Camera Shoot Out: iPhone 5 v. Lumia 928 v. Lumia 720

I have had the distinct pleasure of carrying three extremely capable camera phones with me, the iPhone 5, Nokia’s Verizon exclusive Lumia 928 and the Lumia 720. While the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 928 are flagship devices, the Lumia 720 is the surprise that keeps on delivering. For a mid range device, it has an exceptional camera capable of some amazing low light performance.

But before we get into the nitty grittiness of which camera is better, or what advantages or disadvantages each brings, lets look at a few photos shot in varying lighting conditions. The first photo will be the iPhone 5, follow by the Lumia 720 and the Lumia 928 in the end. Clicking on each photo will get you the full resolution image.

iPhone 5

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 02

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 03

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 04

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 05

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 06

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 08

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 09

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 10

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 11

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 12

Lumia 720

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Sample - 07

Lumia 720

Lumia 928

The iPhone 5, just like the iPhone 4S before it have long been hailed as some of the best camera phones on the planet, and it is for good reason. The iPhone rarely lets you down, and the ability to tap to adjust the exposure is a boon, like none other. That really comes in handy when the picture you’re trying to take has a bright light in the background. The pictures produced are generally sharp, but when it comes to low light photos despite the 808 PureView like compression that the iPhone 5 employs, there does tend to be a lot of noise. Leaving HDR on also helps as you get two photos, and get effectively choose between the better looking one in the end.

The Lumias on the other hand both work their magic in the low light. The Lumia 720 with its industry leading f1.9 aperture lets a lot of light in, while the Lumia 928 with its Xenon flash and Optical Image Stabilisation takes a slightly different approach. The OIS means that the shutter can stay open longer and let more light in, minus the camera shake. You cannot unfortunately force the Xenon to fire, it will only be used if the phone determines that there isn’t enough light. So you cannot use it like a fill-in flash when shooting against the sun for example. Fortunately there is a ‘Backlight’ mode in the Lumias that takes care of this problem, but you have to choose it everytime from the camera settings.

While I tried to keep the settings as default most of the time, due to the Lumia 928’s OIS some night pictures would turn up too bright. That means that you must play with the exposure to get that perfect shot.

So based on my experience with these three devices, here is what I think. The iPhone 5 is a great dependable camera that does most things well, the Lumia 720 despite the much cheaper price does an excellent job in keeping up, and at times even manages to beat the iPhone. The first two photos are a prime example of that. The Lumia 928 is the most capable camera of the 3, but not if you only use it in the default mode. However once you start playing around with the settings, it really comes into its own. Expect a much bigger gallery of Lumia 928 images soon.

Any questions, let me know!

3 thoughts on “Camera Shoot Out: iPhone 5 v. Lumia 928 v. Lumia 720”

  1. Hmmm the iPhone 5 takes the overall sharpest pictures with the most details in the 100% view. The 920 does too much noise reduction the 720 has lower resolution.

    But the low light samples here from the Lumias are terrible! It it doesn’t get extremely dark, the iPhone 5 pictures are way better, wit way better details and exposure! The Lumias tend to overexpose massively and the lens flare especially from the 720 is terrible, no such things on the iPhone 5.

    The bridge photo of the iPhone 5 is very bad though. As I said if it doesn’t get extremely dark the iPhone 5 is still better.

    The 928 most of the times look like a 720-like resolution upscaled to overblown 8.7MP.

    The second flaw of the iPhone 5 is sometimes blury details in the shade where the Lumias show more grain but have more details. But it is not clearly always this way with the Apple photos.

    I would say overall teh iPhone 5 wins with better exposure and better details if it doesn’t get extremely dark; For street photography at evening/night it would be my chice over the Lumias.

    I rarely use my iPhone 5 camera though coz I have the 808 PureView in my other pocket and otherwise a few compact cameras whick do a better job in low light conditions then the 808 coz of the better white balance, noise reduction (it’s disappointing on the 80 IMHO despite the large sensor) and OIS which is missind in the 808 unfortunately.

  2. Viadhav,

    Some really good articles on here, especially the new one on the 1020. Thanks.

    My problem is I can’t afford to spend the £600+ I need to buy a Lumia 1020.

    But, I do have Lumia 720 now, and I have just used the proxy trick to install the Nokia Camera app(which is a new app combining the Pro Camera and the Smart Camera apps, into one)

    So, now I have ISO, shutter, focus, and other adjustments just like the higher end Lumias. Do you know of anyone who has done the same thing, and if so, what their experience would be? And, as a professional, could you please give me your opinion on how much better you think the camera on the 720 would be with the better control of the Pro Camera features?

    I’m am used to manual adjustments, from my days (in the 80’s) with a manual SLR, and more recently a Lumix LX3, which rarely sees the light of day anymore. 🙂

    Thanks,
    Bill

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