Friday, May 16, 2014

Why DXO Mark for Smartphone Cameras are Rubbish

The new Sony Xperia Z2 is now ontop of the camera phone heap, that is according to DXO mark that publishes these ratings but if you care to look, these ratings bear no resemblance to the traditional ratings used in DSLR or Compact Cameras.

Part of the problem lies with camera phones in the first place, as they do not produce RAW files. This means that to do a real test, the camera phones will be totally out of depth with the rest. Let's examine the values published by DXO.

Overall DxOMark awarded the Sony Xperia Z2 scores of:
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Exposure
  • 4.0 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
  • 3.5 out of 5 for Color shading in low light*
  • 4.0 out of 5 for Color shading in bright light*
  • 3.0 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light

I mean, WTF is 4.5 out of 5 for Exposure? or for that matter Color rendering in bright light? Is this to be some beauty contest? Where are the Dynamic range results? High ISO handling? Lens sharpness?

For the record, DXO mark only released ONE index, that is of the Lumia 1020 because it had the ability to output RAW files (in the form of DNG) which allowed it some comparison to real world cameras such as DSLRs and DCCs.

Why use the DXO index for Camera Phones?

This has to do with the ratings agency conspiracy. Camera phones need some sort of validation, so you use a ratings agency to validate your claims. Manufacturers will go the distance to get that sort of approval and DXO could be setting itself up as the defacto agency of choice when it comes to camera phone ratings.

For now, the whole idea of this rating is too new and flawed for people to understand the value. People haven't got their toes wet on this yet and who knows? Manufacturers could pay a bomb to use the DXO approval index in their advertising as a way to bait consumers and this could be a money making path for DXO in the future.

Why DXO Camera Phones should not be taken Seriously

The landscape for camera phone photography is changing fast, and there are a lot of technology out there being created to rival and compete with DCCs. The DXO mark indexing for camera phones will eventually be obsolete as more manufacturers see the benefit of DNG file saving.

There is no reason to doubt this as the consumer market segments itself into high, mid and low end categories for smartphones. To charge a premium for a device, you need to differentiate the performance value of your device against all others. Having a bigger screen and a Appstore just doesn't cut it anymore. The cost has to translate into real world performance and the most obvious thing on a smart device is the camera.

Even Apple recognizes that it needs to up the ante and has hired Nokia Lumia's Ari Partinen to join the company.You have to better the competition, market that as your USP and corner the market for high end devices. People are not going to upgrade on a annual basis if you can't give them a reason to.


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