Google Nexus 5 Review

December 11, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 8 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 2Mb.

The Google Nexus 5 produced images of very good quality during the review period. Although you can't manually set the ISO speed, the Nexus 5 controls noise very well from 100-800, although it does tend to set the ISO to 100 whenever it can and rely on the optical image stabilisation system to try and maintain sharpness.

Chromatic aberrations were well controlled, with limited purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 8 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, as you can't change the in-camera sharpening level. Macro performance is fine, allowing you to focus as close as 15cms away from the subject.

The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure, but the maximum shutter speed doesn't allow the camera to capture enough light for most after-dark situations. The HDR+ modes works well to extract more detail from the shadows and highlights, while the Panaorama and innovative Photoshere shooting modes help to literally capture the scene around you.


The Google Nexus 5's ISO range is 100-3200, but the speed cannot be set manually. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for some of the ISO settings.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg

ISO 300 (100% Crop)

ISO 774 (100% Crop)

iso300.jpg iso774.jpg

ISO 965 (100% Crop)

ISO 1329 (100% Crop)

iso965.jpg iso1329.jpg

ISO 2461 (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Google Nexus 5's fixed lens provides a focal length of 30.4mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.




Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Google Nexus 5 handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review, with limited purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Chromatic Aberrations (100% Crop)



The Google Nexus 5 allows you to focus on a subject that is 15cms away from the camera. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the Google Nexus 5 are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off (30.4mm)

Flash On (30.4mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots.

Flash Off

Flash On

flash_off.jpg flash_on.jpg


The Google Nexus 5 doesn't have a very long maximum shutter speed and you can't set it manually anyway, which is not great news if you're seriously interested in night photography.


Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg


The High Dynamic Range+ setting captures more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining multiple exposures into one image.



hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg


The Google Nexus 5 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera. The camera automatically does all the processing and stitching.



In Photo Sphere mode, you can photograph the world around you, creating fully immersive 360-degree panoramas, wide-angle scenic shots, and even what's above and below you.