Camera Shootout: HTC One M8 vs Nokia Lumia Icon

Two of the latest high end smartphones to hit Verizon shelves recently are the Nokia Lumia Icon and the newly released HTC One M8; both have found their way into the Neowin labs. Seeing as both of these devices highlight the cameras in their marketing materials, we thought it would be interesting to see how both cameras matchup in a photo shootout.

Both phones were used in the 'Automatic' settings with the flash turned off. While both phones have advanced camera settings, we know that many consumers will never fiddle with these features and want to represent shots that are from the default settings. Yes, we know that you can certainly tweak the settings to fine tune your photos but in most scenarios, you won't have time to tinker with the settings and will be forced to go with the automatic settings. With that disclaimer out of the way, take a look at the photos below.

(Lumia Icon | One M8)

(Lumia Icon | One M8)

(Lumia Icon | One M8)

(Lumia Icon | One M8)

(Lumia Icon | One M8)

The One M8 tends to shoot photos that are warm and the Icon generally pulls to the cool side, but that gives each camera it's own 'signature' when taking photos. Each of the hues give the phones advantages in their own ways. For example, the warm hues of the One M8 make the wood floor of the last photo look sharper than the Icon. But in contrast, the Icon has better color definition and reproduction with the duck that was the focus of the photo.

In low light, neither phone excelled by a wide margin. The Icon tends to be a bit more clear than the One M8, but both have room for improvement as they still exhibit quite a bit of noise that makes reading "sharpie" on the marker a bit tough. 

The first photo of the sky shows some odd color gradients with the M8. The photo was taken around sunset and the Icon had no issue capturing the sky without the odd (and almost fake looking) colors of the clouds. Not exactly sure what caused this with the HTC One M8, and we took several photos and each image showed the same off-colored gradient.

As for taking photos with the flash on, the shots are comparable. Both phones have great flash to support the sensor and offer optimal lighting when taking photos in confined or wide-open spaces.

Both cameras were easy to use, and show that smartphones have come a long way in terms of usability and image quality. Both smartphones had no shutter-lag and were pleasant to use, and while there can only be one winner, you really can't go wrong with either device. While it does appear that the M8 makes better use of light in optimal conditions, the Icon typically produces more accurate color reproduction of the subject that is the focus of the image.

As for the winner, well, you can take our poll below and tell us who you think the has the better camera.

Poll

Who has the better camera?

  1. Nokia Lumia Icon
    85.4%
  2. HTC One M8
    14.6%
Results (1620 Votes)
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Ok, Lumia overall is better. What would really be the end all to this and clearly show how terrible the M8 camera is is if you were to show crops of the photos, that's where the m8s instagram type camera would really look bad....

HTC is getting better.

However, there isn't much comparison, the Nokia has a lot of specs ahead of the HTC.

Also going beyond 'automatic' settings, the Nokia can pull off some impressive feats if the user has a basic understanding of the more advanced camera controls.

For example, the dark 'Sharpie' shot above, it can be made noise free and extremely light. On the Nokia, just change the shutter speed to 1s or even 4s. OIS will help keep the image still, and the image will go beyond the 'light' levels that the human eye sees. Thus making it a perfectly clear image.

Using the shutter setting, you can shoot objects at night that your eyes can't see, text on a page in a dark dark room, or details in outdoor nighttime landscapes. (This is true of any of the Pureview Nokia phones 920/925/928/1020/etc)

I prefer the warm colour bias on the M8, as the cooler hues on the Icon make some of those photos look a bit... dull.

Looking at the sky and pen photos though, I'd probably say that the Icon makes sharper images.

Based on that I didn't vote, as they both seem to have upsides.

Majesticmerc said,
I prefer the warm colour bias on the M8, as the cooler hues on the Icon make some of those photos look a bit... dull.

Looking at the sky and pen photos though, I'd probably say that the Icon makes sharper images.

Based on that I didn't vote, as they both seem to have upsides.

Just change the light setting, you can have super warm images on any Nokia.

RAW makes color balance issues irrelevant as the temperature is not baked into the file data. I prefer the nokia software so, clearly, nokia wins.

need full res shots to compare. Anyway if you view the full res shots, the HTC One M8 takes fuzzier pictures from what I've seen in reviews.

Does the Icon have the same issue as the 920? As in, the pictures that you take look perfect, but once they are processed, they look blurry and crappy? This is easily noticeable with ProShot and other apps that show the image before it is processed / saved.

elenarie said,
Does the Icon have the same issue as the 920? As in, the pictures that you take look perfect, but once they are processed, they look blurry and crappy? This is easily noticeable with ProShot and other apps that show the image before it is processed / saved.

I've noticed the images in the viewfinder on the S III and S4 look better than when the photos are actually taken, especially when using the front camera. Rather annoying. I'd prefer .raw captures.

On the 920 it ruins the whole camera, basically. If you remember when they were advertising that it takes amazing pictures both in regular and low light conditions, and how the camera of it was the best available on the market... Well, with the Amber and Black firmwares from Nokia, it only got worse, and definitely does not justify the marketing.

Pictures taken with the Portico firmware do not at all have this stupid noise reduction / processing crap.

Nokia spend a lot of cash on having the best camera on a smartphone and it paid off. At least in performance. I do wonder if the kind of performance the market requires... but at least they stand out in something, few phone makers do.

You are comparing one phone with a 20mp camera with OIS to a 4mp camera without OIS. This isn't even a competition. Put up some landscape full resolution photo's and the Nokia will wipe the floor with the HTC.

watkinsx2 said,
You are comparing one phone with a 20mp camera with OIS to a 4mp camera without OIS. This isn't even a competition. Put up some landscape full resolution photo's and the Nokia will wipe the floor with the HTC.

It's not a standard 4 MP camera...

Elliot B. said,

It's not a standard 4 MP camera...

I know that - I have the M7 and the main camera is the same but without OIS. The camera is still poor no matter which way you dress it.

watkinsx2 said,
You are comparing one phone with a 20mp camera with OIS to a 4mp camera without OIS. This isn't even a competition. Put up some landscape full resolution photo's and the Nokia will wipe the floor with the HTC.
My wifes sony z1s does not have OIS but its 20mp and its very comparable to my brother 1020 thats a 40 something mp with ois. The 1020 edges it out in outside shots but the z1s is remarkable in low light.

But I agree the 4Ultrapixal is just not up to par with the 20mp cameras

True , One you get past a certain MP number you are in to the laws of diminishing returns. OIS may not be strictly relevant with photo's but it makes a massive difference to video.

watkinsx2 said,
True , One you get past a certain MP number you are in to the laws of diminishing returns. OIS may not be strictly relevant with photo's but it makes a massive difference to video.

It is important to photos as well. People with shaky hands for example.

It also allows the camera to keep the shutter open a bit longer if needed to pull in more light, as the image can retain stable longer.

LoL I bet some people chose Nokia icon without checking the pictures. Well, they were right because Nokia definitely better camera on phones atm. #LumiaIcon Wins

What i dont get is i have the original htc one and the new m8 and its suppose to have an improved camera but its like yeah it CAN take better pictures but only 25% of the time the rest are worse. Its seems WAY more hit and miss than it use to be. My wifes sony z1 takes far better pictures by far than the htc and better low light than my brothers 1020.

Xahid said,
Lumia icon is winner, only keyboard shot is better in M8

I think even keyboard shot is better just because of shooting angle and the fact that flash should have been turned off. overall, picture quality is far superior in Icon in all pictures.