More, much more from the Samsung Galaxy S6 (2) - Window shopping with 6 smartcams

In this  post, you won't just see the results from the all new Samsung Galaxy S6. I'll compare it with the new HTC One M9 and Honor 4X as well, and with some of the devices I've been writing about for a much longer time already: Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520 - and even the Galaxy S5. Not the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 this time, and for a good reason.

It was on my way to work I was once again tempted by an old "antique" store with a dusty window brightly lit by the early morning sun. The only way to capture it is firmly pushing your smartphone against the least dusty part of the window - which you simply can't do with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1. But as you see I had quite some other gear with me that morning.

Now I made a classic "beginner's mistake" - most of the devices were not in my jacket but in my bag - and I was too much in a hurry to take that from my bike's steering wheel. So I needed to make a few steps every time to switch from device, which you will see in the results: I simply didn't manage to get the exact same shot every time. 

Nevertheless there are a few reasons to share these shots here. Like noticing the large differences in focal length, or the effect HDR has on quite a few of the devices I used. Also, you'll see that with some devices it strongly influences the result if you focus on a bright or dark part of the scene.

First the Galaxy S6 since you probably opened this post to see how it's doing. Well, you'll get a LOT of the scene with the Galaxy S6 - I might not have managed to get the exact same angle every time, the distance is exactly the same. The next two shots are captured with the Galaxy S6, HDR off in the first, on in the second:

Samsung Galaxy S6, no HDR and HDR


Now it's always nice to find another way to compare shots, so this time, let's have a look at how the former Samsung flagship is performing, the Galaxy S5 (remember I don't have the Note 4 anymore). The difference is striking. Again: HDR of and on.

Samsung Galaxy S5, no HDR and HDR


As you can see, both are very effective with the use of HDR. It brings out much more detail, but without making the scene look artificial. With the Galaxy S5 however, you'll get a lot less of the scene in your shot from a fixed distance like in this case.

Now there's such an insane amount to focus on in this shot it's hard to choose where to crop... I decided to make two crops from the normal and one from the HDR results. This time, you'll see the Galaxy S5 first and the Galaxy S6 next - you're in for quite a treat.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S6

And from both HDR results
Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S6

The result from the Galaxy S6 is SO much better it's really, really impressive. I've been reading quite a bit about oversharpening in the reactions on my previous post ( in the basement), I don't see any of it in this case. The distance is short, the light is perfect and the way the Galaxy S6 captures the scene is way better than the S5 appears to be capable of. 

Let's compare the Galaxy S6 results with the 16MP sensor on my Lumia 1520 (the same as on the Lumia 930). What you'll see is the "high-res" result, so no oversampling and about the same size as the Galaxy S6 shoots. First, you'll see the result from the Galaxy S6, followed by that of the Lumia 1520.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Nokia Lumia 1520

Interesting to see the Lumia 1520 seems to give a "brighter' image, but that might have to do with focusing on a darker part of the scene, or the just a bit different angle I used with the Lumia 1520 as well: there is less "room" over the bottle in the middle, I missed the green lamp in the right hand corner and you'll see all the old glasses on the table. Anyway, let's have a look at the first crops. Again, Galaxy S6 first, Lumia 1520 second.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Nokia Lumia 1520

Samsung Galaxy S6

Nokia Lumia 1520

I'll even add the third crop, although I didn't capture the scene in Rich Recording on the Lumia 1520. I'm sorry to admit I didn't even think of using Rich Capture that morning, don't ask me why, but I think the amount of light captured is more or less comparable.

Samsung Galaxy S6 HDR

Nokia Lumia 1520

You think it's not fair comparing the HDR result from the Galaxy S6? Fair enough, here's the same crop from the "normal" version...

Samsung Galaxy S6

Some might not like my conclusion, but in fact: the Galaxy S6 wins all three rounds - the details are just about perfect! Now a few might want to argue that I'm using the 16MP, not oversampled version of the Lumia 1520 - but it's the only way, unless I would resize the 16MP shot I got from the S6 to 5MP, which wouldn't be "fair" either, would it?

I captured the scene with the Nokia 808 PureView as well. It did a great job as usual but I should have toned down brightness a bit, as you might want to see for yourself on Flickr (link below). What I will share here as well however, is what I got from the Nokia Lumia 1020, captured in 34MP. I did resize the original to roughly the same size for the crops you'll see below. 

Nokia Lumia 1020




The result is quite good in general, although the camera obviously didn't focus on the bottle in the last crop. Also, we have to keep in mind that resizing it to more than half the original size does affect the details in the shot. 

HTC One M9 vs Honor 4X
Now how did the rest of the competition do? Let's have a look at two newcomers - the new HTC flagship One M9 (well over €700) and the very affordable Honor 4X (€199). You pay for design as well I guess; the HTC One M9 is one stunning looking device, whereas the Honor 4X is pretty basic, but with a large display.

Is this a lost battle to begin with? Does the camera of the 4X perform way less as the M9? Let's see. This time, let's have a look at the Honor 4X first and compare it with the HTC One M9. First both "normal" shots, so without HDR.

Honor 4X

HTC One M9

Oh yes, I do prefer what I see in the second shot. Contrast is better, colours are better, and - as was the case with the Galaxy S6 vs the S5 - you'll capture a lot more from your scene with the HTC One M9, that's for sure.

It might even be interesting to compare the last shot to the one from the Galaxy S6. Again, I didn't get the exact same shot, but on close inspection you'll see theS6 captures even more of the scene than the M9 - it simply has an even wider angle.

Samsung Galaxy S6 (repeated)

Call me crazy, but I'm actually blown away by how the Galaxy S6 has captured this. Now let's have a look at the crops from these X4 and M9. Again Honor 4X first and HTC One M9 second, no HDR.

Honor 4X

HTC One M9

Honor 4X

HTC One M9

Honor 4X

HTC One M9

Well, it's not easy in fact, also because the crops show I didn't manage to get the exact same shot with every device. And I'm not quite sure about the focus I got from the HTC One M9, but it's the best shot out of eight (I always make more shot for every comparison and select the best from each device). I feel that only in the last crop the M9 is really sharp, but again - neither can compare to what I got from the Galaxy S6.

The quality of the crops coming from the Honor 4X really surprises me though - in a positive way that is. For a "budget" phone (if that's what you can call a €199 smartphone) its 10MP camera (in 16:9) performs really very well under bright light conditions like these. In the previous comparison ( in the basement) you've seen it does show remarkable detail but the flash is pretty weak. Just one more thing to share from that early morning: both HDR results from these devices. Here you go.

Honor 4X HDR

HTC One M9 HDR

The HDR shot from the 4X is only a fraction brighter as the "normal" one. Making a HDR shot with the HTC One M9 in fact takes a bit more time, it looks like it's really the "classic" kind of HDR in fact, combining different shots into one. Also - and a bit to my disappointment - this is the only HDR shot that actually looks quite artificial. Looks like we have to make a difference between the "classic" and "new" kind of HDR (like on the Galaxy S6). I think you'll understand which one I prefer personally.

Conclusion so far
So to what conclusion does this all lead for now? This comparison shows some fantastic imaging capacities of the Samsung Galaxy S6, no doubt. In fact it's a shame that even in its "Pro mode" it won't allow you to squeeze even more out of it - you can't manually change shutter speed for instance (lowest shutter speed is still 1/7 second as far as I've been able to check, way less than a second anyway) and you can't set the aperture value (for all different camera settings please check this post). 

Its low light results with flash were quite convincing already, but in great light the Galaxy S6 in fact blows the competition out of the water. At least from what I've seen it does perform better than the Lumia 1520 (like the Galaxy Note 4 outperformed the Lumia 930 in this comparison). It's certainly the best of the three recent Android smartphones in this test as well.

The HTC One M9 is performing quite well in fact - much better than the HTC M-series ever performed, that's for sure - but given the fact it has a 20MP sensor and given its price tag, I have the feeling it could have done better than I've been able to show here (and in my previous comparison). Now I do understand a recent software update has brought some serious improvements to the camera, so I promise I'll try to get back to the exact same scene and capture the same shot once more - I'll share it as an update to this post. 

Chances are however, you'll decide to buy the HTC One M9 for other reasons anyway. You already love its splendid design, you prefer HTC's own interface (which has improved a lot with the latest version I might add), or you're already a fan of the dual front speakers that definitely offer a mind-blowing sound quality. If all you need is a better camera in your HTC One M, this is the one for you.

The Honor 4X might be just about the biggest surprise in this comparison. It doesn't offer much of a wide angle, but I think the camera quality again proves to be really surprising for a €199 device. 

And of course, the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 are to be respected for what they are still capable of. Even the 1020 is getting old these days however - and it has always been slow, hasn't it? Many Club visitors still adore their 808 PureView as much as I do, but out there - in "the real world" - nobody cares about a Symbian device you can't even buy but second hand.

I think the fact that the Galaxy S6 is surpassing even the best of the recent Lumia flagships means Microsoft should be launching a next flagship device soon. After all: the camera still is one of the key features for a consumer to decide which smartphone to buy (and Windows Phone still isn't convincing too many people unfortunately).

You will find orignal shots (and more then I've shared here) in a dedicated album on Flickr. I have some more shooting to do in great light with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 (which has a very steap price tag attached to it as well), so I'm not declaring complete victory for the Galaxy S6 just yet. But boy, it's a damn impressive smartcam you'll be buying (by the way, I'm testing the Edge version, the "normal" S6 has the exact same camera sensor and software). 

It will take me a while to write my next post since I'm going to fly to London soon, to Huawei's presentation of the Ascend P8, which I hope to be able to test very soon as well.

Last but not least: if you appreciate what I'm doing here, please consider making a donation: there's a button on the right hand side of this page. Any amount is welcome and I'll add you to the list of sponsors no matter how much you contribute. Please follow SmartCam.Club on Twitter, like it on Facebook, check out my Instagram (I should be posting there more often, too). That's all for now folks! :-)