Taking a look at budget mobile phone camera.

Last December we noticed a mid range budget mobile phone in an IT Hypermarket offered at a very attractive price.  At that time the built-in battery in my one year plus handphone was having a high internal resistance problem, the phone would suddenly shutdown without warning. Unfortunately for mobile phone with  built-in battery when it comes to battery replacement it has to be sent back to the repair center and takes at least two or more days just for that.

Normally, replacing a battery is an easy task that any one can undertake. However with built-in battery it has to be done by the mobile phone makers. That is their tactic to secure repeat sales for battery and revenue from service charges but cause much hassle and inconvenience to their customers.

Hamachi Sashimi taken with Neffos C5 cell phone
Hamachi Sashimi taken with the TP-Link Neffos C5 mobile Phone has natural colour rendition and reasonably good details but noise is visible.  --   Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone.  shutter speed 1/20seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO  286.

The phone on offer was the Neffos C5 from TP-link a company well known for networking gears but a new player in the already congested mobile phone market.  A new range of Neffos phone the "X" series was just launched so these 2016 "C" series model was now clearing. What attracted me was first the price and then, more importantly for me was its user replaceable battery.

The Neffos C5 does not have many apps or bloat wears built-in so it is a no-nonsense mobile phone.  Some may not like it because they think the phone is empty with little built-in apps. However this is what I like about the Neffos C5 unlike my current Sony Xperie E4g that comes with tons of Sony bloat wears that cannot be uninstalled and mainly useful for Sony fans. 

This is not a review of the Neffos C5 as there are already numerous  Neffos phone reviews on the internet. These first generation Neffos did not fair too well with many reviewers. I did read some of those negative reviews but since I don't use my cellphone like those reviewers I believe this phone works for me. Here I am checking out the Neffos C5 photography capability and what the built-in main camera is good for.

2016 Christmas decoration at Pavilion Mall Kuala Lumpur taken with Neffos C5 mobile phone.
2016 Christmas decoration at Pavilion Shopping Mall Kuala Lumpur taken with Neffos C5. At low ISO images are good enough out of this camera phone  for blogging and online purpose.   ==   Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone. shutter speed 1/50 seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO 96.

The images from Neffos C5 is not superb but good enough as a mobile phone and does what it is supposed to do.  It captures reasonably good images when the shutter speed is above 1/25 of a seconds and ISO below 100. Noise is noticeable but details are crisp and sharp. Compared to my current Sony Xperia E4g the noise level is about the same maybe the Sony had a slight edge on the noise but the details on the Sony E4g are very poor probably due to excessive or poor denoise algorithms. When post processing we can always denoise if the images are noisy but there is no convincing way to add details.

If you manage to get images below ISO 80 with the Neffos C5 they are quite good - I said "if" because there is no manual mode or ISO setting for the built- in camera app. The Neffos camera app has limited camera settings : self timer, shutter sound, time stamp, capture mode, picture size and reset. Basically the Neffos C5 is a point-and-shoot camera phone.

There are also 7 shooting modes as follows: Normal, Intelligent, Scenery, Food, Beauty, HDR and Panorama. The HDR mode shoot three images and then combine and tone map them in the camera to provide resulted images with improved dynamic range. A good implementation of HDR by Neffos is that the images look natural without the over saturated and over processed "HDR look". The Panorama mode is not so impressive as it stitches a 180 degree panorama photo of around 2 megapixels. The beauty mode opens the photo editor immediately after the image is taken and you can "beautify" or edit the photo or your selfie before the image is saved.

Amazon Lily pond located on the roof top Secret garden of 1-U taken with Neffos C5 smart phone in HDR mode
Amazon Lily pond on the roof top Secret Garden of One Utama Mall,  taken in HDR mode with the Neffos C5 on a very harsh and hot sunny day.   --   Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone. shutter speed 1/227 seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO 68.

The photos taken with Neffos C5 have pleasing natural colour and the auto white balance is doing a good job.  However under exposed shadow areas are noisy and sometimes exhibit ugly green patches of noise.

The 3.5mm F/2.0 lens on the Neffos C5 is a wide angle lens with a focal length of roughly 25mm(in 35mm terms) with a fixed F/2.0 aperture. It has very good resistance to flare and purple fringing is well controlled. Purple fringing can be easily corrected by software but flare cannot be corrected by software yet. The lens on the Neffos C5 is not bad at all based on its good performance against flare and the crisp and sharp details on the images with good contrast. At this price range no one should be expecting a lens with corner-to-corner sharpness and I didn't look for that on my Neffos C5.

The Neffos C5 is capable of delivering good images that are better or comparable to many point-and-shoot cameras. However the image quality is nowhere near high-end compact camera like our Olympus XZ-1; even our 10 years old Canon Powershot  A570IS  has  better image quality. However bear in mind that these two cameras are 3 times or more expensive than Neffos C5 when we bought them and also they had very good review rating as cameras.

A cup of cappuccino from Black Canyon Coffee Restaurant the lighting at this corner was quite dim we moved the cup directly under the halogen lamp from the ceiling.   --    Camera: Neffos C5 mobile phone. shutter speed 1/20 seconds, aperture at F/2.0,  ISO 137.

Everyone uses their smart phone differently.  For me I use it mostly as a PDA or Personal Digital Assistant, an eBook reader, map and navigator, a remote controller and WiFi interface for my micro four-thirds cameras, also as a GPS photo tagger lastly as a portable WiFi hotspot when on the go. The Neffos C5 from TP-link ticked all my boxes and the above exercise proved that the built-in main camera is more than good enough to use as a visual sketchbook. It fulfills my expectation of a phone camera - inconspicuous yet always present and ready when you need it.

That is all for now, if we find anything interesting about the Neffos C5 video function or the front camera we will blog about it.   


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