iPhone 5s vs. Nokia Lumia 1020: Camera Shootout

smartphone-camera-shootout

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has been hailed by many as the best camera phone on the planet, and there are lots of reasons for that. This Windows Phone device packs a whopping 41-megapixel sensor that not only captures spectacular detail but enables you to zoom in on your photo after the fact. Plus, the ProCamera app lets you tweak all sorts of manual settings.

However, the iPhone 5s is no slouch in the imaging department. The 5s’ camera packs a larger sensor than its predecessor and a dual LED flash, as well as built-in image stabilization. But how does the 5s compare to the mighty Lumia? Pretty darn well, actually. We took both phones out for a few days of shooting with our staff photographer and compared the results.

For the purposes of this face-off, we set both the iPhone 5s and the Lumia 1020 to their Auto settings, with HDR off, and used the Sony NEX-F3 mirrorless camera as a control.

MORE: Best Smartphones 2014

Bottleslumia-1020-iphone-5s-bottles

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5s - Nokia Lumia 1020

We took a photo of colored glass bottles indoors to see how well each camera would handle indoor lighting and the nuances of the colors. The Lumia 1020 produced an image that was bluer than the images taken by both the iPhone 5s and the Sony NEX-F3. As a result, the white wall in the background has a blue tint, and the bottles and wood counter appear much colder. The iPhone 5s’ image was truer to life but had slightly more contrast, as evidenced by the red bottle in the center: The middle of the bottle is much paler. Finally, more of the background in the iPhone’s image is in focus, which is more of a personal preference.

WINNER: iPhone 5s 

Coffee Machinelumia-1020-iphone-5s-coffee

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020 

The iPhone 5s, Lumia 1020 and Sony all performed well when shooting a close-up of an espresso machine. All three cameras recognized that we only wanted the foreground in focus. As we saw with other images, the iPhone tended to compensate for the tungsten lighting, resulting in more neutral tones, while the Lumia and the Sony images had warmer hues. When we zoomed all the way in on the label, the iPhone image was the sharpest, but there was more of a cinematic quality to the Lumia’s photo.

WINNER: Lumia 1020

MORE: Top 25 Windows Phone Apps

Octopuslumia-1020-iphone-5s-octopus

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020

An octopus in a fish stall offered the opportunity to see how the cameras would handle ice crystals under indoor light. The same bluish cast we saw in the Lumia 1020′s image of the bottles was even more pronounced when we took a picture of an octopus in ice. The iPhone 5s’ image was a little too pinkish, but at least it got the color of the ice and the squid (on the left side of the image) correct. The Sony NEX-F3 (our control) provided the most accurate color, even if the overall image was a little dim.

Winner: iPhone 5s

Scarvesv

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5s - Nokia Lumia 1020

A street vendor’s kiosk of scarves and flags was a riot of colors, but how well were they recorded by the phone cameras? The iPhone 5s and the Lumia 1020 performed nearly identically, with the former capturing slightly more saturated colors than the latter. As we saw with the image of the bottles, the iPhone 5s kept more of the background in focus, which, in this case, is more of a personal preference.

WINNER: Draw 

MORE: 40 Best Free Apps for iPhone

Lower Manhattan at Nightlumia-1020-iphone-5s-manhattan-night

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020

One of the toughest shots to take — with any type of camera — is a nighttime photo with little available light. Bracing both the iPhone 5s and Lumia 1020 against a railing, we took images of lower Manhattan at night. The iPhone’s image, while much grainier than the Lumia’s, was much more in focus. (Look at the water in the foreground.) When you look at the full-size images, you can make out individual lights in buildings and waves better. The lighting in the Lumia’s image was more even, but we’ll sacrifice graininess for focus any day.

WINNER: iPhone 5s

NYC Skylinelumia-1020-iphone-5s-skyline

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020

How well can a camera capture a cityscape during the day? In a shot of the New York City skyline, the Lumia preserved more detail in 1 World Trade Center. When we zoomed in to 100 percent, we could make out lines in the windows better. The Lumia also handled whites better. We were able to see more detail and subtle color variations in the clouds. The Lumia’s picture was slightly bluer, but far less grainier than the photo taken by the iPhone 5s.

WINNER: Lumia 1020

MORE: Camera Buying Guide 2014

Pumpkin Chairlumia-1020-iphone-5s-king-gourd

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020

Selfies aside, a camera needs to be able to take good photos of people. We took a photo of a person sitting in a chair surrounded by pumpkins and other gourds, illuminated by natural light. The iPhone again bested the Lumia, producing a less washed-out image.

WINNER: iPhone 5s

Grover with Flashlumia-1020-iphone-5s-grover

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020

One of the new features of the iPhone 5s is its dual-LED flash, which is supposed to better accommodate for different lighting conditions. Likewise, the Lumia’s xenon flash is much better than your standard smartphone flash. So, how do they compare? When we took a photo of a Grover doll indoors using the flash, the iPhone’s flash proved superior, offering truer colors.

WINNER: iPhone 5s 

MORE: iPhone 6 Features: What We Want From Apple

Low-Light Images (Flower with No Flash)lumia-1020-iphone-5s-low-light-flower

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5s - Nokia Lumia 1020

Both the iPhone 5s and the Lumia 1020 are adept at taking photos in dim and low-light conditions. To test this capability, we first took an image of a flower at dusk. The iPhone 5s’ image, though somewhat grainy, showed much more detail in the surrounding leaves. Also, the flower in the iPhone’s image was more accurate; there was a bluish cast to the Lumia 1020′s photo.

WINNER: iPhone 5s

Close-Up of Gourdslumia-1020-iphone-5s-close-up-gourd

High-Res Versions: iPhone 5sNokia Lumia 1020

In a close-up shot of a bunch of gourds, both the iPhone 5s and Lumia 1020 produced equally crisp and detailed images. Once again, though, the Lumia’s images had a slight blue tint, while the iPhone 5s’ were more accurate. In addition, the orange gourd on the right side has better contrast.

WINNER: iPhone 5s

MORE: iOS 7 Essential Tips and Tricks

Verdictlumia1020-iphone5s-scorecard-1

The iPhone 5s conclusively beat the Nokia Lumia 1020 in our photo face-off, taking seven out of 10 rounds–and tying one. Even after updating the Lumia 1020′s camera software, which reduced issues with the blue color cast on many images, colors were still more accurate on the iPhone. Apple’s device also excelled when delivering detail and contrast.

The advantage that the Lumia 1020 has is that you can recompose your shot after you take it because of the phone’s very high 41-MP resolution. Overall, though, the iPhone 5s snapped better-looking images in a wider range of conditions. 

To be fair, the Lumia 1020 offers much greater control over individual settings, letting the user manually adjust ISO, shutter speed, white balance and more. However, when it comes to being able to whip your phone out of your pocket and fire off a quick shot or two — the way most smartphone cameras are used — the iPhone 5s is the better everyday smartphone camera.

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  1. Aldo Says:

    What else to expect from such an Apple-biased site?

  2. Joe Smith Says:

    Does Auto on the Nokia mean you are taking 5mp pictures and comparing them to the 8mp iphone pictures?

    If that’s the case you really should be upfront about comparing 5mp to 8mp andnot 41mp to 8mp.

    Also you seem to be punishing the Nokia for having a “faster” lens when you make comments such as “The iPhone 5s’ image, though somewhat grainy, showed much more detail in the surrounding leaves.”

  3. Bas Says:

    How can you take yourself serious? All you’ve done is:

    - have an opinion and declare that a conclusion
    - find some “evidence” that seems to support it
    - ignore anything else

    This is the same as saying that fast food is healthier than proper food because you like the taste of fast food better by comparing a few burgers with culinary classics.

  4. Dan Says:

    Let’s see if they have the guts and honesty to post the following link to a real impartial test. http://www.gsmarena.com/six_way_camera_shootout-review-998.php

  5. Jason Says:

    Very interesting comparison, but Iwould really like to see a section added where you print everything as a 4×6 and 5×7 and recompare.

  6. Aldo Says:

    What would you expect from such an apple-biased site??

  7. koba Says:

    Are you serious? A better title would have been “I love the Iphone against all evidences”. IPhone might be a better phone in everything but the camera is no brain. Lumia 1020 is like a good dslr and if you do a comparison your “personal preference” shouldn’t be part of the arguments.

  8. Ryan Says:

    Most of the Lumia “misses” related to color are white balanced based. OK, Apple has slightly better auto white balance algorithms to make it look more like tungsten light. So?

    Sometimes you are not shooting under tungsten, and what it looks like in the captured photo is really – what it looks like. Our eyes adjust to any light because of the grey matter between our ears.

    The rest are just over saturated colors on the iPhone’s part that make it look “better”. This is akin to how in audio tests, louder sounds “better”.

    The Lower Manhattan pick is a total joke. The noise level in the iPhone is much MUCH higher than the Lumia.

    And lastly, yes, the iPhone wins with flash – it has something never seen anywhere before – an auto color mixing flash. Big deal.

  9. Tom Says:

    I actually have a Lumia 1020 myself.. I am not sure what settings the the reviewer has manipulated to make the photos look so awful.. But this handset beats iPhone 5 hands down.

  10. 惊呆了惊呆了 Says:

    Really stupid comparison. You really don’t know how to compare cameras. I’ll not be surprised if you conclude Nikon D3X is worse than iphone5s.

  11. topdan Says:

    very silly comparison with statements such as “more of the background in the iPhone’s image is in focus, which is more of a personal preference” (yet deemed a plus by this review, not sensor or lens speed feature) and comments about the night time shot’s ‘focus’ which is clearly less noise-reduction.

  12. Hessam Says:

    I think it is absolutely biased. Since I have a Lumia 1020 and my girlfriend has an iphone 5s we made a detailed comparison and the result was exactly the opposite.

  13. latooots Says:

    This article is too early for April fools.

    Wait, it isn’t for April fools? Then I call bull.

  14. mm Says:

    any serious comparison of the 1020 with any other phone would need to include a test of digital zoom.

  15. Brian Says:

    I have BOTH phones. Camera wise, the Nokia wins HANDS DOWN. And it seems the other commentators agree with me. Such a misleading article with obviously biased photos. The writer should be ashamed of himself.

  16. lol Says:

    1020 wins in every category for a REAL photographer. You literally can adjust EVERY aspect of the camera. Not to mention the amazing editing software that comes with the. 1020.

  17. Deocliciano Says:

    I do not have a cell phone, and it has been like that for almost a decade.

    For you, Microsoft employers here:

    Instead of bitching about a phone you do not have, why not buy an iPhone and do your own iPhone 5S vs. Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera Shootout?

    It is childish to insult people who actually hands outs facts, if all you have is insult.

  18. Adrian O'Connor Says:

    Reading these comments, I’d say a fair few Windows Phone users just had their Jimmies well and truly rustled :D

    Just to add my 2c, I like the iPhone pictures in this article better, but I’m an iPhone user, and that’s just my opinion. Also, I only trust a few select sites for reviewing photography topics well — like dpreview, though this article doesn’t seem too terrible.

  19. fernando Says:

    paid for Apple. Lumia 1020 have a lot option you can change for Win or Lose.

  20. Chris Says:

    As an Apple fanboy I must say that a couple of these comparisons should have been given to the Nokia. For a moment I seriously went and had to re-read because I thought you were saying which had the WORSE image.

    Judging from these photos in my honest opinion I think it should be more of a draw. But when you consider it having a 41MP camera they want people to think “HOLY SHIT IT’S GONNA BE LIKE A $10,000 DSLR CAMERA OMFGBBQ!”

    To lose (or in my opinion tie) with an 8MP iPhone 5s is kind of bad. Sad too since you say there are plenty of customizable options in the software. As we all know you need a 3rd party app to do that on the iPhone.

  21. Andy Says:

    The butthurt in the comments is entertaining.

  22. NM Says:

    Here comes people who just want to see if something have big specs it is the best in the market.
    Nokia doing business on that only.
    Always bigger cam specs!
    But actual photography is worst.
    Used so many nokia phones but all of them dont have good camera, nowdays nokia is providing good camera but you really need 41 Megapixel?
    Also when u click a photo af party u really have time to set up everything? Not at all u just want to click photos & i want my phone to handle good photo part.
    In nokia u will get the best photos i know but by wasting so much time in setting where in iPhone it all done by iPhone only.
    U just need to tap to focus n het a good photo
    So i think iPhone suits my need rather than the biggest camera phone on the planet earth.

  23. Brian Ansorge Says:

    Ha ha. Sounds like all the insecure Apple-haters/Nokia fanobois are all butt hurt.

    Go figure.

    Must suck to be you.

  24. Paul Says:

    I almost fall out of my chair laughing at your comparison – take a photography lesson 101 first

  25. darknight Says:

    …sacrifice graininess over focus. How come a picture would be in focus if it is so grainy

  26. User OfAll Says:

    Well, this review is kind of a joke. You have no business testing in an area you obviously lack knowledge in. Like that background being more in focus on the 5S? That’s because you’re comparing an aperture of F2.2 vs F2.0 dummy. Here’s a factual nugget for you, F2.0 let’s in more light, and has a shallower dept of field – usually desirable to isolate the subject from the background. Why were the waves “blurred” in the night shot? Because the 1020′s Optical Image Stabilization allows the shutter to remain open longer to let in more light. This means, moving things like waves will blur, but you seem to like grain in your images – that’s the 5S’ sensor straining to brighten the image by software algorithm.

    Anyways, you’re a Apple/Android guy looking to trash its competitor before people realize what’s good.

  27. Fashion Photog Says:

    I’ve done this comparison myself, and there is no comparison. Despite the Lumia’s inflated specs, photos coming out of it are very average and inferior to that of the 5S. Apple got it right concentrating on pixel size rather than number.

    Nice to see the ridiculous piles of butthurt Microsoft acolytes who can’t believe that anything could best their Lumia.

    I’m sure they’d argue that the Lumia produces better pics than a 1Dx or a 3Dx. But, but, but.. 41 mp!

  28. FOOLOUTOFYOURSELF Says:

    Dude,
    Even apple is laughing at your comparison. seriously ???? get a break ! you should be disqualified putting out **any** comparison results wide in public like this ever !

  29. tre Says:

    This article is ridiculous; other than the obvious bias of the author I can tell the photographer had little to no skill. Its crazy obvious that the 1020 has a better camera. If you’re reading this ignore the article and see for yourself its stupid how they tried to bring the 5s back in the game.

  30. hans Says:

    Funny test.

    Did you switch the phones ?

    There is no single test the iPhone defeated the Lumia 1020.

    What you show is fantasy.

  31. Arcturus Says:

    for me the photos from the Lumia 1020 are more realistic and better photos from iPhone.
    Well, it seems this website will have a big and fat Christmas with money from the Apple. There is no other reason to iPhone win this competition.

  32. Marcelo_ Says:

    Michael, dude, you’re such a enormous l14r … Who you are trying to fool? Damn, you think that just n00bs read this blog to think that you could say all this bullsh1t and none would come to prove that all that you are stating is f4ke? I really don’t know how a guy like you can thrown all your reputation as a professional in the garbage writing this obviously p4id advertising for 4pple… Human stup1d1ty has no limits … ¬¬

  33. Marcelo_ Says:

    Worst of all is that iPhone 5S is a great smartphone and outperforms in any aspect the Lumia 1020 EXCEPT the camera … So it is a great phone and even with a slightly worse camera than the Lumia, it is a great device… So the author l1ed about one aspect that wouldn’t change nothing in sales of it, event if it was real, but with this post lost all his credibility as a professional… Dude, you should choose another profession from now on because from this point on nothing that you say will be taken in consideration and everybody will keep a foot behind when reading anything that you write thinking if you ly1ng again… ;)

  34. Daniel Says:

    When iphone 5s starts to shot in RAW we can start to discuss…

  35. BadApple Says:

    Such a BS article. Laptopmag should stop taking kickbacks from Apple and stop publishing lies. Apple is losing its touch is no longer the innovative leader it once was.

    Legit Test:
    http://www.gsmarena.com/six_way_camera_shootout-review-998.php

    Nokia is better. Samsung is better.

  36. Sumanth Says:

    Ridiculous comparision

  37. Sedgy Says:

    Do you want to work for Apple? This review is the biggest load of tosh I’ve ever seen. The blur in the background is a breakthrough in smartphone photography you moron.Have you heard of aperture to change depth of field? This phone has manual adjustments. Also..you cannot get a sharp shot with a led flash.I could go on…

  38. Jonathan Ortiz Says:

    I had Nokia 808 and decided it was time to upgrade. I purchased the iPhone 5S because i was convinced that it was the best thing to get. Overall better phone. However, i didn’t use my phone more than my old Nokia, and as always wanted to use the camera. (Even though i miss the nice features from the 808). The only thing great about the iPhone’s camera is that it’s a fast shooter. Video recording is great with the 120 fps. However, i wasn’t pleased with the pictures. On the phone it looked ok. But zooming in, it was blurry and I couldn’t get over it. I sold the iPhone, got a Nokia 1020 and saved some money. Overall love the Nokia, use it more than the iphone, and the camera and applications for it are awesome and easy to use. Even video recording looks better. And even though it has slow shot to shot times, I learned how to use it and at the end got better pictures because of the slow shot to shot time. That’s why I traded the iphone 5s for the Nokia 1020.

  39. Christo Says:

    Its amazing that only one review has been able to do this….dont trust your review at all especioally weeing iPhone 5s photos for myself and comparing them to a Lumia 1020…Someone is jsut upset that the fruitcake company is not the one to beat anymore! I hate IOs 7 on my ipad cos it never works…been gathering dust since the update cos its not working and Apple cant fix it…not even a year old! Love my Lumia 920 and 1020…only time the ios software shines if when you have everything apple. Desktop, laptop, ipad , ipod and macbook!I am sorry, but i dont own a Gold House! IOS7 feels dated to Windows 8 and they actually copied the simplistic look and the way it operates from Windows8…and i dont care about 100s of thousands of apps! I need only a handfull and they are on my the windows platform! Instagram aint a deal breaker if it aint there…i only share photos on FB anyway and twitter…! Skydrive is amazing aswell as office…got my workplace with me all the time! Too many gimmicks on Android devices and too many to choose from and i really dont care about looking at everyapp to see what it does! Its just another way of people becoming more and more prone to sit adn be antisocial on your phone in the company of others! I use my phone for work and to take photos about stuff i want to share!
    You are clearly bias on your liking for Apple its layered on so thick, you can stop a runaway truck with it!

  40. kid Says:

    lol, you are funny bro. How much did Apple pay you to do this review?

  41. Bruno Says:

    You are ridiculous kkkkkkk

  42. greven Says:

    This is ridiculous, and the person behind this bs test should be fired for being an fanboy idiot. Making 5mp pics with a 41mp camera and then comparing them to 8mb :D This is hard to comprehend – what did you want to achieve by doing this idiotic and fake test?

  43. jude Says:

    apple thinks people are dumb and stupid

  44. snova Says:

    hey genius, what’s the difference between “dumb” and “stupid”? People in glass houses should not throw stones.

  45. Tom Says:

    Seriously, you should be jailed for this ridiculous review.

  46. nyersike Says:

    I am sorry to say this but this is the most ridiculous, no expert review I have ever seen.

    Honestly there is no area where iPhone5S could be winner concerning camera perormance.

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