Camera Shootouts

Xiaomi Mi 6 vs Mi 5X: Camera Shootout

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Xiaomi has been active in equipping dual cameras across its entire lineup, from the budget-friendly to the midrange and flagship levels. This got us thinking: How would the cheapest of the bunch fare against the most expensive? There’s only one way to find out.

For this single-branded camera shootout, we’re pitting the high-end Mi 6 against the much more affordable Mi 5X. While the former should smoke the latter in terms of raw performance, image quality may actually be more competitive than you’d expect.

They both have a pair of 12-megapixel cameras at the back with dual-LED flash and 2x optical zoom. Being the pricier one of the two, the Mi 6 naturally has some advantages, namely optical image stabilization and a slightly larger aperture opening on the wide-angle lens for brighter photos.

But just how big of a difference would those features make? Let’s compare photos taken around Beijing, China to find out.

Our first samples are close-ups with the naturally produced background blur of the two sets of cameras. Right off the bat, we can see how close this comparison is going to be. Both did an outstanding job of blurring out the background while keeping the flower sharp. The Mi 6’s photo just happens to be a little brighter because of the larger aperture.

At first glance, both shots seem to be identical in terms of pure quality, but looking a bit closer reveals slightly sharper details on the walls of the Mi 6’s photo and more noise in the Mi 5X’s output.

The Mi 5X needed a higher ISO to evenly illuminate the subject, but because of that, you can see some loss of detail in the darker areas. Still, it has better contrast than what the Mi 6 produced.

Similar to the flower photos earlier, the macro shots here give a slight edge to the Mi 6, but only because of the better-controlled exposure on the subject itself and around it.

Now we have our first samples from the zoom lenses of each phone. Results turned out similar to the previous comparison, with the Mi 5X’s product being more subdued.

This scenario gives us more to work with. The Mi 6’s image is noticeably better here with a warmer tone and less blown-out highlights.

Using optical zoom this time, the results are again more or less the same. Both phones did a splendid job of keeping everything sharp; the photo from the Mi 6 is just warmer.

HDR mode was active to retain all the details in the highlights and shadows. We give this round to the Mi 6 for rendering the lines on the building’s facade with greater accuracy.

Selfie time! This one was tough with the strong backlighting, but both phones did well enough. If you pixel peep, you’d notice less mush on the face for the MI 6, at the expense of minimal overexposure.

Surprisingly, the output favors the Mi 5X this time. The cheaper phone’s advantages are in the better-looking floor, clothing, and vegetation in the background.

Indoor shots with poor lighting are tough for any smartphone, and this is no different. The Mi 5X had difficulty focusing and took several attempts to capture the right exposure, but the final image turned out pretty well. Yet, the Mi 6 takes the victory thanks to its brighter lens and image stabilization, both of which were invaluable for this sort of situation.

Again, the Mi 5X struggles to find the correct exposure, and doesn’t focus nearly as fast as the Mi 6. With that, the MI 6 wins with a superior photo overall.

Mi 6 (left), Mi 5X (right)

Mi 6 (left), Mi 5X (right)

Rounding up our shootout are samples shot in portrait mode. With the feature turned on, a combination of the zoom lens and software tricks create extra blur behind the subject, giving the impression that these were shot with dedicated professional-level cameras. Both phones did great here. We prefer how the Mi 6’s photo looks a little more realistic and less blown out with the lighting, although the Mi 5X didn’t do a bad job itself with the way it handled the colors.

And there you have it! If there’s one thing we learned from this shootout, it’s that paying for a more expensive dual-cam Xiaomi phone doesn’t necessarily give you a better imaging experience.

Sure, the Mi 6 would win every other comparison — battery life and playing graphics-intensive games, to name a few — but in terms of image quality, you can pick either one and be fully satisfied.

SEE ALSO: $200 phone vs $600 phone: Dual-camera shootout

Camera Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Camera shootout

Is there any improvement?

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It was made clear that the brand-new Galaxy Note 9 has the same set of cameras as that of the Galaxy S9+ — they were released in the same year, after all. But there’s a more pressing concern: How much of an improvement is there over the Note 8?

Being the curious techies that we are, we took the two S Pen-equipped smartphones around New York City to see how they fare against each other. To make this shootout more interesting, we’re turning it into a blind comparison.

How blind? All rounds are in a random order, so you won’t know which phone shot Photo A and Photo B without checking the answer sheet at the end of this article.

To make things fair, all samples were shot using the default camera app on auto settings. No post-processing or editing was done, except for resizing so that they load faster.

Here we go:

#1

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

#5

 

#6

 

#7

 

#8

 

#9

 

#10

 

#11

 

#12

 

Now it’s time to see which phones you actually picked:

#1: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#2: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#3: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#4: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#5: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#6: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9(right)

#7: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#8: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#9: Note 9 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#10: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#11: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#12: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

As you can see, the differences are minor except for specific instances. The Note 9 seems to perform slightly better when it comes to portraits using either the front or rear cameras. Skin tone is more accurate and the photos look sharper up close.

Although the Note 8’s output is often too warm, it does surprisingly well, especially in low-light environments. And despite lacking the Dual Aperture feature of the Note 9, the predecessor can keep up in terms of overall exposure and dynamic range.

Do note that the Note 8 has had a year to refine its cameras, whereas the Note 9 just came out with its fresh software. These results could easily change in a few months with software updates.

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Camera Shootouts

Does AI on Honor 10 photos really work?

We took plenty of snaps to find out

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Artificial Intelligence or AI appears to have become a staple feature on smartphones released in 2018. It’s even a headline feature on the Honor 10 with its tagline “Beauty in AI.”

Just how much can AI enhance your images? We took a stroll one afternoon and took a few photos to find out. Side note: The only editing done on these photos was resizing to make sure they load faster on the website.

Even without AI, the Honor 10’s pair of cameras does a good job of capturing the details of the buildings, but with AI turned on, the colors pop. If you look closely at the clouds, it almost appears as if the gates of heaven are about to open.

Moving on, we spotted this colorful set of umbrellas. You’ll notice right away that the photo taken with AI is more vibrant. This will be a recurring theme throughout this entire article.

This flower photo shows how color translates well even in closer shots.

Inside the mall, the photo taken with AI captured the feeling evoked by the installation better. Felt pretty bright and cheery seeing inanimate flamingos in love.

Before heading out to eat, I checked out some new kicks because apparently, that’s something I’m really into now. I’m not a fan of King James but this Nike LeBron 15 Low “Ashes” caught my eye. In this photo, I thought the one without AI did a better job at focusing my attention on the shoe.

Snapped this quick portrait of Leez right before we ate. The AI did fantastic work here, but as you’ll see later on, it doesn’t always get things right.

Here’s what I had for late lunch and the AI made it look super sumptuous. I’m crazy about Hot Star’s large fried chicken — the BBQ flavor, in particular. 🤤

We ran into a few superheroes when we stepped out. Iron Man Hulkbuster looked lackluster without AI, but he shines once it’s turned on.

Leez’s photo with Deadpool shows the Honor 10 does a decent job identifying more than one subject when applying bokeh.

Now, here’s an example of when the Honor 10 just didn’t get it right. We had more results like this than really good ones. I don’t know if it was me being a little too emo here, but bokeh on the photo went a little too far.

However, when it does bokeh right, the photo can look magical.

Took one more shot before leaving and honestly, this was my reaction after seeing how much enhancement the AI does on the Honor 10. Can it be better? Sure. But for what it does now, we were pretty happy with the results.

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Camera Shootouts

Huawei P20 vs P20 Lite: Camera Shootout

Double the price, double the performance?

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We all know the Huawei P20 family has a fantastic set of cameras, but the questions is: How do they compare against each other?

While a P20 versus P20 Pro comparison would be interesting, I figured comparing the P20 against the lower-end P20 Lite is more compelling. Why? Because the latter is half the price of the former.

And yet, they both share a dual-camera setup, sans the Leica branding on the Lite model. But do those sweet German lenses justify the doubling in price? That’s something we need to find out in this shootout.

As usual, every photo is taken on Auto mode without any post-processing, except for resizing to let this page load faster. To make this comparison more fun, we’ll make it a blind shootout. You can find the answer sheet at the bottom.

Let’s start!

#1

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

#5

 

#6

 

#7

 

#8

 

#9

 

#10

 

#11

 

#12

 

So, was it closer than you expected? Here’s the answer sheet:

#1: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#2: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#3: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#4: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#5: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#6: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#7: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#8: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#9: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#10: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#11: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#12: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

From my own experience, I’d say the P20 clearly does better at night, but they do equally well during daytime. Another thing to consider — and this doesn’t show up on the results — is that the P20 focuses on subjects faster and has a richer camera app. The P20 also has that useful night mode allowing four-second handheld photos, which weren’t included in this shootout.

So, what do you think about the comparison? And which phones should we compare next? Let us know in the comments section below.

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