One of the biggest additions to Samsung’s new flagship is the new 16MP ISOCELL sensor, which was developed in-house. Samsung claims that the Galaxy S5’s sensor is superior to the latest BSI 2 CMOS sensor that’s currently being used. The new sensor forms a physical barrier between neighbouring pixels, thereby allowing more light to be absorbed by the intended pixel and eliminating crosstalk. In simple words – we can expect better colours, sharper low-light images and accurate contrast levels, all without having to increase the pixel size and maintaining a decently high resolution.
Pitting this against the HTC One M8 is unfair since it still uses a 4MP camera at that end of the day. The Z2 would make a good contender but that’s yet to launch in India. Thankfully, Samsung is not the only one with a 16MP camera sensor. Gionee and Micromax already have 16MP sensors in the Elife E7 and Canvas Knight. Both handsets use OmniVision’s OV16825 image sensor that’s based on the second generation BSI sensor.
Pitting the S5 against the E7 makes sense as we have a level playing field with both having a 16MP sensor. The CMOS technology is a bit different though which will ultimately prove which one is indeed better.
Before we proceed, note that the E7 shoots at a slightly lower resolution (16MP, 4608 x 3456) while the S5 captures stills at a slightly higher resolution (16MP, 5312 x 2988). The comparison images are all 100 percent crops of the original and hasn’t been resized or altered in any manner. To see the full image, don’t forget to click on them. Another thing to note is that the E7 shoots Panorama and Burst shots at a lower resolution as compared to the S5.
Test 1 – Low-light (Landscape)
Our first test is a low-light shot of a street at around 9PM. Both phones do a good job at this but we have to give our vote to the S5 here. The colours are well balanced and if you zoom into the leaves below the street lamp, they are a lot more detailed as compared to the E7. The black levels are also much better, and the trees and the sky are clearly distinguishable.
Test 2 – Low-light (Macro)
This was shot under an incandescent light in a parking lot. Both cameras do a good job. The text is a bit sharper with the S5 however.
Test 3 – Daylight (Macro)
This shot was taken in the shade at around 10AM. It’s impossible to pick a winner here as both do a splendid job of accurately capturing details and colours. The S5 is a bit on the warmer side which is evident from the slightly darker shade of pink.
Test 4 – Indoors (Macro)
This was shot on a window sill with plenty of natural light coming in. Both cameras capture excellent detail and the colours are spot on.
Here’s another macro, shot at the same window. The warmer tone of the S5 really makes the image pop as it feels livelier than the E7. Level of detail on both is very good.
Test 5 – Panorama
There’s really no competition here. The S5 easily trounces the E7 when it comes to panoramas. This was taken at around 11AM and it was extremely sunny. The S5 manages warmer images, with more accurate colours and best of all, captures the panorama at a much higher resolution.
Test 6 – Outdoors
While both images may look almost identical, you’ll notice the difference once you zoom in. the black levels are much better with the S5 and the edges around the parts of the bike aren’t over sharpened like the E7. Take a look at the writing on the tank and the decal near the pillion seat. The S5 delivers a slightly crisper image with punchier colours.
Test 7 – Burst
Both phones do a phenomenal job at burst mode but once again, the devil is in the details. The S5 and the E7 can capture moving objects well enough without leaving any ghost trails. However, the E7 shoots in a lower resolution as compared to the S5. You’ll immediately notice this difference after zooming in. The level of detail in the birds and the people are remarkably better in the S5.
As far as 16MP shooters go, the Samsung Galaxy S5 definitely has an edge over OmniVision’s sensor. Both deliver good performance at macros and capture very good detail. However, the S5’s ISOCELL sensor nudges forward in almost all the tests by offering greater detail, deeper blacks and a livelier colour tone.
We’ll be testing out the camera and other aspects of the S5 in greater detail in our upcoming review. In the meantime, here’s our unboxing video and quick tour of the phone.
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Jul 2, 2015