It isn't about the megapixels alone – 12 megapixel feature

I got thinking about the camera on the Nokia N8 and thought about writing a 12 megapixel feature. The Nokia N8 is clearly the most popular 12 megapixel cameraphone till date, and still holds the overall cameraphone second place behind its cousin, the Nokia 808 PureView. Considering that this old horse hit the market in 2010, that is amazing. What many may not know is that there are a number of 12 megapixel cameraphones on the market, and yet none of them holds a candle to the N8. There is even the 13 megapixel Sony Xperia GX SO-04D targeted at the Japanese market. Then there’s the 16 megapixel HTC Titan II, which sadly doesn’t measure up, or come close to what the competition offer.

Here is a list of 12 megapixel cameraphones in recent years (incidentally, they are all from one manufacturer):

  1. Sony Ericsson Satio (Xenon flash)
  2. Sony Xperia ion
  3. Sony Xperia acro S
  4. Sony Xperia SL
  5. Sony Xperia S

I am not sure if the above list is exhaustive, but if I left out any recent devices that qualify to be on that list, do bump me. All the above-listed cameraphones feature 12 megapixels, yet are no match for the N8 primarily due to the latter’s much larger sensor, but then we cannot ignore the Carl Zeiss optics and the Xenon flash. Even the aged, Symbian-based Satio with a Xenon flash light, does not.

Because this is a feature article that is focused on 12 megapixel cameras and above, I have not compared with any 8 megapixel cameras, but it bears saying that because it isn’t about megapixels only, some 8 megapixel cameraphones in the market produce better images than some of the 12 and 16 megapixel cameraphones mentioned in this article.

Factors that affect image quality of a cameraphone include, though not limited to: resolution (megapixels), lens, image sensor, flash light type, and focusing technology. I am no professional photographer, so don’t ask me for anything too technical. The point simply is that there is more to a camera’s image quality than just megapixels.

Despite all the 12 megapixel contenders, and the 13 and 16 megapixel would-be spoilers, the Nokia N8 stands tall and apart. If you are a cameraphone enthusiast and want a top device at a comfortable budget, the Nokia N8 is all yours. If you have much more money to splurge, go get the Nokia 808 PureView. I know that there is some merit to the Lumia 920’s camera, but that is mostly restricted to low-light situations if you turn off the flash i.e. controlled environments. But equipped with powerful Xenon flash lights, I don’t see the two Nokias having much problems in low light situations. Actually, they fare very well. You cannot go wrong between those two.

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14 comments

  1. If the megapixel rating is not the only factor in picture quality, it means you will not know the quality of that new cameraphone until you actually use it ((or read about OPINONS on it).

    Sounds quite untidy me!

    An inline-4 car engine possibly delivering more oooomph (horsepower) than a V8?

    It is sort of like renting a flat without having seen the inside first. Blind faith.

    Not that I am interested in photography. Just saying!

    Hmmm.

    1. An inline-4 car engine possibly delivering more oooomph (horsepower) than a V8?

      Where this analogy fails is the supposition that power is the only factor at play in an automobile.

      As resolution is not the only determinant of the results of a camera, so also is power not the only determinant of the driving experience of a car.

      If the megapixel rating is not the only factor in picture quality, it means you will not know the quality of that new cameraphone until you actually use it ((or read about OPINONS on it).

      Same applies to automobiles. All the specs in the world do not necessarily tell you anything about the actual driving experience.

  2. I don’t subscribe to the number of mega pixels too. There are other factors that one should consider if you are a photography enthusiast. E.g, the shutter time, the less the time it takes it to snap the shot from pressing the shutter button the better, Low light image capture, How it captures moving objects e.t.c. These are believe other than good image quality are also as important.

  3. Where this analogy fails is the supposition that power is the only factor at play in an automobile

    If you will go back and read that analogy again, you would see I specifically mentioned HORSEPOWER.

    Who said anything about the correlation between driving experience AND horsepiwer?

    1. EyeBeeKay,

      You specifically mentioned horsepower – one feature amongst many on cars. Good. But as an analogy against an article that looks at the whole range of factors on cameras? Wrong analogy.

      Nowhere in my article did I say that an 8MP camera delivers better resolution than a 12MP camera, which is what your analogy attempts to portray.

      Megapixel count addresses only resolution of pictures. If you want to tell what cameraphone wins on account of resolution only, then megapixel count is all you need. If you want to tell what car wins on account of power, horsepower rating of the engine is all you need. Hope you can see it.

      But there is more to a camera than resolution, as there is more to a car performance than horsepower rating.

  4. “An inline-4 car engine possibly delivering more oooomph (horsepower) than a V8?”

    This is very possible. Of course you are only looking at engine configuration. You forgot that there are other things such as engine displacement, type of fuel, and engine technology. You do not look at megapixels alone.

  5. Agree with you belushi (hm, I seem to be doing that a lot these days!) the number of megapixels doesn’t really get my attention as much as what the camera can do – a photo is only as good as the photographer’s eye, no amount of flash technology or imaging sensor will make a difference if you don’t get the basics right.

    1. Noni,

      Yes; get the basics right. But that aside, an 8 megapixel camera produces better details than a 5 megapixel camera. A larger sensor does a better job than a smaller one. Let’s not push things out of focus. This article does NOT say that megapixels, or sensor size or any other factors do not matter. This article says that one factor alone does not determine the final product.

      When you say “the number of megapixels doesn’t really get my attention as much as what the camera can do,” you are stretching things beyond facts. Megapixel count is one of the numerous indicators of what a camera can do.

      Put two cameras with two different megapixel counts in the hands of the same photographer, and the one with the higher count will produce images of greater resolution. It makes a clear difference.

      It is important that we get this right. Cheers.

  6. Mister Mo it depends; a poor lens and flash on an 8 megapixel camera will not take better pics than similar on a 5 megapixel camera. I would also surmise that not all 5 megapixels or 8 megapixels are created equal. Rightfully, pixels alone don’t make a better picture – clearer in some circumstances yes.

    So to say the number of megapixels don’t get my attention as much as what the camera can do is not stretching the point; if you look solely at megapixels, you miss the bigger picture. Without the support of a good flash, lens and aperture focus, you might as well just use any old umpteen megapixel camera cos megapixels are all there is to it! The various functions incorporate to make the resulting image that much better. So no, it’s not stretching the point – megapixels are the means to an end, but don’t take them out of the context of an overall better photo.

  7. That’s my phone and the pictures are amazing especially once you learn how to tune the camera properly to a given scene. Comparing it to the eDof cameras is like night and day. The eDof’s (like on the Bold 5 ) produce “paparazzi” pictures especially in sunlight. What I mean by paparazzi are pictures that shine too much with a lot of reflections but the N8 gives true to life picture and d night performance is great.

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