mobile photography technology, culture and community
www.dpreview.com

Image Quality: Full Resolution (38/36MP) 

The 808 is a perfectly pleasant phone to use for taking pictures - it has more options than most, and handles reasonably well as a camera. Where it really shines though is image quality. The 808 produces without a doubt the best quality images I have ever seen from a smartphone, and in some respects challenges a lot of 'proper' cameras, too.  

Let's start by looking at the big numbers - the 808's full resolution 38/36MP (depending on the aspect ratio) capture mode.

 At low ISO settings, in good light, the 808's full-resolution is excellent. Although not quite as detailed as we'd expect from a DSLR with a similar pixel count, the 808's JPEGs are very nice indeed.
 100% Crop
Being a cameraphone, it's easy to forget just how big the 808's sensor is. Although not nearly as large as the sensors in DSLRs or most mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, it is big enough at the lens aperture setting of F2.4 to give a pleasant background blur when capturing subjects that are close to the camera.
 100% Crop

If you click through the images above to get to the full-sized original files you'll see that full resolution output from the 808 isn't just a 'stunt' setting. Resolution at low ISO sensitivity settings is genuinely very high, and in terms of detail, images from the camera at this setting can satisfy pretty critical requirements, including large prints. At 100%, low-contrast detail has a slightly 'digital' appearance, but to be honest, given that we're talking about a camera fitted inside a telephone it's hard to complain.

 PureView (3/5/8MP) 

As I said in the introduction to this article, the 808 PureView's maximum output resolution of 38MP is far from the full story when it comes to photography. Most of the time you're unlikely to need full resolution output from a smartphone camera, and I'd expect that most serious mobile photographers will probably keep the 808 in one of its three 'PureView' reduced resolution settings. In these modes, you get the benefit of Nokia's proprietary oversampling, but remember that this doesn't apply when you're fully 'zoomed in', at which point you are effectively just looking at a crop from the full-resolution 38MP capture.

This image was captured at ISO 64, in 8MP PureView mode. At 100%, detail is pin sharp, and resolution is truly impressive. You can count the blades of grass in the near foreground of this shot.
 100% Crop
Another 8MP shot, this time taken at ISO 400. Exposure is accurate and detail capture is again, very high. Some granularity is visible in the smooth tones of the sky at the top of this image but it's subtle.
 100% Crop
This image was taken in 5MP mode, with the 808 'zoomed' to the furthest possible extent to concentrate the composition on the tree branch in the foreground. This is a fairly low-contrast scene but detail capture is high.
 100% Crop

When light levels drop, most cellphone cameras struggle to keep shooting without flash. But the 808 PureView has a maximum ISO sensitivity of 1600, which makes it impressively versatile in marginal light. 

This shot was taken in the 808's 8MP PureView mode and at ISO 800, JPEG image quality is impressive - certainly comparable with high-end compact cameras at 100%. It's easy to forget that despite its small form-factor the 808 is packing a sensor much larger than most of them.
100% Crop
This shot was taken very in low light, also at ISO 1600 at the long end of the 808's 'zoom' in 3MP PureView mode. Image quality isn't great, (there's no oversampling benefit at full 'zoom', remember) and there's some banding visible too, but overall I'd call this acceptable given the conditions.
100% Crop

Highlight Clipping 

When examining my sample images from the 808, the only real indication that I was looking at pictures from a compact device is dynamic range - or rather the lack thereof. This is one of the very few black marks against the 808's camera, that in scenes with a moderately wide tonal range, if you expose for the midtones you will probably see some highlight clipping.

This scene, taken at the 808's full resolution of 38MP in the 4:3 aspect ratio, demonstrates the phone's most serious weakness as a camera: highlight clipping.
100% Crop
The 808 has delivered a somewhat bright (but not overexposed) image of this lakeside scene, shot in 5MP PureView mode, and highlight clipping is very apparent.
100% Crop

There's not much you can do about clipping, short of mounting the phone on a tripod and exposure bracketing (the 808 offers a 3/5 frame exposure bracketing feature of up to +/-4EV) or deliberately underexposing using exposure compensation, then pulling midtones up later using software. I have found that shooting in the 808's PureView modes improves dynamic range very slightly in real-world use, but clipped highlights are the 808's achilles heel at all of its four output resolutions.

Clipped highlights are a pretty common problem in images shot with cameraphones and compacts, and one that manufacturers are increasingly solving using dynamic range expansion and high dynamic range (HDR) modes. Unfortunately, the 808 PureView doesn't offer an equivalent feature. 

I was having trouble with clipping in the log in the foreground of this shot, so I took a bracketed burst of three images at 0.7EV intervals and blended them quickly in Photoshop. Although much less convenient than an in-camera HDR function, it has worked well.
100% Crop

From conversations with representatives, we understand that Nokia tried to include an HDR feature in the 808, but ran into technical issues because of the huge processing bandwidth required to quickly capture then blend multiple 38MP exposures to create an HDR image. Bracketing was included in the 808's feature set to satisfy the needs of serious HDR enthusiasts who like to do their blending on a computer.

Comments

Total comments: 27
Henrikas
By Henrikas (Apr 10, 2013)

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

0 upvotes
mehran langari
By mehran langari (Nov 27, 2012)

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

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (Dec 5, 2012)

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

http://press.nokia.com/wp-content/uploads/mediaplugin/doc/nokia-808-pureview-whitepaper.pdf

1 upvote
Pedrocas
By Pedrocas (Nov 17, 2012)

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.

0 upvotes
vv50
By vv50 (Dec 5, 2012)

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

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Max Thunder
By Max Thunder (Oct 16, 2012)

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

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Oct 18, 2012)

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

Comment edited 12 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
h2k
By h2k (Oct 16, 2012)

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.

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Oct 12, 2012)

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?

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Oct 13, 2012)

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
By Charles Laigo (Oct 13, 2012)

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

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Oct 14, 2012)

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.

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Oct 15, 2012)

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.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Oct 15, 2012)

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:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/?s7rlaa88o263oz2

it helps a lot.

0 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (Nov 28, 2012)

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.

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Oct 11, 2012)

Great review! DxO's report is impressive ..

0 upvotes
cesaregal
By cesaregal (Oct 11, 2012)

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

0 upvotes
GuySonic
By GuySonic (Oct 11, 2012)

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

0 upvotes
EasycapExpertti
By EasycapExpertti (Oct 11, 2012)

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: http://nokia808recordings.blogspot.fi

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Oct 10, 2012)

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.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
TKYSP
By TKYSP (Oct 10, 2012)

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

0 upvotes
EasycapExpertti
By EasycapExpertti (Oct 10, 2012)

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
S a m i
By S a m i (Oct 10, 2012)

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

0 upvotes
mattleech
By mattleech (Oct 10, 2012)

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!

0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Oct 10, 2012)

" findings for the iPHONE 5 were" !!!!!!!! / You have left a typo in your text :

"Noise & Detail Perceptual scoring

DxOMark engineers don't just point camera phones at charts, they also take and analyse scores of real-world shots and score them accordingly. Their findings for the iPhone 5 were:"

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 10, 2012)

Sorry about that, fixed now. Just a copy-paste error.

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Oct 10, 2012)

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.

3 upvotes
Total comments: 27
About us
Sitemap
Connect