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. Thank you Mitko. Just as you said it. I now know that when I don’t have my DSLR with me, I can still take pictures with the N8, that I can use later. There’s no way I always carry my DSLR, but my phone is always ready.

  2. i really surprise how can u compare n8 with 550D.

    1. the ratio u set is totally different for both n8 and 550D
    from your pics, n8 ratio is 4:3 and 550D is just 3:2 (i guess), thats why from your pics, the image captured by n8 is bigger and more details than 550D.

    2. in the morning with clear bright blue sky, u are also able to get a nice pic even u r shooting with a 5MP camera phone.

    3.regarding the brightness and sharpness, 550d pics above look abit weak, however, dslr is available for u to manually set the best setting, if u really do adjusted before shot all these pics… i swear the n8 has no chance to stand aside with 550D.

    just for sharing.. 🙂

  3. simply put, the nokia camera phone makes the digital camera look overpriced.
    dslr’s are overrated given all the [computer] tools we have today. most ppl jsut dont have the time to do proper research. 20 minutes ago i was searching google for what other camera compares to the t2i and bumped on this page. sure the 550d is the better camera and the n8 has a lot to catch up on. but camera phones are gonna catch up with dslr’s very soon. its inevitable.

    in 3yrs a phone will be able to take dslr quality pictures, and compete with a high end computer system. i dont see a typical dslr camera being able to do too much more than what they already do.

    for what they do, it would be a hard pick btwn this phone and this camera.

  4. Look at:

    http://masters.galleries.dpreview.com.s3.amazonaws.com/128230.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=14Y3MT0G2J4Y72K3ZXR2&Expires=1291419706&Signature=MmxzA9Tm63rH6z%2b%2f3HbR19G6fBM%3d

    The resolution on the Canon link is just bad. You should get something like the link I gave here. No way Nokia can do that. Besides the physical world constraints of mobile phone cameras seriously limit what they can do. This is a highly biased comparison.

  5. On cropped images you can see an abberation (Canon) which is caused by architecture of lens. Add to this, there is lower level of sharping in DSLRs. By the way to compare this two devices it is good to use good quality constant focal length lens on Canon. However Nokia has high quality phone camera, which is worth to have in your pocket. Canon reaches the peaks of popularity. sorry for idiotic idioms.

  6. you cant be serious to compare !! the n8 photos apparently got post processed , because a phone camera cant handle lighting and contrast better than a dslr , i have a nikon d90 and i cant even try to think to compare , and only the n8 photos looks better because you underexposed the photos !!! , lower the exposure on the dslr photos and you’ll see !

  7. both of the shot ultimately was inconsistent….how could you compare a DSLR which has many functions and features of manipulating picture exposure to a Nokia N8?…..

  8. obviously, this comparison is written in such a way just to make the N8 look good. it’s not cos the N8 pictures are excellent, it’s cos your DSLR picture are too simple. why didn’t you just compare the N8 with any point and shoot of the same price range?

  9. I agree that the N8 does take quite beautiful and detailed pictures, and from your samples the N8 definitely holds its own against the 550D.

    However, I’d just like to comment on the crop comparisons of the two cameras in that while the Nokia images clearly had sharper lines than the 550D ones, the so-called ‘chromatic aberrations’ seen on the 550D can be largely attributed to the quality of the kit lens, and can be improved with the use of better quality lenses.

    That being said, in a comparison between two products in their rawest, most basic forms, I do agree that the Nokia N8’s camera is great bang for the buck 🙂 Nice review!

  10. That comparison doesn not say anything.What about iso? show some pictures taken by nokia at iso 1600 at least.what is iso noise comparison. Slow exposure? up to 30 sec and bulb mode?Is that in nokia avilable?Kit lens is made to throw away anyway in canon,put some nifty fifty and then compare,what about bokeh? is there any in nokia? no.
    Sory but that fone mybe is good for ocasional snaps traveling around the world,but nothing more.

  11. Some guys dont learn… thanks Vaibhav for the review.. was thinking of getting N8 this new year and u prove my point that it can play a role of an excellent emergeny camera.

    and for the fanboys out there,
    1. 550d will give superior shots, even with a kit lens, even the author knows.
    2. The test was designed in a good natural lighting and auto settings – to make an even playing field
    3. Auto settings – even the author will know he will achieve 100% better results with manual.
    4. The author did a quick comparision with his 550D usind kitlens. He didnt try to find how the n8 crap shit, just finding how it stands up to a good old dslr in good lighting conditions.
    5. And lastly, the author and “the _accidental” knows what they are doing, appreciate it and use the knowledge. Don’t try to act smart.

  12. gaming on n8 is also outstanding it is able to run games which required 1 ghz processor

    you can watch your photo video and play your games on ur hd tv directly thourgh hdmi cable u cant to it on canon haaahaa that mean n8 is worth of money then conon dslr or apple’s shit means iphone

  13. this comparison doesnt show that images from n8 are superior than 550d..

    there are tons of things a dslr can do… n8 wont be 10% of the cheapest dslr…

  14. this comparison is the dumbest one i’ve ever seen and it’s not because the author doesn’t know how to take close to identical shots.

    if you bought a DSLR camera to walk around and point-and-shoot in auto mode => then you’re already a huge moron and who cares if you suddenly forgot your DSLR and will use your camera phone.

    it should be a comparison with any compact digital camera.

  15. this is not a fair comparison..dslr are not made to be in full auto..but camera,yes! dats y nokia already setting the best in auto mode..but if u set the 550D in full manual mode which mean u can control the aperture,iso,focal length (in a variation of lenses!!),white balance n so on,so u wont be able to compare all those pics bcoz it will be much better!!

  16. The Nokia does seem to take some seriously good pictures, especially for a phone. What are the features like of the NOKIA UP AGAINST THE CANON 550D.The Canon 550d features are extensive. I suppose it may not matter as I guess the point is, you will always have your nokia in your back pocket to grab and point and shoot. Interesting.

  17. I think what the author is trying to do is…with an automatic setting on a DSLR vs an automatic setting on an N8, which ones produce better images?

    As he has said, the N8 is not meant to replace a DSLR (duh). You can be soooo much more creative with a DSLR by changing the manual settings,etc,etc. It’s obvious just from a DSLR stats that N8 won’t stand a chance…

    But on automatic setting from both cameras…well that’s the story above.

  18. “this is not a fair comparison..dslr are not made to be in full auto..but camera,yes! dats y nokia already setting the best in auto mode..but if u set the 550D in full manual mode which mean u can control the aperture,iso,focal length (in a variation of lenses!!),white balance n so on,so u wont be able to compare all those pics bcoz it will be much better!!”

    I think the test is fair…i mean the N8 doesn’t have most of the manual options…and fair, by definition would be that the cameras be set with the same available settings.

    it’s like trying to test the ‘web browser’ on the canon against the n8…the n8 wins…but that’s just because canon hasn’t got a web browser lol

  19. and why the hell are you guys bagging the author???

    he just wants to compare the auto on canon with the auto on n8…

    you guys don’t know if he really can’t take pics with the canon coz you guys haven’t even seen his real work yet.

    so lay off the personal attacks.

  20. wow , most people complaining are missing the point of this: is the n8 enough for everyday’s use or should one keep that DSLR hanging on his neck all the time?

  21. actually i kinda like the photo whereby u shoot directly into the sun, and the sun glares into the sensor, giving the photo like a ray of light kinda thing, that was way cooler i think. Thumbs up to N8 (Y)
    Bravo!

  22. In most of the pics the Canon pics are over exposed and washed out some of the lighter colors. While the Canon was only slightly crisper, probably do to the 18 mgpix compared to 12 mgpix and faster write time, i would set the aperture manually and leave “autoexposer” off.

  23. they always compare n8 on camera’s like that but many are choosing n8 than those big camera’s

  24. Nice pictures from both, N8 shots should sut many of those who are against it !! Godd work 🙂

  25. Not this is only for brightness seatings
    M using Nokia N8 nothing is batter then this.
    If u really want to comparer Just sat the brightness and then u will see batter results.

  26. You should have included some low light shots in there. Yes it does perform very well in good light but most shots taken with a camera in a phone will be ‘social’ pics which are often taken indoors in poor lighting. Yes it does have flash illumination which will be OK for closeup shots but just like any 12 Mp small sensor camera it will struggle at distance (beyond 2m) in low light.

    The other difference is dynamic range. If you look at images 5 and 6 there is a lot of blotchy ‘noise’ in the shadows of the Nokia image (5) whereas there is little or none in the Canon image.

  27. I think the whole point of the review is not to show that the N8 is replacing a DSLR anytime soon. But for day to day shot, the N8 is pretty “sufficient”.

  28. I have been using N8 for a month now (US). It is simply stunning. I do not have any problems with my N8. Work great right out of the box. World’s first Penta Band phone.

  29. WTF with the indian and east-europe guys? Are they all stupids or what? Did they read about the test? The conditions on both cameras? It’s really impressive how trolls are running wild on the web…

    And thanks for the photos. I’m a T2i (550D american version) owner and these days was dreaming about buy a N8… Just for take shots of my 2 years old baby-girl…But it’s hard carry an elephant like Canon T2i every time…

  30. i hope all the canon dslr fanboys has stopped crying by now.

    its ok, u paid good $$$ for rubbish , it happens. u r not dumb, just…not too smart.

    cheers.

  31. Your rigth truely almost the same as dslr picture the n8..but you forget to shoot in night..you will see the big defferrent of that..even the 2mega pixel cell phone or camera can shot clear image in day Ligth.-…………..

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  33. Hi have a nokia N8 and a Cannon 450D DSLR, there is no way the N8 even compairs the DSLR if you know how to use the DSLR! Sure the camera is pretty good for a phone camera – but to compare it to a DSLR is like compairing apples to oranges.

  34. lol. The point is N8 can take very good photos and is as good as any DSLR out there.
    Of course DSLR Camera wins when it comes to manual and extreme settings. But can your DSLR camera send messages? can it connect to internet and loadload/watch movies or surf?
    Just accept the fact that N8 despite a superb smartphone is also a superb Cameraphone than have a quality of DSLR

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