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I have finally got the time to do photo quality comparison among these devices.

In this ‘battle’, we will be comparing the camera samples from N97, N96 (both 5mpx) and a Sony T900 Cybershot Camera (set to shoot at 5mpx).

These tests below also mimics real world usage of the phones as cameras and find out if camera lens cover(on the N97 and T900) really makes a difference in the photo taking experience.

Here we can see the 3 contenders, (clockwise) T900, N97 and N96. Since the T900 is a proper compact camera, we will set it as a benchmark and decide if the N96 or the N97 produce photos closer to the T900 quality.

The battle consists of 5 tests: Scenery, Macro, Colour Production, Indoor Flash Portrait and Backlit Portrait. All photos below are unedited. I only resized them to 1200px wide and added captions.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

Test 1: Scenery

Nokia N96 Nokia N97 T900 Cybershot

Test 2: Macro

Nokia N96 Nokia N97 T900 Cybershot

Test 3: Colour Production

Nokia N96 Nokia N97 T900 Cybershot

Test 4: Indoor Portrait with Flash

Nokia N96 Nokia N97 T900 Cybershot

Test 5: Backlit Portrait

Nokia N96 Nokia N97 T900 Cybershot

My verdict:
N96 - Lack of camera lens cover exposes the camera to handprints that can create bluriness in photos. Colour production is the worst among the three. Cannot expose dark subjects with bright background well. Quite noisy when photo taken in low light condition.
N97 – Great scenery shots. Able to bring out the colours of scenes and objects captured. Low light photos are good, but white balance might need to be fixed to produce more natural-like indoor ambiance. Noise control is very effective. Photos are more natural in daylight. Quality is very close to the T900.
T900 – Undoubtedly, produces the best photos. Very natural colours when light source is sufficient. Bad indoor shots.

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