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May 9, 2015

Blind camera shootout – the votes are in…

by John_A

A few days in Malta a couple of weeks ago for the IFA 2015 GPC presented the opportunity for an impromptu smartphone camera shootout between four heavyweights of the smartphone industry: the Huawei P8, the Honor 6 Plus, the Galaxy S6 Edge and the HTC One M9.

AA camera shootouts:

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Unlike past shootouts, we didn’t tell you which handset took each picture and instead, over the past week, thousands of you have cast your vote for which handset you think took the best picture. Now, the results are in but before we reveal the winner, let’s take a closer look at each of the scenes and I’ll let you know which handset I think took the best picture (in my unprofessional opinion).

Scene 1

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In the scene capturing the Bank of Valletta building in the capital of Malta, Phone C was most accurate in capturing the scene but Phone B was a little less oversaturated.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 2

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Phone D captured the flag with most accuracy but Phone C compensated best for the varying colours of the building.

Winner: Draw (Phone C / Phone D)

Scene 3

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The winner here is actually Phone A as it captured enough detail in the sky and compensates for the white balance most accurately. Phone C was a close run second, Phone C did well to capture the building but failed to capture the sky and Phone D was somewhat accurate in portraying the building and sky.

Winner: Phone A

Scene 4

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It’s tough to pick a winner here as none of the images are completely accurate. Phone A doesn’t capture a lot of colours, Phone B has a weird hue, Phone C doesn’t compensate for the light in the scene and Phone D also fails to capture a lot of the colours. Having to pick a winner, I’d say that Phone C comes closest.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 5

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This scene was quite interesting as it was a gift to Queen Elizabeth and Phone B captured the colours most accurately. Phone A is a very close second while Phone D comes third and Phone C rounds off the list.

Winner: Phone B

Scene 6

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This was an interesting test of focusing on a large scene and the results are quite close between Phone B and Phone C. While Phone B is very good, Phone C depicts the sky and handles the changing scene the best and wins this round.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 7

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An interesting test as it was pointing each camera upwards and trying to focus on the chandelier in the iconic Manoel Theatre. Interestingly, Phone B wins this but Phone D is the best at capturing the individual parts of the chandelier and not being affected by the light rays from the chandelier.

Winner: Phone B

Scene 8

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This test actually showed how each phone handled a complex scene with subjects both near and far. Overall Phone B and Phone C are really close but Phone B wins it thanks to a little more detail in the sky.

Winner: Phone B

Scene 9

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A clear winner for me here is Phone B which captures detail in all parts of the image.

Winner: Phone B

Scene 10

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margin-left: 0;

/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

Phone C has the least saturation and most life-like colours so it wins this scene. Phone A comes quite close, Phone B captures a lot of detail but oversaturates almost all parts of the image and Phone D comes a distant fourth.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 11

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Phone A wins this scene for me as it appears to be the most life-like, while Phone B is slightly oversaturated and Phone C just appears to be a little dull.

Winner: Phone A

Scene 12

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This was an interesting test as there were rays of sunshine from the left and each device had to capture detail in both near and far. The winner for me is Phone B as it was the one which captured both parts of the scene but also depicted individual rays of sunshine.

Winner: Phone B

Scene 13

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Nothing quite like an image that might gross you out. It’s difficult to pick a winner for this one as Phone C has the most detail but doesn’t fully compensate for the lack of light while Phone B picks up the light but loses a little detail in the cockroach leg. I’ll probably give this to Phone C with Phone B a very close second.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 14

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This is an interesting test and all four devices do well  but the winner is Phone B as it keeps the colour of the building while also saturating the sky to make an overall nice image. Phone A and C come second as the former captures the building while the latter captures the scene well but is slightly oversaturated. Phone D is the most saturated for both the sky and the building.

Winner: Phone B

Scene 15

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Another interesting test of the zoom capabilities of each handset and the winner is Phone C as it picks up the detail of the structure, the dome and the red IFA boxes attached to the dome. Phones B and D come a close second while Phone A finishes the collection.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 16

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The second last scene and the first test of the night capabilities. The test proved interesting but the winner is Phone C as it was the only one to capture detail in the brickwork without noise. Phone B comes a close second, Phone D is third and Phone A – which has a fair amount of noise and a lack of detail – comes in fourth.

Winner: Phone C

Scene 17

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Now to the final scene and one of my favourite as the test is see whether each smartphone can capture the IFA 2015 sign – before it takes centre stage in a fireworks display – just in front of the red steps. It’s almost a dead heat between Phone A and Phone C but the former wins it because Phone C overcompensates the white balance and produces a lighter scene that’s doesn’t accurately capture the colour of the steps.

Winner: Phone A

The winner is…

So according to my results, the overall winner is Phone C, which is closely followed by Phone B. Phone A comes in third and Phone D brings up the rear. That’s my opinion but how did YOU vote?

Over the past week, over 3000 votes have been cast in the shootout and here’s how they stacked up at the time of writing:

smartphone-shootout-results1

So the Galaxy S6 Edge takes it from the Honor 6 Plus, which is closely followed by the Huawei P8 and rounding off the contest in last place is the HTC One M9. The Galaxy S6 Edge winning the contest is no surprise as the camera is very capable but the Honor 6 Plus in second deserves a special mention: at a price of £299 ($450), it’s almost half the price of the other contenders but beats them all to second place.

You might like…

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The Huawei P8 has a fabulous camera and it’s interesting that both of Huawei’s devices have registered almost the same number of votes. For many years, Huawei’s cameras have been progressively getting better and the latest modules are capable of producing fantastic photos that can rival most smartphones.

As for HTC – well it’s a tough one. I’ve been rather critical of the Taiwenese manufacturer but I do think that the new 20MP module in the HTC One M9 was always going to be challenge to optimise properly. Hopefully the woes of the M9 camera – many of which were pointed out in the comments on the original post – can be fixed with software updates but this remains to be seen.

Thanks for voting in the blind comparison and we’ve got another one planned for you! We’ve listened to some of the feedback and our next comparison – which will be up next week – will see the iPhone 6 Plus pitted against the LG G4 and the Galaxy S6 Edge with a DSLR as a control photo. As always, it promises to be epic so stay tuned!

Now check out the full reviews:

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