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Design & Operation 

In use, the 808 PureView behaves much like a conventional cameraphone, purely because of its form factor. If you're used to a phone like Apple's iPhone 4S, or any recent high-end Android offering, you won't have any difficulty adjusting to the 808. 

A dedicated focus/shutter button on the right side of the phone (with the screen held in the orientation shown below) acts as a shortcut to activate the camera app even when the phone is sleeping. A 'hard' press is required to open the app and wake the phone - a quick or light press will be ignored, preventing accidental operation of the camera. From sleep to image capture is roughly 2-3 seconds depending on AF acquisition time, which isn't bad at all. Unlike a lot of other smartphones with 'hard' shutter buttons, the 808's shutter release has a two-stage movement, which allows for half-pressing to focus before taking a picture. 

The 808 PureView runs the effectively-defunct Symbian operating system. Future PureView-equipped phones will almost certainly run a version of Microsoft's Windows Phone OS.
The interesting stuff for us is on the back of the phone. The 808's camera module is quite a lump - not surprising considering the size of the sensor. The 808 also features a xenon flash and F2.4 Carl Zeiss lens.
The camera interface is relatively simple but versatile. In the PureView capture modes (8MP/5MP/3MP) you can zoom by simply swiping vertically on the screen.
Nokia makes a spring-loaded clamp with a tripod screw on the base to allow you to use the 808 on a tripod for self-portraits, group shots, or long exposures.

The 808's camera controls are well thought-out and easy to access. A 'hard' button on the upper right side of the phone (when viewed with the LCD facing you) acts as a shutter button in the conventional way - half-press for focus, full press to take a picture. An on-screen shutter release is also available.

 The 808 offers three shooting modes - Automatic, 'Scenes' and Creative. 
For full control over the 808's photographic feature set, you'll need to head into 'Creative' mode. This is where you can select resolution, aspect ratio, and various color/contrast options. 

In 'Creative' mode, you'll see a panel along the left of the screen that provides access to key modes and features including ISO sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation. Adjusting these settings is a simple matter of scrolling and selecting by touch, but we wish the icons were a little less obscure.

In Use 

With the camera app running, autofocus performance is roughly in line with my expectations from a modern compact camera - a bit of hunting in low-contrast situations, but in normal shooting conditions the 808 focusses in less than a second (usually), and almost always with unerring accuracy. Unexpectedly, the only times I had real issues with focus were when shooting pictures of people, when the face detection would very occasionally just give me a blurry image for no obvious reason.

 This is the default UI in the 808's 'Creative' mode. You can see exposure options ranged on the left, and on the right, a movie/still mode toggle, an on-screen shutter release button, and a shortcut to your library of captured images. When you focus the camera (using a fingre press on the screen, the hardware shutter button or the on-screen shortcut) this on-screen architecture disappears.

The 808's metering system is similarly, very reliable, although the match between live view brightness and final exposure can be pretty wide in especially dark and bright conditions. I've found that it's best to bracket around a little in very bright light to be sure of getting a pleasant exposure. An on-screen histogram would help a lot, but although a histogram appears when you're dialing in exposure compensation, it vanishes again when that screen is dismissed (see below). 

 The 808 offers exposure compensation, and a live histogram is displayed while you're setting the amount of compensation you want, but when you're done, the histogram disappears again. It is not possible to display a 'full time' histogram. 

Shutter lag is effectively non-existent once focus has been acquired. In poor light the 808's built-in AF illuminator kicks in and does a good job of providing enough light for focusing, but in this situation focus slows to usually at least a second for accurate acquisition.  

In full 38MP mode, there's a pause of roughly three seconds after taking a photograph and being able to view it or take another one. In the reduced resolution 3/5/8MP modes this delay is much shorter - roughly one second, for 8MP files. Viewing captured images is quick and easy. Like most modern smartphones, the 808 allows you to flip through captured images by swiping the screen, and double-tapping magnifies the view for critical analysis of detail and focus accuracy.  

I'm wary of making any definitive statements about the 808's battery life since I am using it almost exclusively as a camera, unconnected to a wireless or cell network. That said, in my use of the phone, its battery life has been outstanding, to the extent of being unbelieveably good. I'm used to giving smartphones a precautionary overnight charge before travelling for trips of longer than a day, and I do not, in general, expect much more than 24 hours of life with light to moderate use. The 808 greatly surpassed my expectations, and in fact, during my time with the phone, I was obliged to charge it less frequently than a couple of the compact cameras I was shoot with at the same time.


Total comments: 25

For such price it is amazing camera, + you can make phone calls on it

mehran langari

its like dslrlike camera but no zoom effectiv flash ofcours so expensiv ....


the Nokia 808 PureView's effective flash range is virtually maintained at all zoom levels, rather than being significantly reduced as the zoom increases.


Here is the issue I have with this. You don't need 38MP on a mobile phone, zoom or not. As you can see from the images above. You could walk a few meters and stand on the river bed to take the 3.6 x zoom photo. The high resolution has completely taken full focus of the communications when it should be about extending the capabilities of the phone lens, image processing and the great work on the sensor size.


it's also a videocam with a fixed f/2.4, 12x lossless zoom at 360p

Edited 13 seconds after posting
1 upvote

@h2k - There is a powerful led light too, used for video. You can also use it as a torchlight via dedicated apps... :)


Or just by holding the lock slider down for a few seconds ;)

Edited 12 seconds after posting

I'd wish to have an Android phone with this kind of camera.

Reading there is a Xenon flash, i figure there is no torchlight on the phone (an LED flash instead of Xenon could be used as a torchlight). That's a pity, i find the torchlight on my phone highly useful. (Or is there a permanent light source on the 808 to be used for video? Then it would be usable as torch.)

I think you should mention the screen resolution and dpi or pixels per cm or something like that in the specs. It is not exactly about photographic quality, but of high interest to photographers anyway. You also discuss resolution in your tablet reviews.


Nice review but.....

where are the full res test scenes?

Early in the review you state that the large mp pixel count is "no gimmick". If that's true, then where are the test scene samples shot at the full no gimmick resolution?

You are comparing a 40mp camera against 8mp cameras and you gimp the 40mp camera by making it shoot in 8mp?

What the heck? How's this help us decide between an iphone 5 and a pureview if you only provide the pureview samples at iphone resolution?

Edited 21 seconds after posting
1 upvote

Crap, they removed the Pureview in the Studio Comparison tool in the dpreview site. In summary, there's no compact camera can come close in terms of detail and ISO performance of the 808. So, Canon s100 or Panasonic's LX5 doesn't stand a chance and any phone should be miles away from the 38MP mode.

1 upvote
Charles Laigo

In your opinion zodiacfml, what camera (enthusiast, DSLR, etc.) comes closest to the image quality of the Pureview?

Edited 43 seconds after posting

It's hard to tell since I haven't tried to reduce the image size to match some cameras but it's like a Nikon D800 then blur it by an amount to match it. IMHO though, it's not relevant as long it beats carrying a compact camera. Now, I just want this with a modern operating system.


The problem is.. most "modern" operating systems can't support the 808 tech, they need to be further modernized in order to do so. So in a sense.. the modern ones are still catching up to the old.. outdated one.

Edited 14 seconds after posting

I don't see the point in shooting in full resolution mode.. the whole point of the projects was to provide zooming (cropping in real time from the full res image) and also combining pixels, in order to get more detail and less noise.

The system works very well overall.

You might want to take a look at this:

it helps a lot.


NO it is NOT like a nikon d800, only a retard or an utter moron would claim so, you have dropped the IQ of everyone here down by 50% with your ignorant statement.


Great review! DxO's report is impressive ..


Excellent detailed review. Very good integration with DxO data.
Good black test on white background.


This new 'camera' is kinda cool having full HD video features. NOT so clear if the stereo minijack serves as Stereo mic input as it should, but no mention so far and no labeling can be seen in the photo galery on the NOKIA site. As always, devices of this complexity would only last a few hours working as a camcorder, but external power remain an option for longer continuous or or extra batteries for non-continuous video recording run times. I usually custom fabricate external battery solutions for many different recording device models when required. While the internal stereo mic is very clean sounding to say the least, it lacks consistant stereo imaging. Very interested to see how this camera/phone works with a special stereo-surround mic I've custom made for personal an industry pro projects. That is, if it works at all with external audio input. See what has been possible with other cameras having external audio input at sonic studios . com / videomic . htm


What! Nokia 808 doesn't need any kind of special stereo-surround mics, because it has 2pcs HAAC mics and it support 5.1 surround sound recording. Here is TOP +200 Nokia 808 PureView Music Concert Videos. Enjoy distortion free sound & low bass:

Edited 30 seconds after posting

Did you also take the test chart at full resolution? I can only the 8MP Pureview mode, and that doesn't (quite) capture all the detail that comes from the full resolution shots. At least not in good light.

My #1 criticism is that it doesn't have optical image stabilization. Although, I'd say #2 is the lack of dynamic range.

For the price, I'd have liked the lens cover case thrown in too...

Just, at long last, finally been offered the firmware update. Time will tell whether it can fix the occasional dark images with manual ISO.

Edited 2 times; latest 4 minutes since posting

The range of ISO should be 50-1600 instead of 80-1600...


Excellent review - thank You.

I got a new firmware update FP2 last week to my Nokia 808 and it improves and fixes many things on this operating system and now I feel this is a real allover competitor against iPhone 5, Samsung S3 and HTC One X or soon coming new Nokia Lumia, Samsung and HTC WP8 phones. You tested Nokia 808 with its old Nokia Belle FP1 OS - right?

I agree that Nokia 808 blows its competition out of the water at photos and videos because its huge image sensor, oversampling technology and lossless zoom. Besides that 808's quality of the recorded audio is unbeatable - thanks for its HAAC (High Amplitude Audio Capture) microphones (2pcs) the audio is never distorted even at the loudest heavy metal concerts. Its rivals (also iPhone 5) have nonHAAC mics and so the audio is many times distorted. 808's Rich Recording technology can also produce very naturally the low bass sound which these rivals can't do.

1 upvote

Was there some particular reason to use different shutter speeds? There's also a huge difference (1/3-2/3 stops) in exposure.


Also using 808 as primary smartphone and primary camera.

She's a tough little thing too :)

Could do with auto-HDR (mentioned in review), panorama (other than the one in the Camera Lover Pack app which isn't very good) and still image stabilisation (also mentioned in review). Other than that, it's brill!

Thanks Nokia, Symbian and DD's team!


I've been using an 808 as my primary smartphone, and my primary camera for over two months now.. its great, I don't think I will ever go back to buying a dedicated P&S camera again.

Total comments: 25
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