The Blind Smartphone Camera Test 2021!
Those of you who are new here since the last one. This is a bit of a social experiment. So if i were to ask you which camera is better the iphone 13 pro or the asus zenfone 8., i think i have a hunch as to which one would probably win. We all know what smartphone cameras we think we like and dont like, but thats heavily influenced by confirmation bias. So if i show you a photo that you know is an iphone versus some other random phone. You dont like as much then your eye will automatically be drawn to every little thing, thats better about just the iphone photo. But what? If we do a comparison where we remove the labels and you dont know which one is the iphone and which one is the alternate or better yet bring in 16 phones, so you dont know what any of them are. Any of them could be your favorite phone. Any of them could be something you thought you loved, or you thought you hated, you put them in a bracket style format, blind voting winner moves on to the next round, and we narrow it all the way down to the peoples choice best camera. This is the blind, smartphone camera test, 2021, so thats exactly what we just did over on instagram for the past week brought together 16 phones that all came out in the last year and set them up seated them in a bracket style.
You can find the behind the scenes of us setting it all up on the studio channel if youre not already subscribed over there by the way, youre really missing out. What are you doing? Thats all the behind the scenes and all the fun projects you could ever wish for and more, but then we took all the photos, ran the side by sides and got our winners, and the winner was well ill. Get to that in a second, but how did we get there well heres the bracket of all the letters that we started with and heres what every single one of those smartphones was at the beginning. Now you might have already voted over on instagram either way i saved that story on my profile. So if you go over there, you can see the blind, smartphone camera test and you can see each one and what you voted for, but lets go over how each one of those rounds actually went. So the first round was a relatively simple picture of me in the corner of the room, but theres actually a lot to the frame, as you can imagine so, theres a subject in the middle, but also the window behind me was a huge indicator of dynamic range. Theres, a blue mat with a painted android, a gold helmet, a red subscribe, pillow lots of details to go from here. So in the first round the samsung galaxy s21 ultra took down its little ultra brother, the axon 30 ultra.
Then the battle of the gaming phones, the rog phone 5 dominated the legion gaming phone, the sony xperia pro – i somewhat surprisingly defeated the oppo find x3 pro and the oneplus 9 pro takes out the flagship mi 11 ultra. Then the pixel 5a took out the pixel 6 pro in the pixel on pixel crime. Then iphone gets its first ever win in the history of this test for four years, with a first round win over the moto edge, then the zenfone 8 crushed the poco x3 gt and the real me gt squeaks out a win over the surface duo 2.. So that is a lot and we definitely had some interesting match. Ups set up in the first round, just to kind of see how they would go. Some of these results did not surprise me at all, like the galaxy s21 ultra. I think everything about that photo was better than the zte. It was brighter. It was crisper, it had better dynamic range everything about it, not surprised at one, but some of them were not as clear cut like for the gaming phone battle. For example, you know the rog phone. I think it took a better photo than the legion phone, especially with dynamic range. You can see that in the background in the window behind me, but it did have some serious over hdre looking issues that the legion didnt have, especially with this sort of halo effect around my face and in the battle of the pixels pixel 6 versus pixel 5a.
Actually expected the slightly brighter pixel 6 photo to win, given all of the things basically equal and also the slightly blurrier background versus the subject, thanks to the bigger sensor, but the pixel 5a, with the slightly more balanced photo actually did get the win. Also, just a small note, you can see me smirking slightly in this one as the photo gets taken with the surface 202. anyway. Second round the rog phone pulls off and upset and beats the galaxy s21 ultra. The oneplus 9 pro pretty soundly beat the sony xperia pro i, the pixel 5a ends the iphones run by beating the 13 pro and the real me gt, i think, pulls off the biggest surprise here by beating a perennial contender in the zenfone 8. and really almost All of these were closer battles here than the first round, mainly because this photo just doesnt have that much to it right. Its flatter has less depth almost no dynamic range challenge other than maybe the candle, and so this one just came down to exposure and color. I noticed the warmer photos would make the candle and the cookie appear a bit more saturated, but honestly in this round it was pretty simple. Basically what we learned the first time did win the test again. In all cases, the brighter photo won. So then, in the semi finals we had oneplus 9 pro squeak out of victory over the rog phone 5 and then the google pixel 5a handily beat the real me gt, and this was a really interesting one.
So you might have already known or noticed this, but reds are notoriously the hardest color for these digital sensors to reproduce well for a variety of reasons. But that makes a lot of differences in things like skin tones and red threads and accents like this, but also when the whole photo is on a red pool table. And so this was a case where how well you handled reds, really mattered and actually, in both cases the brighter photo actually lost, because they were too bright. They overexposed and so the photos that were a little more neutral that had more reasonable. Looking reds ended up winning, so then the finals came down to the oneplus 9 pro and the pixel 5a. Raise your hand if thats what you had written down at the beginning as what your last two standing would be doubt it. So this one had several skin tones, a sky behind some subjects in front of a distant background and some album art vibes for sure and the winner of the blind, smartphone camera test in 2021 is j. The ‘9 google pixel 5a. It definitely won this last photo from having more contrast and bringing in more color from the sky. I dont actually think theres a clear answer to which photo is better per se, like the oneplus saturated skin tones more and had much more deep shadows, while the pixel was pretty crunchy, but didnt really let any shadows get totally dark and it was much more hdr Y looking especially with the faces, but at the end of the day, 75 of you picked the pixel as your champion.
The peoples choice blind camera test winner. So what did we learn from this? Well, first of all, weve done this test four years in a row. Now running and its been wild every time this might be the last time we do it or maybe we might shake it up and do it in a different format. Next time well see, but with these tests, weve picked up a couple things and so have some of the smartphone companies too number one being that all other things held equal in a side by side test. People typically pick the brighter photo as the winner. Now that doesnt mean its necessarily the better photo that just you know, just reflection of the format of the test, which is when you put two images side by side. Typically, people are just drawn almost always to the brighter one, then number two sharpness. So while i love a crispy photo uh, it isnt necessarily ever a factor in determining which one of these photos wins, and most of that is because we do this test on social media, where compression kind of erases any advantage you might have in that sharpness department. Now a lot of people always comment every year. Oh, why dont you put these like on google drive somewhere, so we can download them and zoom in and pixel peep, but thats kind of not the point. The point is its just a gut reaction of seeing a photo someone posted online somewhere on social media, which is where you typically see them so thats, where we posted it and then my latest theory, the one i think is most interesting number three is that it Turns out most people just want the most finished photo out of their smartphone cameras, so theres a lot of data out there about how people actually shoot photos on their smartphones, and it turns out most of the time most people just take the camera out of their Pocket open the camera app hit the shutter button, they dont even tap to focus and then that image is the one that theyre done with theyre going to share it.
Theyre going to put it online theyre, going to text it to their friends that unedited photo done, but that being said, i always look for patterns in these sort of things, anytime, theres numbers and to me the most interesting thing about this years test was that i Looked at prices of the phones that we used and it turns out the price of the phone had almost nothing to do with whether or not you guys voted for it as the better or worse camera. So in the first round, the more expensive phone one five but lost three, then in the second round, the more expensive phone won zero times and lost all four, then in the semis it was an even split one one and lost one and in the finals. Yes, the cheaper phone did actually win it. All. This is one of the hardest videos to make every year consistently its obviously the seating and the planning and shooting all the photos and getting it exactly right and then posting them editing tallying. All the three million plus votes, organizing everything into our thoughts and really finding out what weve learned each year, but its always a lot of fun fun fact. I wanted to include twitter again in the voting alongside instagram, but this time the backend beta feature that was enabled on my account for those previous years. Thanks twitter was actually deleted. It doesnt even exist anymore. It was allowing me to post images and polls in a single tweet, so i just did everything on instagram this year, but at the end of the day, my question to you is which one would you now pick as your best smartphone camera now that youve seen All the results and all the photos from everyone, if youre curious on how we make these you might want to check out the studio channel, but also youll, probably be interested in my skillshare class on how to make mkbhd videos, whether its the explainers or the product Reviews or the impressions all of that in one place, so skillshare is an online learning community for creatives, with thousands of inspiring classes to learn something you dont already know things like photography or video, editing or motion graphics.
One of my favorite things ever is the senior motion graphics designer from youtube channel coursegazart made a skillshare class on motion graphics. I took a motion graphics class in college. It wasnt nearly as good as this one. So i was pumped to go through that and i highly recommend it as well, and now i watch the in a nutshell: videos with yet another newfound level of respect for the incredible videos this team makes and skillshare is curated specifically for learning, so theres no ads And theyre always launching new premium classes, so you can stay focused and follow your creativity wherever it takes you. So if you want to check this stuff out, definitely head to the link below and the first thousand of you that do that use, my code will get one free month of the skillshare premium membership, which is absolutely worth it so ill, see you guys over there.