Two 20MP sensors compared: the Nokia Lumia 1520 vs the Sony Xperia Z2 (1)

Still waiting for the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - the newest smartphone camera with a 20MP sensor - I can't wait with sharing a few of the first results I got from the Nokia Lumia 1520 and Sony Xperia Z2. It's interesting to note that 20MP seems to have become the new "standard" for high-end smartphone cameras by the way.

I'll tell you a bit about my method of comparing. First I (usually accidently) find a scene I think worth looking at. I take several shots of that with the smartphones I'm testing, making sure the light is as constant as possible. Nowadays, when it's very sunny outside, I usually choose the corresponding white balance on all devices.

After that I copy all the results to my PC, I check them in detail and pick what I believe is the very best from each device. Then I resize them - usually to 640 x 360 pixels, to fit this page. Next I either make crops in the same size, or I zoom in to 100% (using Picasa) and make a screenshot (like I've been doing in this case).

Finally, I start writing the post like I'm doing now, adding the shots and details as I go along. And doing so it's in fact the first time I actually compare the results from the devices I'm testing myself. It has become a simple method I find not only easy but also fair, and it's a way of surprising myself during the whole process as well :-)

With the Lumia 1520 and Xperia Z2 I made a few shots in bright and not-so-bright light - in this post you won't find the "low light shots" a lot of you seem to appreciate so much (will work on those later). First, a scene from an antique store, captured pushing both devices directly on the window to avoid reflection.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 was set to 5MP/16MP (in 16:9 aspect ratio), I need to make two shots with the Sony Xperia Z2 - one in Superior Auto (8MP) and one in manual (15.5MP in 16:9). Where the Lumia 1520 will be more or less identical, we might see some small differences between both shots from the Xperia Z2.

In all comparisons, you'll see the Lumia 1520 first, Xperia Z2 second. First you'll see resized versions of the smaller results.

WP_20140602_09_02_49_Pro DSC_0044The second shot (Xperia Z2) is noticably brighter, but strangly enough also a bit more "yellowish".  Let's have a look at the crops. First from the 5MP (Nokia) and 8MP (Sony) results.

WP_20140602_09_02_49_Pro DSC_0044Now let's "pixel peep" - screenshots of the 16MP results of both devies.

WP_20140602_09_02_49_Pro__highres DSC_0047In this case as well, color is a brighter in the Sony Xperia Z2's result, but details seem to be very comparable.

Next, a simple shot of a few blossoming flowers in the shade. Not exactly low light, but no bright sunlight either. First, the Nokia Lumia 1520. These are resized versions of both 16MP results (since I zoomed in with the Lumia 1520 to get closer in 5MP). Again: Nokia first, Sony second.

WP_20140602_12_57_13_Pro__highres DSC_0051Now let's have a look at the 100% screenshots of these two.

WP_20140602_12_56_58_Pro__highres DSC_0051The strange thing is that the Xperia Z2 appears to be only partly focused. It seems not to be a coincidence, since I've seen the same in the other results as well. Look at the 8MP result from the Xperia Z2:

DSC_0049And the crop from the same part

DSC_0049See what I mean? Not sure what happens here. Not trying to put the Xperia Z2 down or anything (I'm sure some will think I'm trying to do exactly that), I simply don't understand what causes this effect. Is it because I could actually come closer to the subject? If you have any ideas don't hesitate to let me know below.

Next up, a painted garbage can - why not :-) Again, Lumia 1520 first (5MP), the result being a bit darker when we compare it with the Xperia Z2 in Superior auto setting (8MP).

WP_20140602_17_20_54_Pro DSC_0052Now let's have a look at crops from these two shots.

WP_20140602_17_20_54_Pro DSC_0052Hardly any difference I think, and the in fact same goes for both of the large results (in the set on Flickr, link below)

To conclude this comparison, a shady terrace in the late afternoon. Once again, you'll see the Xperia Z2 gives a bit brighter result in Superior Auto (8MP) as well as Manual (set to 15.5MP).

WP_20140602_17_23_50_Pro DSC_0056Crops from both these shots (Lumia 1520 in 5MP, Xperia Z2 8MP)

WP_20140602_17_23_50_Pro DSC_0056In this case, the Xperia Z2 result looks a bit more "crisp" than the Lumia 1520 (I even checked to make sure I hadn't accidently put the flash on).

Apart from the difference in brightness, you might conclude the 16MP result from the Lumia 1520 has a bit better definition judging the colored ashtray on the blue table on the right, but that might be a matter of focus as well.

WP_20140602_17_23_50_Pro__highres DSC_0058So what's my conclusion so far, after these first few shots? I'm not too thrilled about the way the Xperia Z2 always gives me a bit brighter result to be honest - even in situations where the available light is more than bright enough.

As far as details are concerned there's not much to complain though - apart from the strange partial focus I've noticed above in the flowers. In other words, so far it looks like Sony is finally catching up and offering a quality that in general is comparable to what we may expect from the Lumia 1520's similar sensor.

In a future post I will write some more about the Xperia Z2's camera. And I'll be trying to get more interesting shots to compare, of course - if possible in low light as well :-) You'll find all the originals of the shots in a dedicated album on Flickr (WP is Nokia, DSC is Sony). And more than ever I hope to be able to compare these two with the Galaxy K Zoom soon.

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