Microsoft lumia 950 camera review: digital photography review

Camera head lớn head: Lumia 950 XL vs iPhone XS Max

Published by Steve Litchfield at 15:23 UTC, September 25th 2018


With Apple picking up several of the ex-Nokia PureView team, it was clear that the iPhone"s imaging was only going to get better and better, và the new XS Max is terrific. Thanks to lớn the stablised 12MPhường telephoto lớn lens, it can piông chồng up detail at distance even beyond the mighty Lumia 950 (from 2015). But what about artefacts & performance under challenging light?


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As I discovered when testing the classic Lumia 950 XL against the iPhone X last year, the addition of a decent 2x telepholớn lens does swing camera comparison rather a lot, especially if - like me - you"re interested in resolving distant detail. This year"s iPhone XS range claims a larger sensor and better algorithms, this time using more concurrent exposures to lớn bởi "Smart HDR" with. Given that a lot of the iPhone imaging improvements in recent years have sầu been down to the PureView expertise of Ari Partinen & his team, I"m expecting a lot from the new iPhone.

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In terms of methodology, I wanted lớn stretch the phone cameras, so I"m shooting inlớn light and then in the dark. Every phone camera can nail a sunny day with the sun behind the shooter, so I was mixing things up. The Lumia 950 XL can shoot in oversampled 8MP. mode and in 16MPhường as-is mode, both at 16:9. I used the former for the night shots, lớn give best noise handling, và the latter for the daytime shots, khổng lồ give best absolute detail. While the iPhone uses twin 12MP sensors, fixed at 4:3, so I"d typically shoot the scene with each of its lenses, i.e. at 1x & 2x, as you"ll see below.

Fun, fun, fun!

chú ý that the interactive sầu comparator below uses javascript and does need to load each pair of images. Please be patient while this page loads, if you see a pair of images above each other than you"ve either not waited long enough or your browser isn"t capable enough! You ideally need a powerful, large-screened tablet or a proper máy tính or desktop. This comparator may not work in some browsers. Sorry about that. On Windows 10 Mobile, use the "AAWP. Universal" UWPhường phầm mềm, which handles the comparator very competently (see the tips in the app"s help screens). On Android & iOS, all bets are off. Use something more capable(!)

Test 1: Shooting into lớn sunlight

In theory an easy snap, but I was shooting inkhổng lồ the sun, to lớn give added drama and hopefully a good work out for the auto-HDR in both cases. Here"s the scene from the iPhone:

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In case you want to grab the original images lớn vị your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 950 XL& iPhone XS Max, clichồng the links khổng lồ tải về. And khổng lồ look at the images in more detail, here are fairly central 1:1 crops, again use your mouse or trackpad pointer lớn compare the images:


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Great results from both, albeit with the expected flaring và sun "green spot" reflections. The Lumia has the higher resolution, & thus detail, while the iPhone"s "Smart HDR" system brings out even greater dynamic range, evidenced by the writing on the tyre walls.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: 10 pts; điện thoại iPhone XS Max: 10 pts

Test 2: Sunset landscape

Another fairly easy shot, but again I was shooting towards the brighter part of the sky, with light levels starting to go at sunphối. And plenty of detail in my favourite test subject here. Here"s the scene from the iPhone:

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In case you want lớn grab the original images lớn vày your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 950 XLvà iPhone XS Max, clichồng the link to tải về. And to look at the images in more detail, here are fairly central 1:1 crops, again use your mouse or trackpad pointer to lớn compare the images:


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The Lumia 950 XL"s greater native sầu resolution produces significantly more detail here, and with less sharpening artefacts. The iPhone phokhổng lồ looks brilliant on the phone screen, but you can see imperfections at the px màn chơi here.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: 10 pts;iPhone XS Max: 8 pts

Of course, when looking at distant detail, what"s needed is a telephoto lớn lens... which is why I also took this shot with the iPhone XS Max"s 2x lens, below.

In case you want lớn grab the original images to bởi your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 950 XLand (zoomed)iPhone XS Max, clichồng the links lớn tải về. And lớn look at the images in more detail, here are fairly central 1:1 crops, again use your mouse or trackpad pointer to lớn compare the images:


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I"d expect the telephokhổng lồ lens in the new iPhone to lớn bring out more detail, here of the church door và surroundings, and indeed this is the case, though not perhaps by the margin I was expecting. There"s still processing going on in the iPhone that adds a slight air of unreality to detail. But a small win for the XS Max overall.

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Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: 10 pts;Apple iPhone XS Max: 11 pts

(See what I did there? I couldn"t reduce the 950 XL score, so I had to take the iPhone "to lớn 11". Fittingly!)

Test 3: OK, greenery và one more zoom

Having established the selling point of having a telephoto lớn lens, I should provide another good example of its use. And I also need lớn stress that you can only use it when there"s enough light, since the iPhone (and competing phones) switch lớn their main lens with larger aperture when light is low.

Anyway, here"s a typical garden snap in surprisingly warm September sunshine in the UK, not least because one of the Achilles heels of many phone cameras is their handling of greenery, with grass & shrubs often being reduced lớn photographic mush. Here"s the scene from the iPhone:

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In case you want lớn grab the original images khổng lồ do your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 950 XLand iPhone XS Max, cliông chồng the links to lớn download. And khổng lồ look at the images in more detail, here are fairly central 1:1 crops, again use your mouse or trackpad pointer lớn compare the images:


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Again the Lumia 950 XL"s greater native sầu resolution produces significantly more detail here, and as usual Nokia"s/Microsoft"s algorithms are right on the edge of "OK" - any more sharpening & you"d be dealing with artefacts. Which what happens to lớn some degree on the iPhone XS Max, though its sharpening is nowhere near as egregious as on some Samsung phones.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: 8 pts;Apple iPhone XS Max: 7 pts

But hang on, I wanted to demonstrate the 2x telephoto lens again, so let"s try a shot with that, on the iPhone XS Max.

In case you want lớn grab the original images to lớn bởi your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 950 XLvà (zoomed)iPhone XS Max, cliông chồng the liên kết to tải về. And lớn look at the images in more detail, here are fairly central 1:1 crops, again use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:


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Again, the use of telepholớn - at least for this example - helps the iPhone leapfrog the Lumia. The XS Max"s phokhổng lồ does have sầu artefacts, & all detail is lost in the red flowers, but there"s also great dynamic range & detail in the shadows.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: 8 pts;điện thoại iPhone XS Max: 9 pts

Test 4: Low light

One of my favourite subjects again, floodlit at night. A real kiểm tra of colour balance, light gathering và stabilisation. I dropped the Lumia down lớn 8MPhường. oversampled mode và, as explained above, I couldn"t use the telepholớn lens on the iPhone. Here"s the scene from the latter:

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In case you want lớn grab the original images to vị your own analysis, here they are, from the Lumia 950 XLvà iPhone XS Max, cliông chồng the liên kết to tải về. And khổng lồ look at the images in more detail, here are fairly central 1:1 crops, again use your mouse or trackpad pointer to compare the images:


Good shots, though the Lumia makes the night sky (well, two hours after sunset) too blue and somewhat artificial, while the iPhone gets the colours about right. What"s interesting here is the difference in crispness. Now, some of this is down to lớn sharpening routines in Apple"s camera software, but some of this is also down lớn more accurate focus and I get the feeling that the Lumia 950 XL didn"t quite focus properly. And anyone who"s used a Lumia at night will be familiar with this - basic PDAF focussing can"t compete in low light with more modern techniques (on the iPhone, "focus pixels", on other competitors, laser, etc.)

Put the two factors together và I"d say the iPhone"s result is "better". Perhaps a tiny bit over-sharpened, but there is genuine detail shown (e.g. in the stained glass windows) that you"d struggle khổng lồ make out in the Lumia shot.

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Microsoft Lumia 950 XL: 7 pts; iPhone XS Max: 9 pts

Verdict

điện thoại Apple iPhone XS Max: 54/60 ptsLumia 950: 53/60 pts

I have sầu perhaps been a little unfair lớn the Lumia by including the zoom shots - but then again a telephoto lens is a pretty significant selling point in a modern phone camera and it deserves a few plaudits. It was so for the mighty Samsung Galaxy S9+ earlier in the year và it"s true here, with the new iPhone pipping the Lumia 950 XL too.

Technology moves on, eh? But the winner is probably the consumer, with some great post-Lumia camera phones to lớn play with. The 950 XL is still a stonkingly good imaging device. But it"s now being outgunned by iPhones, Galaxys, & (probably, next month) Huawei flagships and that"s fine - three years in tech is a long, long time!

PS. I haven"t forgotten the Galaxy Note 9, which adds extra exposure tech, but Note 9s have sầu been rarer than hen"s teeth here in the UK, at least on the đánh giá circuit. Watch this space!


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