When it comes to preserving memories, photos and videos are indispensable and irreplaceable. Today most of those visual mementos are captured on smartphones, but which ones offer the best camera?
The more you spend, the better the camera
"You can say that the more expensive a smartphone is, the better the camera equipment because this is basically what is most expensive in terms of hardware," says Andreas Seeger from Connect magazine.
But does that mean you need to buy a flagship model that costs €1,000 (RM4,715) or more? Not necessarily. Seeger cites around €500 (RM2,358) as the lower limit for smartphones that can still take decent pictures in poor light.
"In good light, most smartphones actually take good photos, even devices that cost only about €300 (RM1,415)," according to the expert.
However, more difficult conditions — for example when the lighting is poor — separate the wheat from the chaff. "Then you need a device that is somewhat more expensive," Seeger says.
From €1,000 (RM4,715) on, it is mainly the focal lengths that make the difference. In this price range, smartphones have several lenses.
In addition to the normal wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses there is also an optical zoom with two-, three- or even five-fold magnification.
L ight intensity
Even so, the quality of magnification that a smartphone can achieve is limited by the thinness of the devices.
"High-performance zooms with good light intensity do not fit into these flat mobile phones. After all, nobody wants to lug around a five-centimetre-thick phone," says Werner Lüttgens from photography magazine ColorFoto.
"Therefore, the solution at the moment is to install many complete cameras with optics and recording sensors," Lüttgens explains.
That increases the phone's cost but it works quite well: "The many cameras are good, because they offer the possibility of taking pictures with different angles."
Bigger is better when it comes to image sensors
What other factors affect the photo quality of smartphones? "A larger image sensor is better because it delivers less noisy images," says Michael Wolf from German consumer organization Stiftung Warentest.
"An optical image stabiliser is also very useful if it is well made," says Wolf.
Beyond that, however, he says, it's not really possible to draw conclusions about image quality based on technical features alone. You simply have to test the phone's camera yourself.
Under no circumstances, however, should one be infected by pixel mania. "More pixels does not mean better image quality at all," Wolf warns.
On the contrary, increased image noise occurs when too many pixels are squeezed onto a small camera sensor. The smartphone then has to work hard to remove this noise from the photo, which in turn can lead to other image errors.
Don't be fooled by brand names
Is it a good sign if the names of well-known optics or camera manufacturers are emblazoned on the smartphones or its lenses?
Wolf dampens down expectations somewhat. According to him, Stiftung Warentest hasn't always found phone cameras carrying prestigious names to be the best.
Lüttgens, however, believes that camera or optics companies ensure that anything bearing their name will have a certain quality.
"They don't make these cameras, of course, but they work on the development, certify the processes, and they also test the whole thing," he says. – dpa