DxOMark: today’s mobile phone image quality surpasses that of 2007 compact digital cameras

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DxOMark will start measuring the camera image quality for cellphones, smartphones and digital tablets. The first test scored will be published in the next few weeks. DxOMark included also a interesting statistics in their press release: "Mobile image quality is now superior to that of 5-year-old compact cameras":

Press release:

October 9, 2012 - DxOMark, the website of reference for camera and lens image quality measurements, announces the launch of new measurements dedicated to camera image quality data for cellphones, smartphones, and digital tablets.

Drawing on DxO Labs' expertise in measuring the image quality of conventional cameras and lenses, DxO Mark Mobile aims to help consumers analyze and compare the still and video performance of mobile devices by freely providing them with its industrial-quality scientific measurements.

Mobile image quality is now superior to that of 5-year-old compact cameras

Mobile phone cameras have become a key feature for a large number of consumers: in 2011, more than one quarter of all photos were taken with a mobile phone. This trend has accelerated in 2012 - which may end up being the year when mobile photography surpasses traditional amateur compact camera photography.

Mobile phone image quality has also made considerable progress - for example, the image quality of the Nokia 808 PureView, in first place in the DxOMark Mobile rankings for still photos, is superior to that of a
5-year-old compact camera. And as for video, the best mobile tested in this category, the Samsung Galaxy SIII, outperforms the Canon Powershot 100.

"Of the dozen mobile devices that we have already tested, some have already attained a significant level of image quality," said Frédéric Guichard, Chief Scientific Officer for DxO Labs. "However, the increase in sensor resolution and the miniaturization of pixels has introduced new problems well-known to photographers, such as digital noise. Our detailed test results will allow consumers to analyze all of the intrinsic qualities of mobile cameras."

Innovative, standards-compliant DxOMark Mobile measurement technology

DxOMark experts have developed innovative testing protocols based on both objective and perceptual measurements. DxOMark Mobile measures many attributes of mobile camera image quality such as color, exposure, texture, noise, and autofocus, in both still photo and video modes. In all, DxOMark Mobile analyzes 14 attributes, assigning each one a score between 1 and 100. An overall DxOMark score lets users rank and make comparisons between camera-equipped mobile devices, as well as between mobile cameras and compact cameras.

"In addition to measurements made in the laboratory under perfectly-controlled environmental and lighting conditions, we also conduct perceptual analyses of shots taken in the field," commented Guichard. "We reproduce the everyday conditions that people commonly encounter when using these devices so as to reliably analyze and report on their image quality."

DxOMark Mobile's fully-reproducible testing protocols conform to international standards established by the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA), the lnternational Imaging Industry Association (I3A), and the Camera Phone Image Quality (CPIQ) working group.

"With its continuously-enriched database, DxOMark Mobile aims to become the reference source for information about mobile camera image quality, and to develop partnerships with many players in the mobile photography market," said Jérôme Ménière, CEO of DxO Labs.

The first reviews based on DxOMark Mobile measurements will be published in the next few weeks.

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  • Mark

    Only the Nokia Pureview 808. The rest still look like shooting through plastic wrap. I assume they talk about compacts that cost as much as their phone counterparts.

    • jake

      Have you used the HTC One S?

  • JC

    Where is the story here? All electronic things are getting better over the time !

  • Steve

    Compacts from over 5 years ago were actually quite good due to the larger sensor and low MP. My S45 still produces better Image quality vs cell phones except for the 808. There are also the cell phone issues related to no zoom, lens flare/softness, firmware bugs, WB issues, etc.

  • Calibrator

    I agree with the criticism as I’ve recently compared the praised Galaxy S3 camera (not the top dog, of course, but still very highly rated) with older photos from my Canon Powershot A70 (ca. 2005, 3MP, died in 2008) and the Powershot A710IS (bought in 2008, 7MP).

    I’d judge the image quality of the S3 camera as as slightly above the A70 in bright daylight condition regarding resolution and it definitely has better color rendition, especially with reds and greens where the older Canon just seems a bit artificial.

    I didn’t test the S3 under low light conditions so I can’t compare that and I completely ignored the LED “flash” of the S3 (won’t hold a candle against the small xenon flash in the Canon, IMHO). The 4x optical zoom of the A70 is of course better than nothing but the images tended to brighten up very much at the tele end.

    The image quality of the Powershot A710IS, however, a 4-year-old compact, is still noticeably better in pretty much every aspect. It also has a 6x optical zoom (much better optically than the 4x zoom of the A70) so the construction isn’t even comparable.

    I didn’t really compare focus speed as my old A70 is long gone and the A710IS is pretty slow anyway. This is one area where the S3 is much better: Speed. You can also take another image much quicker than with the A710IS.
    I still liked the handling of the compacts better (one hand operation is very easy) and they allowed for more setting than the S3 – which of course easily trumps them in the post-processing department and the big screen of the S3 is just beautiful.

    So while I don’t fully agree with DxO it’s clear that we have come a long way in cellphone camera image quality. The Sony Ericsson cellphone I had at the time of my A70 was pretty much priced the same and it had a resolution of 352×240 pixels or so and the images were completely unusable. I never could recognize anything on them and stopped using it quickly.
    My next phone (3G, 2008) had about a megapixel and was very noisy but I could at least use the images.

    So, yes, the new cellphone cameras are roughly as good as 4-5 year old compacts but todays compacts are still a few years ahead of them – on a general level.
    While I’m sure this will change one day it won’t be because phone cameras got so good but because compact cameras stopped getting improved. This is a species that is destined to become extinct in the next years…

  • elho_cid

    Nokia 808 is not necessary for great image quality. Even the 2years old Nokia N8 replaced my Canon S80 and I do not miss that camera at all.

  • timon

    In this side, DxOMark lab is a fool,

    with taking so-called one overall score, DxOMark can tell us like this:
    as a cellphone-cam is better than for most DSLR cameras.
    in currently.

    real fool.

    give up what overall score, please.

    • an onymous

      Now, that was a pretty foolish statement!

      What DxOMark is doing is assessing the image quality of the sensor, not the whole camera.

      Overall score is the score of several aspects relating only to the image quality produced by the sensor such as noise, light dynamic, colour dynamic, period!

      DxOMark, please continue what you are doing, thanks.

      • an non-onymous

        Now, that an onymous was a pretty foolish statement!

        What foregoing post is doing is assessing the overall score of the sensor,
        not the whole camera.

        overall score fanboy, please continue what you are doing, thanks.

  • Martijn

    thats all awesome, but phones still, and will always lack one feature…
    a decent zoom. and thats what sets a compact apart from a phone. But great to see that the technology improves fast!

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