We had a go with the Nokia Lumia 820 back when it launched in early January. Now that the handset is available in the market, we decided to pit it against its closest competitor, the Sony Xperia S. Both these handsets are retailing for more or less the same price online and camera is one of the highlights on both the handsets as well. The Lumia 820 boasts of an 8MP Carl Zeiss Tessar lens whereas the Xperia S packs in a whopping 12MP sensor. We all know that it’s not about the megapixels but how the phone handles the image processing. The Xperia S may have an upper hand on paper, but how does it fare against the Lumia 820? We’ve also compared both the handsets to the Panasonic DMC-FZ60, which is an entry-level super-zoom camera, just for reference.

Close-up: Reproduction of colours and details

In this test, we checked for accuracy in reproduction of colours and details. Pay close attention to the reds and greens, and fine details such as veins of leaves, pollen grains on the tips of the flower and the buds. It was a close fight between the Lumia 820 and the Xperia S, but focussing was faster and more accurate with the latter. Also note that the red tones are more saturated in the shot taken by the Lumia 820, while the colours were more neutral with the Xperia S. Between the two, the Xperia S is a clear winner. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ60 obviously took the cake, macro being its forte.


Indoor scene: Auto mode without flash

The Lumia 820 tends to over-saturate the colours, which is why you can see that the orange and green colours look too vibrant. Also, the frame has a slight green tinge, which can be seen from the black tones.The winner here is again the Xperia S with the perfect balance of colours, exposure and reproduction of details. In fact, even the super-zoom camera wasn't able to match up.


Shadows and highlights: Overall exposure, colours and details

Handing shadows and highlights. and reproducing details in dark areas, all at the same time can bring any digital camera to its knees. It's clear that the Lumia 820 did the worst—notice the bloom around the bright highlights around the bench and blue tones in dark areas. Also, the image lacks contrast. The shot taken by Xperia S looks more neutral with a good balance of all parameters and hence, is a winner.


Outdoor wide: Overall colours, details and contrast

Like in the previous shot, the Lumia 820 again produced a bluish tinge in dark areas and over-saturated the green tones (notice the grass on the ground). The reproduction of details was just about average. The colour reproduction of the Xperia S was good, but it produced a purple tinge in dark areas. It's obviously better than the Lumia 820, but the winner here is the DMC-FZ60 with good overall control and colours.

To sum up

We went into the comparision without any expectations and in the end, the 8MP snapper on the Lumia 820 simply failed to impress. We assumed having a Carl Zeiss optics would have tilted the shootout in the favour of the 820, but sadly, that's not the case. Older handsets like the Sony Xperia S still prove to be very good when it comes to snapping pictures. The main issues with the Lumia 820 is that it tends to oversaturate colours and has trouble focusing when it comes to macro shots. Touch-to-focus works a lot better for macros than the dedicated camera button. If you were planning on picking this up for its camera capabilities, then we suggest you think otherwise.

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