Sony Xperia Z1 pitted against the Nokia Lumia 1020’s camera

by: Andrew GrushOctober 1, 2013


With the Sony Xperia Z1, Sony has managed to create one of the most impressive handsets in the Android world, and this goes doubly when it comes to camera performance. We’ve already seen impressive Z1 night time shots and even a low-light comparison between the Sony Xperia Z1 and the Nokia Lumia 925. Now we are left wondering how the Z1 will stand up against Nokia’s 41MP Pureview-wielding Lumia 1020.

Apparently we weren’t the only ones interested to see how the two devices compare, either. Steve Litchfield from All About Windows Phone recently pitted the two handsets against one another in a series of different photographs.

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How did the Sony Xperia Z1 compare? Depends largely on the photo.

The Sony Xperia Z1 seems to do a solid job of taking photos when lighting is decent, and compares nicely to the 1020 in these situations. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said when light levels are lower. The Lumia 1020’s combination of OIS, a larger sensor and Xenon Flash allow for the Windows Phone-powered handset to come out on top in areas where lighting isn’t so great.

Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look for yourself:


Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.



Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.



Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.



Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.



Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.



Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.



Nokia Lumia 1020. Click to enlarge.


Sony Xperia Z1. Click to enlarge.

Now that you’ve had a chance to take a closer look at the comparative images, we’ll be honest here: Yes, the Lumia 1020’s camera is better. That said, unless you are really into having the absolute best cameraphone available, the difference in image quality probably isn’t significant enough to bother you.

Bottom-line, the Xperia Z1 is a wonderful handset with a camera that is right up there against similar Android devices. It might not be quite as impressive as the 1020 in some ways, but it also has some clear advantages such as the fact it runs Android and has access to the plethora of great Android apps out there. The Xperia Z1 is also compatible with Sony’s SmartShot lenses, which can help take your Android photography experience to a whole other level.

For full-sized images, cropped comparisons and more – head on over to All About Windows Phone.

  • aetra

    Not bad, I think the 1020 is better overall, but the Z1 doesn’t deal with the hump, and is at least comparable.

    • satsmine2k4

      1020 is sharper, but look at those colors none of the 1020 pics have accurate color reproduction…Only if the Z1has OIS, i would have said it is better than the 1020… Some on should kick sony’s .ss for not including OIS on the Z1…

      • MasterMuffin

        Were you there to actually see the colors? :)

        • MrMagoo

          I was thinking the same thing. The only pic that makes it definitive for me is the one of the guy drinking the beer. Skin looks red with the 1020 and the Sony looks like true colors. Other than that, the 1020 was more crisp and with more detail in just about every picture.

          • MasterMuffin

            But what if the wall behind him was actually red and not grey like in the picture taken by Z1?

          • MrMagoo

            Unless that man has a serious problem with high blood preasure, his face should not be that red. If so, get that man some blood thinner or somethin, cause he doesn’t have much longer! :-P

          • MasterMuffin

            it’s a possibility xD

          • Yeah, the 1020 currently shows all flash shots with a slight yellow/orange tint. Software issue, I suspect, and fixable.

          • Miguel Angel Cueto

            Only on auto, manually you can change the settings to the right lighting condition, and the picture should come out really great. Im enjoying my lumia 1020, great phone, even greater camera.

          • lil bit

            You mean if the pictures passepartout and the lamp shade actually were that color?
            I think the answer is obvious.

          • I’m the original author. The wall was the colour shown in the Z1 photo. If only the Z1 had Xenon…. sob.

      • Lisandro O Oocks

        I got to agree with MasterMuffin. Unless you’re actually taking the pic you don’t know what the actual colors are. In my opinion sometimes Nokia’s pics look better merely because they add more of certain colors. It’s as if the camera had a magnet for yellow, green, red and orange. Pretty ingenious and they should be rewarded, however I don’t consider accurate to say that Nokia’s photos showcase “true colors”.

        • Justin Marx

          yeah i bet nokias photos here are all great but its like an editor not realistic at all. it makes exaggerated the colors its taking like the grass in one of the photo its not realistic its like a painting. z1 photo with the man on a beer is kinda blurry with that near shot? its like the hand are shaking, whats bad about z1 is its lighting capability like iso though theres this extra add on lens of z1 so why it wasnt tested?

      • M_F


        Sharpness: 1020 >>>>> Z1
        Detail: 1020 >>>>> Z1
        Noise: 1020 >>>>> Z1
        Macro: 1020 <<>>>>>>>>>>>> Z1

        Colour: depending on your preference and fixable with WB setting or post processing.

        • MasterMuffin

          true dat, 1020’s auto mode isn’t the best necessarily, that’s what its great pro camera app is for and photoshop

  • MasterMuffin

    Lumia 1020’s camera wins (duh), but then again the camera is triple the size and it’s Windows Phone so…

    Seriously, if Nokia made Lumia 1020 with Android, it would have been an instant buy, I wouldn’t care even if it ment no Nexus for me, because
    A) Dat camera, I could throw my crappy camera out of my window
    B) Dat build quality, I could throw it out of the window with my crappy camera and get it back and it would still work :D
    C) I’d support mah country :)

  • Ruz

    How can you guys be dumb enuf to recognise which one is better. From the pictures above i can clearly say that 1020 is giving out artificial effects to pictures, look at the skin tone of that uncle in 1020 & Z1, secondly Z1 produces more real pictures which yes may not look beautiful.

    Its something like if i dress natural people will like it but if i apply makeup then people will love me.. yes u got it now?

    • Ruz

      also point to be noted that 1020 phone has a bulkier camera which i wont buy anyday.. but wud prefer z1

      • M_F

        If the 1020 was running Android and Z1 was running Windows Phone, you would be salivating all over your keyboard. Bulk or no bulk. Just admit it.

    • Blablabla

      You nailed it. See the picture of the flower for the 1020, looks like edited and colors are oversaturated. A professional photographer wouldn’t give you a cent for such photo. That can’t be real. The Z1 shows that more naturally, if you want more contrast on colors you can always do adjustements in after processing.

      So I think the 1020 is only better than Z1 in pictures with low light, that’s it.

      • M_F

        So you quibble over subjective preferences.

        From optical point of view the 1020’s images are obviously far sharper and filled with details, despite being shot at lower 5MP resolution compared to the Z1’s 8MP. This is very obvious when you look at Test 1: Sunny Scene. You can tell the Z1’s sensor is clearly struggling and out of breath here. Being overexposed is just part of its problem, it is simply losing out on details and has that smeared look.

        In lowlight, the 1020 totally destroys the Z1. Noise, details, sharpness, you name it.

        So from technical standpoint, 1020 >>>>>> Z1.

        But I respect your colour/saturation preferences. Some people don’t mind grainy pictures or water-colour images devoid of details, I can understand that.

    • M_F

      The 1020 is like a pretty lady with flawless skin (i.e. low noise), beautiful eyes, lips, lashes (i.e. lots of details) with good body figure (i.e. sharpness). Just happens she likes wearing very colourful clothes.

      The Z1 has lots of freckles and scars (noisy), fading eye lashes/lips (smeared details) with less than perfect body figure. Just happens she likes wearing modestly.

      Yes, I get it that you like Z1’s modesty.

  • Wuchko

    Well, z1 failed to impress once again. I dont like those washed out cold colors. And no OIS… someone should be fired for that

  • n11

    Lumia wins most of these, the beer shot from the Lumia was horrible, likewise with the yellow flower. But it seems to be a bit more reliable in producing sharper and better WB photos.

    • xoj_21

      808 still better, windows phone algorithm produces tinted pictures with alot of noise

  • Roberto Tomás

    the shots provided in the article do not back up the claim that the Xperia Z1 is okay in normal lighting but much worse in low lighting. from those images I would say:

    • details: Nokia — detail levels are always higher for Lumia. It has more pixels and a sufficient lens.
    • color balance: Sony — color balance is far too yellow for the Lumia. Saturation is too high. Sony’s warm colors are arguably a little low, but Nokia’s are clearly very high.
    • low light: draw — surprisingly, the Lumia images do not show very much lower noise levels, and retain their overly-yellow color balance compared to the Sony.

    • pro

      I guess that the yellow tint is because of lumia’s yellow body

    • M_F

      Lowlight – the 1020 is clearly superior for the following reasons:

      1) The 1020’s image is better exposed (by at least 1-stop). For a dark scene, this is very important.

      2) Despite using higher ISO (2500 vs 1600), the 1020’s image is cleaner with less noise compared to Z1. The difference in noise level is actually VERY significant when you view the original images from AAWP. The ones posted in the article here has already been compressed to 1500×843 (1.2MP) so the noise has been masked.

      3) The 1020’s image is far sharper and has more detail than the Z1.

      • Roberto Tomás

        mmm , there are two low-light images. In the make-up shot at the end, the Nokia is a little better, but not very much. in the beer shot, the sony is very much better. the nokia is less noisy, I gave details to nokia — we agree there. but in low-light noise, the noise difference is really not always in Nokia’s favour. At least not with the images posted here.

        • M_F

          1) Regarding the make-up rack: Please head over to AAWP, and refer to the middle of the frame. Side-by-side comparison of the cropped section has been provided by Steve Litchfield. You’re telling me the Nokia is slightly better but not very much? That is quite unbelievable. The 1020’s image was quite acceptable while the Z1’s is… pardon the word… rubbish. Again, please comment on that side-by-side comparison provided by Steve on that make-up rack.

          2) Regarding the beer shot: Colour aside, the 1020 clearly “froze” the movement. The drinking motion has been “frozen” (as intended) on the 1020, while it is a blur for the Z1 (therefore fail the freezing test). Apart from freezing movements, the 1020’s image is sharper and has less noise overall. Feel free to pick any central part of the image to comment on. I will give you my own personal example – the lampshade. The Z1 has a lot more noise grain, and the grains are also far bigger. The 1020 has some noise, but those are far finer, far more pleasant to look at compared to the Z1. Not to mention, a whole lot sharper.

          So there, I have given examples where the difference between 1020 and Z1 is really huge in terms of detail, sharpness and noise. Just from these 2 examples alone, there is NO WAY you can say the difference is small.

          • Roberto Tomás

            #1 — no I am just going by the images provided right here. Based on the images you can see just by scrolling up, I *am* telling you that the Sony is doing roughly as well as the Nokia in low light. Maybe under some controlled condition somewhere the results might be different, but at least here, with these images, it is a draw.
            #2 — neither of them froze the motion, which is a function of exposure time and shows the lack of ability of the person using the camera.
            I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree.

          • M_F

            #1 – you will need to go to the original article and grab the source photos from there. The ones shown above in this forum has already been compressed into a much smaller file around 1.2MP each. I can’t say if this was a deliberate attempt by Andrew Grush to show the Z1 in better light, but putting a compressed photo rather than the original ones is certainly a misrepresentation of Steve’s analysis. In this case, the misrepresentation makes a big difference to how the photos are being perceived. Like I said, go to the original AAWP article, and look up the side-by-side images. It is pointless to refer to images that have already been manipulated.

            #2 – Again, check the original AAWP article rather than make your conclusions from manipulated images. I shall quote the original author “[1020] shot isn’t perfectly crisp… but it’s darned good. The Xperia Z1 produces a typical LED-lit ‘people in low light’ shot, as evidenced by hundred of millions of photos every day around the planet. Blurry rubbish – you cannot photograph people in a casual setting properly in low light using LED flash.”

            Yep, blurry rubbish, once you view the original image rather than manipulated ones.

  • Alex Ohannes

    Both of them are pretty bad (at least, based on the provided pictures). :(

  • Anzilleo Kristello Mozihim

    For a phone without a thick body and a hump, it certainly held up against the 1020.

  • Knobskin

    Had the 1020 good solid phone! Camera is great but the start up time can be immediate or a few seconds! I am more interested in video recording in loud venues! The 1020 and HTC one did great jobs! Still on the fence with my G2 but if that’s the only drawback to the phone I’ll be happy for sometime!

  • Knobskin

    And yes the 1020 hump is super annoying! Was for me at least! I waited for the Nokia leather case with the lens cover… Ya where’s that one! Ugh!

  • Cao Meo

    1020 beats not only Z1 but every other phone on camera department.

    But Z1 excels in everything else. Hope Sony keeps working on the camera, Sony is on the up.

  • Shermon MK 1

    1020 is better…but the thing is it has a yellow tint in everything

  • ack

    The colours are way better on the Z1. The Lumia 1020 doesn’t apply any colour correction at all. At least they’re both not the over-hyped low-end Sony sensor used in the iphone.

  • Karthik Kanniyappan

    I feel the comparisons done are biased !! The OIS in sony is quite good than what i felt.. dont know why all the z1 images are horribly shot.

    • Guest

      There is no OIS in the Z1.

  • James Hefta Sutherland

    Sadly the camera on my Z1 is nothing like any of these images, I’m on my second Z1 in a week and both have extremely pixelated cameras

    • M_F

      My 1020 pictures are nothing like any of those used by Sony in the Sony-sponsored fake comparison. My 1020 lowlight images are beautiful even with ISO 4000 and shutter speed 0.5s.

      Sony. Make. Believe.

  • raj

    ill definitely take a 20MP Xperia which is running on a Snapdragon 800, when compared to a 40MP dual core mobile running an outdated OS

  • Gadget2us

    Nokia lumia 1020 leather injected case with lens cap
    This protector is ejected mold by machine. Not by Glue with hands.
    Inner is soft TPU ,can effect shockproof or drop resistance. with the TPU wrapped the flat screen,
    the side is little higher than the flat screen, gives better protector for the screen avoid scratch or hurt by accident.

  • Golden Chen

    unique leather protector for the lumia 1020 camera from gadget2us .looks great.


    Chocolate color leather case with lens cover for lumia 1020 is new coming