There’s a lot of technology—and artistry—that goes into capturing high-quality photos and videos. A hardware deficiency in the lens assembly, CMOS sensor, or ISP can easily compromise the camera experience. Both hardware and software features such as OIS and HDR are also critical to producing the best quality images.
With all of this discussion about hardware, it’s important not to forget the role software plays in image quality. We’ve seen several examples of smartphones using the same camera sensor produce wildly different results. Failing to compensate for lens deficiencies and overly aggressive noise reduction algorithms can ruin the output of even the best hardware. The role of software and the ISP is becoming increasingly important as pixel size and device thickness shrink, placing greater constraints and compromises on camera design. The table at the beginning of the article showing what specifications and features to look for can help narrow down your choices, but, ultimately, a picture is worth a thousand words.