Camera Comparison: Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom vs Galaxy S4, HTC One, iPhone 5

Is it a smartphone? Is it a camera? Actually, it is an amalgamation of both, and it is known as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom. This peculiar device has the guts of a modern-day smartphone, and as a matter of fact, it packs enough punch to be anyone's daily driver. But at the same time, it also offers camera features rarely seen on something that can make phone calls – 10x optical zoom, optical image stabilization, xenon flash, and tons of manual camera adjustments are all in its arsenal.

So why are we even bothering to compare its photographic capabilities with those of other smartphones, as high-end as they may be? Well, because putting the latest smartphones through their paces is our job, for starters. Also, we have a strange feeling that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, despite having a 16MP camera sensor, may not be that radically superior to the handsets it will be competing against on the market. Our intuition could be wrong, of course, but whether that's the case or not will become clear once we're through with this extensive smartphone camera comparison.

The smartphones we've chosen to run against the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom are the Samsung Galaxy S4, equipped with a 13MP camera, the HTC One and its 4-megapixel “UltraPixel” camera, and the iPhone 5 with its 8MP snapper. All three contenders are known to be very capable in the camera department and they will surely give the S4 Zoom some heated competition. A dedicated digital camera is also in play – a Panasonic Lumix GH2 with its kit 14-42mm lens, serving the purpose of a reference device.

To keep things fair, all photos you're about to see have been snapped on automatic settings, unless noted otherwise. In other words, no special shooting modes or scenes have been applied in order to let each camera decide for itself what settings it should use, depending on the scene being captured. All pictures have been taken using nothing but a pair of steady hands, with the exception of indoor photos, for which we used a tripod.

Overall Presentation:

So without any further ado, let's take a look at what these four smartphones are capable of. Here we have a handful of photos that we took with them in a variety of lighting conditions. All images have been scaled down to a resolution of about 2.7MP (with a width of 1920px) as that size should suit the majority of consumers' needs. The goal of this is to present the photographs from a typical user'’s point of view. That'’s how the average Joe would view and use them – posted on a social network or a photo sharing web site, for example. And by the way, a digital photo of this size is perfectly suitable for making 6”” by 4”” hard copies.

As expected, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom produces great results. Its images are very detailed, with well-balanced colors and accurate exposure. Besides, the Zoom handles dynamics really well, which makes its photos more lifelike. But interestingly, the Samsung Galaxy S4 does not lag behind the Galaxy S4 Zoom in terms of image quality at this resolution. In fact, some of the S4's photos pack slightly more detail. Close behind these two is the iPhone 5 with its detailed, but a bit noisy images. The HTC One is an average performer and its images would have looked better if its camera didn't sharpen them as much as it did. Also, it has a hard time capturing bright or white objects. This can be seen well in its night photos where well-lit areas appear much brighter than they should be. But that aside, the One's photos are still pretty usable.



68. SouljaBOY

Posts: 9; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

PhoneARENA.. Please make a review comparison of the best mid-range smartphone out there.. S4 Mini, HTC ONE mini, lumia 720, Xperia SP or Xperia ZR, LG F7.. and also if you can inlcude Motorola Droid newest mid range.. that review is going to benefit alot of mid range consumers like me.. PLS.. Looking Forward..

67. Thomass

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

This phone is just awesome to have for a daily use, i'd love using one like that for my photo sessions :) You can also have a look at it on here, its specs are very interesting :

62. Arjuntec

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

113 reasons why an iPhone5 is good and 172 reasons why a Galaxy S4 is better. Came across it at the website: BRAND COLLAGE

59. plerdplern

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 14, 2013

We should wait for the king Lumia 1020 comparison with S4 zoom.

58. JeetAdwani

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

I am a Samsung Distributor, own S4, HTC One and Iphone 5 but i must say HTC One overall Camera Performance is much better than s4 and iPhone5 (havent touch zoom yet)

61. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

DLSR>Point and shoot = Nokia Pureview>Smartphones Zoom is in between a DLSR and a smartphone it will probably be worse than the lumia 1020 but its not as bad as a smartphone camera.

63. romeo1

Posts: 825; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

htc one camera isn't as good as the s4 or even the iphone5 check all the reviews. And if you had all of them you would know for yourself. Anyone can say im a samsung distributor or apple/sony/nokia whatever but no one knows if its true. but if you really where one you are stupid to say something bad about the brand you are distrubiting as it could cost you some money

64. sswain

Posts: 56; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I agree. Just look at the photos in this. They consistently rate the HTC One down, but to my eyes it almost always has the best shot in their pictures (only a few where it is too dark, which doesn't even make sense because it should always be the brightest!). They should do the whole thing with HDR on for all phones if they didn't... it is the only mode I ever use.

65. sswain

Posts: 56; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

They should also crop each photo and align them so we are looking at the same picture. Maybe I only like the HTC One because it is so zoomed out compared to all the others... and maybe that's the reason they don't like it?

56. jellmoo

Posts: 2687; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

So you completely ignore the Lumia 920/925/928, while doing this competition about a month before the 1020 is released, ignoring the reigning champ of the 808, and somehow finding the device with one of the best nightime shots (the One) to have the worst? This site has great news and some insightful articles, but it does the absolute worst camera comparisons...

52. JustSaying

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 13, 2013

another paid advertisement from samsung... wow samsung really has a lot of gimmick in advertising their products..

51. GMS85

Posts: 217; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

my Sony Cyber-Shot WX300 Shoot Pictures better than all above .. #justsaying

43. gostallion

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 14, 2010

Thank you Samsung for bringing us this remarkable commercial cleverly disguised as a comparison article. We so hope you got your advertising moneys worth.

47. iguano

Posts: 101; Member since: May 10, 2012

lol agree

42. Clement97

Posts: 4; Member since: Dec 26, 2012

Heyyy wtf PA ???? In the previous camera comparison you conducted with S4,iPhone 5 hTc One ,lumia 925etc, you gave equal marks that is 9 for both iPhone 5 and the GS4....then how come it became 8.4 and 7.6 here ????

41. ravelin101

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

Wow! I really need this review for posting pictures on Instagram :wink:

39. epicandroid

Posts: 40; Member since: Nov 08, 2012

Galaxy's Are the best cameraphones...they look even better than PureCrap from 1020

55. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

oh thats cute so u live on dark side of the moon lolz i bet u cant see in that much darkness

38. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Of course. Where are all the haters now? The Samsung obviously captures more of everything, better than iPhone, HTC....

37. Damo579

Posts: 268; Member since: May 18, 2013

Waiting for a Lumia 1020 vs any smartphone camera comparison....

36. Techboi

Posts: 84; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

The Htc One is still pretty good for a 5mp camera.

33. ncider

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

It's fairly evident the author knows very little about photography based on the pedestrian and inept descriptions used to justify the rankings. It was kind of like reading a car comparison review by written my Mom.

35. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

oh shut up boy..

50. ncider

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

Oh, good one. You are a very clever girl.

32. Ronny666

Posts: 128; Member since: Jun 08, 2013

Bleeding butthurts all over. Anyway I may not consider Zoom as a smartphone.

31. darkkjedii

Posts: 31796; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

In all honesty, to me they're all about even. The preferences will depend on how much of a fanboy you are. Just read these comments

29. aco96

Posts: 244; Member since: Oct 12, 2012

Where are Nokia 808, N8, Lumia 920, Xperia Z?! Very stupid comparison, I don't understand why these important camera phones are excluded, especially the 808

40. epicandroid

Posts: 40; Member since: Nov 08, 2012

Because the ones you listed all suck in terms of the camera performance.

49. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Did you just say The Nokia 808 Pureview sucks at camera performance? Someone smack this fool.

54. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

were you born dumb or become dumb after u bought samsung phones kid 808 is king till now they dont compare it cuz thats over kill for these lesser phones

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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