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Low light camera comparison: Galaxy S4 vs HTC One vs Lumia 720 vs Lumia 920 vs Xperia Z

What better way to spend a Friday afternoon than with a low light camera comparison of the hottest phones of the moment? Which phones are we talking about? The crowned king of low-light, the Nokia Lumia 920, the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 720 and the Sony Xperia Z.

We’ve done a similar off the cuff comparison in the past. Highlighting the fact that the Nokia Lumia 720 was a flagship beater, we decided to include it in this latest comparison to see if it could trump the Galaxy S4 and the HTC One.

The grid below doesn’t show which phone took which photo, but click through for a giant version where the sharp, or not so sharp, shooters will be revealed.

Low-light grid

What do the findings show? The winner is once again the Nokia Lumia 920 and its 8.7-megapixel, optical image stabilised camera. It pulls the best overall white balance out of the bag and detail is more than respectable. 

Second up, another flagship? No. It’s a close call, but the mid-range Nokia Lumia 720 actually pips the HTC One to the post as runner up. Its white balance is the most impressive after the Lumia 920, detail is strong with its 6.7-megapixel sensor and the f/1.9 lens means it lets in oodles of light.

Third up, it’s HTC’s One. The optically image stabilised UltraPixel laden camera phone boasts low-light as its main strength, but can’t quite trump the Finnish Lumias. What it does offer is the smallest file-size and quickest capture.

The final cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and SonyXperia Z both pack 13-megapixel sensors.

Lots of pixels coupled with low light and no optical image stabilisation. This usually means lots of processing, or lots of noise. The Sony Xperia Z processes images much more heavily, and in low-light, therefore, trumps the Galaxy S4.

Detail is fair, though there’s very evident haloing around objects when you get up-close and personal. White balance was also fair. Finally, the Samsung Galaxy S4 delivered the noisiest shot of the bunch. Whilst we can attest to its outstanding daylight photography chops, in the dead of night, compared to the Lumias, it’s dead in the water.

Download the full-res samples below and if you agree, disagree or have an opinion you absolutely have to share, comment below.

Samsung Galaxy S4 low-light camera sampleHTC One low-light camera sampleNokia Lumia 720 low-light sampleNokia Lumia 920 low-light sampleSony Xperia Z low-light sample image

In order: Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 720, Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia Z



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