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Shooting Raw with the Nokia Lumia 1020

72

Dynamic Range

The tone curves that smartphones apply to their JPEG output are often quite contrasty and the Nokia Lumia 1020 is no exception. In practice images have a "punchy" look, but often lack highlight and shadow detail. This limitation becomes obvious when taking pictures on overcast days. As you can see in the samples below the 1020 struggles with the brightness of the overcast skies which results in large clipped image areas.

We applied negative digital exposure compensation and highlight recovery in order to pull back some detail in the clipped sky.

In Raw conversion some highlight detail can be recovered, though. The first image below was developed with Adobe ACR's default settings. ACR's default tone curve is quite a bit less contrasty than the camera's, so all clipped highlights in the sky are gone, even without applying any highlight recovery or negative digital exposure compensation.

The light situation in the second sample was similar, but the clipping was even a touch more extreme. Nonetheless, most clipped areas could be recovered using the Highlights slider in ACR (-20). Some recovered areas have turned gray, though, indicating that at least one color channel had totally clipped.  We also slightly lifted the shadows (+16) for a more balanced tonal range in the image.

In the third sample it becomes obvious that highlight recovery is only possible within relatively tight limits. Despite applying highlight recovery and some negative digital exposure compensation, very little detail in the sky can be recovered, and large image areas have turned monochrome.

Out-of-camera JPEG, ISO 100
Adobe ACR, default settings
Out-of-camera JPEG, ISO 100
Adobe ACR, Highlights -20, Shadows +16
Out-of-camera JPEG, ISO 100
Adobe ACR, Exposure -10, Highlights -35

The ability to recover clipped highlights is one of the most useful aspects of Raw conversion. However, sometimes lifting the shadows can help create a more balanced exposure in high-contrast situations, too. When taken to extremes, it's even possible to create an HDR-like image from just one single Raw file. The problem is that shadow noise becomes more visible. We've played with the sample below to see how the Lumia 1020 fares in this respect. 

The picture was taken in a contre-jour situation that resulted in the monument almost appearing as a silhouette with very little shadow detail. In ACR we pushed the shadows (+70) which resulted in increased shadow detail, but most of the gain in detail is overshadowed by a huge amount of both luminance and chroma noise. Some banding is also noticeable. The shadow noise remains very intrusive, even when the image is downsampled to 5MP. We created a second downsampled version where we applied some noise reduction (luminance 40, color 50) before downsampling but the noise still can't be overlooked.

Of course noise will be less intrusive if shadows are pushed to a lesser degree, but overall it's safe to say that you should be careful when trying to increase shadow detail on the 1020's Raw files. There's a lot of noise hidden in those shadow areas, and if you pull the slider too far it will be visible even in small viewing and print sizes.

Out-of-camera JPEG, ISO 100, 5MP
100% crop
Adobe ACR, Shadows +70, no NR, 38MP
100% crop
Adobe ACR, Shadows +70, no NR, 5MP
100% crop
Adobe ACR, Shadows +70, no NR, Luminance NR 40, Color NR 50, 5MP
100% crop

White Balance

Modern auto white balance systems are usually doing a decent job in natural light but you can be slightly thrown off by certain artificial light sources and mixed light. Measuring the white balance before you shoot using a gray card is one way of getting things right, but many photographers, including myself, find it easier to snap away in auto white balance mode and correct later during Raw processing, if necessary. 

Out-of-camera JPEG, ISO 400
Adobe ACR, Temperature 3650 

The sample above was taken in a difficult light situation. The mix of the cool evening light outside and the warmer illumination of the museum's interior slightly confused the Nokia 1020's auto white balance and resulted in a very warm color cast on the building's interior elements. In a mixed light situation like this it's impossible to get the color balance right in all image areas, but here we wanted to focus on the interior elements of the building as they occupy the the image's foreground.

The image was captured with auto white balance at 4050K which we reduced in Adobe ACR to 3560K to create a cooler, more natural color response on the floor and columns of the building, and in the ancient basin in the foreground. 

Conclusion

Given the Nokia Lumia 1020 is only the second smartphone to offer Raw capture, we were not quite sure what to expect. After a lot of time playing with the phone's DNG files, it's safe to say that shooting Raw on the Lumia 1020 offers you some flexibility in post-processing, but not the same degree of flexibility you are you used to from your DSLR, mirrorless system camera, or even premium compacts, such as Sony's RX100.

Processing the 1020's DNGs is most useful for making white balance, tonal and minor exposure corrections. In terms of noise and dynamic range, the Nokia's files are better than we would have expected from a smartphone, but nowhere near DSLR territory. The ability to recover clipped highlights is limited, and lifting shadows will inevitably result in a lot of noise in the affected image areas, unless you keep the modifications to a minimum.

There is also not much point in worrying about detail, sharpness, and to a degree, noise if you are not intending to use the images at full resolution. At the image sizes that are used for social sharing and online posting, typically no modifications of any of those parameters will be visible. Nevertheless the ability to optimize images for print and large viewing will make the Lumia 1020 even more attractive to serious users. It's great to see Nokia yet again lead the pack in the area of smartphone imaging, and we hope other manufacturers will follow in the near future.

Raw files for download

Below are a few Raw images that you can download and tweak to your heart's content:


 

Comments

Total comments: 72
Vladik
By Vladik (4 months ago)

Lord Jesus, this thing is so over-hyped that it's not even funny! So is the image quality of my Lumia 1520, love the phone, but the image quality leaves a lot to be desired and focusing is slow as hell!

0 upvotes
wansai
By wansai (6 months ago)

What I would use the Nokia raw files for is tonal adjustment. In my previous reply I found highlight recovery was possible but limited. Shadow recovery offers more lattitude but you put up with more noise. However, it's very possible to pull a really good, nicely balances picture out of the dng's.

compared to how much lattitude you have vs a m4/3 raw file? The m 4/3 offers probably 2 stop advantage at either ends, allowing much more extreme push and pulls. So the Nokia dng are limited but there's a lot that can be done within that limit.

2 upvotes
Houseqatz
By Houseqatz (6 months ago)

being able to REALLY edit the images from a camera phone is a dream come true. it's not always practical to carry around a dslr, but i always have my phone on me. the 1020 is the best solution for my needs, mostly taking notes, and quick snaps, and when i want more, it delivers.

i have yet to use a camera phone that is as capable in the image department, or whose output affords as much editing latitude. i know that the 808 is supposed to outperform the 1020, but i have never seen one in the wild.

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

Editing on the phone doesn’t have a lot to do with shooting raw on the same phone.

DSLRs shoot raw, almost no one wants to edit on a DSLR, and a somewhat bigger smart phone screen isn’t a real help.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (6 months ago)

I frequently edit my RAW files on my Oly E-M1, if I need to extract a quick JPG for sharing online etc.

The oly in camera RAW to JPG allows for basic exposure, contrast, shadow recovery and art filters. One can also crop, reduce red eye, etc during the conversion process.

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (6 months ago)

Read that first sentence again HowaboutRAW - "from" a camera phone, not "on" a camera phone.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

meanwhile:

Possible.

Also one can edit jpegs. So of course one can edit jpegs from any camera phone. Here I guess the "really" makes your point.

The problem is as I'm sure you know: Editing is not limited to raw. Raw allows much more flexibility, including extraction, but that's only part of editing. So back to "really" suggesting WB, NR tone, etc, but why not just stay "have raws instead of jpegs"?

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

bigley Ling:

You've made my point, yawn.

No it's not impossible to extract raw files to jpegs on a camera, but it's not the primary method and it's not going to become the primary method.

0 upvotes
Houseqatz
By Houseqatz (6 months ago)

HowaboutRAW:
1. Is there a raw editor for windows phone 8?

2. Do you understand the difference between 'edit the images from a camera phone' and 'edit the images on a camera phone?

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

Houseqatz:

There may be or may be in the future, I really don't know.

However it's not clear that you understand that jpegs can also be edited, so "edit" is not a word one uses when talking about raws. But yes I missed your point because I ignored the preposition "from". And I already acknowledged this point above.

0 upvotes
Houseqatz
By Houseqatz (6 months ago)

HowaboutRAW:

yeah.. that's what i had gathered.. but it took a while for a raw editor to appear on ios, so.. while i'm not holding my breath, i'm not giving up hope that there will be one, yet.

no problemo buddy, it's easy to get swept up in the moment, especially when reading about the things one is passionate about. As of this moment, i have yet to settle on an in camera jpeg editor, for my 1020, mostly because the nokia jpeg engine itself is decent enough for snaps, and i'm not into 'apping' images. Also, the built in edit funtionality of the nokia software lacks considerably.

the lack of apps for windows platform is heavily documented though, so, i kind of expected to wait, going in.

cheers

0 upvotes
Mark Hollister
By Mark Hollister (6 months ago)

I edited a Lumia 1020 RAW sample, is there a place to post it? I've never posted a pic on connect.dpreview.com, I don't know if it's possible or if I should post it on dpreview.com Thanks.

0 upvotes
AndreSJ
By AndreSJ (6 months ago)

Samsung are just about to release the S5 with a new 16mp ISOCELL sensor so let the camera phone battle begin.

if anything i feel phones can be a good testing points for sensor improvements before putting them in actual cameras

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

So is your thinking that the Samsung S5 must have raw because Android 4.4 can shoot raw?

Possible, but I'm not sure that's the case. Could be a hack a few months after the phone ships, I guess.

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (6 months ago)

Still no OIS! >:-(

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (6 months ago)

its still a much smaller sensor.. don't expect it to be able to hang with the 808/1020

0 upvotes
oselimg
By oselimg (6 months ago)

Ok, Nokia raw gives slightly better DR but slightly grainier/noisy look than Nokia jpeg, it's a trade off. But how about technically comparing it to an ordinary DSLR or M4/3? I can't imagine people suddenly shedding their cameras for Nokia phones even as hobbyists. Another gimmick for wannabes.

1 upvote
ssh33
By ssh33 (6 months ago)

Apples to oranges. It's a phone. If you want a camera, buy one.

4 upvotes
AndreSJ
By AndreSJ (6 months ago)

I'm sure NOKIA isn't trying to make people stop buying SLRs and CSCs.

Smart phones are so good now as phones and phablets that people chose their phones on things like screen quality, physical size, robustness, photo quality ect. Also there is a huge compact camera market that can be eaten into

1 upvote
PazinBoise
By PazinBoise (6 months ago)

It may be a little gimmicky but the smartphone market is very competitive and everyone is looking for a way to differentiate. Based on their recent offerings it appears that Nokia is focused on sparking the interest of people more into photography than the average smartphone user. While it would be interesting to see a side by side of these RAW files verses those of APS-C or m4/3 cameras a better comparison would be against enthusiast compact cameras with similarly sized sensors.

1 upvote
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (6 months ago)

Yes, anyone who wants to take decent snapshots on their phone is a "wannabe."

A wannabe what, though?

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

oselimg:

"Ok, Nokia raw gives slightly better DR but slightly grainier/noisy look than Nokia jpeg, it's a trade off."

But what processing did you do to the raw from the Nokia? Raw processing has many different variables.

Also, why cite camera types with much bigger sensors?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
djohnfot
By djohnfot (6 months ago)

An interesting exercise but the only benefit I can see from shooting RAW is a slight improvement in DR.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

at the very least it is very useful for white balance corrections too. But a lot about images is somewhat a matter of personal taste...tonality, colors, contrast etc...you can modify all these parameters to your liking. It's not only about "optimizing" IQ, it's more about optimizing them for your taste.

2 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (6 months ago)

true, although one assumes the auto white balance to get it right first time, to alleviate having to correct it post.

0 upvotes
RFC1925
By RFC1925 (6 months ago)

The raw ability is useful already because of the 1020's lousy auto white balance. Everything else is a bonus.

By shooting raw you ensure your photos' image quality can improve over time because you can always process them again with the latest and the greatest raw converter.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (6 months ago)

I understand raw capability should made it more attractive to serious users. But wouldn't a serious raw user conclude that to get better quality, one needs to use a camera to take pictures?

1 upvote
RFC1925
By RFC1925 (6 months ago)

Even a serious raw user sometimes leaves the house without his "real" camera.

6 upvotes
djohnfot
By djohnfot (6 months ago)

Items like this exist for those who think that the latest tech is always better.

0 upvotes
Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (6 months ago)

I agree with AbrasiveReducer. RAW on the phone is just a marketing. This trick works especially on those, who doesn't know what is RAW.

0 upvotes
PazinBoise
By PazinBoise (6 months ago)

Even if it is marketing tactic (like the megapixel wars of mid-2000s) the fact of the matter is those who can/will use it are going to benefit from it. Due to the ultra competitive nature of the smartphone industry I'm sure all flagship smartphones will offer this within 2 years (probably less). That competition will lead to better sensors and RAW files so the "serious users" need not worry if they don't always have their primary/walk-around camera with them.

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (6 months ago)

Phone camera's are pretty good these days, and with RAW support it just adds flexibility especially at times when one does not have their camera at their disposal

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (6 months ago)

Its good to have options, but, i dont bother with RAW on sensors smaller than APSc. At that point, you are just shooting for fun and need convenience more than absolute image quality.

Put another way, if you do care enough about image quality to shoot RAW.. why bother with anything less than APSc.

1 upvote
krmuir
By krmuir (6 months ago)

What if you want a camera with decent image quality in a pocketable package? The Sony RX100 JPEG quality is good but RAW gives more headroom in many situations. The sensor is very much smaller than APSc

0 upvotes
Houseqatz
By Houseqatz (6 months ago)

so, no RAW for m4/3? are such systems not for people who care about image quality?

seems a little hyperbolic to me, but to each their own.

2 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

Houseqatz:

Jogger is likely one of those types who thinks it's easy to to adjust colour+WB starting with a jpeg and propounds the argument that smaller sensors are noisy no matter what and noise reduction is the only reason to shoot raw.

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

Is there a download link for these DNGs?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

give us some time, we'll make them available

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (6 months ago)

L:

Thank you.

0 upvotes
carlos roncatti
By carlos roncatti (6 months ago)

how long is the shot to shot in raw?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

long, somewhere between 3 and 4 seconds

0 upvotes
shaocaholica
By shaocaholica (6 months ago)

Where's Apple?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

No Raw Apples at this point in time...

0 upvotes
xMichaelx
By xMichaelx (6 months ago)

Apple wants ease of use, not awesome features that <5% of users will actually use.

This flexibility is why I use Android; it's only a matter of time before Android offers RAW.

0 upvotes
lex fern
By lex fern (6 months ago)

I would say that balance purple in the sondra is created when the sondras is changed too but can be corejir in Photoshop, balace of color+sondras to the maquenta put Green

0 upvotes
vladimir vanek
By vladimir vanek (6 months ago)

what about switching off autocorrect? ;) maybe we would understand and reply to your "sondras"... :)

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (6 months ago)

Options are always better than no options. It looks like you can squeeze out a little, maybe even a lot depending on how much you value extra detail and flexibility. That sky in the shot with the building is horrendous in JPEG. If I had the option, I'd always shoot with RAW knowing at the minimum I can squeeze out a JPEG of the same quality.

With that said, imaging on the smartphone is going nowhere until we can figure out how to either increase the size of the sensors or there's a breakthrough in sensor technology.

4 upvotes
ssh33
By ssh33 (6 months ago)

I saw the future:

Small BSI sensors with very small pixel pitch and the same single lens first. These will have amazing quantum efficiency.

Multi-lens phones - arrays of micro lenses capturing different parts of the image.

1 upvote
Podz
By Podz (6 months ago)

All raw files processed with ACR have some kind of "purple look". Is that colour tone closer to reality?

0 upvotes
SergioMO
By SergioMO (6 months ago)

Why is it for ???? Want to take a real photo ? Sony RX100 or something like that ! Don´t waste your time.

0 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (6 months ago)

You didn't even look at the pictures, did you?

3 upvotes
cmo56
By cmo56 (6 months ago)

I tried to call home with the RX100 but could not figure out how to make a call. The user's manual could not help me either.

3 upvotes
vladimir vanek
By vladimir vanek (6 months ago)

And I called home and asked my wife to send me the RX100 somehow, since I only had my old cellphone with me and found some nice places worth a shot or two. But I had to wait a few hours...

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
MDuerr
By MDuerr (6 months ago)

Thanks Lars for the article and the examples.

Since my Lumia 1020 offers RAW ... I'm using it. In most cases I use it, because I don't have the ability, like with iPhone apps, to set a a bright and a dark point for exposures. So I often underexpose my images to have details and no clipping in the brightest areas.

This ends up having some noise in the dark parts of an image when I raise the exposure in the dark parts in ACR.
The Nokia 1020 often tends to have vertical banding in the noise when I do that, but TOPAZ DeNoise is perfect for that, because it has a specialized setting for the vertical banding.

The JPGs out of the Nokia are very good, but since it is possible I prefer using the DNG files.

2 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (6 months ago)

So.. in a nutshell.. relatively useless feature.. Thx!

2 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (6 months ago)

Did the raw DNG files have distortion info in them? If distortion isn't being fixed in processing, the lens is way better than I'd have expected....

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (6 months ago)

There is very little to be recovered on those RAW files since the scene's DR is too much for any camera (maybe except for FF).
Anyway, the article above limited itself to 5MP output making it seem that RAW is useless.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

Have another look, most of the images above are at full 38MP. I only added a couple of 5MP files because that is the phone's default output size.

3 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (6 months ago)

I'm always amazed how well lightroom works with my 808 jpegs. It almost (not quite) feels like working with a RAW file. Has anyone else had that experience and how does working with the 808 JPEG files compare to the 1020 RAW files?

3 upvotes
FoveonPureView
By FoveonPureView (6 months ago)

Yes. I had the exact same experience using my 808 JPEGs with LightRoom. A LOT of head space is left there, especially when capturing at good/decent light with -0.3 EV set...

2 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (5 months ago)

Same here. 808 jpegs respond very well to post processing for some reason..

0 upvotes
L0n3Gr3yW0lf
By L0n3Gr3yW0lf (6 months ago)

To me Out of Camera JPEGs have more contrast in the noise tests and not much, enough, details recovered when using manual noise reduction. With the ACR sharpening you do get a bit more details but it's obviously lost if not used at full 38 MP resolution so not much use other then landscapes. The lack of highlights and even little shadow detail recovery is very disappointing and in my opinion the largest usefulness of Raw makes little to no point in shooting other then JPEG.

I would have liked to see a comparison of manual crop processed RAW to a JPEG zoomed in to maximum to see if we can get more details and better noise when we lose that 38 MP to 5 MP with no down sampling.

3 upvotes
Zeisschen
By Zeisschen (6 months ago)

If they would recover some more highlights and and shadows in jpeg already like Sony with the automatic dynamic range optimizer RAW becomes more and more useless. I shoot jpegs on all my Sony cameras and if I didn't make really big mistakes in exposure (which thanks to EVF almost never happens) I always like the output. Fuji has the same approach. In camera correction and good jpeg processing, good enough even for professionals.

I really don't see a big market/need for RAW editors for mobile devices

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

you don't need to use a Raw editor that is specific to mobile devices with the 1020's DNGs, any Raw editor will work.

3 upvotes
Ivan Lietaert
By Ivan Lietaert (6 months ago)

In my opinion, the jpegs are superior. Why bother with raw in this case? There's little or no improvement at all.

9 upvotes
ssh33
By ssh33 (6 months ago)

> the jpegs are superior
No.

You like in-phone JPEG processing better than the author's.

The tiny gain in DR is priceless. I love it! Thanks for the review.

2 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (6 months ago)

based on what I can see from the crops, the out of camera JPG is superior to ACR converted raw with noise reduction. ACR without noise reduction is sharper and has more details than out of camera JPG but then the result seems rather noisy.

Be aware that the 1020's ISO 1600 may be close to ISO 400 on comparable cameras.

2 upvotes
Gryfster
By Gryfster (6 months ago)

In general, I agree but I think it depends what you are looking for in each specific shot. For example, in the horse tail crop I would have taken the last version (acr plus noise reduction) and tried to get the noise to look a little more film like, if possible.

0 upvotes
Gryfster
By Gryfster (6 months ago)

As for the ISO, I'm not sure but are 1600 and 3200 extended ISOs?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (6 months ago)

they are not marked as such. I think 4000 is maximum, but I don't have the phone with me right now, need to check when I am home.

0 upvotes
deluk
By deluk (6 months ago)

Noting that I don't have a camera of any sort on my phone, it's a phone, I too think the jpegs are better than the conversions overall. I'm sure that some minor tweaking with the backlight adjustment in PhotoScape, my default simple and easy to use PES, would bring out similar detail in the "horse tail" image, if editing on my PC. Analysing and editing images like this to a micro level, quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns IMO. So much so that you can easily get to the point where you give up, start over, and get an acceptable result with just a couple of clicks.

0 upvotes
Pixel Peter
By Pixel Peter (6 months ago)

I have allready pretty much experience with developing 1020 DNG pictures. I agree in general with the conclusions of this review but like to remark that in ACR you can pull out details from the highlights when you capture your shots at minus 0.7 stop. Of course you should be carefull not to crank up the shadows too much in ACR.

1 upvote
Total comments: 72
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