Friday, 8 December 2017

Camera Comparison on the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Mobile Phones

How do you choose a new phone? My mobile rarely leaves my side and I can frequently be found chatting on social media. While most apps are available in the App Store or Google Play the one thing that makes phones stand apart for me is their cameras. I love my DSLR but as a mum with young children I am more likely to capture those special moments on my mobile phone.

Title text over an image of the three mobile phones


I normally get the latest iPhone as soon as I’m eligible for an upgrade because after having an iPhone for 8 years they are what I'm used too, but they aren't as groundbreaking as they used to be. I can upgrade my iPhone 7 soon and I am trying to decide what to replace it with. Thanks to Three I had a chance to try out the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 so I thought I would compare their cameras side by side. 

I would have carried out a comprehensive set of tests comparing the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 in identical set ups, using tripods etc but I am a busy parent and I only had both phones for one weekend. So I took the phones out to Van Hage Garden Centre in Great Amwell and juggled them to take my normal style of quick snaps. At Van Hage we visited the children's farm, Christmas shop and even went on a miniature train ride, but I managed to have my finger in front of the lens for the train pictures. It seems there are some problems modern phones can't prevent.

How Do The Phone Cameras Compare? 

Scenario 1: The Guinea Pigs

Taken from brighter light into lower light conditions. The pink of the enclosure is more washed out with the Samsung capture, but the colour of the inside of the enclosure, straw and guinea pigs don't seem to have been affected. 

3 images of a large guinea pig hutch at Van Hage

When zoomed in the iPhone 8 has a better level of detail than the iPhone 7. The Samsung photo was affected by increased pixelation when it was transferred to my MacBook and while the original S8 is clearer than the iPhone 7 it's not as good as the iPhone 8.

3 zoomed in images of a long haired guinea pig on straw

Best capture: iPhone 8

Scenario 2: Pigs In Mud

All 3 photographs were taken from the same position with the mobiles resting on the barrier. The most notable difference is the wider angle of the S8 so you get more of the view in shot (notice how much of the tree on the left and the structure on the right is in frame). It's also interesting to look at the larger tree on the right of the picture, the exposure is most consistent and colour brightest with the Samsung.

3 images of a very muddy pig enclosure

Best capture: Samsung S8

Scenario 3: Christmas Tree Lights

All 3 cameras give a nice glow around the individual lights, but in the iPhone 7 capture the tree branches are less exposed. In this scenario I think it works better to be less exposed because it makes the lights stand out more.

3 close up images of a colour changing pre-lit Christmas tree

When I zoomed in on the price label the difference between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 is clear; all the letters and numbers can be clearly read on the iPhone 8 compared to the smaller writing blur on the iPhone 7. The Samsung S8 has suffered again through the pixelation from transferring the image, but the original level of detail in the writing is comparable to the iPhone 8.

3 images of the price label on the pre-lit tree

Best capture: unable to chose between iPhone 8 and Samsung S8


Scenario 4: Polar Bears

Taken from a darker area to more light. The most noticeable difference for me in this scenario is my daughter's hair. The iPhone 7 capture makes her hair look dull and dark compared to the other two where it is much warmer. A similar effect, but less obvious can be seen on the large polar bear where the iPhone 7 polar bear is slightly cooler in tone. The iPhone 8 is slightly more exposed than the Samsung S8 which results in more detail for most of the image, but a few of the figures are over exposed (like the reindeer on the far right).

3 images of a young girl looking at a Christmas scene with moving polar bears and Christmas lights

Best capture: Samsung S8 although I would want to editing the image slightly to reduce the shadows if sharing it.

Scenario 5: Snowmen

Of all the scenarios there is least difference between the 3 phone cameras in this scenario. The wider angle of the Samsung is once again obvious (you can see a trunk on the right and the top of the snowman's hat at the bottom), this obviously makes the snowmen, which should be the focus of the picture, smaller. 

3 images of a Christmas scene with snowmen and a Christmas tree

Interestingly in this lighting, and with the snowman in the foreground, there is very little difference
in detail between the 3 cameras when zoomed in. The main difference is the colours in the Samsung capture where the red on the hat is brighter. In contrast the snowman is cooler and more true to life in the S8 picture compared to the warmer tones which makes the snowmen look more yellow on the iPhone pictures.

3 zoomed in images of a snowman's face and hat

Best capture: Samsung S8


Scenario 6: Running Chipmunk

All 3 cameras were disappointing for me when it came to taking pictures of fast moving subjects (like children) particularly in low light. The small lenses are unable to let in enough light to have a fast enough shutter speed to get crisp images of the running chipmunk. The images were taken through a wire cage towards a spinning wheel with a tree branch in the way so it was a difficult capture for any camera. The images below are all zoomed in. 

The Samsung S8 once again has more colour with warmer tones on the chipmunk and the wheel.  Any difference between the focus of the chipmunk in the 3 pictures I suspect is purely down to the moment of capture. In fact the iPhone 7 image actually looks the most in focus (so much so I had to triple check I had imported the images in the correct order).

3 images of a chipmunk running on a metal wheel

Best capture: I have to say iPhone 7, although I haven't noticed any difference when I have taken pictures of my daughter jumping on both iPhones.

Conclusion

Having previously fallen in love with the S8 camera on holiday in the Summer I was expecting it to come out on top and it has, but not by as clear a margin as I was expecting. The pictures are only marginally better than the iPhone 8.

The iPhone 8 as a phone is pretty much the same as my iPhone 7, but there is an improvement in the camera, most noticeable in the crispness of the image when you zoom in. I was impressed that in good light conditions there isn't that big a difference from the iPhone 7, but if you take most of your pictures inside the difference in detail is enough to upgrade.

Neither the Samsung Galaxy S8 or iPhone 8 really provides what I need from a camera in low light conditions or on fast moving subjects (like children). 

The S8 images have better colours which saves time editing afterwards and the wider angle means you get more in shot (but the subject may be smaller and require zooming in).

The iPhone 8 and S8 are both good options if you are looking for a new phone with a decent camera, but having tried them I’m not going to be going for an early upgrade due to the cost of the phones. Comparing the 64 GB versions on Three PAYG the iPhone 8 is £10 more expensive (£689.99 vs £699.99), but realistically if you love photography, music etc you may want the 256 GB iPhone 8 which is £849.99. Samsung memory can be expanded with an SD card making the memory size less of an issue.

Of course there are comparisons to be made of the front camera, macro ability and the camera software : the Samsung has some cool feature which made me realise how basic the iPhone camera software is. None of which I had time for.

I found it really hard to use the Samsung after so many years of having an Apple iPhone. I also have an iPad and a MacBook so it's easy for me to move photographs around. If you aren't stuck on a particular operating system the Samsung Galaxy S8 would be my recommendation.
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6 comments

  1. This is really interesting, I have an S8 so I was really hoping it would be the best one overall and it was, woohoo! :)

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    1. When I initially borrowed the S8 I would take photo's with it then send them to my iPhone to put on Instagram etc because I struggled with the rest of the Samsung OS. I'm not brave enough to make the leap yet, but I suspect I wont be getting many more iPhones.

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  2. Ooh this is very interesting! I'm getting an iPhone 7 plus next week when I upgrade, and the camera on that is supposed to be wonderful xx

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  3. This is really interesting, my Other Half is a Samsung fan and I’m an iPhobe user. I do like the Samsung photos best here though.

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  4. If you ever get a chance you should check out the Huawei P10. I love the Huawei's I have had. The P10 has a 20mp camera with a Leica lens.

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  5. I love my Samsung s6, and reviewed the s8 recently too. I loved it. The photos are much more crisp and better in low light and I love the nearly full manual options on Samsung cameras. There's only a few things I struggle with...the moon photos, and yes some fast moving items. I usually use a burst shot and it's only on occasion that there isn't one that's not clear. I love the macros too. I'm waiting on the next phone to be released though although I buy my phone's outright because I'm on SIM only so dreading stay the price might be. Might still end up going for the s8 anyway once the prices come down a bit more

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