In this article we’ll take a close look and compare the Sony Xperia Z5 cameras versus the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus cameras. It’s no secret that both mobile phones have shown the highest image quality on DxOMark, putting the iPhone 6s Plus, Note 5 and LG G4 behind it. Both Sony and Samsung are doing their best to take this crown and making sure it stays this way.
S6 Edge Plus Camera
The Galaxy S6 edge+ has a rear and a facing camera. The FFC is 5-megapixel, has a very fast F1.9 aperture with the ability to show 120-degree FOV selfies. You can apply different image effects, increase the dynamic range with the built-in HDR and use the Beautify effects to make sure you look at your best. I really loved the special effects (especially ‘Rose’ and ‘Sweet’) that aren’t too aggressive and really has a touch of uniqueness and nostalgic feeling to portrait shots.
The front camera features what Samsung calls VDIS, a video stabilization for taking video of them selifes. The stabilization works amazingly well as you can see in the video below by Geekyranjit.
This will make sure that all your selfie videos will looks very stable and not bumpy. Samsung also made sure that both cameras launch very fast (less than a second), so you’ll never miss an important moment. The Auto real-time HDR helps to lighten up dark areas and make the image illuminate more even. It helps reduce blown highlights and brings the details in shadow areas. I found it especially useful when shooting in harsh lighting conditions, in high-contrast and backlit scenes. The S6 edge+ does that by combining multiple images taken in different exposure settings.
As I mentioned, the S6 edge+ ca also extend to 120 degree wide angle field of view, which is more useful for group photos or when you want to capture more of the surrounding area around you. To change to wide-selfie mode you have to quickly press the home key twice, switch to the front camera, tap the Mode button and than choose Wide Selfie. Besides the ‘Wide selfie’ mode you can also see other option, including Selfie (the regular 80-degree classic mode), Video collage, Live broadcast, Virtual shot, Interval shot, Sound & Shot and Download.
Upon activating this mode, you need to pivot the slowly move the device to the left and than to the right and tap the ‘stop’ button to finish the process. The result is a high-quality an ultra wide-angle selife image with no distortions. There are various ways to trigger the shutter release when shooting selfies: show the pal of your hand to the front camera, tap the screen or the heart rate sensor at the back, say “Smile”, “Cheese” or “Shoot” – the camera will trigger the capture in about 2 seconds after.
The rear-facing camera isn’t less exciting. It features a 28mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.9 lens, a 1/2.6″ BSI image sensor with 1.12 micron pixel size, Smart OIS and VDIS, auto real-time HDR, 4K video recording and 720p120 slow-mo, manual controls (e.g. exposure, ISO, EB and shutter speed), burst mode and Panorama. The rear facing camera also employs a sensor-plane phase-detection autofocus system. This is great for action shots where the Tracking AF helps to track moving subjects in great accuracy and speed. You have the option to turned it On or Off in the camera settings page.
The S6 edge+ allows to to review pictures before you save them. There are also several image editing function to auto adjust to optimize the image, rotate it, crop it, use a photo editor function or create a video collage. Another cool feature is the option to create a Live Broadcast that streams directly to your YouTube. This is an amazing feature that allows you to share your special moments with other people in real-time (well, almost, there is processing involved).
According to various source, the S6 edge+ comes with either the Sony IMX240 sensor or Samsung’s home-made ISCOCELL sensor, the same applied in the Note 5. You can find more information about these sensor in this Note5 and S6 edge sensor variants article.
The S6 edge plus produces very high-quality image with good dynamic range and great exposure, even under low-light conditions. The white balance is accurate and color reproduction is excellent. colors are accurate and natural. The S6 edge+ takes very sharp images. High ISO performance is very good, although I’ve notices a slight noise even at good lighting conditions. The same applies to both stills and videos.
The S6 employs a wide range of advanced hardware and software features that makes the S6 Edge Plus camera the best in its class. The camera does perform much better in good lighting conditions, compared to low-light shooting, but nothing that we didn’t expect. The S6 Edge Plus High ISO performance is very good overall. The good news is that with the optical image stabilization, you’ll find less need to shoot at higher ISO.
vs Sony Xperia Z5
The Sony Xperia Z5 camera is the S6 Edge Plus main competitor. Both have conquered DxOMark first positioning in the Mobile category. The Sony Xperia Z5 rear camera features a Sony Exmor RS IMX300 1/2.3″ Stacked BSI (Exmor RS) sensor. The sensor is bigger and therefore the Z5 is able to maintain the same pixel size as the S6 Edge+, 1.12 microns.
Sony also employed a 24mm F2.0 Sony G lens. So we have excellent optics, a wider angle lens than the Edge+ but a slightly slower aperture. The Z5 will produce images with more prominent distortions compare to the iPhone 6S Plus for example that has a 28mm equivalent focal length lens. This distortions can be corrected using apps or using photo editing software. I personally prefer a wider angle lens because it allows me to capture a wider view of the scene; great for landscapes and indoor shots.
The The Z5 also uses a Hybrid AF system, on-sensor phase-detection AF system that helps with tracking fast-moving subjects and accompanied with a contrast-detect AF system. Sony claims a 0.03 seconds autofocus, which is indeed very fast. Furthermore, Sony says in its develop.sony.com, that the Z5 module camera is the first to take advantage of interchangeable lens camera α technology.
The Z5 camera lacks an optical image stabilization ,it does have an amazing and improved digital stabilization (SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode). Other features include a Pulse LED flash, 5x Clea Image Zoom, maximum ISO up to 12,800, HDR, AR effects and 4K video recording.
So how the Z5 is compared to the S6 Edge+?
In terms of video performance, I recommend watching this video by HDblog.
As you can see, the Samsung S6 edge+ produces brighter videos and indoors it looks better than the Z5. There is less noise, WB seems to work better indoors and the wider angle makes the video look more interesting in my opinion. If you look at the outdoor footage, it also looks like the Samsung produces warmer colors whether the Z5 has more natural rendering. It might be in that particular case, I’m not sure. The thing that I liked about the S6 edge plus is the wider field of view and the very sharp optics. I think that the Stacked sensor, the OIS and the faster aperture is what gives the S6 the edge overall.
One advantage that the Z5 has is is the phone is waterproof (IP68 rating). The S6 Edge+ is not waterproof. If that’s what you’re after, you should probably check the S6 Active or buy the oneCase IP68 water/shock/dust/snow proof protection case. So this means that you have more freedom and less worries when shooting with the Z5 in the rain for example. Keep in mind that Sony states in sonymobile.com that “You shold not put the device completely underwater or expose it to seawater, salt water, chlorinated water or liquids such as drinks.“, unless you want to invalidate your phone’s warranty. Of course it doesn’t stopped people for taking the Z5 to an underwater dive, and it actually worked very well without any damage (but don’t try it at home!).
Oh boy, it survived!
The Z5 has a 5MP front-camera with Sony Exmor R image sensor and can shoot full HD videos. The front camera also enjoys the SteadyShot with Intelligent Active Mode video stabilization and has 25mm (35mm equivalent) focal length lens.
The Z5 has some really neat feature that you won’t find on the S6 Edge+, including AR mask and Style Portrait, which allows you to play with various effects to your portrait images. The AR (Augmented Reality) Mask scans your first and replace it with with a pre-set face of your choice. The Style Portrait is designed to apply styles to your selfies, kind of a more “aggressive’ beautify filter that will make your selfies look more unique and interesting, and even funny. Other cool features include AR effect, which allows you to shoot stills and video with virtual scenes and characters, Sticker creator, Sweep Panorama, Creative effects, Superior Auto and more. One thing that I found lacking in the Z5 camera is the option to lock the focus or the exposure using the built-in camera app.
You also have a TimeShift mode. It’s allows you to shoot HD videos at 120fps to produce slow-motion videos with a unique effect of start at normal speed, slows down and than change to normal speed at the end of the clip . The footage is captured in interlaced frames (720i), rather than progressive frames. This reduces the image quality, but produces smaller video file size. There is also the Timeshift Burst that automatically captures frames before and after you press the shutter button, and than allows you to choose the best picture. For example, it’s useful when shooting fireworks, when you are more likely to capture it at the correct time.
I’ve inspected several image taken with both cameras, and I found that both produce high quality image, but the S6 Edge+ seems to do better overall. I also observed that the Z5 applies more aggressive NR.
Both the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Sony Xperia Z5 have amazing cameras. Each phone is packed with some unique features that although seems gimmicky on paper, in fact are useful and allows you to create more unique and create results. I personally found the S6 edge+ to be better overall for my needs. I love its gorgeous Super AMOLED display, it capture amazing images in both daylight and low-light, has an optical image stabilization and great selfie features.
The Z5 is an excellent option as well, with very unique features like the Augmented Reality ones which I really liked. I can understand if you are having a tough time choosing between the two. In the Z5 I liked the waterproof build, great autofocus system, battery life (very useful for me, because I shoot A LOT!), and very high resolution for stills. Although my first low-light performance impressions where very good, after being more picky and the more I analyzed them, I found it less appealing than the S6 Edge+.
I have to admit that I am disappointed with Sony choosing to go with such a high resolution sensor in such a tiny sensor. It just makes me wonder what if this amazing sensor had 12MP, how good the image quality could have been?
I want to here what you think. Which of the two you prefer?