By popular demand... the 808 rematched with the SGS4, with no holds barred

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My 5-camera 7-scene test, earlier this week, provoked a lot of comment along the lines of "ah, but you left the Nokia 808 on default settings for almost all of that, if you'd have used Creative mode properly, the 808 would have fared a lot better!" Maybe. In the two examples below, I just show the two main contenders tackling a distant detail and an extreme macro. Seems I was right about the Galaxy S4, you know. And I was right about the Nokia 808 PureView (if the critics had read through all my text)...

The two main contentions from the critics were around distant detail and macro shots, so I did one of each. And in each case I put the Nokia 808 up to 'Superfine' (in terms of detail and JPG compression) and also ramped up the colours to 'Vivid'. And I then ran the 808 at full 2x PureView zoom (it's 3x in 5MP mode, remember). 

Distant detail

In overcast, dull light (UK weather, but hey, it gives the phone cameras more of a challenge), I shot a small sign across the road. Here's the full scene:

Scene 1

And here are the crops from the Nokia 808 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S4 (right):

Scene 1 comparison

As before, in my zoom test in the previous article, the Nokia 808 PureView was born to do this sort of thing and the detail on offer is natural and impressive. More than before (2 pts behind), the Galaxy S4 is quite a way further back, merely doing its best to interpolate detail. In fact, were I scoring this comparison out of 10, I'd give the 808 9 pts and the S4 5 pts (i.e. 2 pts less), which just goes to show that results of these comparisons will naturally vary slightly according to the subject and conditions. With the light being less than perfect, the Nokia 808's larger sensor and optics come into play in a big way. In bright sunlight, the Galaxy S4 does a bit better, but will always still be a few rungs behind.

Extreme macro

Again in overcast, dull light, I shot a similar dandelion as in the first test. Here's the full scene:

Scene 2

And here are the crops from the Nokia 808 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S4 (right):

Scene 2 comparison

Again I stand by my original comments about the Samsung Galaxy S4 being stunning for macro photographs, as here. Even at full sensor resolution (2x zoom/8MP, equivalent to using the 34MP mode), the Nokia 808 simply can't focus close enough to match the Galaxy. Both shots above were taken as close as I could reliably get a focus lock.

My overall conclusions remain the same though, in regards these two very different smartphones. The Nokia 808 PureView will always produce more natural, 'purer', more detailed photos, and will produce them with more flexibility for those who know what they are doing - as long as the subject isn't closer than about 40cm. 

Under 30cm, the edge goes to the Samsung Galaxy S4, which can accurately focus down to about 7cm and with the full sensor resolution available across quite a narrow field of view.

With such different conclusions based on what the subject matter is, it's perhaps no wonder that my 7-scene test caused a stir with its results - every single one of us would devise a different set of test scenes/subjects! Seven landscapes and general subjects would produce a landslide win for the 808, while seven macro shots of flowers, food and small pets would produce a big win for the Galaxy S4.