Do we want to test the quality of the photos taken with our phone’s camera? Let’s see together how to do it.
When we buy a phone to take beautiful photographs most users only focus on the number of megapixels and the number of integrated cameras, thus failing to understand if the phone really takes very good photos or if it only takes “passable” or even bad photos.
In the following guide we will show you how to test camera quality on android and iphonefirst analyzing the hidden parameters to look at when we read a data sheet and what we can do after the purchase for understand if the phone really takes spectacular photos or we only let ourselves be duped by the technical data sheet.
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1) Check hidden parameters of the camera
Before starting to field test the phone we can analyze the data sheet looking for hidden parameters to understand if the camera is of good quality. The parameters to be monitored are:
- sensor size: The size of the camera sensor can make the difference between a beautiful photo and a spectacular one. The sensor size on smartphone cameras is expressed in fractions of an inch (in the format 1/3″) and is not always advertised. We choose if possible a phone with a larger sensor (i.e. one that comes close to the ratio 1/1″guy 1/1.7″), so you can capture more details.
- pixel size: even the size of every single pixel can make a difference for those looking for a phone that takes great photos. The vast majority of phones have pixel sizes of 0.8µm, but the phones that take great pictures have values approaching or exceeding 2.0µm.
- Opening: the aperture values indicate how much light the camera lets in with each shot and is a parameter to be taken into strong consideration in order to take beautiful photos. Your phone will take nice pictures if the aperture is at least f/2.0with the shot quality increasing as the value decreases (e.g f/1.4 is the best possible value on a smartphone).
- Lens quality: even the “glass” placed in front of the sensor can help to take very nice photos (as long as we keep the glass clean!). Collaboration with leading companies in reflex optics (such as Zeiss and Leica) helps, but in most cases we will necessarily have to read the in-depth technical data sheet to understand which optics have been mounted.
All the information provided allows us to test the quality of the camera on Android and iPhone even before buying the phone: just take a look at the technical data sheet available on specialized sites such as GSMArena And DXOMARK extension to discover the hidden information behind every phone and behind every camera.
2) Identify the original camera app
Now that the phone is in our hands we have to test the camera quality always using the app provided by the phone manufacturer, usually the best to be able to take very nice photos. On Android, the app goes by various names (Room or Camera), while on iPhone just open the app Camera integrated into the phone.
After identifying the camera app, let’s get ready to take some test shots, as seen in the following chapter. If the camera app built into our phone doesn’t take good pictures, we can always fix it with a third-party app, like the ones seen in the guides to best camera apps for android to take pictures with your phone and at best apps for taking photos with iphone.
3) Take photos in different conditions
To really test the quality of the camera in our possession we will have to take test photos with different subjects and in different light conditions. To make good tests we advise you to take the following photos:
- Shot of a landscape during the day: we frame a beautiful landscape in broad daylight (with the sun behind us) and take a photo with the basic settings (without modifications).
- Shot of a landscape in the evening: this photo is very difficult to take due to the scarce light available (there will almost always be all black photos); to increase the quality of the photo we check the lunar calendar and we take a shot of the landscape when the moon is high in the sky and illuminates the scene well.
- Photo of an object in the evening: the shot that will bring out the flaws on any smartphone! We find an artificially lit object (from a street lamp or any other light source), turn off the phone’s flash and try to shoot, aware that we will often end up with a grainy or full of defects photo (unless the phone is exceptionally photographic quality).
- Subject photo on table: we place an object of our choice on a table and take a photo of the day.
- Cloudy day photo: we wait for a cloudy day to take a picture of a landscape in this particular condition (with a lower amount of light).
- Portrait photo of a person: we ask a person to position himself in front of our camera and we take a photo from the bust up, so as to create a portrait photo.
- Photo with artificial light: we place an object on a table, wait for the evening and turn on the lights in the house, so as to be able to photograph the object with artificial light.
- Photos with nature: let’s frame a tree, a hedge, wild flowers or a flowery meadow and take a nice day photo.
- City photos at night: we access a high point (a roof, a hill or similar) and take a photo of a city at night, so as to capture all the lights of the city.
- Macro photo: we frame a very small object (such as a needle or a toothpick) by approaching the camera until the whole object enters the frame.
- Photo of the sky: we photograph the sky during the day (both clear and with some passing clouds) taking care not to frame the Sun (which can burn the sensors).
Now that we’ve made our test shots let’s open them one by one to check the quality of the phone’s camerapaying attention to the details of the photo, the quality of the photo on the edges and when we lose detail if we try to manually zoom on the photo (from the gallery).
4) Read the EXIF data of the captured photos
If we don’t trust our eyesight enough to judge the quality of a photo we get the EXIF data stored in each shotso as to have reliable data on the quality of the phone’s camera.
On phones, just download the apps Exif Data Viewer (for Android) e Exif Metadata (on iPhone) to read photo data; if instead we transfer the photos to PC we can read the EXIF data of the photos taken by downloading the free app Exif Tool.
The parameters to be analyzed are the same seen in the first chapter of this guide: aperture, sensor size, pixel size and lens type.
To test the quality of the phone’s camera, various specialized sites are available online, which have experienced professional photographers who can provide their opinion on the quality of a smartphone camera.
But nothing prevents us from test the quality of the phone’s camera personally recovering the hidden parameters, using the camera app provided by the phone manufacturer itself and taking a series of photos in various environmental and light conditions. In addition to our eye, we can also use EXIF data readers, so as to recover the parameters of each single photo taken.
To learn more we can read our guides on how to take better photos from smartphone and how improve the camera of an old smartphone.