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.

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



1. kobainez

Posts: 454; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

NICK T is a SAMSUNG FANBOY. I'm not apple fan and i hate apple but isn't apple camera better than galaxy s4?

2. Jason2k13

Posts: 1448; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

says who? why dont you use your eyes and judge for yourself from the pictures. I personally think the Zoom has the best camera of all 4, 2nd comes the GS4.

3. kobainez

Posts: 454; Member since: Apr 13, 2012

U're a samsung fanboy too. Lot's of reviewer said that iphone 5 has the best camera among smartphones and that doesn't include nokia

14. Jason2k13

Posts: 1448; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

im now a samsung fanboy for having my own opinions? yep that makes sense... I know alot of reviewers to who says GS4 and even the lumia 920 has the best cameras, and you do realise most camera battle on phonearena, GS4 wins overall?

30. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

lol look on other pages there the same results s4 & zoom have the best cams sorry 4 my bad english

66. Tito73

Posts: 17; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

Common, see the details of the building! Gs4 has the best one! I have HTC which is very bad! Imho

6. feres13

Posts: 307; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

I remember that back when PA did the blind camera comparison everyone voted for the iPhone 5

16. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

I don't bash the result, but PA is quite silly when making a blind test without a crop or ability to zoom in. My monitor is 21.5 inch, and it's still very small. And you should read more about Customer behaviour - failure of blind test.

21. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

And as far as I remember they did the test with the Galaxy S3 not the S4. And many people complain about that.

24. feres13

Posts: 307; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

They did the test with both the S3 and the S4

53. haseebzahid

Posts: 1853; Member since: Feb 22, 2012

i guess ZOOM pictures are slightly differnent from SGS4 , and with all that over sized body it have the pictues are worth nothing special if it hardly outperform other phones its a FAIL camera with no advantage over other phones 10x zoom is no big revolution 1990s camera also have optical zooms

60. cam-whore

Posts: 164; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

im not sure about you guys but if the phone i'm using is gonna be compared to camphone pretenders, im as hell would be ashamed of it. but once the phone im using is included in camphone comparison with the Lumia 1020, pv 808, I would be more than proud. Even the n8's camera capabilities would make this lot sweat. Hell, Im not even an android fan, but even sony's camphones are better the this whole lot and it wasn't even included? what's with this PA?

7. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Why do you brainlessly accuse something/someone when the evidence is right there ? Look and read the review first before showing us your stupidity !

9. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Doesn't look like it to me. The iP5 camera is good though.

4. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Are u that biased against the Xperia z? For not comparing it?

10. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Why would anyone compare such a subpar camera with these phones ? Also, this is 2013 not 2012 !

15. yudi.nemesis unregistered

Maybe you never heard this but Sony has improvedXperia Z camera quality

17. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Improved # considering in the comparison. Still subpar.

19. yudi.nemesis unregistered

Subpar??? I don’t think so before the update burst mode have better quality than normal or superior mode. But after the update even normal mode is better than burst mode

25. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Xperia z came out 2013 not 2012.

46. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

It came in 2013 with 2012 specs so ........... !

5. bawboh86

Posts: 10; Member since: Jun 05, 2013

So, why is there a camera comparison without the Lumia 920/925/928? Or are you holding off for the Lumia 1020 to release for that one?

8. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Reality check once more. Just cause they don't scream about it, Sony's Exmor R(S) chipset in the S4 is still the best all-around. Excited for the Lumia 1020 inclusion when it's out!!!

11. HASHTAG unregistered

Didn't the iPhone 5 get an 8 in the last camera comparison?

45. iushnt

Posts: 3066; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

yes but this time, they got the s4 zoom here..score starts to decrease when better devices gets into the competition


Posts: 124; Member since: Feb 07, 2013


13. Odiin

Posts: 373; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

As usual same pathetic camera comparison. Nothin new.

18. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Why, PA? Why would you post an S4 Zoom camera comparison WHILE the Lumia 1020 is being announced? In a couple more days, you could have had a real comparison. God forbid we should let Nokia have its moment in the sun.

34. darkkjedii

Posts: 30836; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Nokia coming on strong bro, can't keep denying it.

20. amilcarmz86

Posts: 95; Member since: Jul 09, 2013

i think the xperia Z should be on this one, when PA compared the Z with the one, s4, nokia 920 and iphone came out on 3rd or 2nd i believe....

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

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