Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

You know what, forget the iPhone. Lets put the N8 up against some serious firepower, a DSLR which in this case is a 18 Megapixel Canon 550D, fitted with the 18-55mm kit lens. You’ve seen unedited pictures and video that Iain and I took with the N8 around Edinburgh. However I was also carrying my Canon 550D along and we decided to put the N8 to test and see how it fares against a full blown DSLR, nevermind those pocket point and shoot cameras. The results may surprise.

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

But before we proceed to the 20 different sets of images, lets clear a few things first. The N8 is not intended to replace a DSLR and as a blanket rule it will not. The N8 has the largest sensor on a mobile phone but even that is nothing compared to a DSLR’s sensor. This means that when it comes to low light photos, it will not even be a competition. Then what is the point of doing this shootout you ask?

I am doing this to see if there is a possibility of leaving a bulky DSLR home when you know you will be taking shots mainly during the day and do not intend to shoot landscapes at night. Lets face it, no matter how much you love taking images with your DSLR, carrying it around is a pain. There were a lot of times when despite having my trusty Canon 550D slung on my back I was happy using the N8 to take photos. Its too much of a pain to take it out of the bag every 5 minutes when you want to take a snap and lugging almost a kilo (800 gms.) around my neck also isn’t something I particularly look forward to.

Right then, the images. To fit this webpage I have resized the images, if you want a look at the larger version, just click on each image. But if you are still not satisfied and want the absolute unedited shots, I’ve uploaded all of them here, the ones with ‘DSLR’ in the name are from the Canon 550D and are numbered in co-relation to their N8 equivalents.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • Once resized, there isn’t much to choose between the shots. The Canon has better lighting, but that could also be because the shot was composed a little differently.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • With the sun playing hide and seek from the opposite direction, photography is always tough. It slid out a little to make the N8’s task even more hard.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • This is where the Canon takes the clear lead with much better exposure, a lot more of the picture is visible.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • If I didn’t label these images, you would be stressed to tell which was which.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • The sun again playing spoil sport with the N8, but I’m glad to see that it has still been able to get a pretty decent shot in despite it blaring into the sensor.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • At this point I was pretty happy with how the N8 was coping with virtually shooting into the sun, in the above shot its been blocked by the building.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • The Canon may have gotten much more natural colours, but I like how the N8’s version pops up.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • This time the Canon wins for me with better exposure.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • Again a slight victory for the Canon because of the fact the greater detail visible in the houses.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • Personally speaking, I’d like to give this round to the N8. The Canon has over-exposed it for my taste.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • Both great looking pictures, but I love the deeper blues on the N8.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • On this one, I prefer the N8’s version. Better colours and exposure.

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

  • Not natural, but I prefer the deeper blues that the N8’s post processing algorithm creates.

I personally don’t put too much value in actual size crops that are done to show how much detail could a camera capture as there would hardly be an occasion when I would need a 12 Megapixel image at its 100%. However, for those of you who care, here are ‘actual size’ crops from the Canon 550D (18 Megapixel) and the Nokia N8 (12 Megapixel).

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Nokia N8

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

Canon 550D

Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR

As you can see for yourself, the detail on the N8’s shots is very impressive indeed.

Who would have thought that the N8 could even give a DSLR a run for its money. There will be things the N8 will not be able to match such as depth of field, low light performance, speed and sometimes even detail but for something that stays in your pocket 24/7 and weighs nothing compared to a DSLR, I’d say the N8 has come out with flying colours. The results have shocked me as well, even while I was taking the pictures I could not imagine that the results the N8 produces can look good to an untrained eye, even when put up against a DSLR. Remember, all the untouched, full resolution images from both devices are here.

After all the images I have taken with the N8, after the tons of video that I have seen it produce; I can only come to one conclusion, the N8 is the best camera phone on the market today, don’t let anyone tell you different.

Looking for more N8 coverage?

187 thoughts on “Shootout: Nokia N8 v Canon 550D DSLR”

  1. Wow. This should shut the fools at Engadget, and a certain ‘elder’ly person, up. 🙂
    Btw where are you?

  2. Wow.. I am shocked. The N8 even beats the Canon is come shots, I could never imagine that. Thanks for the awesome test!! Now I can’t wait for it to go on sale in India. 🙂

  3. Impressive detail in almost all the pictures. To me it looks like the N8’s exposure algorithm is tuned for slight under-exposure for my liking. However, it’s great to see they’ve toned down the sharpening and saturation compared to their earlier models (I have the N82).

    Is there a way to create a custom setting with the exposure turned up a notch and have it as a default? That would be the ticket. Also, how is the focus reliability and general speed of the camera? Can you select area to focus on? How good is close-up mode? Maybe a camera software and UI review would be helpful to follow this. Thanks!

  4. excellent work as usual. Thanks. You guys have proven that your work is superior to the rest. No need to pay any attention to those idiots. Thanks for the sanity and objectivity.

  5. Hey Vaibhav,

    What a comparison. This is how it should have been done. Comparing N8 with something higher than its grade and not with some 5MP phones.. Hope this is a lesson for Engadget and others..

  6. Wow too bad this phone doesnt have a keyboard I cant go for touch only, because that camera is flat out amazing and so is the locations.

  7. Just awesome, impressive, lovely photos, also, and letting people download the pack is invaluable.
    @kutyafal it focus on the center.

  8. @ kutyafal

    Yes, you can set exposure, ISO, white balance, saturation, sharpness etc. and save them to a preset (which you can make the default).

    Focus reliability is good, and very fast – fastest cameraphone I’ve used, often as quick as my panasonic g1, though usual CDAF issues in low light – need a DSLR with PDAF to be fast there.

    Macro is decent – min focus distance is about the same as anything else. Though the unusually wide lens means you get a wide FOV than normal (but great details makes up for this).

  9. Astonishing comparison mate! That was a real treat to my eyes. Being cameracentric myself, I really enjoyed street/building layouts as that’s also of my particular interest.

    Is there any chance you do some low light/night shots, and maybe few in pub ;)?

    Cheers,
    Miki

  10. Thanks for this “Straight from Heart” Article!

    The pictures speak! And let those fools learn something from this, wish they can. lol

  11. Wow the photos the N8 produces are really awesome.Nokia have really put a lot of effort in the camera of the N8 which shows in the images it produces.In some of the shots it trumps the dslr which is a great achievement for a cameraphone.
    You have a done a great job by performing such a great comparison.

  12. Enjoyed this feature. I wonder if HDR will come to the N8 for some of those shots requiring a bit more latitude.

  13. Results could be different if only I had a chance to use your SLR :)) But I’ve played enough with N8 camera and yeah its pretty impressive mobile camera yet I dont compare it with SLRs because I know I can get what I want with even that 18-55 trash lens. Its all in your hands how you choose the settings for a specific scene.

    And truly its a pain to carry a big camera around, so N8 gets preference ;).

  14. I admit I was not trying to take that perfect picture from my Canon. On most occasions it was on the auto mode, and so was the N8.

    These pictures were taken walking around the city, without much thought being placed into composition and so on. As I see it, that’s exactly how a lot of people will use their device as well! 😉

  15. Could you explain to me why you have taken these shots differently? It looks like you have composed the picture by choosing which fits better?

    Shots taken with the EOS are taken with much lower angle compared to the N8 – that means that the darker areas are in bigger quantities in the EOS photos. It might sound like it doesn’t matter, but when you have two different kind of photos taken from the same place; the other has 20% of bright areas, and the other has 30% of bright areas – the autoexposure makes the photos totally different and they can’t be compared with each other..

    So your examples and test are pretty much, sorry for telling this, not any good for comparing these two items 🙁

  16. Ouch! What’s that cyanish glare around edges in some of the actual size crops from the Canon. That’s no good. 😉

  17. That’s not a very good comparison

    Some are framed differently and you missed the focus on a couple of shots with the canon.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the phone did good in this. DSLR’s only have a real advantage over compacts in low light or when you put a good lens on the front.

    If you spend the money on a 550D, or any DSLR, you’d be a fool to leave it in auto mode.

  18. Hate to say it, but nowadays they sells SLRs to kids, who think you can’t take even a decent photo without paying >1000 bucks..

  19. Judging by the way he’s writing, the author clearly knows how to use a DSLR. He specially said that he used the auto settings were used so that both devices were on a level playing field. Plus if the guy’s walking around taking photos, he won’t want to spend a minute a each photo getting the ‘settings’ right. At least i won’t. 😛

    The n8 did a good job.. accept it and move on..

  20. Fair enough if set both on Auto mode. Coz if DSLR take picture manually, it won’t be fair enough for N8. Coz obviously, DSLR have the advantage here.

    N8 is good for taking picture without carrying heavy DSLR all the time.

  21. stupid comparison.
    any dslr-like is not better dslr, how u can compare with mobile phone camera.
    u dont have skill make a photo.
    thats lame omg ppls believe in that shit.

  22. Who is the tricky guy here ?

    Is the “bad” Russian Elder … that use the most crappy setting in N8 and other tricks for make shame on 12M pixel of N8 vs 5M pixel from Apple ???

    At least, the bad guy did provide what is looking the original photo … here what is provided are re-sampled picture … how can I see the quality of a 12M pixel camera, if the photo here are rescaled to 1Mpixel ??

    Personally, I think, the lack of optical zoom … something that a sub 100$ pocket digital camera has … does not classify the N8 as replacement of any decent digital camera …

    Still it could be the best mobile phone camera around … but it would be nice to have some real and concrete samples and comparison from the lucky one that had their hands on this new “gem” from Nokia

    Tchuss

    e_lm_70

  23. Anssi was right 🙂
    “there will be now need to carry around those heavy lenses”
    “It will not take long, less than a year”

  24. mo,compare DSLR with Nokia N8. Obviously 550D win hands down. Both have set Auto MODE. If set Canon 550D take pictures manually, I think the comparison will be UNFAIR. So its best to set both Auto.

  25. This comparison is bad for two clear reasons: composition is random when it should be exactly identical, and settings in the 550D are baad. You could take a lot better pictures with basic fast tuning.

  26. It seems there is more bright sky involved in the Canon images. That means Canon was working harder to make correct expsure and the comparison is not really valid.

  27. N8 may be great in UK from Vodafone, but its not in USA and won’t be on a single US carrier plan for the foreseeable future. Nokia’s marketing of the N8 is ignoring the US.

  28. @homo

    Eldar in disguise? Pictures here are in plain view, I cant believe you believe its a lame comparison.

  29. Excellent job from Nokia. I think most people dont need to carry or even buy a separate camera or video camera anymore. And also one gets one of the best smartphones at the same time.

  30. Nice one Vaibhav.. It’s obvious that N8 can’t match the power of DSLR but not to forget a DSLR is meant only for photography ..where as N8 is full of features…It’s a mobile, Camera, Multimedia device…!!
    I wish if I can buy one N8 for me… It will be a camera device for me..!!

  31. i wont believe n8 can beat dslr in some shots… i think n8 camera is good but not the best… sony ericsson still is.

  32. This is absolute bullshit.. comparsion of the river shot there is too slow shutter speed in canon 550D and too small kitlense zoom 18mm it should be set closer 24mm.. then there is shutter speed in canon 64 ??!! there is no 64 only 1/50 , 1/60, 1/70 so is there fake manibulation in exiff data ??

    then there is resolution of 550D 72Pixel in cm.. there is canon settings set to lowest as posible “low res and jpg” (s)

    and nokia n8 has shutter speed twise faster 142 and resolution 300pixel in cm …

    the photographer is stupid and useles to keep this blog and give comparsions if he cant use cameras propeply.

    when there is cloudy wheather and you are indoor the nokia will lose focus and came noisierand harder to keep picture steady because it will use slow shutter speed ..

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