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Low Light - Output Modes Compared: 

The simple fact that the 808 offers user-selectable ISO sensitivity settings up to ISO 1600 makes it considerably more versatile than the average cameraphone when the light gets low. On this page, I want to see not only whether the output is any good, but also, whether the 808's PureView modes offer significantly better image quality than the maximum resolution output. 

For this test I put the 808 on a tripod and shot the same scene at ISO 1600 at all four of its output resolutions. Light was provided by a single low-intensity tungsten bulb, and exposure was 1/25 sec at F2.4. I used a 2 second self-timer to make sure that everything stayed sharp.
3MP (100% Crop)
 5MP (100% Crop)
 8MP (100% Crop)
 38MP (100% Crop)

It's hard, looking at 100% crops, to really say which of the 808's three PureView modes gives the best image quality, because of the disparity between the magnification at 100%. Scene detail that is smallest (in the 3MP shot in this case) always looks a little better defined than the same detail, reproduced larger. By 38MP, the disparity in magnification is so great that direct comparison is difficult, although it is obvious that at a pixel level, the 808's output is much grainier, and less sharp than it is in the lower-resolution PureView modes.

So is the difference between the various output modes big enough  to justify shooting at 3MP when 5, 8 and 38MP are available? On the basis of these tests I'd have to say that in my opinion no, it isn't. The most significant benefit of shooting at 3MP and 5MP has already been highlighted - namely, a greater effective 'zoom' compared to 8MP, which in turn offers greater versatility than full-resolution mode, where you can't 'zoom' at all. The 808's 5MP PureView mode is a good compromise between resolution, filesize and versatility when it comes to framing, which is probably why Nokia made it the default. As I mentioned earlier in this article, I have also noticed that clipped highlights are slightly less of a problem in the 808's PureView modes compared to full resolution, but clipping (to some degree) remains an issue in all modes. 

Video Mode

The 808's video specification is impressive for a device of this type, boasting 1080p HD video at 30fps with stereo sound. As with stills, video can be recording using PureView zoom technology, for an equivalent of 4x zoom in full HD, 6x zoom in HD (720p) and 12x zoom in nHD (640x360px). Astonishingly, as a result of the 16x oversampling in video mode, the 808 processes over 1 billion pixels per second when recording video footage.

The 808's audio in video mode is a little bit special as well. Nokia calls the 808's sound recording system 'Rich Recording' and it is notable for being able to record distortion-free sound up to around 140-145db. I haven't had the opportunity to really stress test this aspect of the 808's feature set, but Nokia has an interesting demonstration video here

Sample Video 1

This video shows the 808's impressive digital zoom feature in video. Zooming is achieved in the same way as it is in stills, by swiping vertically on the screen. Weirdly though, the footage only 'zooms in' when you release your finger, having achieved the desired framing. Nokia insists that this approach is better for video (allowing you to preview framing before committing to the zoom) but it takes a bit of getting used to, and means that it isn't possible to zoom in smoothly or slowly. Zooming out, however, works as you'd expect, with the framing following your finger movement. 

Click here to download the original MP4 file

Sample Video 2

This video clip was taken at the extent of the 808's 'zoom' in highest quality (1080p) output handheld, and shows how effective its digital image stabilization is at cancelling out camera shake. Footage is nice and detailed.


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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