New Comparison: Keizersgracht Amsterdam, Nokia vs Samsung

In this post you will see the Keizersgracht - the Emperor's Channel - in Amsterdam, captured on a bright sunny morning (but not too easy light in fact) with the Nokia 808 PureView, Nokia Lumia 1020, Nokia Lumia 1520 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (with and without HDR).

I was a bit too early for my appointment so I had a few minutes to capture this beautiful part of the Keizersgracht, looking in the direction of the Amstel river. I was asked to bring the Nokia Lumia 1520 to compare it with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and I already promised to test it against the might 808, so I figured I might as well bring them all.

You will see some more shots from these devices later, this post is just about the Keizersgracht. All settings are on auto on all devices, flash was off. I'll give you all the resized version of what I captured first, next I'll share the detailed crops from the far end of the scene.

Nokia 808 Puriew (8MP)

Now this looks like a pretty dark result - and it is. In the 34MP version I must have focused a bit differently, so I'll give you that version as well (you'll see it's a bit brighter at the far left and right side, it's clearer in the original versions of course).

How did the Lumia 1020 do? I captured two shots to share it's can be very effective to change the lighting in your shot with the way you focus. In the first scene, I "aimed" at the horizon, getting more of the blue sky and a bit darker foreground (notice you already see more in this shot than in both coming from the 808 PureView).

In the second result, focussing on the foreground, you'll see you'll overexpose the sky but get much more details.

Here's the resized shot coming from the Nokia Lumia 1520 - it might look like it has a bit shorter focal point (see the rooftops on both sides of the shot), but I think I held the camera a bit different (aiming just a bit lower). Sorry about that.

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, I made two shots as well. One without HDR first, showing just about the same level of detail as in the earlier shots.

If however, you really want to get maximum detail, you could decide to use HDR - the Note 4's menu is programmed you'll get the HDR option in the display right away, but you can decide to add more options there (3 max) or change those.

Some will like this (showing so much detail) - others hate it, since it doesn't look "natural" - in fact, it makes the whole scene look more like it's freezing outside. I fell for the "HDR trap" on the Galaxy Note 4 a few times and in some scenes it really can be very effective and actually get you a better result - I'll post about that soon as well.

I'm curious to see what these sensors are able to capture from the bridge on the far end of this scene. You know the way I work by now, I start with 5MP and end with the high res results - 34MP in this case. And like we all know: the higher the resolution, the more you will "zoom in" and consequently the more noise you are likely to see in the shot. It's the method Nokia has been promoting as "Zoom Reinvented" - marketing lingo for the possibility to share almost incredible detail coming from the large sensor of the Lumia 1020.

5MP (Lumia 1020)

5MP (Lumia 1520)

Colors are slightly different (the sky being a bit yellowish in the second crop). The Lumia 1020 is showing a bit brighter image, but difference are quite small in fact I'd say - great atmosphere in both crops. Next up:
Nokia 808 PureView (8MP)

Lovely isn't it? Considering the distance it's sometimes unbelievable we can even get a lot closer. Like in the next two 16MP shots.
Nokia Lumia 1520 (16MP)

Samsung Galaxy Note (16MP)

Well: up to you, I guess. The crop from the Lumia 1520 is soft and tender, the Galaxy Note 4 shows more detail and definition - check the leaves in the tree on both sides, the vertical bars of the bridge, the way the bridge stands in the water or the red building behind the bridge even. You might prefer what the 1520 does with the scene, but there is no doubt in my mind the Note 4 does show more detail. Want to see what it looks like in the HDR result? Why not.

You see you'll lose some of the original sharpness and contrast using HDR, but I'm sure some will be happy with the brighter result anyway.

Finally, it's the Lumia 1020 up against the Nokia 808 PureView - once again. First:
Nokia 808 PureView (34MP)

This could a gorgeous painting, couldn't it? What's the difference with the Lumia 1020? Well, it's brighter (some might say "paler") and hence shows a bit more detail
Nokia Lumia 1020 (34MP)

Details and sharpness are quite comparable though - the difference we are seeing probably has more to do with where I focused or some of the settings - I wouldn't lose any sleep over it anyway. Generally speaking however, if you look at the complete scene, the brighter shot of the Lumia 1020 shows more detail in the foreground as well, like you can see below. Again: that's a matter of changing some of the settings. And it will never cease to amaze me realizing the last crop came from this - even showing a typical Dutch detail that there's someone on a bike in this scene as well :-)

That's all for now - all the originals are in a dedicated album on Flickr for you to compare in detail. There will be a few more shots from Amsterdam (I'm lucky enough to have lived here for 25 years and still only live about half an hour away from the Dutch capital). I hope to be able to share those soon. 

Meanwhile, if you like what I'm doing here... I'd appreciate your support. You can push the "donate" button on the right hand side if you have PayPal, and - if you live in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium or France - you could consider getting one of my smartphone shots on your wall. It's a modest collection so far, but still there are 51 shots to choose from. Thank you very much in advance!