of shots and crops in this post (and the future :-)

Back to the Dutch windmill. I grew up next to this mill, saw it working countless times. But you know what it's like when you're young: you get used to anything and think it's normal. Only later you'll realize it's pretty special, especially to others.

I captured it with five smartphones: three Nokia PureView devices (808, 1020, 930), the new Samsung Galaxy S5 and even newer Oppo Find 7A (the Find 7 isn't even on the market yet and like I wrote before, the camera is the same on both).

Let's start with one of the 5MP results, from the Lumia 1020. Just to make sure: this is just an order I chose to present these shots, I'm not suggesting they will get better the more MP you'll see. The first presentation of these shots is not about MP, but about coloring. Windmill - Nokia Lumia 1020 5MP

In the shot coming from the Lumia 930, you'll see the light is quite different, thanks to the sun peeping through the clouds. In fact - just my luck - it was only with the Lumia 1020 that I captured the windmill in the shade (the inevitable odd one out).

Windmill - Nokia Lumia 930 5MP

The colors in this sunny shot are quite different from the Nokia 808 PureView. This is the 8MP result:

Windmill - Nokia 808 PureView 8MP

Now there's no doubt in my mind which color I'd prefer, but I'd like you to make up your own mind as well.

From 8MP, the next step would be 12MP - again, this is just an order to present these shots. In 4:3 aspect ratio, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 12MP. I'll first show you the result without HDR, then the one with HDR (simply because it's so easy to switch and you'll just need one shot for HDR).

The difference is striking, as is the result of the different focal length. As we're used to see with Samsung's devices, you'll get a lot less of the scene in your shot if you can't take a few steps back.

Windmill - Samsung Galaxy S5 12MP

Windmill - Samsung Galaxy S5 12MP HDR

Without HDR, the foreground is too dark, with HDR on, the foreground is almost too bright - but at least it will show a lot more detail. These results are in fact okay I guess, but not overwhelming.

Next up would be the Oppo Find 7a in "normal" resolution: 13MP. We're back to about the same focal length as on the Lumia's - and the result is pretty good as far as I'm concerned.

Windmill - Oppo Find 7a 13MP

Now I could be sharing the resized versions of the high-res results from the Nokia Lumia 930 and 1020, the 38MP shot from the 808 PureView and the 50MP coming from the Oppo Find 7a, but I think presenting them with their "normal" resolutions is enough for now. Of course, you'll find all shots on Flickr anyway.

I was talking about details earlier, so let's have a look at those. Again, you'll see the reason why I chose the order from 5MP and upward: you'll "zoom into" the scene with every higher resolution. This - I hope - will show is whether it's actually useful to choose a higher resolution as well.

First the two 5MP results, coming from the Lumia 1020 and 930. The first has the advantage of a cloud - the sun isn't "burning" the shot. But also I think we see the advantage of a bigger sensor in the Lumia 1020...

Windmill - Nokia Lumia 1020 5MP

Here's the Lumia 930

Windmill - Nokia Lumia 930 5MP

Looks to me the details in these crops from the 5MP shots are a bit better coming from the Lumia 1020. I'm sorry it's the only shot where the sun was hiding though - there are a few things you simply can't control.

Next up: 8MP, Nokia 808 PureView

Windmill - Nokia 808 PureView 8MP

A smooth shot, isn't it? I'm really fond of its colors and detail - and as far as detail is concerned, we'll get a lot closer in the next shots.

Next up, both 12MP shots coming from the Samsung Galaxy S5 - HDR off and on. I'm not thrilled about the quality of the detail, but at least it's very easy to read "The New Mill" in both cases.

Windmill - Samsung Galaxy S5

Windmill - Samsung Galaxy S5 HDR

But you'll agree the details are quite messy.

Here's the 13MP result from Oppo's Find 7a. You'll see it looks less "close", but again, that's because of the difference in focal length in Samsung's Galaxy range.

Windmill - Oppo Find 7a 13MP

Details are a lot smoother, obviously, although the difference in resolution is "marginal" I'd say (12MP vs 13MP), so the Oppo wins this one with ease.

Next step is a crop the 19MP shot from the Nokia Lumia 930 in high resolution - and I must admit it surprises me. These high res shots have no oversampling and I didn´t expect this crop to be this smooth.

Scroll up to check the difference with the Galaxy S5 - thanks to its different focal length you get about the same part of the shot, but you'll clearly see the difference between 12MP and 19MP sensors.

Windmill - Nokia Lumia 930 19MP

After this, we're getting closer and closer... Next up are the two 41MP sensors.

I'll make three crops of 640 x 480 pixels this time, to get some more details to compare. I'll start with the other Lumia, the 1020.

Windmill - Nokia Lumia 1020 38MP

Again, I'm sorry this is one moment where the sun was hiding behind a cloud for just an instant. Details are really good nevertheless.

In fact, I'm tempted to think it's even better than the 808 PureView but the difference in light is simply too large to come to that conclusion.

Windmill - Nokia 808 PureView 38MP B

And last but not least, a crop from the 50MP result coming from the Oppo Find 7a. Remember it doesn't have a 50MP sensor, but it combines 4 x 13MP shots. Is it worth it?

Windmill - Oppo Find 7a 50MP

Well, the result seems to be a bit greasy, doesn't it? Is it because we're even looking a bit closer, or isn't it"as good"?

I just changed my mind. After all this, I'll share a resized version of Oppo's 50MP original as well - also nice to see where the crop came from.

Windmill - Oppo Find 7a 50MP

And while I'm at it, to see the difference in light and colors, here's the resized version of the 38MP shot from the Nokia 808 PureView ...

Windmill - Nokia 808 PureView 38MP B

And the Lumia 1020 in 38MP

Windmill - Nokia Lumia 1020 38MP

Scroll up and down from the Nokia 808 PureView's shot to compare all three. I'm quite sure you'll know which camera I prefer - not just from its details, but also - and especially its colors...

One more thing about the Oppo Find 7a though. I've written it realizes 50MP by combining four 13MP shots. That of course must take some time so one would expect unsharpness in moving objects. Now the windmill was working - at a steady pace, but still.

So I made another, larger crop (1280 x 720) and resized that to fit this page. And you can't really see any movement in the shot.

Windmill - Oppo Find 7a 50MP crop 2 (1280 x 720 by 2

Now you might argue movement is fastest on the outside, so here's one more.

Windmill - Oppo Find 7a 50MP crop 3 (1280 x 720 by 2

See any movement? Not really. One last comparison, coming from the 38MP shot from the 808 PureView - and than you do notice a difference...

Windmill - Nokia 808 PureView 38MP B crop 2 (1280 x 720 by 2)

But I don't think that difference has less to do with movement, than simply with a superior sensor quality (38MP versus 13MP "x 4").

All devices were on automatic settings even, although I have to add I set my 808 PureView to +1 in saturation and +3 in sharpness (as I've been advised to).

All original shots are in a dedicated album on Flickr. Don't hesitate to let me know which one you prefer!

Update: I just received an email from Juha asking me to refrain from posting shots from the Lumia 930 I have, since this prototype is using "old algorhythms", and my comparisons "do not represent the actual image quality of the device." So this will be my last comparison including the Lumia 930 for the time being.

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