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Cameras Compared: Lumia 1020 vs Xperia Z1 vs Note 3 Photo Test Part 2

Nokia Lumia 1020 vs Xperia Z1 vs Galaxy Note 3

Last month we’ve compared the Nokia Lumia 1020, Sony Xperia Z1 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in a camera shootout. From the comparison, the highly anticipated 20.7MP Xperia Z1 with its larger 1/2.3″ sensor was struggling and even the Galaxy Note 3 with an ordinary 13MP shooter was giving it a run for its money.

A couple of weeks later, Sony had released a new firmware update which claims to have improved its camera performance. With a new software on board, it is time for another round of camera comparison and we’ve included a couple of low light situations. Has the game changed? Find out after the break.

With decent lighting and in outdoors shots, the Xperia Z1 now seems to have an edge over the Galaxy Note 3. It isn’t as smudgy as before which is a good thing to start with. The Nokia Lumia 1020 still continues to perform admirably well in this comparison.

Sample #1

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Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

Sample #2

131110-lumia-1020-xperia-z1-note-3-camera-comparo-3-crop

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Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

Next we have low light situations which are taken with a fixed mount to eliminate hand movements. In the first sample (Sample #3), the Xperia Z1 appears to be better than the Galaxy Note 3. All shots are taken in auto mode which on the Galaxy Note 3 automatically takes the picture in night mode that requires steady hands.

Sample #3

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Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

This is then followed by flash comparison where we compare shots taken with and without flash. Among the three, the Lumia 1020 stands out as the only contender to feature Xenon flash while the other 2 settles for single LED flash lamp.

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From these samples onward, the Xperia Z1 starts to struggle behind the Galaxy Note 3. In Sample #4 without flash, the Xperia Z1 looks terribly smudgy while the Galaxy Note 3 still manages to produce pictures with decent clarity. The Lumia 1020 in the other hand doesn’t seem to break a sweat in this sample. With Flash enabled, the Xperia Z1 comes out clearer but with visible noise.

Sample #4 (without flash)

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Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

Sample #4 (with flash)

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Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

Next is a challenging sample for the Xperia Z1 where it struggles with flash enabled. We’re not sure if the metallic surface of the cans are confusing the camera but we’ve tried to tap various points of the Coke can but it just refuses to focus. Without flash in 100% crop, the Xperia Z1 appears to be sharper than the Galaxy Note 3 but it is a total opposite when flash is used.

Sample #5 (without flash)

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Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

Sample #5 (with flash)

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131110-lumia-1020-xperia-z1-note-3-camera-comparo-7-resize

Original: Lumia 1020 (5MP), Xperia Z1 (8MP), Note 3 (13MP)

Overall, the software update did give the Xperia Z1 some necessary boost as it didn’t get run over by the Galaxy Note 3 in all scenarios. In the outdoor shots, the Xperia Z1 is now a decent performer but in low light conditions, it leaves a lot to be desired. There’s still a lot of work to be done over at Sony Mobile and we hope they can improve this further in their next update due next month.

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The Nokia Lumia 1020 is still the clear winner in this comparison and recently Nokia has simplified its usability with a single Nokia Camera app which combines both Nokia Pro Cam and Smart Cam in a single interface. Photography enthusiasts would be happy to know that support for RAW format would be coming to the Lumia 1020 as well as the recently announced Lumia 1520. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, despite having a 13MP shooter it still remains one of the easiest to use. It is snappy and gets the job done effortlessly provided that the environment isn’t too challenging.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Part 1 of the camera shootout here.