Camera Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ vs Google Pixel 2: Camera Shootout

Shootout between the two highest-rated smartphone cameras

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Aside from having the famed AR Emoji, Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ are earning praises and accolades for multiple features. Imaging authority DxOMark has even given the S9+ (or what I call the “jumbo” version) the highest smartphone camera rating to date.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+

Hot off the launch event, I got to take the S9, which is the smaller handset (I dub thee the “mini” version), out for a spin. The mini S9 supposedly has the same camera specs as the S9+ including that fancy dual-aperture feature, except, the latter has a rear dual-cam setup capable of real portrait mode shooting and zoom.

On this trip, I was packing the Google Pixel 2, which used to top DxOMark’s charts and is now second only to the S9+. 

Being the curious person that I am, I took the S9 and the Pixel 2 out and around Barcelona to see just how the two compare. Here’s how that turned out.

Cityscapes

It was unusually cold and rainy in Barcelona this year but I managed to take a number of snaps of the picturesque city.

Both phones did a great job on this shot. Overall lighting was good, even on the building facades considering these areas were against the light. The S9’s photo is noticeably brighter, but the Pixel 2 shot has more building details owing to high contrasts — something the phone is known for.

Same observations may be made with this set. Color and detail is more apparent on the Pixel photo owing to contrasts. The blue sky on the S9 photo looks more saturated while the Pixel 2 photo gives a deeper, darker sky.

Indoor shots

These photos were taken inside famed apartment building Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí who is the genius behind Barcelona’s Sagrada Família.

The S9’s photo is brighter but this meant that color and some parts (notice the windows) have washed out details. Notice that the same photo is also more yellow. The deeper blues in the Pixel 2’s photo make for a better take.

Yet again, both photos come out well, and this is considering that this was an indoor setting. The S9 photo won this particular round, however. The brightness and color saturation just made the overall picture more appealing.

Low-light scenes

We now move on to the true smartphone camera challenges!

This photo came out with surprising results. I’m not quite sure why color differed vastly between the two pictures — might be the white balance, or the saturation — so your guess is as good as mine.

This outdoor night time shot proves that both are capable shooters (as if it isn’t obvious enough at this point), and both samples have great detail. As has been a recurring theme in these photos, the S9’s take is a little bit more saturated while the Pixel 2’s photo has more pronounced contrasts.

The S9 impressed massively in this photo. Although the stained glass windows aren’t as colorful in this sample, the S9 was able to brighten the photo so much so that the details on the ceiling are clearly seen. This was not the case with the Pixel 2 photo.

Food photography

On to the part of the review that always makes me hungry.

The S9 and S9+ have a built in Food Mode specifically built for these type of shots.

As seen in the left-most photo, the tuna is definitely redder. Obviously, saturation has been upped on the S9’s Food Mode and there’s a blur effect going on — one that’s reminiscent of Instagram’s radial blur filter. The Pixel 2’s tuna looks paler and less appealing in general, even compared to the normal S9 shot.

The same goes with this yummy piece of salmon. Although undoubtedly very, very yummy, the Pixel 2’s photo looks least appealing. The S9 Food Mode, however, seemed a little too much for this naturally orange dish. The normal S9 photo looks just right (and now I want salmon).

Portrait mode

This is where it gets interesting. The S9 houses a single rear camera which means its bokeh mode is all software; the Pixel 2 is the same. On the other hand, the S9+ (yes, the jumbo version) packs dual-rear shooters that can do real hardware bokeh with its adjustable Live Focus Mode. The results are below:

It’s Joshua Vergara. What’s going on, everybody?

The Google Pixel 2 still does better software cut-outs, but the S9+ and its hardware bokeh are the true winners here.

Speaking of S9+ features, there’s also an optical zoom capability thanks to the second rear shooter on this jumbo phone while the Pixel 2’s single shooter doesn’t have the same thing, so we give this round to the S9+.

Selfie shooters

Of course, the S9 and S9+ have a very detailed beauty and makeup mode (something I’ve thoroughly explored in this video) — a feature the Pixel 2 doesn’t have.

On the selfie front, here’s how the phones fared:

The S9’s photo is brighter and softer — a look I’ve noticed women are more prone to liking in their selfies as it gives faces a softer look. As expected, the Pixel 2’s high contrasts give off a much sharper look; notice the seemingly overdrawn eyebrows on the Pixel 2 sample compared to the S9’s.

The verdict is not surprising: All these phones are very, very capable shooters. As to which phone is better would depend on preference. Admittedly, the S9+ would be the best overall shooter with the added camera and shooting features. The S9, on the other hand, is a great choice if you like brighter, more saturated photos in a smaller body. And despite being released months prior, the Pixel 2 is still on par with these fresh releases. It’s still a great choice if you’re fond of great contrasts and faithful color reproduction.

Which one of these phones won you over?

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S9: Four fun new features

Camera Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs OPPO Find X3 Pro: Camera shootout

Camera smackdown between the ‘Pro’ and the ‘Ultra’

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As new smartphones slowly dominate the 2021 tech scene one by one, we get more chances to compare their camera capabilities side by side.

The new OPPO Find X3 Pro promises improvements in camera performance — but is this ‘Pro’ flagship enough to compete with Samsung’s ‘Ultra’ behemoth?

In GadgetMatch’s standards, our camera samples were taken straight out of the phone’s camera app. The only post-processing techniques applied are collaging, putting simple texts in each photo, and resizing. Just like the previous camera shootouts, photos are completely shuffled so you have to remember your picks.

Can’t wait further? Let’s start the camera smackdown!

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Outdoor shots with natural light are easy to achieve — unless they show blown-out highlights and darker shadows in a scene.

#1 (Wide)

#2 (Zoom)

Saturation

Most of the time, color accuracy is one factor that differentiates one smartphone from other models.

#3

#4

#5

AWB (Auto White Balance)

While color temperature can be adjusted right after taking the photo, it’s still a nice feature for a smartphone camera to detect the right type of White Balance in a shot.

#6 (Outdoors)

#7 (Indoors)

#8 (Shade)

Zoom

There’s totally a big difference between two telephoto lenses versus one.

#9 (3x Zoom)

#10 (5x Zoom)

#11 (30x Zoom)

Food

For those appetizing and scrumptious, IG-worthy food shots

#12 (Wide)

#13 (Zoom)

#14 (Low-light Zoom)

Faces

A dedicated section for people who love taking portraits, body shots, and selfies — whether day or night.

#15 (Zoom)

#16 (Selfie)

#17 (Portrait Mode)

#18 (Low-light)

Night Mode

While we’re on the topic of low-light samples, it’s time to reveal the ultimate test that makes or breaks a smartphone camera.

#19 (Ultra-wide)

#20 (Wide)

#21 (Zoom)

#22 BONUS (Wide)

Results

Do you remember your picks? Check them out below to see which smartphone is your best bet!

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

1B / 2A / 3B / 4A / 5A

6A / 7A / 8A / 9A / 10A

11B / 12B / 13A / 14B / 15A

16B / 17B / 18B / 19B / 20A

21B / 22B

OPPO Find X3 Pro

1A / 2B / 3A / 4B / 5B

6B / 7B / 8B / 9B / 10B

11A / 12A / 13B / 14A / 15B

16A / 17A / 18A / 19A / 20B

21A / 22A

Conclusion

In most shots taken with natural light, both the Find X3 Pro and the Galaxy S21 Ultra produced great-looking images. But if you’ve been reading our camera shootouts for a while now, you’d clearly know which shots were taken with the Galaxy S21 Ultra — and those are the wider ones.

While a larger Field of View (FoV) contributes to wider photos, sometimes, Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera software processing goes over the limit by boosting saturation or doing too much sharpening in one scene. Those techniques heavily affect a natural-looking subject or scenario.

Also, having two telephoto lenses is a great feature in a sea of smartphones that only acquire one fixed telephoto lens (the 30x zoom shot of the S21 Ultra for example produced a clearer shot vs the one taken with the Find X3 Pro). But because of Samsung’s AI enhancements, the Galaxy S21 Ultra over-sharpened most photos — particularly shots of the coffee on a bench and the shoes inside a store.

Meanwhile, the Find X3 Pro’s image quality is actually closer to reality. The details were there, and OPPO’s software magic gave the photos the right amount of detail and contrast, as well as better AWB (Auto White Balance) detection.

During that day, my eyes only saw warm-looking subjects. Also, portraits and selfies are more natural-looking on this phone. Let the background depth segmentation in Portrait Mode speak for itself. I didn’t change the aperture value on the S21 Ultra just to stick with the default settings of the camera feature. The Find X3 Pro has cleaner cutouts — even with tiny hair strands.

I also think Night Mode shots are better on the Find X3 Pro. It’s not too bright and shabby with tolerable levels of highlights, shadows, and colors.

I’d say this was a tight camera competition.

SEE ALSO: Find X3 Pro vs Mi 11: Camera shootout | Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Mi 11: Camera shootout

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Camera Shootouts

OPPO Find X3 Pro vs Xiaomi Mi 11: Camera shootout

Which 2021 Chinese smartphone takes better images?

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Find X3 Pro Mi 11

Other than Xiaomi’s latest flagship Mi 11, OPPO has also launched the Find X3 Pro, their best smartphone yet with several improvements in the camera department.

Just like any other camera shootout in this site, photo samples were captured using Auto Mode in each phone’s respective camera app. Only three post-processing techniques were done which are putting them in a simple collage, applying basic texts, and resizing. Photos are completely shuffled so you have to write down your picks on a piece of paper or some sort.

Without further ado, let’s start the camera duel between two of the latest Chinese smartphones!

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Outdoor shots with natural light are easy to achieve — unless they show blown-out highlights and darker shadows in a scene.

#1 (Wide)

#2 (Zoom)

Saturation

Most of the time, color accuracy is one factor that differentiates one smartphone from other models.

#3

#4

#5

AWB (Auto White Balance)

While color temperature can be adjusted right after taking the photo, it’s still a nice feature for a smartphone camera to detect the right type of White Balance in a shot.

#6 (Outdoors)

#7 (Indoors)

#8 (Shade)

Zoom

You have to be keen-eyed in order to see the differences between each zoomed shot.

#9 (3x Zoom)

#10 (5x Zoom)

#11 (30x Zoom)

Food

For those appetizing and scrumptious, IG-worthy food shots

#12 (Wide)

#13 (Zoom)

#14 (Low-light Zoom)

Faces

A dedicated section for people who love taking portraits, body shots, and selfies — whether day or night.

#15 (Zoom)

#16 (Selfie)

#17 (Portrait Mode)

#18 (Low-light)

Night Mode

While we’re on the topic of low-light samples, it’s time to reveal the ultimate test that makes or breaks a smartphone camera.

#19 (Ultra-wide)

#20 (Wide)

#21 (Zoom)

BONUS #22 (Wide)

Results

Check out your picks below to see which smartphone, for you, has a better camera performance and overall image quality.

OPPO Find X3 Pro

1B / 2A / 3A / 4B / 5A

6A / 7A / 8B / 9B / 10B

11A / 12A / 13B / 14A / 15B

16B / 17B / 18B / 19A / 20B

21B / 22A

Xiaomi Mi 11

1A / 2B / 3B / 4A / 5B

6B / 7B / 8A / 9A / 10A

11B / 12B / 13A / 14B / 15A

16A / 17A / 18A / 19B / 20A

21A / 22B

Conclusion

The camera competition is quite close but if you’ll all look closely, OPPO’s Find X3 Pro is a tad better in producing shots that are more color accurate with the right amount of detail, contrast, and dynamic range.

Find X3 Pro Mi 11

You’ll barely see the differences among daylight shots but the Find X3 Pro truly outdid the Mi 11 in night shots and portraits. OPPO’s processing technique produced brighter, warmer, and more detailed portraits and selfies regardless if it’s against the light or taken during low-light scenarios. Speaking of low-light, OPPO’s camera magic worked wonders at night — not too bright (unlike most Android smartphones nowadays) yet has less motion blur while taking night shots for several seconds.

The Mi 11, on the other hand, isn’t that horrible. It’s just that most results were a little bit underexposed, less color accurate (more on the cooler side), and worse, blurry, especially when using Night Mode. But again, it’s just me being nit-picky. The Xiaomi Mi 11 is still a decent camera smartphone overall — it’s just that the Find X3 Pro performed better in most (if not all) scenarios.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Find X3 Pro: Camera shootout | Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Mi 11: Camera shootout

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Camera Shootouts

Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Mi 11: Camera Shootout

Camera duel between 2021’s newest smartphones

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Just recently, Xiaomi launched the Mi 11 outside China. We quickly tested it against Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra — which is one of the newest smartphone flagships around.

Again, this is a blind camera shootout with photos completely randomized. Someone in the comments section pointed it out and yes, it’s as clear as the sunny skies that this is like an examination where you have to jot don your picks on a piece of a paper (or through your notes app) and find out the answer at the latter part of the article.

As usual, no additional post-processing was done aside from compiling and resizing the photos. Let’s dive right into this camera battle!

HDR (High Dynamic Range)

Comparing shots taken with natural light may look easy, but it’s harder than it seems — especially if we compare each phone’s HDR capabilities.

#1 (Ultra-Wide)

#2 (Ultra-Wide)

#3 (Wide)

Auto White Balance (AWB)

Some sensors might be created equal but when it comes to AWB, there are phones that accurately depict the scene you see in real life — and some that take it too far.

#4 (Daylight)

#5 (Sunset)

Saturation

AI and computational photography either make or break a photo’s saturation level.

#6 (Wide)

#7 (Wide)

#8 (Zoom)

Zoom

This is to test the limits of Mi 11’s zoom capabilities with one telephoto lens against the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s telephoto pair.

#9 (3x Zoom)

#10 (10x Zoom)

Macro

Although there are no dedicated macro lenses for both smartphones, taking macro shots was possible thanks to zoom.

#11

#12

Food

There’s always a better food shot between two different phones — and it clearly shows.

#13 (Wide)

#14 (Zoom)

Night Mode

To test both phone’s camera prowess, these were taken in a scene without sufficient lighting other than the night city line.

#15 (Ultra-Wide)

#16 (Wide)

#17 (Zoom)

Faces

A comparison for people who shoot a lot of selfies and portraits.

#18 (Selfie Portrait Mode)

#19 (Portrait Mode)

#20 (Night Portrait Mode)

Results

Have you made your final photo picks? Check out the results below:

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

1A / 2A / 3A / 4B / 5A

6A / 7A / 8A / 9A / 10B

11B / 12B / 13B / 14B / 15B

16A / 17B / 18B / 19A / 20A

Xiaomi Mi 11:

1B / 2B / 3B / 4A / 5B

6B / 7B / 8B / 9B / 10A

11A / 12A / 13A / 14A / 15A

16B / 17A / 18A / 19B / 20B

Conclusion

Even if we all have our preferences in choosing the best photo, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has proven its advantage in the smartphone camera department.

Other than the accurate White Balance detection, it’s also able to preserve the right amount of details, contrast, saturation, and even performs well under harsh daylight (HDR) or low-light scenarios. Not to mention, all lenses have wider Field of View (FoV) versus its competitor.

Its better AI processing and camera software algorithms also make better foreground and background segmentation. Producing creamier bokeh while being able to keep the details (even fine hair strands) intact.

Mi 11’s camera quality isn’t horrendous. Although it has AWB and autofocus inconsistencies, it was still able to keep up especially with shots taken by its main (wide) 108-megapixel sensor. While these two smartphones rock different sets of cameras including the 108-megapixel sensors (Galaxy S21 Ultra with ISOCELL HN3 / Mi 11 with ISOCELL Bright HMX), Xiaomi still delivered great and promising photos. For someone who wants to get a smartphone with great set of cameras at the fraction of the cost of the S21 Ultra, this is still a solid option.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Mi 10T Pro: Camera shootout | Xiaomi Mi 11 vs Mi 10T Pro: Camera shootout

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