BlackBerry Z10 vs. IPhone 5: Camera Shootout [Update: Night And Flash Shots]

As promised – although a little later than I would have liked – I’ve taken the two devices out (a couple of times) to a few different locations and lighting conditions, indoors and out.

With each comparison I’ve done my best and tried to make sure I take the same image from the same point and lining each shot up the same. I’ve also ensured that I manually focus the camera on the same object at the exact same point.

Obviously I can’t account for changing light on outside shots, but since each image was taken within a few seconds of the first, there’s little that can change. I tried to ensure that I took photos on days where clouds were not moving much (if at all).

Important to note: I’m not a professional photographer, but I do take a keen interest. The main aim is to treat each device equally. No messing with settings, leaving everything except focus on auto to make it as fair as possible. You judge the results for yourselves.

Color iPhone 5Color iPhone 5

Color Z10Color Z10

As always – it seems – with iPhone camera comparisons, colors are less vivid than on the competitor’s.

Sunbeam Z10Sunbeam Z10

Sunbeam iPhone 5Sunbeam iPhone 5

Couldn’t resist snapping a picture of a classic car. Again colors are more vivid and the image has a lot more depth in the Z10′s shot. Whites are a little off however.

Train Z10Train Z10

Train iPhone 5Train iPhone 5

Manor iPhone 5Manor iPhone 5

Manor Z10Manor Z10

The Z10′s camera is coming out on top it seems. Both of the images from the model railway (totally wish that was mine) have more depth, and it copes better with the moving train. I’m pleasantly surprised.

Branch iPhone 5Branch iPhone 5

Branch Z10Branch Z10

SnowDrops iPhone 5SnowDrops iPhone 5

Snowdrops Z10Snowdrops Z10

Being a country boy at heart, I also couldn’t resist kneeling to take a picture of the ground completely covered by beautiful Snow Drops. Stunning, and again, it comes to life a lot more on the Z10.

Although photographers argue that the more color neutral iPhone shot is more like a DSLR, for the average user who doesn’t spend hours editing photos every week, the immediate photograph is what gets judged. The immediate photograph is undoubtedly better on the BlackBerry. (You have no idea how much it pains me to write that.) I was not expecting it.

So, now on to images with a little less light. I closed the curtains and switched off light in my lounge and dining room, and grabbed a few photos of what was lying around. And, it was in these lowlight situations that the Z10 stopped impressing me.

The rooms were not totally dark, it was still daylight, and seemingly the sensor couldn’t pick much out and even struggle to focus. The performance difference between good light and low light was like night and day (excuse the pun).

Batmobile iPhone 5Batmobile iPhone 5

Batmobile Z10Batmobile Z10

The first image comparison was taken in my office. The curtains are thinner up here, it gave me the opportunity to see how dark it could get before one camera packed in.

They were closed, and despite the iPhone 5′s image looking almost like it’s in full daylight, the Z10 created a lot noise and distortion and struggled with only a slight dip in light. Needless to say, from this point I wasn’t holding out much hope for the BlackBerry’s snapper.

Daffodils iPhone 5Daffodils iPhone 5

Daffodils Z10Daffodils Z10

The iPhone’s image is – yet again – much brighter, but there is some clear noise creeping in. With the Z10 I couldn’t get it to focus at all on the flowers’ blooms, any of them. It tried and gave up about 10-15 times before I just decided to snap a shot.

Teddies iPhone 5Teddies iPhone 5

Teddies Z10Teddies Z10

Despite noise levels on both, the iPhone’s image is again the clearest and best defined. You can still see the detail in the cushion fabric and the teddies’ fur, and the color comes out as it should. The Z10′s image is noisy and comes off a little green.

Piano iPhone 5Piano iPhone 5

piano Z10piano Z10

If the images above look a little different, it’s because I could hardly see anything to line up my shot on the Z10, the end result above is much better than what I could actually detect on the phone’s display. It was taken in the dining room, which has the thickest curtains of all the rooms I shot in. Again the iPhone outperformed it.


The Z10 really impressed me in daylight conditions. If anything, it was better than the iPhone. It created some wonderfully vibrant images, especially outdoors in nature. But, its shoddy lowlight performance really is an Achilles heel.

If there is to be a second generation of BB10 devices, the camera’s sensor really needs a boost for darker shots. I will take them both out again in the dark, under street lights and see if I can get anything from the BlackBerry, but don’t get your hopes up.

In conclusion, I’d rather have a camera that I knew was at least “okay” in darker settings, even if its daylight images could be more vivid. I can always up the saturation in the edit if I need to. There’s not a lot I can do with the Z10′s low light shots in the edit, except make it noisier. Not bad BlackBerry, but not terribly good either.

Update: Some Night Time Shots Thrown In

I’ve been asked on twitter by a follower to update with a couple more shots, showing night time and one with the flash in use on both phones. So here goes:

Street Light iPhone 5Street Light iPhone 5

Street Light Z10Street Light Z10

It had already been made clear in the lower light shots earlier, but, the Z10′s lack of ability to deal with lack of light is even more obvious at night than it was. Below are four shots. Two from each device, one with flash and one without.

Hanging Basket iPhone 5Hanging Basket iPhone 5

Hanging Basket Z10Hanging Basket Z10

Flash iPhone 5Flash iPhone 5

Flash Z10Flash Z10

The Z10′s shots are noticeably noisier in both, but the flash did seem stronger on the BlackBerry. Whether or not that’s a good thing I’m not sure. I’ve seen quite enough of phone camera shots from night clubs with flashes on.

Trees iPhone 5Trees iPhone 5

Trees Z10Trees Z10

Admittedly, with the last couple I was perhaps pushing it a bit far. There were some distant floodlights creating a gorgeous silhouette from the trees outside my house on the river bank. Sadly, the Z10 didn’t really spot them. The iPhone 5 did capture some of it, but it was certainly at its limit.

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