Camera Comparison: Nokia N8 and T-Mobile HTC One S

| May 18, 2012 | 78 Replies


Hello MNB Readers!

As some of you may know, the HTC One S (and X) has the best camera that HTC has ever made. It has great specifications coupled with a great camera software suite and lightning fast shooting performance.

I recently added the One S to my stable of smartphones and decided to put it to the test. Now, I don’t have any fancy lighting or other equipment, or even PC software to crop the photos so this is about as raw and unbiased, unprocessed method as you can get.

Basically, I found subjects to capture in varying lighting, distance and object conditions, loaded them to my laptop, and fired up Windows Live Photo Gallery to simply view the photos. I then used Windows 7’s built in split window organization feature and the built in Snipping Tool to take a screenshot of the equally zoomed photos.

The purpose of this test is to compare real world results of both cameras via usage of your average consumer. Let’s get started!

Tale of the Tape:

Nokia N8 Camera Specs: (from Nokia site)

  • 12 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
  • Large 1/1.183″ optical format image sensor
  • Fullscreen 16:9 viewfinder with easy-to-use touchscreen parameters
  • Xenon flash with automatic red-eye removal
  • Face recognition software
  • Autofocus
  • Focal length: 5.9 mm (equivalent to 28mm in 35mm film format)
  • F number/Aperture: F2.8
  • Still images file format: JPEG/EXIF
  • Zoom up to 2x (digital) for still images
  • Zoom up to 3x (digita) for video
  • Secondary camera for video calls (VGA, 640 x 480 pixels)
  • Favourite settings feature
  • Still camera manual controls for white balance, scene mode, exposure compensation, colour tone,
    viewfinder framing grid, sharpness, contrast, flash control, light sensitivity (ISO), self-timer, face detection

HTC One S Camera with HTC ImageSense™ (from HTC Website)

  • 8 megapixel camera with auto focus, smart LED flash, and BSI sensor (for better low-light captures)
  • F2.0 aperture and 28mm lens
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • VGA front camera
  • Dedicated imaging chip
  • Capture a photo in the midst of recording HD video
  • Continuous shooting mode captures multiple snapshots
  • Auto flash smartly determined by distance from your subject
  • Video stabilization feature removes annoying, shaky motion
  • High quality slow motion video capture and playback
All settings were left on automatic, unless otherwise noted. For comparisons, N8: Left, One S: Right
1. Our first photo is a general landscape shot, lots of lighting and various objects in the foreground and background.


One S

Here is a crop from both phones. You be the judge.

Left: N8 Right: One S

Both performed admirably from such a long distance. I like the One S’ darker colors around the water tower  but the N8 pulled out more detail as the numbers can be seen more clearly. The grass definitely IS greener on the other side with the One S….and like the saying goes, that isn’t always true.


2. Sticking with our outdoors shots, this one just compares color reproduction of the sky.


One S

As before, N8 on the left, One S on the right.


This may sound unbelievable, but I had to go back outside and look at the sky again because the One S picture is BEAUTIFUL! Unfortunately….outside isn’t that colorful. I would prefer to send the One S picture to a relative, even though the colors aren’t accurate.  The One S crop LOOKS better even though it has less detail. The N8 photo looks a little pale so it isn’t accurate either, closer to real life but it seems that it has a white haze. YES, I checked the lens for smudges. I hope the PureView gets the coloration just right.


3. Detail Test. I took this picture so that I can zoom in on the sticker.


One S

Both did a great job, with the N8 capturing the letters more clearer (12MP vs 8MP?). One thing I noticed is the slight discoloration of the One S photo. The meter box is gray, sans the purplish tinge.


4. Lets take it inside. Low light, no flash.


One S

BIIIGGGGGG Color difference. The purple tinge returns. Both are noisy without flash with the N8 resolving more detail.


5. Indoors, no flash, high detail shot.


One S

The One S (on the right) focused better in this shot though the colors are off, showing the purple tinge. The N8 picture is more accurate overall.

6. Extreme Low light, no flash. Now this is a tough picture for any camera.


One S


Considering I was down in the basement with only one dim natural light source, BOTH devices did an admirable job of capturing light. The N8’s large sensor and the One S’ Back Side Illuminated sensor grabbed as many photons as possible. I am impressed. What is NOT so impressive is the purple tint/tinge that has become a common place in One S low light photos. I hope HTC fixes that in a future camera update. The N8 picture actually appears to be more noisy, increasing in noise around the edges of the photo.


7. Low light, no flash, close subject.


One S

The N8 exhibits noise “lines” while the One S photo comes off as “soft” The N8 resolves some very sharp detail and the walls are actually that tan color. Both phones were checked for smudges. I have noticed that the One S doesn’t focus that well in low light as it doesn’t use an auto-focus assist light like the N8 does. In my opinion, that is a major omission on HTC’s part.


8. Natural light, color test.


One S


The colors are REALLY close on this one. The One S does a great job in adequate lighting. Oddly, the One S seems to have the white shade effect this time. The N8 resolves more detail on both locks where the key hole is but I’ll chalk that up to the 12vs8 effect. Good job on both.


9. Harsh lighting….


One S

The N8 had some issues here. it wasn’t THAT dark!!!! It wasn’t as washed out as on the One S photo either but the One S handled the scene much better, resolving more light and detail than the N8 as evident by the crop. Oddly, the One S camera has a REFLECTION of the glass (look to the left of the window) in the picture….what is that all about, how is that possible?


10. Low light, harsh lighting WITH flash.


One S

Purple tinge abounds in the One S photo and you cannot see the blinds as easy as you can on the N8 photo. The curtains are brown in real life. The N8 camera didn’t get blown out by the light in the window. I’ve always liked how the N8 handles forward facing light……except for #9 above….


11. Let’s take it back outside…


One S

You would have to be eagled-eyed to spot any really differences in detail from this picture. The usual color variation comes in to play here. The grass is more of the color of the N8 picture yet I find the saturation on the One S pleasing to the eye. It seems that most other OEMs go for a pleasing look rather than a realistic, sometimes pale, boring look. At least it isn’t as colorful as the neighborhoods in Edward Scissor Hands…


12. The final shot, low natural light, no flash, color and detail test.


One S

Both cameras did a great job considering the ONLY light was coming from the window and the picture was taken without flash. The purple tinge is back on the One S and the N8 has more noise lines, especially on the left side of the photo. The purple tinge is clearly a low light flaw in the current software on the One S. Without the tinge, the only thing holding the One S camera back in this photo is the 12vs8 detail effect. Low-light One S photos appear soft as well. The One S captured MORE detail in the dark in this photo. If you look above the travel bag on the left, you can see the door in the One S photo whereas the door is darkened out in the N8 photo. Looks like the One S’ BSI sensor is doing its job.


Well, there you have it. Remember, this a COMPARISON, not a VS with a winner. My goal was to show how both cameras perform in everyday usage “around the house” an in the neighborhood.

The Nokia N8 continues to impress with its 12MP detail yet I find issue with the amount of digital noise/pixel noise that it shows in low-light. What surprised me most is that the N8 viewfinder becomes a grainy mess in low light. Thankfully the photos come out better than what is show in the real time viewfinder. The color accuracy is still a crowning achievement with the N8 as well.

The One S does a FANTASTIC job, especially considering HTC has had some of the worst cameras in the past. In ideal lighting conditions, it is a top notch performer. The camera captures plenty of detail, and provides eye pleasing results, even if a little saturated. Turn off the lights or find yourself outside at night and things get soft and purple like Barney. Even with the soft and cuddly purple, I am surprised at the overall photon capturing ability of the BSI (Back Side Illuminated) sensor on the One S. It appears to do an admirable job. I really hope that HTC can fix the sharpness and purple tinge in a future software update as those are the big negatives to an otherwise solid camera effort from HTC.

I hope you all enjoyed this article. Whenever I get my PureView, I will make a similar 808 and N8 comparison.

Let us know what you think and if you have any requests, sound off in the Comments Section.


As always, thank you for choosing MyNokiaBlog.


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Category: Nokia, Symbian

About the Author ()

Good day everyone! My name is Demitrius Harris and I am a fan of all things true. I currently hold a position in the IT Department at a college and I teach various classes when the opportunity presents itself. In the past, I was a Special Education Teacher and a Technology Education teacher at an elementary school and have held titles in the Financial industry. What does that mean for you, our dear readers? It means that I love to write and communicate as accurately as possible! It is my hope, that I will always be able to provide factual information concerning all things related to Nokia (even when the Nokia brand isn't printed) and anything else in the scope of technology that fits within the purpose of MyNokiaBlog. I humbly thank you all for reading my posts (and the MNB Team) that sometimes contain THOUSANDS of words. You all are the best and most respectful blog supporters in the world! Thank you for choosing! Sincerely, Demitrius Harris. Favorite phone of all time: Nokia N82 - Black
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  • Utkarsh

    Great comparison. The last line states that you are going to comapare N8 with the PureView. If possible take the N82 as well for comparing it in the low light situation with flash.
    Want to see the three xenon and flagships side by side 😉

    • Deaconclgi

      I’ll see if I can get ahold of a N82 and do a comparison.

  • Andreas

    About the door.. just play with the exposure to get more light from the actual room. N8 is not meant to be all about “automatic”.

    Good comparison otherwise!

    Most crops from HTC are way too sharp to look anywhere near the N8.

  • gunmetalskyline

    Cool comparison, I like the range of shots illustrated. I do wonder though, in general why so many compare the N8 in full 12mp mode as opposed to 9 MP (16:9), wouldn’t that be more even?

  • Alpha Whiskey Photography

    The N8 makes a great lightweight substitute for me, especially when I don’t feel like lugging all my camera gear around.

    My examples can be seen here:

    and here:


    • Deaconclgi

      Very nice pictures. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Deaconclgi

      Thank you and yes, we have a great family of readers that regularly visit MyNokiaBlog and they always leave good, honest and thoughtful comments. :)

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    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very
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  • Pingback: Purple tinge on my camera. Faulty sensor? | Android Bilgini()

  • Paul

    Good article Deacon, sorry I didn’t see it first time around! I really like the side by side image comparison.

    Paul from AAS!

    • Deaconclgi

      Thanks for coming over to view the article! I appreciate it and I am glad you liked the side by side comparisons.

  • MdN

    Very nice comparison, all things covered and I’m glad to see that HTC can make a decent camera when they want to. :-) If I may suggest, when you take a photo in almost complete darkness, try to enhance the contrast in Photoshop (or any image editing tool) and see how much detail gets revealed. My N8 really surprised me a few times.

    Another thing, “What surprised me most is that the N8 viewfinder becomes a grainy mess in low light.” – that’s simply because of the first-generation AMOLED. If it’s almost black the pixels get turned off, the threshold probably needs adjustment – or is the best Nokia could have done. You can see a similar thing if you watch a really dark video on the N8. I learned to live with it. :-)

    • Deaconclgi

      MdN, thanks for viewing the article as well and for the great tips to see any extra details in the photos. I also noticed the viewfinder looking grainy/noisy when watching videos as well and I just learned to live with it too. It was REALLY noticeable when using another phone for a comparison.

      Fortunately, the 808 does not suffer from this issue and the viewfinder shows accurate darkness without any grainy artifacts. Newer AMOLED panels and Nokia’s Clear Black Display technology seems to have fixed the issue. :)