1. Joao Oliveira's Avatar


    Judging a camera quality is kind of hard since there are so many external factors that can get in the way of the evaluation. So like I did for the Q10 vs Passport camera, this time is PRIV vs Passport. If you own a passport, you can now tell how much better (or worse) the PRIV camera is, and if is worth the upgrade for you.

    Both phones were used with the default camera app using auto settings, setting the exposure to the same spot of the picture in both phones.

    Camera speed / Focus speed
    So much paint has been written about the low speed of focus passport, and time the Priv takes to take a picture. Yes, the passport focus is slow, and not acurate a lot of times, and between it and the Priv is night and day. The Priv snaps in focus so much quicker, and with a lot more consistency, it's not one step forwared, it's more like 10 steps, very very pleased.

    The shutter lag on the priv might have been bad at launch, but with the latest software it's plenty fast enought. Yes, it's not instant like the Iphone or Galaxy S6 where you press, and takes the picture in a split second, but the priv takes no more than half a second, it's fast enought and it's completely overblown by the press and CB users at this moment, just don't worry about it.

    What it's stil a tad slow, it's the time the pictures take to show up for preview, it takes easy 1 or 2 seconds for normal pictures, and maybe 4 or 5 for HDR. The passport is is much quicker in this regard with almost no time to wait.

    Now one thing that I think is missing in pretty much every smartphone camera comparison, is give the Metadata in the low light shots (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) wich the pictures are taken, and we will see how relevant it will become in the low light section, when the Priv looks to be worse in a specific situation where it actually isn't. Auto settings mess so much with the Metadata results tha is pretty relevant to tell them. In comparison, the screen refresh in the camera app is much quicker in the Priv, passport's is more blurry and has a bit more latency.

    But let's get started with the easy ones, the brigh light test where every camera has an easy time:
    Image quality - Bright light

    some pictures against the sun

    (Passport left, Priv on the right)
    As we can see, Passport gives a warmer image that I find more pleasing, but the PRIV seems to have better dinamic range in the sky and shadows. There's a big flare in the sun of the Passport's image wich you don't see in the PRIV, also the reflections from the parked cars are a lot more detailed in the PRIV wich shows the superior optics in the PRIV. Passport seems a bit more saturated too.
    The PRIV does blown away the Passport in detail with 5 MP more and a more clever software sharpening.

    Here's the same shot but using HDR mode on both phones:

    Both phones do well on HDR mode, we see plenty more detail in the shadows and highlights, the sun looks much smaller now. The PRIV keeps a higher exposure and a less pleasing white balance with a colder looking image. Also note that the PRIV has a wider field of view, we can see the white house on the right side in the PRIV, where you can barely see int he passport.
    Overall both phones did well in this demanding test against the sun, although I find the passport more pleasing with the warmer look.

    Lets have a look at a similar shot but without facing the sun:

    Warmer image and more detail in the Priv. Passport overexposes a tiny bit cliping the highlights

    Now lets have a look at a close up, to look for some shallow depth of field:

    I had to double check if I didn't change the images by accident (wich I did not), because the tables turn here. Priv now has the warmer and more saturated image.
    Both phones manage to produce a shallow depth of field although I find priv's "bokeh" to be a bit smoother than the passport, another point in favour of the superior shneider-kreuznach lens. The priv manages superior dinamic range aswell as we can see in the reflection of the camera, the priv has a smaller blown highlights in that circular part of the camera.

    What would be a smartphone camera test without plants? Sorry I didn't have good looking flowers at my disposal, but we just want to measure the quality here:

    Priv, sharper, much better clarity, and more saturated. This image shows how good optics can make the difference. In the passport, the white wall is bleeding into the darker plant sticks, where in the PRIV you seen none if it, the Priv trounces the Passport of overall clarity, not just detail.

    Now some indoors in daylight:

    Passport gets back the warmer image trophy, will the priv goes home happy aswell with the sharpness and clarity prizes

    Priv is now warmer... the rest is about the same for every picture, more detail and clarity in the priv. We can see more fine detail in the priv's picture

    Very comparable pictures here, and bad photographer doing a poor job picking the angle

    Priv has more saturated colors, but just a bit.

    Mid / Low light

    So far was the easy bit, every camera can take good pictures when light is good, the problem is where the light starts to lack, and where cameras like DSLR's with huge sensors can completely poo on consumer cameras. Phones with tiny sensors always struggle to do well here because high ISO's needed to take pictures in low light always bring lots of noise, reduce color and ruin sharpness.
    This is the area where software is very important in removing the unwanted noise while preserving detail. Here's is where pictures Metadata is going to get interesting because the Autosettings behave different from phone to phone, but even within the same phone we sometimes see some strange choices of settings that the software uses.

    Let's start with a sunset with HDR (without HDR it has basicly no detail since it's such a contrasty image)

    Passports HDR is more agressive, pulling more detail out of the shadows, and toning down the sky a little bit more. The PRIV's lens isn't as impacted by the sun as the Passport is, we get a lot more detail in the region closer to sun in the Priv compared to the passport. Priv shows up a much superior lens again, despite that big flare ball, the overall image is a lor cleaner, where the passport has flare ghosting all over the image. Somehow I love the passport's picture a bit more if we neglect the quality differences.

    Now indoors with medium light from the sunset

    Priv: ISO782 shutter: 1/30th
    Passport: ISO 365 shutter 1/20th

    As you can see in the metadata, the Priv chooses a much higher ISO and faster shutter speed to compensate. The passport did a much clever job with a lower ISO and lower shutter speed, taking advantage of the OIS to take a sharp picture. The priv is capable of taking pictures with much lower shutter speeds as we will see later, so the Priv's image could have been much higher quality if it used passport's settings. With that the Priv's image is no doubt superior to passport's one, wich shows how much better the camera hardware on the Priv is.

    Despite using setting that should yeld a lower image quality, the PRIV punchs ahead with a sharper, clearer, and more saturated picture.

    Now with even lower light:

    Priv: ISO 149 shutter: 1/2th
    Passport: ISO 484 shutter 1/10th

    From the start, the passport is a lot warmer. But here the Priv's software goes insane (in a good way) with a half-second shutter speed, taking full advantage of OIS, delivering a crisp sharp image. This kind of image would be almost impossible to take handheld without OIS with such low shutter speeds.
    At ISO 149 the noise isn't there, it's as clean as baby's skin. The passport at 1/10th lets 5x less light enter the sensor, having to compensate with pushing the ISO to 484.
    Here's a close up (Passport left, Priv on the right):

    As we can see, the Priv on the right is virtually noise free, and not only it has 5mp more, but because is using a lower ISO, there's less detail loss with software nose reduction. Look at the "info" button or the "nikon" branding down there, there's so much more detail in the PRIV. Looking at the screen on the DSLR we see a much cleaner image in the priv

    Now a low light test to check not only for noise and detail, but to see how each camera handles the colors. High ISO not only bring noise, but also tend to desaturate images, let's see:

    Priv: ISO 547 shutter: 1/2th
    Passport: ISO 798 shutter 1/5th

    In the color department, it's a mix bag, the Passport holds the blues better, but almost desaturates the yellows wich the Priv manages to preserve better. Passport also shows a magenta cast to the background, the wood is almost pink, the Priv's colors are more true to real life. Priv also manages a lot more detail in the shadows.
    Looking at the metadata, passport goes down to 1/5th (0,2) of a second, lowest i've ever seen, but no match for the Priv's half second exposure, allowing for lower ISO, wich explains the better quality image.

    This one is to compare low light with and without flash, and see if the dual tone flash in the PRIV gives any advantage:

    Priv: ISO 547 shutter: 1/2th
    Passport: ISO 888 shutter 1/5th

    Without flash, the pattern is the same as the previous pictures, Priv has more detail and preserves the Yellows better, while the passport has the shadows completely blown and has MUCH more saturated blues. Seems like PRIV's doens't like blue, and Passport's doesn't like yellows. Metadata is similar to previous picture, passport goes a little bit higher in the ISO, Priv keeps pulling great half second exposures, and managing to keep image very sharp.

    Now with Flash:

    Priv: ISO 52 shutter: 1/20th
    Passport: ISO 82 shutter 1/25th

    No contest here, Passport blowns out the image and colors wich is no surprise since the passport has the brightest LED i've seen in a smartphone. Priv completely runs over the passport, colors are A LOT more balanced and isn't overexposed, just a better image in every sense. Both phones go straight to low ISO when using flash

    More low light Priv superiority:

    Priv: ISO 312 shutter: 1/2th
    Passport: ISO 798 shutter 1/5th

    Priv seems to top at 1/2th shutter speed while passport can't go under 1/5th wich is not bad at all. But here again, Priv with the lower shutter speed manages to have lower ISO, resulting in a much cleaner and detailed picture. Here the passport decided to overexpose again, and the priv is a tad underexposed to be fair. Here's a close up (Passport left, Priv on the right):

    Priv is so much more detailed and clean, not even close, that's how good those half exposures are, they let you use low ISO's wich renders much better images.

    Here's and odd ball:

    Priv: ISO 906 shutter: 1/30th
    Passport: ISO 374 shutter 1/17th

    by some reason, this "mid-light" indoor shot, the priv decided to use a relatively high 1/30th shuter speed, letting in almost half the light that the passport manage to get into the sensor. The result is that the priv to compensate has to up the ISO to over 900 wich will result in a lot of noise. The passport was clever here resulting in a much cleaner image, especially in the black car

    Here's a close up (Passport left, Priv on the right):

    Nasty blue-ish noise in the priv's picture. More detail in the Priv's tailight, but the black paint looks so much better in the Passport. This is to show how software can make a lot of difference even before taking the picture. Priv's superior lens and sensor were sent back by a bad call on the shooting settings by the software. Probably if I took the picture a second time, it would come out better than the passport, because there was no need to use such a high shutter speed.


    Priv's camera is far superior, pulling ahead in low light except when it misjudges the settings aand uses high shutter speeds like it hapened in this last picture. But to be honest, 90% of the time it does choose right, and if you are steady enough with your hands, that fantastic OIS will let you pull those half second exposures that give you a very good low light performance, very little noise.

    A lot of reviews claim Priv's to have a lot of noise in low light, but as we can see here, it sometimes messes up and does show a lot of noise, but if you're steady enought to let it low the shutter speed to half a second, it pulls very impressive low light shots, wich are right in touch with the best smartphone cameras in the market. Maybe some reviewers didn't have the update software wich I had, and maybe future updates bring more consistency to the Priv's camera wich it deserves because it has a very good sensor/lens combo, just needs some tweaks in the software

    If you want to upgrade your passport's camera, you will be very pleased with the improvements in the Priv, not only in quality, but the speed of the camera, it keeps up with you much better, wich is expected since is a newer phone. I expect future updates to improve the camera's performance even more

    Hope my review helped you're decision in buying the phone (or not), and I apologise for any english typos, I isn't my native Language.
    Last edited by Joao Oliveira; 11-30-15 at 09:04 AM.
    11-29-15 01:35 PM
  2. howarmat's Avatar
    very nice detailed review.

    And yes the camera software was updated after the reviews were out unless they held of a couple days after launch for the review I think
    Joao Oliveira likes this.
    11-29-15 01:48 PM
  3. Joao Oliveira's Avatar
    Internet compresses the images quite a bit, some images in this post look noisier than what they are, so here's the original files for both Passport and Priv so that you can do your own comparison
    11-29-15 02:01 PM
  4. NickMcBride's Avatar
    Nice comparison Joao, we all appreciate seeing such a detailed review and comparison of the Priv and Passport. I find iphones take the best pictures in the mobile market these days so if you have any variant of the iPhone 6/6s to do some comparisons with the Priv, I would love to hear your thoughts!

    Posted via CB10
    Joao Oliveira likes this.
    11-29-15 07:21 PM
  5. Joao Oliveira's Avatar
    Nice comparison Joao, we all appreciate seeing such a detailed review and comparison of the Priv and Passport. I find iphones take the best pictures in the mobile market these days so if you have any variant of the iPhone 6/6s to do some comparisons with the Priv, I would love to hear your thoughts!

    Posted via CB10
    If i can get the hands on one of those for some time I will
    11-29-15 08:15 PM
  6. brookie229's Avatar
    Excellent work! It won't convince me to get a Priv, but then again, I am not huge into camera shots. We very much appreciate the time and effort you took to show us this comparison.
    Joao Oliveira likes this.
    11-29-15 09:40 PM
  7. NickMcBride's Avatar
    If i can get the hands on one of those for some time I will
    Thanks Joao, I will be keeping my fingers crossed that you do!

    Posted via CB10
    11-29-15 10:07 PM
  8. fattyacid's Avatar
    Kindly post a tl;dr on top thanks.

    Posted via CB10
    11-29-15 10:27 PM
  9. sportline's Avatar
    Passport camera is poor at this time and age.

    Passport SE
    11-30-15 12:38 AM
  10. Edijs Benoit's Avatar
    Passport camera is poor at this time and age.

    Passport SE

    camera is totally fine for this era, it is software that lacks
    02-08-16 08:21 PM
  11. Edijs Benoit's Avatar
    we can compare numerous phones for better camera, warmer color, sharper image, or just even better selfie, but in reality best camera is in best cameraman hands.. -> YOU!!!
    andy957 and FF22 like this.
    02-08-16 08:27 PM
  12. andy957's Avatar
    No face comparisons? That's usually the best test.
    02-08-16 11:07 PM
  13. deadcowboy's Avatar
    this is an exhaustive comparison that is much appreciated. good work. i think that the biggest difference in terms of color has to be that the Priv nails the white balance far more often than the Passport.

    Posted via CB10
    03-08-16 10:30 AM
  14. stefanbechen's Avatar
    Thanks OP for taking the time to put this together.
    The only issue that I had with the Passport was the too slow autofocus. Even the latest updates didn't help to improve it a lot.

    Other than this, the Passport's camera is very good

    Posted via the CrackBerry App for Android
    03-08-16 12:20 PM

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