LG KG920 vs. SE K800 vs. Nokia N73: One more photo shootout

GSMArena team, 31 January 2007.

Introduction

Recently we've got LG K920 for testing; this is one of the first 5MP camera GSM phones available on the market. We've decided that it's a good idea to test it against one of the best currently available 3MP camera phones, and also great rivals - Sony Ericsson K800 and Nokia N73.


The contestants: LG KG920, Nokia N73 and Sony Ericsson K800

Almost six months ago we presented you photo samples from the most popular 3 megapixel camera phones - Nokia N73, Sony Ericsson K800 and Samsung D900. We haven't commented on the photo quality of the phones, because as you might have noticed the photos were not taken by us, but from our partners at Mobilmania.cz. It was very interesting for us to follow the comments of this article. Until now more than 880 comments have been posted on the subject. Although we haven't counted the scores, it seems that the preferences of our visitors are divided between Sony Ericsson K800 and Nokia N73, while Samsung D900 gets a relatively small percentage of fans. What's interesting is that most of the comments are quite extreme, like "Nokia sucks, Sony Ericsson is the best" or vice versa.

We, on other hand, just can't tell you which of the 3 megapixel shooters to choose. However it's more important for us to tell you what the differences are, so you can choose for yourself.

The Nokia N73 produces over-saturated, over-sharpened, high-contrast photos. For the untrained eye these photos have more punch, more "wow" factor. When shooting a dull scene this approach produces more pleasant results. The problem comes when the scene is colorful and contrasty. Then the extra processing can lead to unnatural looking photos. It's quite ironic that Nokia N73 won its fans taking the idea of the so called "Sony colors" to extremes. Some years ago Sony used to boost the color saturation of their digital cameras as an extra advantage over their rivals. They don't do this anymore in their recent models.

On the other hand Sony Ericsson K800 has more laid-back approach - the photos aren't over processed, which ensures better results if you are going to edit them later.

It's not fair

Yes, it's not fair to compare 5 megapixels to 3 megapixels camera. However, we are doing it for you to see what the difference is and if an upgrade is worth it.It's tricky to compare photos with different resolution as in our case. To be able to compare apples to apples there are two approaches. The first one is to downsample the higher resolution photos to the lower resolution, but this will reduce the advantage of the higher resolution camera, and the amount of the sharpness applied in the post processing might be taken as a real ability to resolve detail. The other approach, the one we chose, is to upsample the lower resolution images to the higher resolution. This method shows about the same results you would get if you print the images. The con is that the jpeg artifacts get enlarged too, which is not fair to the lower resolution cameras, but this is a minor concern.

When viewing at actual 100% size the 5 megapixel photos and even the 3 megapixel ones just don't fit in the nowadays monitors. You usually see a small portion of the photo and scroll around. In this shootout we are taking a different approach. For all the photos we are showing you 1024x768 versions, downsampled in a special way. We've tried to eliminate as much as possible the difference in the sharpening applied in the camera processing. This downsampled photos can be used to evaluate the color and exposure accuracy or the dynamic range. To get however a correct presentation for the resolution of the cameras, you have to look at the crops on the right. As explained above, these are made by upsampling the K800 and N73 photos to 5 megapixels resolution and then cropping the same part of the image.

Studio shots

This test was carried out under the same lighting conditions we use to make the photos for all our reviews. The scene is lit by white light sources.

LG KG920 Sony Ericsson K800 Nokia N73
LG KG920 (full) Sony Ericsson K800 (full) Nokia N73 (full) crops

LG KG920 shows at the same time better resolution, correct colors and lower noise levels. Although the phone manufacturers don't publish the specs for the sensor used in their camera phones, photos like this make us think that KG920 have a sensor with larger physical dimensions than the ones used in the phones, maybe this is the same sensor used in some low-level digital cameras. The colors of K800 are quite off (especially the green), while N73 has e serious problem with the yellow - the oversaturation sometimes comes at a price, look at the yellow cube.

LG KG920 Sony Ericsson K800 Nokia N73
LG KG920 (full) Sony Ericsson K800 (full) Nokia N73 (full)

We are sorry, that we can't show you crops for this image, because it was framed somewhat differently on the three phones, but we are showing you the full resolution images instead. Again, excellent results from LG KG920. Nailed color balance, lower noise than the rivals and amazing resolution. There is one more thing to note here - look at the highlights of paper clips. LG KG920 shows a lot better control of the highlights, the overexposed areas of the paper clips look more natural in KG920 photos. All in all - great macro results from the 5 megapixel contestant.

LG KG920 Sony Ericsson K800 Nokia N73
LG KG920 Sony Ericsson K800 Nokia N73 crops

Next Page »