With advancing camera sensors and highly designed software, your mobile camera is the ultimate snapper that never leaves your pocket. We asked fashion photographer Jeff Hahn (Dazed & Confused, i-D, Nylon, Tatler (Asia) and Versace) to test the year’s top camera phones, and judge which one is the ultimate tool for mobile photographers…
Winner: NOKIA 808 PureView: A 41-megapixel monster of a smartphone camera
The Nokia 808 PureView boasts great quality images with quick access to the camera via a dedicated button. The 808 operates comfortably in daylight and captures action well, easing fluently into areas of low-light where it produces clean, sharp photographs.
The only downsides are the 808’s macro ability, failing to focus on objects closer than its reported six inches. Once focused however, the 808 performs beautifully, showing off its brilliant depth-of-field capabilities. Another slight problem was the white balance (colour replication tends to shift towards the colder hues in low-light) – although easily adjustable in settings.
Sitting comfortably between the minimalism of the iPhone’s camera and the loaded controls of the Galaxy S III, the PureView gives you the right amount of control from dawn till dusk, thanks to a Xenon flash that blows its competition straight out of the water. It might take a light tweak to get it right, but the 808 makes up for its weaknesses with an array of adjustments and astounding quality.
SAMSUNG Galaxy S III: An overall pleasure to use, an excellent camera for an incredible phone.
We loved the Samsung Galaxy S III's quick shooting mode of up to around three frames per second and great performance in any lighting conditions, close or far. This is a wonderful camera phone for those wanting more control over the image than the iPhone, with many variables available for adjustment. The panorama feature allows for accurate stitching by showing you alignment frames. Although there’s no dedicated camera button, accessing the camera is easy and the ripple-swipe unlocking method is just too cute to resist!
HTC One X: An all-round average camera phone, although it packs some great features.
The HTC One X performed averagely on all accounts. White balance is generally spot-on with the exception of murky skin tone rendition. The macro feature works well, though shifting between close and far focal ranges tends to confuse the One X, requiring a quick tap to remind it to refocus. In low-light the HTC shows signs of noise cloaked by some sort of auto-enhancement feature. On the upside, the HTC packs in a load of exciting features including rapid firing modes and adjustable contrast / saturation settings to get the perfect image, providing you don’t mind its unique aspect ratio.
Apple iPhone 4S: Easy to use with great daylight performance
Quick access, automatic adjustment of focal ranges and simplistic design means no wasting time struggling to choose the best shooting modes, performing competitively in both daylight and low-light. With glorious depth of field and good automatic white balance, the iPhone 4S is a no frills, quality approach to camera phone photography, leaving all the visual condiments to the bricolage of smartphone apps at your disposal. It’s no wonder Apple did little to update the camera for the iPhone 5.
SONY XPERIA S: Excellent features but could do with better general quality.
The Sony Xperia S suffers from odd ratio shifts between different file sizes, and although has a dedicated camera access button, required some convincing pressing to utilize. Once pressed however, the camera launches straight into quick capture mode, snapping a photograph before you lose the moment. The camera itself produces generally decent images, also offering some nice features like a quick panorama that stitches together in seconds (also warning you when you pan the image too fast). This proved to be much more seamless than the Galaxy S III’s slightly choppy panorama. Other fun features include the 3D options, especially the 3D Multi-Angle Sweep, giving you trippy images that shift as you tilt the phone.
HOW THEY STACK UP
Each category is scored out of 5, and the points are totalled to decide the winner...
Low light score