Pixel 5 vs Galaxy S20 FE vs OnePlus 8T: Camera Comparison!

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With all the trouble that 2020 brought to humanity, it has also forced phone companies to focus more on their mid-range offerings, the phones that don’t cost a small fortune.

The result was that in 2020, we get a bunch of incredible phones in the $700 price range: the new Google Pixel 5, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, and the newly launched OnePlus 8T. All of them are in many ways just as good as a $1,000 flagship, and they certainly don’t make any huge compromises.
But how do they compare between each other and which is the best $700 phone to get right now? In this article, we focus on comparing the cameras in detail: 

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Pixel 5 vs Galaxy S20 FE vs OnePlus 8T Camera Specs Comparison:

Despite there being four lenses on the back of the OnePlus 8T, it is the Galaxy S20 FE that is best equipped when it comes to real life shooting. It is the only phone that has both an ultra-wide and a telephoto lens in addition to the main one, while both the Pixel 5 and the OnePlus 8T lack a dedicated telephoto lens, which should hinder their ability to shoot clean photos at longer zoom ranges. The OnePlus 8T has a dedicated macro lens and a monochrome lens, both of which are quite useless and we are not sure why OnePlus includes them in the first place. But let’s take a lookt at the actual photos, shall we?

Main Camera

This one is a difficult shot with the morning sun shining brightly on the sea surface. It’s hard to pick a favorite: the Pixel has the best dynamic range, but notice the noise in the walls, it’s shocking that a photo captured during the day has so much noise! The detail on the Galaxy is clean, and even though it does slightly worse with the shining sun, it seems like the better image. The OnePlus photo is decent, but colors on it are way too yellow-ish and we’d say it’s not quite on the same level as the other two.

With the sun shining through the flower, we notice two recurring differences between the Pixel and the Galaxy S20 FE: exposure! The Pixel captures the darker shot, which looks a bit better, while the image from the Galaxy is a tiny bit overexposed. Colors on the OnePlus look bleak and the image is not quite as good as the other two.

Notice the fall colors in this photo: the Pixel strikes a very nice balance, everything looks pleasant and quite realistic. The Galaxy goes overboard with saturation, but many people would love that look. The OnePlus has the bleakest colors of the three, and it could have used a bit more punch.

With so much greenery at the front, it’s easy for a camera to get confused about its white balance. That’s what’s going on with the Pixel and the OnePlus here, as colors are way too brown/greenish and the whole photo is a bit underexposed, while the Galaxy S20 FE scores this one as a win.

It’s hard to pick a winner in this case, the photos really look quite similar. The OnePlus, however, does go overboard with a clarity/vibrance boost, while the other two phones look a bit more realistic.

No big difference between the Pixel and the Galaxy in this case, they are truly tied, but the OnePlus messes up the bright red colors and its photo doesn’t look nearly as good.

Portrait Mode

All three phones come with portrait mode, but it works differently on all of them. The Pixel offers a nice, cropped view as if shot with a telephoto lens, and that look is very appropriate for portraits as it makes the facial features of your subject look well proportioned. The Galaxy, on the other hand, only offers a wide-angle portrait, and while the quality is good, the angle is not flattering as everything looks a bit comical, heads look bigger, noses look bigger, and unfortunately there is no way to remedy this. Finally, the OnePlus offers both a wide and a zoomed portrait, a welcome variety, but the quality of both shots is not quite on the same level as the Pixel and the Galaxy.

In this example, the cameras had trouble finding the right colors: the greenery fooled the Pixel and it painted the skin tones green-ish as well, definitely not a good look. The OnePlus went to the opposite side: the photo looks ghostly and washed out. The Galaxy captures the best colors, and the best image in this case, too bad that you cannot use the telephoto camera and you have to take portraits with this weird, wide-angle look.

Zoom

Since the Galaxy is the only phone out of the three to offer a telephoto camera, it’s no coincidence that it’s miles ahead of the rest in terms of zoom quality.

A big difference at 5X zoom as well.

The Galaxy S20 FE comes with a 3X zoom lens, which gives crisp and clear detail when zoomed.

At 2X zoom, all phones use digital magnification from the main lens.

And that’s how the image looks when captured with the main cameras.

Night

The Pixel has long held the “low-light camera king” title, but in the last couple of years, others have been catching up. The Galaxy S20 FE in this case captures an equally as likable photo, with equally sharp detail and a nice look. The OnePlus is a bit behind the other two with blurrier detail.

While all photos look very similar in this case, notice that noise in the tiles on the Pixel photo. That’s weird! The Galaxy captures a much cleaner detail and it has the best balance of color and dynamic range.

You have to be quite picky to see the tiny differences between the Pixel 5 and the Galaxy S20 FE in this low-light shot, but the OnePlus is a tiny bit behind the others with less appealing colors.

All three phones come with Night Mode that you can manually enable. On the Galaxy, the scene optimizer that is enabled by default automatically gives you a slightly longer exposure when needed, but you can then manually fire the Night Mode to get an even longer exposure and a brighter photo. We do like the balanced look on the Galaxy photo, even though the Pixel is more aggressive with its night mode.

Finally, in this night shot, the Pixel has a bit of an unnatural, warmish tonality, while the white balance on the other two phones makes for a better photo.

Ultra-wide

All three phones also come with an ultra-wide angle lens, but the Pixel is not quite as wide as the other two.

There is a stark difference in color here: the Pixel lacks a bit in saturation, the Galaxy strikes the golden middle, while the OnePlus goes a bit overboard with what looks like a clarity / vibrance boost. A win for the Galaxy in this round.

Interestingly, the Pixel and the OnePlus also support Night Mode when shooting with their ultra-wide cameras, an option lacking on the Galaxy S20 FE. Not a huge loss, but when it gets really dark, you do appreciate having it.

Finally, at night, the ultra-wide camera on the OnePlus 8T shines as it is able to capture a crispy clean detail, while the other two, especially the Galaxy struggle to get enough detail.

Selfies

So… what about selfies? The Galaxy gives you the choice between a wider and a more close-up look with the front camera, while the Pixel and the OnePlus only give you a single fixed look. In this first case, it is the OnePlus that captures the most detail and the best image, closely trailed by the Pixel, while the Galaxy has slightly strange skin tones which make it our third favorite.

If you have a group of people, though, the close-up look on the OnePlus is a bit of a problem, while with the Galaxy you can get a much wider view.

Finally, in low light, all three phones do a decent job, but we’d give our preference to the Pixel for its balanced, clean look.

Who is the winner?

So… it’s time for the big conclusions. Throughout most of this comparison, the Google Pixel 5 and the Galaxy S20 FE went hand in hand, tied for the win. The Pixel still has the best dynamic range, but Samsung has really caught up in so many areas. The Galaxy S20 FE consistently captures a sharper detail, and while the Pixel often gets thrown off with colors, especially when you have a lot of greenery, the Galaxy is able to get the white balance right every time and colors on it look spot on.

The OnePlus 8T is a decent performer, but in most cases it did not quite match the Pixel and the Galaxy. In easy shots, it tends to go with bleaker colors that don’t impress, and it is often challenged by even daylight scenes where it would sometimes get the color wrong, won’t be able to focus sharply, or experience some other issue. It does have a few advantages in niche cases: its ultra-wide camera does well in low light and selfies often turn out quite nice, but it lacks the consistency and overall polish of the other two.

Which camera did you think won this comparison? And why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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