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Camera comparison: MotoZN5 vs N95 8GB

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The camera is one of the first features you look at when buying a new phone, it became the preferred and most used feature in mobile phones right after the call function itself.

It is so, because users want to take high-quality pictures with the only device that is most of the time, if not always, in their pockets.  Very few people carry their point-and-shoot cameras everywhere, but most have their phones with them 24/7. The worse picture is the one that you didn’t take because you didn’t have anything to take the picture with, but this is not the case with phones since they are always there replacing the absent camera.

Today I will bring you the camera comparison between two of the best camera-phones of each manufacturer’s portfolio, the N95 8GB from Nokia and the ZN5 Kodak from Motorola.

First I will briefly compare the specifications of each phone.

The Motorola ZN5 is a quad-band GSM unit, it lacks 3G but adds WI-FI for a fast internet experience. Has a 2.4” QVGA resolution display, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, and a 3.5mm Audio Jack with support for TV-OUT. The ZN5 does not have mass built-in memory, but has a microSD slot that supports cards up to 4GB. Its battery will last 580h in stand-by mode and 9h 30min of talking time.  It runs Linux and its price ranges from US$300-US$350 for the unlocked model, but can be acquired for US$99 in a  T-Mobile contract. The ZN5 has the CrystalTalk technology which reduces noise during calls.

The Nokia N95 8GB is a quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G unit, has Wi-Fi, supports Flash Lite 3 and WRT in its default Web Browser. Has a 2.8” QVGA resolution screen, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and a 3.5mm Audio Jack with support for TV-OUT. Unlike the ZN5, the N95 8GB includes a built-in GPS receiver with voice-guided navigation. The N95 8GB has 8GB of built-in memory but it is non expandable. Battery will last 280h for stand-by and 6h of talking time. It runs S60 on Symbian OS and its price ranges from US$500-US$630, and unfortunately the N95 8GB is not available at any US carrier.

Clearly the N95 8GB outperforms the ZN5 in terms of features, but the balance is equilibrated by the much accessible price of the ZN5 and its camera.  In terms of specifications, the ZN5 is a much superior camera-phone, it has a Xenon flash which makes the LED flash from the N95 8GB seem almost useless, on top of that the ZN5 has Kodak technology to produce much sharper and clear images. But that is not all, the ZN5 camera can take another picture exactly two seconds after the previous picture and can take panoramic pictures out of the box. The N95 8GB takes 7 seconds to take a second picture and it can’t take panoramic pictures out of the box.  Theoretically the ZN5 takes better pictures than the N95 8GB owing to its specifications, but let’s see how each device performs in the practice, remember that not always the best-camera spec’d phone produces better pictures.

To compare the pictures that each phone produces, I will separate them between ”Day” pictures and ”Night” pictures, I took pictures from different angles and distances so we can appreciate better the differences and strong points of the pictures each unit produces.  All pictures were taken with the default settings each phone has, there are other modes available in each phone but it is more fair and produces a better comparison to take all the pictures with the Auto settings.

We will start with the pictures I took during the day.

MotoZN5
MotoZN5
Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB

The pictures above were taken with the default settings on each phone, almost at the same time and same distance.  Here we see that the picture produced by the MotoZN5 has more vivid colors, whilethe picture taken by the Nokia N95 8GB the colors are more pale.

MotoZN5
MotoZN5
Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB

In this pictures we see the same difference than in the previous pair, colors are brighter and  more vivid. I like the MotoZN5′ captures more because they are closer to real life colors, the pictures taken by the N95 look rather pale.

Here are other shots I took:

Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB
MotoZN5
MotoZN5

Here the color difference is much evident, the grass is greener in the ZN5 picture, while it is more pale in the N95 8GB picture.  We can also notice that the ZN5  handles the speed better, the ZN5 picture has less speed distortion than the N95 8GB picture.

Now we will see the shots I took at night, remember that the ZN5 has Xenon flash, while the N95 has LED flash.

Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB
MotoZN5
MotoZN5

The images captured are short distance pictures, the Nokia N95 8GB’s flash is just not enough to light the complete darkness the tire in the picture that it was in, while the ZN5 has no problem lightning the tire with its powerful Xenon flash. In fact, the Xenon flash is just too bright for this short distance shot, look at the lines across the car and the gas (fuel) port in the N95 8GB picture, and compared them to the ZN5’s capture.

Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB
MotoZN5
MotoZN5

In the examples shown above there is little to explain, this mid-range shot was too much for the N95 8GB’s flash, while the MotoZN5 did not have any problem lightning the palm.

Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB
MotoZN5
MotoZN5

In this macro shot the N95 8GB definitively won. The advantage of the LED flash is that it lights while auto-focusing and then takes the picture, on the other hand the ZN5 tries to focus but is not possible, then it takes the pictures and the flash is too much for the short distance.

Nokia N95 8GB
Nokia N95 8GB
MotoZN5
MotoZN5

This picture was indoor and there was some scarce lighting. The N95 8GB flash proved to be a problem while the MotoZN5 Xenon flash achieved a very good shot.

In conclusion, the Motorola ZN5 proved to be a better camera-phone, the Xenon flash is a great improvement over the LED flash. It is not only the Xenon flash makes the ZN5 a better camera-phone, in general the ZN5 is a picture friendly device, it has the back cover which facilitates the process of taking a picture. With the N95 8GB, the user has to long-press the camera button, while on the ZN5 the user just has to open the back cover, and on top of that, the ZN5 has a dedicated ”trash” button to delete bad shots.

The panoramic mode in the ZN5 with automatic stitching is a nice feature.

Overall, the pictures from the ZN5 were much better, the colors were sharper and the ZN5’s shots had less noise than the N95 8GB’s.  I believe that the difference lays in the Kodak technology that the Motorola ZN5 includes.

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By , International Correspondent on Nov 18th, 2008 GMT +2

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