In this article we’ll compare the new Lumia 950/950 XL primary camera versus that of the Google Nexus 6P, Galaxy S6/S6 edge and iPhone 6s Plus rear cameras. I’m sure you are interested to know whether Microsoft was able to beat its competition this time as far as far as the camera performance goes. The expectations are are and I’m sure many consumers are eager to see whether the Nokia PureView’s image quality ‘magic’ is back in the game.
We’ll start with a short introduction to the new Microsoft Lumia 950 XL camera, going over its specs and than compare it to the Nexus 6P (also Nexus 5X), iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy S6/S6 edge primary cameras.
Nokia Lumia 950 XL Primary Camera Overview
Both the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL mobile phones feature a 1/2.4-in (16:9 aspect ratio) 20 MP (4992 x 3744 pixels) BSI CMOS sensor with 1.12 µm size pixels using PureView Oversampling technology. The Lumia 950 / 950 XL features a 26mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.9 aperture, 6-lens optics Zeiss lens, 10 cm minimum focus range, triple-LED flash (RGB leds for natural lighting) and a 5th gen optical image stabilization (OIS) for steady shots. The camera has fast auto focus with two-stage capture key, like a conventional digital camera.
The new Lumia 950 camera can record MP4/H.264 2160p (4K/Ultra HD) videos at 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution at 30fps. offering 3x digital zoom, it utilizes the optical image stabilization for steady footage, has continuous autofocus and offers rich audio recording with four microphones (‘Lumia Rich Recording’)
The Lumia 950 1/2.4″ sensor (apparently 7.487 mm diagonal) has a bigger light sensitive area than the 1/2.5″ of the Lumia 930 but smaller than the Sony Xperia Z5 1/2.3-type one.
Like the Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520, the Lumia 950 XL and 950 utilize the PureView Oversampling technology. This technology allows you to capture a higher quality image at the expense of a lower resolution image, especially when shooting in low light and at time where you want to get a well exposed image with minimum image noise.
The Lumia 950 / 950XL has some amazing specs, no doubt about it. Both Lumia phones come with 32GB on-board storage, but they also feature a microSD card slot which allows you to expand that storage if you plan to shoot many 4K videos and high-resolution photos. Of course you always have the option to upload those videos and pictures and store them on the cloud, whether for backup purposes or just to make more space available on your phone.
With a fast f/1.9 lens, OIS, oversampling technology and Zeiss optics, you will enjoy superb high-quality images that looks gorgeous both on your phone or on your home computer. Many people who still use Nokia PureView-based phones do that because its amazing camera. Now that Windows 10 is out, you can get more unify and streamline experience across all of your Windows 10 devices, whether you are using Windows on your tablet, desktop or smartphone devices.
Here’s a general overview of the main featuers of the Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL.
Lumia 950 XL vs Nexus 6P, iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy S6/S6 edge
So indeed, the Microsoft Lumia 950 / 950 XL camera has amazing specs, but how they compare to some of the other leading smartphone cameras. In this section we’ll compare the Lumia 950XL camera specs against that of the Nexus 6P, iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 edge primary cameras, so you’ll have a better understanding of the key differences between those camera phones.
|Lumia 950 XL /|
|Nexus 6P /|
|iPhone 6s Plus||Galaxy S6 /
Galaxy S6 edge
True 16:9 aspect ratio
BSI CMOS (Sony IMX377 Exmor R)
4:3 aspect ratio
BSI CMOS (Sony Exmor IMX240)
16:9 aspect ratio
|1.12 µm||1.55 µm||1.22 μm||1.12 µm pixels|
|4992 x 3744 pixels||4608 x 2592 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels||5132 x 2988 pixels|
- 10 cm minimum focus range
+ Hybrid IR filte
|Largan Precision Optics
- two-stage dedicated camera capture key
Laser autofocus technology
Hybrid AF (contrast-detect + phase-detect, aka 'Focus Pixels')
- 50% mor efocus pixels than the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus
Hybrid AF (contrast-detect + phase-detect)
|4K (3840 x 2160)|
+ Video light
+ Video zoom
+ optical stabilization works with video recording
+ Lumia rich recording with four microphones
|4K (3840 x 2160)|
+ Video light
|4K (3840 x 2160)|
+ Video light
+ Time-lapse video with stabilization
+ 1080p 120fps / 720p 240 fps slow motion video recording
|4K (3840 x 2160)
+ 720p120fps slow-mo
|Flash||triple RGB LED flash||Dual LED||Dual LED|
(True Tone flash)
As you can see from the above side by side camera specs comparison table, the Lumia 950XL/950 have the highest resolution sensor and sharing the smallest pixel size of 1.12 micron with the Galaxy S6. However, the Lumia 950/950XL utilize oversampling PureView’s oversampling technology, which binds the information of 7 neighbor pixels to produce a lower resolution image with better image quality characteristics.
The Lumia 950 also enjoy advanced Zeiss optics, has the fastest aperture lens (shared with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge), offers advanced video functionality and has optical image stabilization. The Nexus 6P lacks OIS, but according to Google there is less or even no need for it because the larger pixels allow the use of faster shutter speeds. In my opinion it’s always useful to have an OIS on-board, because it allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds and it’s also essential for video recording. Digital video stabilization works very well on some phone, but I’ve seen some cases where the digital stabilization didn’t do a good job, and on some phones it performs well. For stills, and from what I’ve seen so far, the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X did an excellent job in low-light, and I think that the average consumer will find its low-light performance adequate for most low-light capture needs.
The Lumia 950 and 950 XL use contract-detection AF technology, whether the iPhone 6s Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 edge use a hybrid AF solution, and the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X use laser autofocus, which both are more advanced and offer better AF performance than what the Lumia 950 offers.
The Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 feature a triple RGB LED flash. This flash should result in more natural looking images when flash is active. iPhone 6s Plus also has its own implementation, but it uses two LED flash (warm and cold tones). This is yet to be seen, but it seems that the Lumia 950 should do a better job because it has more color optimization options using its three LED lights.
As you can see, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL camera has its strengths and weaknesses. We still need to wait for a sample photo comparison and see how it performs on DxOMark lab tests in order to see whether it tops the competition. I’m more interested to see how the camera performs in low light. I’ll keep you posted with updated information when it becomes available.
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