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Nexus 5: Camera quality test and first impressions

By Swapnil Mathur | Published 26 Nov 2013
Nexus 5: Camera quality test and first impressions
HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Nexus 4 created a rather weak image of itself as far as photography went and if you're wondering whether the Nexus 5 does anything to change that, well, you should keep reading then!

If you’re one of the few people who’s been holding off on buying the Nexus 5 simply because its predecessor set a disappointing reputation when it came to imaging, well, you can rest easy as we put both cameras to the test in a quick side-by-side shootout. You can look at the images yourself and see whether the Nexus 5 has improved in terms of imaging prowess.

Initial Impressions
Looking for a faster camera interface? Maybe better arrangement of settings? Nope. Google isn’t giving you ANY of that. The user interface on the Nexus 5 is absolutely identical to that of the Nexus 4, which made us worry a little bit, making us wonder if the camera had received any attention at all in the making of the new phone.

What we noticed is that the Google Nexus 5’s camera interface is absolutely identical to the one on the Nexus 4. Nothing’s been changed, in all likelihood to maintain consistency across the phones. Besides, it’s not like the problem with the Nexus 4 was its camera interface. The Nexus 5 in fact seemed to be just a bit slower than the Nexus 4 in focusing, but only when it came to very specific shooting conditions.

Overall, using the camera is great, just as before, so if you’re worried it might be a hassle, you can rest easy. If you never liked the Nexus 4’s camera interface, well, you can either hold off on buying the Nexus 5 or just get a camera app.

Check out our performance and conclusion video of the Nexus 5 below


Image Comparison
Let’s face it, the Nexus 4 had a disappointing camera. Fan boys can hate on that statement as hard as they want, but fact is, the Nexus 4’s camera was a worse than a last resort, especially for a camera that was made in 2012, the same year we saw greats like the Lumia 920. Then rumours started flying around that Nikon was going to be putting its imaging prowess into the next Google Phone, raising the bar higher than the thermometer gauge in the mid-summer heat.

We have a few image samples from the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 4 here, for the pleasure of blowing your mind away. In case you’re wondering, Nikon hasn’t lent its imaging chops to the Nexus 5, but that didn’t stop LG from innovating. As you see the image samples, you realize that the camera on the Nexus 5 is definitely much better, finally coming of age.

Right off the bat, what’s easily noticeable is the amount of reduction in graininess in photos. Not just that they’re less grainy, but the fact that also have far more detail than the Nexus 4. The colours stand out and the contrast levels are far better.

The one area where we noticed the Nexus 5 falter a little was with respect to white balance. While the Nexus 4 managed to nail the white balance consistently across shooting and lighting conditions, the Nexus 5 struggled a bit in various settings. For some reason, when shooting under bright sunlight, it consistently blew the highlights out while the Nexus 4 managed to maintain them. On the other hand, the Nexus 5 does handle shadows better than the Nexus 4, and given that the dynamic range of the phone is limited, it's allowing the loss of highlights in order to retain shadow detail.

The images are attached below for your viewing pleasure. Images on the left are taken from the Nexus 5 while the ones of the right are from the Nexus 4.







Conclusion
Overall, the fact that the Nexus 5 is a better camera is undeniable. The camera truly has come out ahead by leaps and bounds, which is great. While the camera can stand to take good shots on its own, if you’re wondering how it stands up to modern phones, here are some quick indoor shots taken from the iPhone 5C. If you’re interested in something more in-depth, look out for an update coming very soon.

Sample shots taken with the iPhone 5C

 

 

Swapnil Mathur
Swapnil Mathur

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About Me: Swapnil was Digit's resident camera nerd, (un)official product photographer and the Reviews Editor. Swapnil has moved-on to newer challenges. For any communication related to his stories, please mail us using the email id given here. Read More

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