I heard on another board that the Lumia Pureview can easily compete with the most serious Point & Shoots in the $5-600 range.

My interest is different. Let's take a decent recent Point & Shoot for around $100. How about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH10 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH5? (Can be another brand but just like the Panasonics for this example).

Rough specs include:

  • 28 mm wide lens (similar on a phone). We can forget about the optical zoom to be on the same level as a phone.
  • Now mainstream CCD sensor (might compete with the cheaper CMOS) sensors on today's phones?
  • Aperture starts from 2.8-3.2. (On a phone you can get brighter lenses: from around 2.0-2.4 aperture.)
  • ISO up to 6400(? What do you get on a phone?)
  • 14-16 megapixels. (Do megapixels today still matter? I dont know.)

This topic is not intended for debate or speculation, nor a shopping guide but rather to have an answer based on facts, namely: in today's technology for what price and with what specs can the phone industry produces camera phones which are comparable to the performance of today's $100 Point & Shoots, technically speaking? (Hint: you can wait for tomorrow's Mobile World Congress for your answers.)

Edit: it's interesting to see the comment by papillon_65 here: Confessions of a camera snob. No permalink so I quote: By papillon_65 (1 day ago) I can tell you for sure that I can take photo's with my Nokia 808, and with 2 mins processing you would be swearing they were taken with a DSLR, in fact it will beat plenty of DSLR/lens combinations in terms of resolution.

Dpollitt down the road answered me that the iPhone 5, a $650 phone might be of similar quality than a $100 point and shoot if I understood him correctly. But for the same $650 you can get the Nokia Pureview 808 which, according to many competes even with DSLRs. But in this topic I'm looking for a cheaper camera phone option which only competes with the $100 point and shoots, so if you can get DSLR quality for $650, you might get the $100 P&S quality for much cheaper in a phone.

  • Doesn't meet all these specs, but my HTC desire HD's camera is excellent! I can take high-quality photos which look lovely. But... It's 2 years old, although I got it for £100 on a £13 per month contact (T-Mobile), including 750 mb of internet etc. which is fantastic. (I typed this on my desire HD ;) )
    – bazite
    Feb 24 '13 at 11:42
  • Btw its 8mp not sure about anything else, google it if u want
    – bazite
    Feb 24 '13 at 11:43
  • Check out Samsung Galaxy Camera
    – GoodSp33d
    Feb 24 '13 at 14:26
  • Nokia PureView 808...
    – Joanne C
    Feb 24 '13 at 20:33
  • @bazite: How about comparing SIM free, unlocked phone prices? That would make more sense to me.
    – lightning
    Mar 16 '13 at 11:35

The answer - none.

Mobile phone cameras have no depth of field control (sensor too small) and as far as I am aware have not got any optical zoom (the digital stuff is just magnification, might as well do that on a PC...).

While mobile phones are becoming impressive regarding noise and resolution, a compact camera with the same resolution will most likely be less noisy, assuming a similar sensor technology is used. (Bigger pixels on the SAME sensor technology lead to less per pixel noise, over different (!!) sensor generations, newer smaller pixels can be less noisy than older larger pixels.)

(Just a note: The comment on "impressive" refers to my BlackBerry Z10 - any EDoF (Extended Depth of Field) camera on a phone may be binned immediately in any comparison - autofocus helps a lot.)

  • Samsung Galaxy Camera has optical zoom, not sure about DOF control. Although this is ONE exception as basically its a point and shoot with phone functionality.
    – GoodSp33d
    Feb 24 '13 at 14:23

In my opinion(not a fact) many smartphones today compete directly with point and shoot cameras. I believe the market and sales prove this as well, with decreased sales of point and shoots and the obvious popularity of photos taken with smartphones.

I'm not going to list off what smartphones compete with compact cameras, they all do of course. The iPhone 5 is a pretty middle of the road and also common smartphone as far as the camera features, so I believe this is a good example to prove out.

iPhone 5:

  • Focal Length 33mm
  • CMOS Sensor IMX145-Derivative
  • f/2.4 Aperture
  • ISO 50-3200
  • 8 Megapixels

I've already argued very much for the iPhone as an "everyday carry" in the following answer: Is the iPhone 4S camera good enough to serve as one's “everyday-carry”?

To directly answer your question beyond the spec sheet above, I will elaborate a bit. What is missing from smartphones today? The biggest item is a high quality flash for low light indoor situations. They have improved slightly in recent times, but still do not quite stack up to the units found in point and shoot cameras for the most part. With apertures like f/2.4 and ISO 1600 this is less important, but still comes into play for many.

Another feature that quite a few smartphones are missing over point and shoot cameras are dedicated buttons for common functionality. Unless you count the Canon Powershot N which does away with all buttons essentially - almost all pocket cameras have buttons that make capture easier especially when certain situations come up such as wearing gloves, etc.

In reality, the best camera is the one that you have with you. If you leave your point and shoot at home, and do bring your cell phone for connectivity, then happen to see a once in a lifetime photo opportunity - any camera is better then no camera.

  • The very article you linked on the Powershoot N states it has unique control rings - which camera phones lack.
    – lightning
    Mar 16 '13 at 11:23
  • So basically you state that the $650 iPhone 5 is the equivalent in photo quality of a $100 point and shoot? See my "edit" in the original post.
    – lightning
    Mar 16 '13 at 11:25
  • 1
    @lightning - So now your question is "What is the cheapest cell phone that has a camera equal to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH10/FH5?" This question is seriously off topic now. The fact that you think a Nokia Pureview is the same thing as a DSLR or competes with it is a complete joke. The real answer to your original question is that basically all phones now compete with $100 cameras. Clearly very few people are buying $100 P&S cameras now, since general use is easily covered by phones now. This isn't even a question.
    – dpollitt
    Mar 16 '13 at 14:12

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