Camera Shootout: Sony Xperia Z1 vs Nokia Lumia 920

Sony has just launched its flagship Xperia Z1 in India which sports one of the best cameras in a Smartphone. You may have seen many samples and shootouts already which matches the Z1 against Lumia 1020, the iPhone 5S and the rest of the boys and girls in the same levels. And yes, whilst the Z1 didn't match with the Lumia 1020, it did best most of the other Smartphones out there. But today, you're gonna look at a rather different shootout. I'm gonna test the Xperia Z1 against the ex Nokia flagship, the Lumia 920.

Before we begin, I need to tell you that this is my first ever shootout. Plus, I've stitched both photos in one piece that didn't seem to alter the quality of the pictures by a large margin. I don't know if this is scinetific but this will reduce loading times and make it easy for you's out there. I still need to get a low-light test for both the phones as well as the front-camera one but I will still describe the results I've seen as we go through.

Special thanks to +Pranav Raveendran for his Xperia Z1. Couldn't have done it without him (obviously).

Nokia Lumia 920

No need for a specific introduction. This baby was the former champion of Smartphone cameras. The Lumia 920 was the first Windows Phone 8 mobile device. It packs a stunning 8.7MP sensor with Nokia's PureView technology. Plus, there are lot of other goodies too. Its still one of the best Smartphone cameras in the world and the best part -- Its my phone.

I took the photos with the Nokia Pro Camera at auto mode which is a pretty good app. Still, there's a camera bug that adversely affects the Lumia 920's camera performance and hence, this wont be a pretty "fair" test. Don't forget the fact that its been about an year since the Lumia 920 has been announced.

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony made a gigantic return to the Smartphone field with the Xperia Z. The Sony Xperia Z1 is a highly improvised Z1 that packs  bulky body but offers a sweet 20.7MP sensor. Plus, the device is Waterproof at all angles. This makes underwater photography easier as you wont need a case to do such thing and if any dirt gets on, just wash it. Sony also offers an effective 3X zoom where the photo will retain clarity. The inbuilt camera app also has some cool modes. Altogether, this is one sweet Smartphone.

The Shootout

Before we begin, I need to re-clarify you guys about some crucial background details of the shoot-out. Better I put it in a list.
  • The Lumia 920 is not 100% fit for the shootout due to a camera bug that appeared after Amber. Hence, the original picture (in the preview screen) is less greener, sharper and better than the processed image.
  • Photo comparisons were limited by the conditions.
  • I couldn't compare any low-light shots again due to conditional limitations. But I surely hope to post one very soon. So, watch out for this post for further updates.
  • It was a rainy, cloudy day on the day of the shootout. Hence, you guys can verdict the pictures only after considering the conditions of the surroundings.
  • I didn't go scientific and technical all the way when it came to cropping the images. I did what an ordinary guy would've if he got two pictures in his hands.

Take #1

This was my perfect shot to compare how the cameras did in white balancing. It was a cloudy and rainy day. Turns out Xperia Z1 clearly destroyed Nokia's Auto modes to capture the better image. The Lumia 920 produced an artificial 'daylight' sort of picture there. However, that's the case only if we consider the white-balancing. The other thing is about the details. For my eyes, the 920 did better when it came to capturing the minute sharper details. Why? Take a look at the grasses for example. Whilst the colours were more accurate with the Xperia Z1, the objects look blurry and less natural. However, the 920 produced sharper details and you can even see the strands of individual grass in the picture. However, all in all, I'd give the Xperia Z1 the point here. The image was beautiful enough and fit for the commoner's eyes.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z1

Take #2

The Lumia 920 did a pretty good job in taking this close-up picture. The colours are pretty good to and so are the details. Xperia Z1 took a good shot but it sort of appeared dark to me. But during the test, the differences were slightly different due to Xperia's brilliant display. It sure brought some extra beauty to some pictures which disappeared when I viewed it from my monitor. So much for the awesomeness at that time. Anyway, I'm giving a point for the Lumia 920 here for taking a rich photo. But well done Xperia Z1 -- twas a tough call.

Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

Take #3

The bug really affected this picture as the screenshot was far better but the processed image was awful. But we are not comparing screenshots here and hence, sadly, the badly processed image gave the thumbs down for the Lumia 920. Else, it'd be a close call. Sure, the picture looks good but the kudos goes to just one phone.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z1

Take #4 : Zoom Test

There are some things to know before judging this picture. Know that I only zoomed the Xperia Z1 upto its promised effective Zoom Level beyond which the so claimed clarity won’t be present. The Lumia 920 is maxed and hence more zoomed than the Xperia Z1. Sony’s promise didn’t fail as it can be observed from the above image. The Lumia 920 sadly has no better Zoom tech unlike the new Lumia 1020 and even the Amber update didn’t bring any hopeful Zoom improvements. Thus, neglecting the fairness of the comparison, the Xperia Z1 is the winner here.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z1

Take #5

This is my favourite comparison amongst all. Both camera performed extremely well in this case and has captured its own beauty. Deciding which one was better was a tough choice as for the naked eye, both would prove equally beautiful and shining. However, we just need one winner here. Both photos were taken from the same position and it seems the 920 captured more boundaries than the Xperia Z1 – it did the same in most cases. Moreover, the focus is the next point of consideration. I focused on the center of the white flower in both phones. And yes, both phones did capture the core of the flower pretty well. You can even see the shiny water droplets on the flower but the colours again give the 920 the advantage. Though this was a close call, I must admit that both phones are winners in this shootout but considering deeper aspects from my point of view, the Lumia 920 deserves the final credit.

Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

Take #6

Yet another close call. This was a shot which I called as “motion close-up” as the object I was trying to focus was moving swiftly as there was a gentle breeze. Both phones did capture the image without shakes (kudos to OIS). On the focus part, there is a room for a wider choice. Xperia Z1 focused the subject pretty well as well as captured the background details too. Lumia 920 also did a fantastic job in focusing the object at its best sans the background details. But the colour factor plays a trivial role in evaluating this round. Richer colours in the Lumia 920 amidst the camera bug gives it a heads-up. So, in total, the Lumia 920 did a better job here.

Winner: Nokia Lumia 920

Take #7

The credit goes clearly to Xperia Z1 in this picture. It captured better colours as well as details too. In the original shot, on zooming into the picture, you could even see the grills on the walls of the far away house clearly as well as the adjacent house on the left. Lumia 920 did well too but the final call is with the Xperia Z1.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z1

Take #8 : Front Cam Test

The 1.3MP 720p front facing camera of the Lumia 920 was literally blown out by the 2MP 1080p front-facer of the Xperia Z1. Colours, sharpness, clarity – you can have no doubt in deciding the winner here. Lumia 920’s front-facer is definitely way out in white balancing. Victory for the Z1.

Winner: Sony Xperia Z1


There is no need to exaggerate here. You might've guessed it from the beginning but the interesting thing is -- the Lumia 920 wasn't bad after all. Infact, it did pretty good on most shots and each verdict was a close call. Both the phones are camera freaks and can take amazing shots. However, for this test, the Xperia Z1 bagged the trophy from the Lumia 920. But kudos to the one time's best camera phone for holding out well and for surprising me with amazing results.

The Xperia Z1's 20MP G-Lens shooter has proved worthy. It takes excellent day-light shots and the zoom tech is pretty cool too. As for the drawbacks, some shots were too noisy in the Xperia Z1 but that won't disappoint much. OIS works pretty good. The best part I liked was the shutter speed. Its way too fast and even burst shots will be completed in less than a second. Surely, the Xperia Z1 gives a tough competition to Nokia's PureView brand.

As for the Lumia 920, it too takes pictures superbly. Focusing was rather easier and with the Nokia Pro Camera, you could finely tune everything easily and get your desired conditions. But the auto mode surely sucks and that's too bad. Even for the default Camera app, the auto mode wasn't very promising. But despite all that, this one year old phone sure did give the Z1 a close competition.

That's it for now. What do you think about the comparisons? Which phone in your opinion deserves to be the winner? Feel free to post your feedbacks right below. Hope for future cool comparisons and other interesting articles.