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DSLR vs Smartphone camera - with surprising results

2 minute read

Evan TchelepiSmartphone vs top DSLR


OK - it's not just *any* smartphone but the Nokia Lumia 1020 - which has 41 Megapixels - but, really, is there even any point in doing a comparison? Apparently, there is

In his blog, Evan Tchelepi has written about some tests he's done with the Nikon D800 vs the Nokia Lumia 1020.

On the face of it, this is an absurd comparison. You've got the D800, which, in anyone's book, is a top-end DSLR with a full-frame 36 megapixel sensor, and then you've got a Nokia smartphone.

But, hang on a minute. A quick glance at the specifications reveals that the Nokia has more photosites (ie pixels) on its sensor than the Nikon: 41 million.

Of course, this means very little. What it does mean is that the Nokia is going to be far, far better than any other phone out there. Simply being able to interpolate from such a large number of pixels to create a more "normal" 5 megapixel image means that it's less noisy and probably that the colours will be more defined and saturated.

But Tchelepi has some surprising results. He's found that in some circumstances the images from the Nokia are actually better.

He qualifies this by saying that he's not used the best lens on the Nikon, he hasn't ventured beyond automatic settings, and that the conditions were, mostly, far from optimal. But all of this actually reinforces his conclusion that, if you had to choose a camera to be with you all the time, you'd probably select the one that would fit in your pocket, and had all the communications facilities that are pretty much standard on smartphones.

Can a smartphone outshine a Nikon?

So, is the Nokia actually better than the Nikon as a camera?

No, of course not. What it does, it seems, is raise the baseline. It means that a phone can now take a very good picture.

But there is still a built-in ceiling with a phone. If you give the Nikon a good lens, good lighting, and optimal conditions all round, it will in all likelihood far outperform the Nokia. And the reason is not only is the Nikon's sensor bigger and - one would hope - better, but the Nikon has the choice of some of the best lenses in the world.

It is, perhaps, a bit like comparing a small hatchback with a Bugatti Veyron. The hatchback is simply a better car for shopping. But will it do 220 MPH on the Autobahn? No.

Is this a valid comparison? What do you think?

Evan's blog is here. It's a fascinating read.


Tags: Technology