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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Camera comparison: Nokia's new N96, N85 and N79 versus Sony Ericsson K800i

This evening, I had a chance to play with the new Nokia N96, N85 and N79 phones up close and personal. I didn't get a chance to do as much as I wanted to at yesterday's media event for the Nseries phone launch, so this was a welcome treat. And since I use the camera feature quite often on my phone, I decided to put the camera-cum-photo feature to the test.

And it was a simple test: what sort of photograph would I get from each of the phones? Given that the new Nseries phones are top-notch, my hypothesis was that they would have the best visual output (excluding image size, since they're five-megapixel cameras, while my Sony Ericsson K800i's camera has three megapixels).

All photos were taken with the default camera settings under the same indoor conditions. I've re-sized them here to fit this blog entry.

First up, Sony Ericsson K800i.
Camera phone comparison: Sony Ericsson K800i

Next: Nokia N85
Camera phone comparison: Nokia N85

Hmm, not too shabby.

Up next: Nokia N79
Camera phone comparison: Nokia N79

Err, a bit washed out?

The Nokia N96 should be better.
Camera phone comparison: Nokia N96 take 1

Wha...??? The photo looked as washed out as the N79! Okay, maybe it was this particular phone, so I tried another one.

Camera phone comparison: Nokia N96 take 2

Slightly better than the previous photo. And its flash was bright enough to capture more of the dark background.

But of the three Nseries phones, I think the N96 produced the best photo, though the photo looked over-exposed to my untrained eye. And, of course, this happened when the camera wasn't acting up. (Or maybe there were smudges on the lens? Ah, the benefit of a lens cover!)

The Nseries-taken photos also came out slightly blurry. I attribute this to a poorly-designed camera button. I don't know if it was because these were prototypes, but their buttons were difficult to press. I had to use the tip of my finger to force the button down to take a picture -- and then hold the camera in place for almost a second to save the picture!

I suspect that my hands would've shaken slightly during that time, resulting in the blurred pictures. While the K800i has about the same time lag, the picture looks clearer, which could be due to easier-to-use button and image processing.

So overall, I wouldn't bother with the N79. The changeable covers are a novelty that would wear off quickly on me. The N85 looks like a decent package overall. As for the N96, I'll say that it's a matter of luck. While it's a feature-packed phone, as seen from the photos, the quality obtained from the features would seem to depend on whether I land a good one or walk off with a lame duck.

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