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Camera Test: Sony Xperia Z1, LG G2 and Cyber-shot QX10

Kris Carlon (translation)
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The IFA has given us a lot of news on the first press day. Asus and Samsung yesterday unveiled new devices and Sony and LG have dropped some great new camera devices. Of the latter two, we got three interesting camera-centric devices that we wanted to test against each other.

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© AndroidPIT

The Candidates

The Sony Xperia Z1, the successor to Xperia Z which was presented at the beginning of the year, and now the smartphone with the most powerful camera in the Android world. The 20.7-megapixel lens provides more resolution than any other Android smartphone (the Nokia Lumia 1020, with a 41 MP camera is a Windows Phone, remember). The lens of the Xperia Z1 is a "G Lens" from Sony, which, combined with the BIONZ image processor, should also ensure top photos.

The Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is a novel device that combines the qualities of a compact digital camera in a lens housing. The lens is connected to your smartphone via WiFi, whereby the display acts as a viewfinder. The shutter can be triggered either via your smartphone or with the lens itself. This means it can also work as a standalone device without phone support – you're just shooting blind.

The LG G2 is the current top smartphone from LG that stands out mainly by the unusual placement of buttons on the back. But the G2's camera is above average for a smartphone snapper, including an optical image stabilizer as well as a super-resolution function that should make use of the zoom possible without loss of quality.

All three devices claim in their own way to be an innovation in mobile photography. Whether they fairly make this claim, and which one comes out on top, I've tested in this quick photo comparison.

FYI: All pictures were taken in automatic mode at the highest possible resolution (Cyber-shot: 18 MP, Z1: 20 MP, G2: 13 MP). All other settings were left to the cameras. On the far left you can see the photos of the Cyber-shot lens, the Xperia Z1 in the middle and to the right the images of the G2.

Daylight, Landscape

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Blue sky, clouds, shadows and single color accents: in this scene with high contrast the Cyber-shot (left) is best, it provides the most balanced overall picture. The Xperia Z1 (center), shows the bright areas too bright, the G2 ( right), lets a blue tinge creep into the picture while the green of the lawn looks grayish. / © AndroidPIT

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In the 100-percent view it is clear that the software of the Z1 sharpens the most. The image of the G2 looks sharper than the Cyber-shot, but unsightly artifacts are also visible. / © AndroidPIT

Digital and Optical Zoom

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Here, the Cyber-shot (left) pulls ahead with its 10x optical zoom (as expected) in terms of image quality and sharpness. The Xperia Z1 (center), still has some room for improvement despite its high resolution and digital zoom. LG (right) is behind both, even with its 13-megapixel resolution and despite its "Super Resolution " technology. / © AndroidPIT

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The 100-percent view shows things even more clearly: while details are still visible in the Cyber-shot (left), they're very loose and blocky on the Z1 (center) and the G2 (right) is pixel soup. / © AndroidPIT

In the Shadows

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This also shows the nature of the Cyber-shot (left): high contrast balanced by relatively light depths and moderate lights, making the overall image the most balanced. Xperia Z1 (center) and G2 (right) are close to each other from the result, but the Z1 has the stronger contrasts and is a little blown out. / © AndroidPIT

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The 100-percent view shows that the Z1 (center) clearly loses this round. The sharpest image comes from the G2 ( right), but it is clearly over-sharpened, meaning it also gets ugly artifacts in the photo. The most natural effect appears in the image of the Cyber-shot (left). / © AndroidPIT

Macro

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In the overall view it seems clear: the sharpest image comes from the G2 (right ), which could be thanks to the multi-point auto-focus that LG uses to advertise the smartphone. With the Xperia Z1 (center), only a small area is really sharp, while the Cyber-shot (left) performs a little better than its Sony colleague. / © AndroidPIT

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Here we clearly see how strong the sharpening of the G2 (right) is: the details are destroyed, the bright areas eroded at the edges: the 100-percent view shows a very different picture. The Z1 does not inspire (center) at all and the Cyber-shot, once again, shows most of the details and the best overall result. / © AndroidPIT

Low Light, Interior

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In a darkened studio I shot the last test photos. Here, the same tendency as in the other pictures: the G2 (right) sharpens the photos most, where the Z1 (center) has a relatively small focus range. The image of the Cyber-shot (left) looks a bit soft, but is balanced. / © AndroidPIT

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Again, the 100-percent view shows the true facts: in low light conditions all three cameras had to toil away to still produce a sufficiently bright image. The Cyber-shot (left) produces very little noise but also has a truly sharp image. The Z1 (center) has to contend with strong noise while with the G2 (right) you can see clearly again the post-processing, which leads to an over-sharpened and ironed-out image. / © AndroidPIT

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In this rapid test of the three contemporaries, there is a clear winner. / © AndroidPIT

Conclusion

After my brief testing there stands a clear winner: the Cyber-shot QX10 definitely makes the best pictures. That should reassure the Sony developer because their whole concept is designed to lift smartphone photography to a new level through a high-end accessory. So great is the distance ahead of the other two candidates, at least under the specific conditions of my test, that it makes me think twice about buying a smartphone for its camera – why not just stick with your current smartphone and buy the Cyber-shot lens adapter? The LG G2 delivers good images in the detail view but it is clear how much the software post-processed the images, resulting in over-sharpening, ugly artifacts and loss of detail. The Xperia Z1 performs the worst, indicating once again that while Sony can build good cameras, it does not seem to be able to transfer these qualities to its smartphones.

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Comments

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  • Rolfhu Sep 6, 2013 Link

    1.What a stupid word to use...... Oversharp!
    2.if someone like to have really high quality pictures, he will probably also use a really good camera and not his mobile phone...... I guess.

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  • Mohsin Sep 6, 2013 Link

    I wish LG G2 got water proofing too. Z1 one need some more tweaking.

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  • Imran Sep 6, 2013 Link

    z1, sorry for you sony

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    Kris Carlon Sep 9, 2013 Link

    It must be said though that the Z1 is still pretty great. Just because it didn't stack up against some of the other camera devices that came out at the same time doesn't mean it's not a brilliant smartphone, it just isn't as brilliant as some others, primarily in terms of the camera, which, sadly, was one of the main selling points for the new device.

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  • Mohammad.r B 7 months ago Link

    g2 is the best

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      Kris Carlon 7 months ago Link

      Yeah I was using the G2 at MWC and I was really impressed by some of the shots I got under good conditions.

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