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Nokia's 41MP Lumia 1020 looks impressive

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We enjoyed used Nokia's new Lumia 1020 along with the camera grip accessory, which convincingly makes this smartphone feel like a compact camera.

The hype was high for Nokia's second attempt at a 41-megapixel camera phone when it released the Lumia 1020 on July 11, the follow-up to last year's 808 PureView phone

The basic imaging principles that set the 808 apart are again at work in the Lumia 1020. The device uses a 41MP imaging sensor to output maximum file sizes of 34MP to 38MP (depending on aspect ratio). The real value of such high pixel density lies in oversampling for a higher quality image output at more manageable files sizes. The Lumia 1020 allows you to simultaneously shoot both a full-resolution capture and an oversampled, immediately shareable 5MP version of every image. (Nokia offers a white paper that further explains the science of oversampling if you want to know more.)

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is far larger than its predecessor, the 808, at left.
However, the new phone is also noticeably thinner.

The Lumia 1020 holds even further promise this time around with a more modern redesigned 41MP 1/1.5" back-side-illuminated sensor, a faster aperture at F2.2 versus the 808's F2.4, a six-element Zeiss lens with optical image stabilization and the new Nokia-developed Pro Cam app. And it's powered by the Windows Phone 8 operating system (the 808's Symbian system was already outdated when the device was released).

We look forward to putting the Lumia 1020 through our full  review process, but until then, we've had just enough time with our review sample today to offer up some first impressions after seeing how it performs in a range of standard shooting conditions. 

Image quality

For this first impressions piece, we deliberately left the Lumia 1020 operating in auto settings using the new Pro Cam app. We'll wait to delve into its advanced capabilities our full review. As a first look, we thought it best to see what the camera's auto controls can do under some very common lighting conditions: when using flash, in low light, in shade and in bright sunlight. Click to see the high-resolution version of the image.

In this dark setting, the Lumia 1020's powerful xenon flash has cast a shine onto our black studio walls, but otherwise lit our subject well. In this full-resolution example above, the camera has chosen a low 200 ISO setting, though the results still look grainy.
In the "shareable" 5MP output of the same image, Nokia's imaging technology has cleverly produced a result with better tonal quality. This example shows the benefits of oversampling: the smaller size, probably large enough for most general purposes, is a better quality image.
This portrait in shady conditions shows a possible tendency for the Lumia 1020 to overneutralize white balance for a cooler result than desired.
Again, the 5MP version of the full-resolution image at left, offers a better result.
In this low light portrait with flash, white balance is again slightly off with a more yellow tone than desired.
White balance appears a bit too blue in this sunny portrait, a problem we also encountered when using the Nokia 808, the Lumia 1020's predecessor.

We also took the Lumia 1020 out on the town today, to see what it could capture on a spectacular sunny Seattle day.

While a bit oversaturated, the Lumia 1020 picked up a lot of detail in this Seattle cityscape.
A high-contrast scene in the Pike Place Market is fairly well-balanced.

We did run into some serious lens flare during our first day of shooting. We'll have to experiment further to see how best to combat this issue on the Lumia 1020. Though a fairly common problem when shooting in bright conditions, the Lumia 1020's large lens may make this an especially frequent problem.

We caught some serious lens flare while shooting this construction scene. The large lens may be to blame, though this can be a common problem with smartphones that don't rely on lens hoods to shade the lens.
Again, lens flare is evident in the upper right corner.

Handling performance

We enjoyed shooting with the the Nokia Camera Grip, which truly made the Lumia 1020 feel like a compact camera (and extends battery life). This does add some bulk, which concerned those in the office who typically carry their smartphone in their pocket, but this wasn't a worry for those of us who stash our smartphone in a bag or purse. In addition to the extra battery, the grip also offers a tripod socket and micro USB connection.

A long press of the grip's shutter button brings up the Nokia Pro Camera app quickly. The new app (which Nokia promises to make available for other Lumia devices as well) offers a bevy of capture controls photographers will find familiar: five different flash settings, white balance, focus, ISO (up to 3200), shutter speed (from 4s to 1/16000) and exposure compensation (from -3.0 to +3.0). The Lumia 1020 does allow for ISO of 4000, but you're not able to select this setting in Pro Camera; only in auto ISO mode does the camera select this ISO level.

Lumia's Pro Camera app offers lots of camera control. You can also switch back to the Smart Cam app for less control and more fun features, like burst mode.

The 4.5-inch Amoled WXGA (1280x768) screen was especially easy to use on a bright sunny day, and the 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 felt responsive and snappy. The phone itself was comfortable to hold and feels well-made. The raised camera feature doesn't feel as clunky as it did on the 808, though the protrusion does feel slightly more prone to damage from a fall.

Comments

Total comments: 227
12
Henrik Herranen
By Henrik Herranen (Jul 24, 2013)

Quote: "In the "shareable" 5MP output of the same image, Nokia's imaging technology has cleverly produced a result with better tonal quality."

Except that the tonality is EXACTLY the same. Scaled to a fit a screen size of 1920x1200, there is absolutely zero difference in the tonality of the full-size and 5 MP images.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
9 upvotes
MarioV
By MarioV (Jul 24, 2013)

I'm glad someone else noticed this.
The pixels are fairly clean and lots of detail is retained. But the tonality...it just isn't there. The lens is too small.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (Jul 24, 2013)

Even though 200 ISO looks worse than 6400 on my Pentax APS-sensor, it's still an interesting experiment in high resolution/small sensor size.

6 upvotes
Alupang
By Alupang (Jul 24, 2013)

Unlike apple and samsung phones you have total control over iso. So lower iso to 100 for less noise duh. The sensor in this phone is over 4 times larger than anything from apple or samsung....but of course not quite as large as APS-C. but who wants to lug around a large clunky APS-C camera 100% of the time?

3 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (Jul 27, 2013)

Alupang it has total control over the shutter because Nokia made a Pro camera app for it which will also work on some of their other phones. They did this because not many people are making apps for W8 phones. The iPhone already has a pro app available for it which gives you iso control pus it adds quite a few other features.

0 upvotes
George1958
By George1958 (11 months ago)

Ho hum! It's a phone with a camera, alright if it meets your needs, and alright if it does not as you make the choice.

I would not buy one but I would not condemn those who do.

0 upvotes
Jake64
By Jake64 (Jul 24, 2013)

41 mp on a sensor the size of a pinhead...grrrreeeaat

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Jul 24, 2013)

A 'pinhead' larger than the sensor in an enthusiast compact, in this instance.

16 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (Jul 24, 2013)

It has a 1/1.4 sensor. So it has a sensor around the size of the Fuji x20 and larger vs the oly XZ-2

7 upvotes
Nigel Wilkins
By Nigel Wilkins (Jul 24, 2013)

The size of the sensor is irrelevant if the results are acceptable.

7 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jul 24, 2013)

The "too many pixels myth" again. When shall this myth die?

3 upvotes
Hobbit13
By Hobbit13 (Jul 24, 2013)

you'll probably die if someone puts this "pin" in your body... (Sensor size is 8.80×6.60 mm, that's quite a big nail)

2 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (Jul 24, 2013)

@Roland Karlsson
If I was not afraid of offending you, I would say this myth is only living in your brain and will die...with you ?
Given the same sensor size, higher pixel count leads to smaller photosites with lower dynamic range and lower S/N ratio. There's no myth but laws of physics. Plus it requires more resolution for the lens (bearing in mind that, with small sensor, the diffraction "wall" is not far away) , more processing power, more bandwidth for a given frame rate (still burst and video), more storage, bigger battery and at the end...more money and lower IQ. And what would you need a 40MP sensor to ? To view pictures on a 2MP screen at best ? This only reason is the ability to crop, i.e digital versus optical zoom, which is only relevant in a very compact camera or smartphone. Also, using a 40MP sensor to produce 5MP pictures should probably allow the use of a software antialias filter instead of glass. But it's again more processing power...

1 upvote
Karroly
By Karroly (Jul 24, 2013)

...@Roland Karlsson
Given the soft corners of the cropped 5MP pictures, I think Nokai should have put its money into a sharper lens and, let's say, a 12MP sensor rather than a soft lens and a 40MP sensor...

2 upvotes
Alupang
By Alupang (Jul 24, 2013)

This "pinhead" sensor is over 4 times larger than anything from apple or samsung.

2 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (Jul 25, 2013)

Smaller sensor was a must for the OIS.
I calculated it and truly Nokia is now reaching diffraction limit and S/N ratio of the new sensor better be phenomenal and I hope the lens system is consistently super accurately aligned in assembly.
Red light goes to 700 nm and the 1100 nm sensor pixels don't give any dynamics. I could go on...
Over sharpening software doesn't seem to help either.
BUT remember that Nokia 808 was not "perfect" until after a software upgrade. Let's hope they get everything rolling.

1 upvote
techmine
By techmine (Jul 24, 2013)

At $299 this is the costliest phone on the market. 2 humps - price and wm8. Surely it will be 199 or lower soon. Why not lure everyone from the beginning? I like the camera but can't dare to go back to Windows mobile again. Happy with android and galaxy cameras.

3 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (Jul 24, 2013)

I don'tview WM8 or the shape as negative factors (even though I'm currently an Android user too), but I do agree the price may not be the smartest way to lure more people towards Windows 8...

Samsung may get away with it with the Note or whatever but they're the thousand pound gorilla right now, and Android prices drop quicker than anything (the One's like 3 months old and it's already $99?).

This should've been $200 from the start to force people to weigh it directly against the Galaxy S4, specially since it's an AT&T exclusive anyway (so the subsidy's probably already larger).

0 upvotes
BaristaW
By BaristaW (Jul 24, 2013)

This is the same price as the higher capacity iPhone model or the GS4 as it was launched so no this is not the costliest phone on the market. The OS is not the old Windows mobile. It's the windows phone that Microsoft redid from scratch a couple of years ago. In my experience its every bit as impressive as iOS and beats android any day.

5 upvotes
CarneAsadaBrito
By CarneAsadaBrito (Jul 24, 2013)

@BaristaW Thank you. Drives me nuts the ignorance folks have regarding WP vs WM.

3 upvotes
techmine
By techmine (Jul 24, 2013)

CarneAsadaBrito et al, you can say that for the people who are once bitten twice shy. WM or WP, It's the same garbage. You can't even compare it with android. Simple keyboard apps like swype are enough to knock all other mobile os out of competition. Oh yes I have used all of them.

0 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (11 months ago)

@ techmine

And with this statement:

"WM or WP, It's the same garbage."

you have clearly disqualified yourself from any comments regarding Microsoft products!
Can you please explain how a phone running Windows Mobile on Windows CE as the kernel is the same as a phone running Windows Phone on a Windows 8 kernel?

It's not even close… :-)

0 upvotes
brianj
By brianj (Jul 24, 2013)

Only $79 for that bit of rubber grip !!!

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Jul 24, 2013)

I doubt the battery in it is made of rubber.

13 upvotes
brianj
By brianj (Jul 24, 2013)

Ah, so we aren't just talking about that black strip !

0 upvotes
maz olim
By maz olim (Jul 24, 2013)

corners seem to be worst, is it out of focus or something else? can try with smaller aperture?

2 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (Jul 24, 2013)

I doubt it has an iris mechanism. Phones are 'wide open' all the time.

1 upvote
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (Jul 24, 2013)

There seems to little consistency as well with that issue. Worse on distant subject but then the studio shots are bad as well. Same issue as on Nokias own samples.

0 upvotes
Combatmedic870
By Combatmedic870 (Jul 24, 2013)

Very impressive results in all conditions. Beats out all of the popular phones.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
12 upvotes
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (Jul 24, 2013)

You need to look harder. Look at the edges on some of the photos. Completely unusable at times even scaled down.

2 upvotes
Dianoda
By Dianoda (Jul 24, 2013)

Sure, the extreme corners aren't perfect, but still, within the context of camera phones, the results are pretty darn impressive.

0 upvotes
Zvonko
By Zvonko (Jul 24, 2013)

just wait till the pro's get there hands on one of these machine's

4 upvotes
Craig Atkinson
By Craig Atkinson (Jul 24, 2013)

I imagine pros won't be getting their hands on one of these 'machines'. Not yet anyway.

0 upvotes
Sandy Adams
By Sandy Adams (Jul 24, 2013)

Thanks for this. DPreview rocks as always!

5 upvotes
Total comments: 227
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