Testing the Lumia 920 Windows Phone in low light against the iPhone 5, Galaxy S3

Nokia Lumia 920 Low Light Comparison

While we have seen first hand how well the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone camera performs in low light, we are seeing more signs that the Pureview Camera really shines when lighting is limited.

A Lumia 920 prototype, like the one we saw in the iPhone 5 video comparison, was put up against the HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5 in a low light test. Lights were dimmed to 5 lux on a static scene. Generally speaking, a city street lamp illuminates the area with about 10 lux. So five lux isn't much brightness.

Not only did the Lumia 920 shine in the low light conditions, it also captured the test image sharply and with little noise.

Nokia Lumia 920 sharpness and noise

Even outside the controlled conditions of the test lab, the Lumia 920 shined in low light conditions when compared to other smartphones. Seeing comparisons like these just makes us want the Nokia Lumia 920 sooner than later.

Nokia Lumia 920 low light comparison

Source: Engadget; Thanks, Johnny, for the tip!



There are 74 comments. Sign in to comment

lumianut says:

Wooooow..impressive to say the least!

genfa says:

I would say ... Not so bad for an outdated technology .... Speaking about the iPhone :)

calfee20 says:

I thought the 808 would be better?

Same. I thought the 808 has the best smartphone camera in the world. And I know megapixels isn't everything, but still...

We've said it dozen times here at WPCentral; the 808 has an FSI sensor versus the 920's BSI. It makes a world of difference. 

The 808 was about digital zoom, megapixels and oversampling. The 920 is about low-light performance. It's all explained in Nokia's whitepaper on Purview technology (PDF).

calfee20 says:

Way back when, I bought a minolta with a f 1.2 lens so I could do available light shots.  If I leaned on something I could use sutter speeds down to half a second.  I wonder what I could do with a 920.

MethodGT says:

I'm actually quite impressed by the 808's photo of the boat.  It's darker than the 920, but the white of the boat seems better, and the water reflects more.   It seems more real to me, an actual capture of the moment.

MethodGT says:

Now why was that bold?

phazer89 says:

920 works better in low light thanks to OIS. 808 still beats pretty much all other phones though. Also, it gives clear images due to the oversampling. The editor did mention that it would work better if you adjust the ISO.

gregoron says:

Aaawesome! I like this. How about video? It'd be great if it at least matched the Flip Mino in low light vids.

jdep1 says:

Galaxy s3 wins for sure!

WinFan1 says:

Crack kills bro

jdep1 says:

It's a joke! My comment & the camera on the s3 lol. I can't wait to own the lumia 920 and take pictures at the club/bar where we all know it's dark. Tell my friends put your toy camera away lets take pics with a real phone my wp8 & uploaded them easily to Facebook. That will make them put there s3 & iPhones away!

Malmer says:

It is a test of low light photography and the S3 clearly has the lowest light, so it must be the winner....right....right? ;)

jagu says:

Bahahaha nice one!

WinFan1 says:

Lol ok I thought you were serious. :)

Gken says:

sarcasm is overrated anyways.

laserfloyd says:

Still funny how people say it's all rigged even now.  Wow.  Ok, NOKIA, release the phones already! I want to see real world use of stills/video.  That will put the doubters on ice.

I'm sure they'll say that reality itself is rigged.

Yeah, well, that's why Apple has a patent on Reality Distortion Fields.

Glim12808 says:

LOL! Good one!

I mean come on, really, who needs all this fancy camera stuff?! NOBODY ever uses the cameras on their phones! Oh wait, no, I'm sorry... I can't even keep a straight face when I type that, lol. Next up... video stabilization at night!

Again I say... B-E-A-utiful! Just keeps getting better and better!

Wow!!! Impressive!
Can't wait to see how the 8X matches up.
A lot more comparing between the 8X and 920 to be done before I can make my decision.

auslaender says:

I agree. I want to see how 8x matches....

The 8X performance was only slightly better than that of the Galaxy S3... which was not good at all.

vitaliano says:

Hopefully I'm wrong but didn't they say that 8X's camera is straight from One X? If the same is true for Samsung, then it does not look good for ATIV S too. And I understand it's just one aspect.

ejlee072006 says:

I held a white iPhone 5 today.. The phone felt cheap,its just not apple like... My lumia 900 is solid piece of device..#Nokia won the hardware design

calfee20 says:

If something gets too light and thin it will start to feel cheap.  I am not defending iphone but critisizing anyone who harps on the size of some of these devises.  I don't feel the 920 is to big thick or heavy.  Most of these phones can only be differentiated by holding one in each hand not by taking a step away with just one phone, any single phone.

The other part that people are forgetting with regards to dimensions and weight is the effect a shell or case will have on the end experience. Do a little search of Otterbox and you'll see how quickly a protected iPhone 5 catches up to a Lumia 920 and in some cases even surpasses all physical dimensions.

This couldn't be more true. We all also know how strong Nokia phones are. Can they break? Of course. But I have never put a case on my 900 and dropped it several times(many of which were on cement). I dare anyone to find signs that I have. Try doing this with an Iphone. Nokia really does make tanks.

hiphopboy8x says:

why don't they upload full size the testing photos? i wanna check my self

anvilofstars says:

They do include the shots. Go to the engadget article.

Luminatic says:

LOL at the comments on engadget. Some people seem to identify themselves too much with their non-alive gadgets ;-)  Thanks for the post, very interesting and convincing.
Bloody 2-year contract.

CHPro says:

I will admit I know very little about cameras, and phone cameras.  However, I am a bit confused asto why all these pictures seem to be taken without a flash, or are the One X and GSIII that bad with a flash on?

Jomon says:

Even if flash is used, the 920 will take still take much better photos. Why? Coz you will be able to keep the shutter speed lower compared to the other phones with no OIS. Lower shutter speed means the 920 will be able to blend in the ambient light a lot more compared to the other phones. In short, the 920 will allow you to take flash shots and make them look like it was not taken with flash. Dig?

ymcpa says:

are you sure about this? would a flash with a low shuuter speed cause the picture to be very overexposed?

Mystictrust says:

It's done to test the camera's ability to take pictures in actual low light, without the flash. Sometimes, when taking pictures at night, it is either inappropriate to use flash, the flash completely "washes out" the picture, or there's not enough range to capture a far away target.
If you stand far away from a building at night, for example, and use your flash when you take the picture, you'll either see nothing, or you'll just see like a railing or trees lit up around you with pitch dark behind it. Without flash, you allow the natural light to come in to the image sensor and capture the building as you see it (and sometimes the picture can look like it was taken during the middle of the day... depends on how much light the sensor can see and how long it is open).

Munkeyphyst says:

That boat picture, for example, could not be improved with a flash as the subject is too far away for the flash to be of any use.

CHPro says:

Ok, I get it now.  Makes much more sense.  I appreciate the info.

Pete C says:

Cameraphones have terrible flash bulbs. Most are LED and wash out everything in the foreground while diminishing the background to the point of being barely visible. Only a really good DSLR camera with a professional flash can take a flash shot that looks natural in low light. The better solution for a compact device is a sensor that takes in more light so you don't even need a flash. The 920 uses image stabalizaion to leave the sensor open longer than other cameras...letting in more light. This is not possible without image stabalization because while the sensor is open longer, any minor hand movements will blur the image.

cckgz4 says:

And even with these, i'm sure those same two forum members will say this stuff is rigged

Jomon says:

Even if flash is used, the 920 will take still take much better photos. Why? Coz you will be able to keep the shutter speed lower compared to the other phones with no OIS. Lower shutter speed means the 920 will be able to blend in the ambient light a lot more compared to the other phones. In short, the 920 will allow you to take flash shots and make them look like it was not taken with flash. Dig?
Damn it, I replied to the wrong post. Lol.

iSeeiSheep says:

WOW, these pictures are certainly making the Nokia camp grow faster...

I hope Nokia has television ads that talk smack to their competitors.

We need to recreate some Apple commercials in reverse. Hey iPhone don't worry, I will handle the photographs for this event.

Oh, this is going to make for some great slam Apple ads!!!

ymcpa says:

Maybe recreate the I'm a pc ads. Get a hot blonde to represent Nokia and hire the same geek to represent apple and then go at them with all the things the Lumina can do that the iPhone can't.

Why is everyone into pictures? Is everyone going gay?

Munkeyphyst says:

Because taking pictures makes me desire sexual pleasure from another man? Stupid is as stupid does...

bbennett40 says:

What, pray tell, does photography have to do with sexual preference?
On a more intelligent note; the more I see of Nokia's work, the more excited I get to see the actual product!

nez99 says:

Wow the phone that isnt even available to consumers yet is better than 3 that are. This is all completely meaningless until this phone is actually released to market.

How is it meaningless? It's a demonstration of technology and the phone will be out in 4-6 weeks.

Do you not follow any technology blogs that deal with photography e.g. DPReview?  It's routine to see sample images from new cameras before they a released. It doesn't make it meaningless, it's news. It's relevant and it's not vaporware.

I mean, I have to ask...are you new to the internet and technology reporting in general? Because this is SOP. Or do think news only about things that deal with today is relevant and that discussion of future products have no role in technology publications? 

Munkeyphyst says:

But Dan, in 4 to 6 weeks he'll being claiming that you're comparing a brand new phone to months old tech and the NEXT iPhone, or gs4, or whatever will be better.

pate.axit says:

Heyy are u fun
IPhone 5 old

phazer89 says:

Well, the 920 already beats the iPhone 5 now. Heck, even the ?-month old 808 beats the other phones, and the N8 is still a pretty strong contender if I'm not mistaken. In any case I doubt other OEMs will be able to catch up.

dazziex says:

Would anyone be kind enough to reupload the full size pics because the daily limit is reached  on Engadget's host?

Do any or all of these phones have a Night Mode?  If so has that mode been tested against the Lumia 920?

Munkeyphyst says:

If you have to go into settings to attempt similar results, you've already failed. WP, press hardware camera button, tap screen, done.

psychotron says:

Yes. Myriam stated in her test set up video that if the competing phone had a low light mode then it was enabled for the test.

phazer89 says:

I think they set it on auto for all (i.e. no Night mode). Based on The Verge's test though, the 920 is still clearer than the SGS3/One X with Night mode on.

ymcpa says:

no, she stated all phones were set to auto to keep it fair.

ymcpa says:

the one x and gs3 have a night, but all phone were set to auto. you can look up the verge central park camera test. they used night mode in that test. the pictures there were much brighter, but the detail and sharpness on the lumia was way better.

mangoose says:

Galaxy S3... It doesn't take a genius, does it?

Cellus13 says:

Apple must be embarrassed being shown up by a prototype. Its good for people who interested in getting the Lumia 920 since the final product will be even better.

fingrar says:

Funny how "windows phone" x and s aren't even in the discussion haha

Lx23 says:

I'm impressed. Enough said.

wormy6 says:

Lookin goood

psychotron says:

OK, I'll be the first to admit that I've been pretty hard on WP and Nokia lately and have had serious doubts about staying with the platform when renewal time comes around, but Myriam's picture and video tests may have just turned me back around. This is undoubtedly the most serious beat down of the competition I've seen performed by a Windows Phone to date.

gbuster says:

WP8, you keep on bragging how great ur camera is or how tough ur phone is, etc. Etc. Yet, the very basic apps that make other os's amazing like viber or tango, suck on wp8...

uopjo6 says:

For all the guts jammed in, the Lumia 920 isn't even a bit chunky at all. Since when did 10mm become "Thick"? If you put it side by side with a iPhone you can see it's only slightly thicker, which is impressive with all the stuff they put in there. Not to mention a rock solid polycarbonate construction with OIS. Anything thinner than 10mm is pretty impractical IMO.

I hear people complaining about weight too. Anybody complaining about 180grams needs to go hit the gym a-sap. 

rex.reyesiii says:

Can't wait for the Maps comparisons. *If there will be any...

tallgeese says:

I'm sold. The Lumia 920 it is. I'll sort of miss my 1st-Gen Focus...sort of.

hoonigandad says:

Thats awesome!! My wife just got a S3! Ha, cant wait to get my 920!