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Nokia Lumia 920 Camera Review

66

Connect smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance and image quality.

Despite Nokia’s brutal drubbing in recent years at the hands of Apple and the Android posse, one thing has never been in doubt: the company is serious about the cameras in its phones. Back when Apple upended the smartphone market with the original blurrycam-equipped iPhone, Nokia was already fielding devices with Carl Zeiss-branded optics and xenon flashes that were in their own photographic class.

Enter the Lumia 920, Nokia’s newest flagship and the second phone graced with “PureView” branding. But wait: this is not the same PureView that Nokia unveiled earlier this year in the 808, a phone (unfortunately saddled with a legacy operating system) wielding an unparalleled camera unit that is inarguably the best available today (see Connect's full review of the Nokia 808). No, Nokia has decreed that PureView doesn’t refer to any particular technology or feature, but rather an attitude of photographic seriousness.

So the 920 doesn’t inherit the 808’s incredible 41-megapixel titan of a sensor. The 920’s 1/3-inch sensor is par for the course in a contemporary phone; we can’t expect any miracles in the noise department. However, Nokia is positioning the 920 as a low-light champ. It claims it earns its PureView badge with a fast F2.0 lens and optical image stabilization that keeps the camera unit steady at low shutter speeds, soaking up light while avoiding blur from shaky hands. And like the 808, the 920 has true multi-aspect-ratio support. It looks pretty good on paper. We put the phone through its paces to see how it does in the real world.

Update: We've added the DxOMark Mobile Report to this review.

Key Photographic/Video Specifications

  • 8.7 megapixel 16:9 backside-illuminated 1/3” sensor
  • 8 megapixel output in 4:3 ratio, 7.1 megapixel in 16:9  
  • F2.0 lens, 26mm in 16:9, 28mm in 4:3 (35mm equivalents)
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Dual LED flash
  • Two stage (half-press, full-press) dedicated shutter button
  • 1080p video capture
  • 4.5-inch 1280x768 332ppi display

Pushing the button

You can jump directly to the camera function with a long press of the 920’s dedicated shutter button. The app snaps open reasonably quickly, but there is a brief wait while the phone decides whether you really mean that button press. A lock screen activation might be a bit quicker, but the advantage here is that you can jump to the camera with the phone held in shooting position and your finger already on the shutter release.

Just like on a “real” camera, pushing the 920’s shutter button halfway down locks focus on the center of the frame, and pressing all the way takes a picture. This lets you use the famous “focus and recompose” method when your main subject isn’t smack dab in the middle of the frame.

However, the 920 doesn’t lock exposure on the half-press, making it unlike the huge majority of digital cameras, though it’s not the only phone that makes this design choice. Say you point the camera at an off-center subject, half-press, and recompose (putting the subject on the side, with the background now centered). The 920 recalculates exposure without privileging the in-focus subject. It’s not impossible that that’s the behavior you want, but it’s less than likely.

Now, you’re ready to take the shot. Squeeze. And squeeze a little harder. The second stage of the shutter takes a fair amount of oomph, probably to avoid the camera being activated in your pocket. This may offset some of the advantage of having a camera button in the first place: avoiding camera-movement-induced blur cause by poking at the touch screen.

Focus speed is competitive, but annoyingly, if you press the shutter button too soon after taking a picture, the phone ignores you (AKA “early shutter penalty”). You’ll need to release and try again. Shot to shot speed, at around a second, is fine if you don’t jump the gun. There's no continuous or burst shooting option, which is something of an oversight as high-speed drive modes make their way onto more phones.        

You can also take a picture by touching the screen. Ironically, this might actually be steadier than using the button, because the phone then focuses on wherever you touched before taking the shot. The pause while focus locks is usually enough time to get the phone steady.

But now you may encounter another quirk of the 920’s camera app. Yes, touching the screen lets you lock focus wherever you want -- but exposure doesn’t follow. Typically, cameras bias exposure towards the selected focus point, assuming that’s what you really care about in the composition. But the 920 remains steadfastly big-picture. It’s a strange choice.

Camera features

Take a quick video tour of the Nokia 920’s camera:

The 920’s basic camera experience is simple enough: jump to the camera, take a picture. Along the right or bottom side of the frame are buttons to toggle video and photo mode, front and rear camera, flash mode (auto, on, off), and to switch “lenses.”

The 920’s main camera screen is straightforward. You can toggle between video and stills, select flash mode and choose a “lens” with the buttons on the right. The Windows Phone “triple-dot” icon takes you to more advanced options, and the arrow on the left jumps to the gallery.

These lenses have nothing to do with the toy camera special effects you might imagine; they’re more like different functions the camera can perform. The nifty Bing Vision is installed by default. It scans bar codes to look up products (with Bing search, of course) and can read and translate text. This would be a separate app on other platforms, but we like the idea of tying it to the camera.

There is a range of other lenses available including a panorama function, Nokia's Cinemagraph which creates stills/video "hybrid images" and Smart Shoot which takes five images in rapid succession and then lets you combine the best elements - very useful for group portraits where the likelihood of at least subject having their eyes closed is high. These three lenses are free to download and install and given most users will find them useful it's not quite clear why they are not installed by default.

The 920 gets ready to Bing itself with the Bing Vision “lens,” an in-camera app that reads barcodes.
 Bing Vision can also recognize text and copy or translate it. Here, it struggles with Gabriel García Márquez, as would any translator.

There’s also a Windows Phone triple-dot icon on the main camera screen that calls up more advanced configuration options. You get a selection of scene modes (Auto, Close Up, Night, Night Portrait, Sports and Backlight). Auto pretty much does the trick, though the Night mode enables lower shutter speeds for really low-light situations.

You can manually select ISOs from 100 to 800. This is less useful than it’d be if you could preview shutter speeds when composing a shot and in practice the 920 does a pretty good job of choosing an appropriate ISO on its own, but it’s nice to have the option here.

You can adjust the exposure compensation if the camera can’t nail the metering (and since there’s no exposure lock, this is in the only way to modify it if you don’t like the default choice).

There are four manual white balance settings (cloudy, daylight, fluorescent and incandescent) which is definitely good to have, though the phone usually does fine in auto mode.

Finally, you can change the aspect ratio and prevent the flash from operating as a focus assist light if you’re trying to keep a low profile.

This is a reasonably full set of parameters for a default camera app, but we have a bone to pick with the way the configuration menu is set up. First off, after you hit that triple-dot icon to get to your options, you first have to decide whether you want to change photo or video settings (more on video later). Why not just pull up the photo options when in still camera mode, and the video options when in video mode?

When you finally get your options, you find a scrollable list of dropdown menus. There’s no reason why most if not all of these items couldn’t fit on the 920’s spacious screen at once, and two-position functions like aspect ratio should be toggles, not dropdowns. Plus, making a selection doesn’t kick you back to the main screen -- you still have to hit “save,” press the camera button (full press!), or poke the part of the screen beyond the menu. It’s all laid out like a generic program, not a set of camera controls, missing the chance to feel smooth and flexible instead of fiddly.

There are also two things missing from the camera app that you’ll find on most recent Apple and Android devices. There’s no high dynamic range (HDR) mode, which combines multiple shots with different exposures to capture details in both the highlights and the shadows and no face detection, which is a great hassle-free way to get sharp and properly exposed portraits. The latter is available in the Smart Shoot lens mentioned above but you have no control over shooting parameters in that mode, so it would be nice to have Face Detection available as a focus mode in the standard camera app. Presumably these features will come along one day, but for now they’re missed.

Hitting the arrow icon in the top right corner of the camera app takes you to the 920’s gallery function. Besides browsing your photos (only in a single row, which can mean a lot of flick-scrolling), the gallery provides basic rotating, cropping and a one-touch optimizer that does the trick for tweaking exposure before sharing a casual snapshot. Sharing is also nicely integrated in the gallery app.   

 The 920’s gallery app has basic editing capabilities built in.
 There’s also convenient social sharing integration, along with ties to Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service.

Image ratio

There seems to be a general drift towards wider-angle lenses in phones, with 28mm equivalents no longer surprising anyone. The 920 goes even wider: in 16:9 mode using the full width of the sensor it’s a positively expansive 26mm equivalent. At 4:3, it’s a merely normal wide 28mm.

That extra reach in 16:9 mode is thanks to the 920’s multi-aspect ratio sensor. Most digital cameras that offer the 16:9 ratio simply crop the top and bottom off of the image: you could do the same in post processing. The 920 actually uses fewer vertical and more horizontal pixels than in 4:3 mode, giving you a genuinely wider field of view.  

You’ll feel the extra width when shooting a landscape or encompassing a street scene, but if you’re used to a longer focal length (like the iPhone 4S’s 37mm equivalent), you’ll need to get closer to people than you normally would to fill the frame.

The 920’s wide angle view in 16:9 format feels almost panoramic.
Pinching the screen zooms in digitally, with the usual blocky results. None of the 808’s lossless zooming here.

Image quality

With its fast F2.0 lens and optical image stabilization, Nokia is pitching the 920 as a master of the night, but how does the 920 fare with plenty of light to work with? Well, it’s OK, but no better. Nokia recently pushed out an update for the 920 aimed at addressing complaints that photos taken under ideal conditions of bright light look strangely smeary, and we used the phone both before and after the update. 

The above image was taken with the 920’s original firmware, the image at right with the update.
The updated firmware delivers a sharper photo, but noise is also more visible and it’s not obvious that there’s much more detail.

The post-update photos do look sharper. They’re also noisier, as seen above in the even tones of the sky and in the shadows. We do prefer the update’s results, but it’s not a panacea.

The 920’s color rendition is generally pleasant, perhaps tending towards warmth in the sunshine and heavy saturation. When it comes to balancing highlights and shadows, it does as well as can be expected given the limitations of a small sensor. You’ll often see clipping in at least one channel under high-contrast conditions.

The 920’s color rendering and exposure are usually acceptable.
In strong light with contrasty subjects it’s hard to avoid clipping in the shadows and highlights with any phone, but the 920 handles it relatively gracefully.

The lack of face recognition can hurt the 920 when shooting portraits. Light-skinned subjects wearing dark clothes can easily be over exposed. Tapping the subject’s face on-screen doesn’t help, since the 920 doesn’t link exposure to the focus point: you’re left having to manually dial in negative exposure compensation. 

Since the 920 doesn’t recognize faces, this subject’s skin goes nova.

But when the lights go down, the 920 does come into its own. It’s the first phone with an optically stabilized (OIS) camera, and this is the big low-light news. Note that a number of phones claim “image stabilization” as a feature, but this is not stratospheric ISO abuse and/or waiting for a relatively steady moment to release the shutter. Dedicated cameras counteract camera movement at low shutter speeds (which leads to blurry pictures) by mechanically moving either the sensor or a lens element. The 920 goes one better and moves the entire camera assembly: your shaky hand zigs right, the whole camera unit zags left. Nokia says this happens 500 times per second and results in a three-stop advantage in hand-holdability, which is on par with claims from dedicated camera makers. In other words, if you can normally hold the phone steady enough for a clear shot with a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, Nokia’s OIS should keep you virtually steady down to 1/4 second. Another way to look at it: a low-light shot that would normally require ISO 800 (and all the noise that implies) could be shot at a more reasonable ISO 100 without shake-induced blurring.

Does it deliver? Nokia’s three-stop claim is largely borne out, with the 920 routinely delivering sharp images at 1/3rd of a second shutter speeds. You can see the OIS in action before you take a picture: the system kicks in when you half-press the shutter, and the preview image immediately snaps into a spooky steadiness, floating ghostly and immune to the usual micro-movements of your muscles.

The urge when given OIS is to push it to the extreme, and we did. The system hugely increases the number of sharp shots you’ll get at very slow, sub-1/10th of a second shutter speeds. That means you can afford to lower ISO for cleaner images, or in very low light, just get photographs that would be otherwise impossible to capture. 

Here we’ve set ISO to 200, forcing the 920 to use a slow shutter speed of 1/3rd of a second. The result is as tack sharp as sensor noise allows. The 920’s image stabilization massively increases the number of useable shots you can get at such slow shutter speeds.
Here the 920 manages to keep things sharp at 1/9th of a second, though focus is racked to the foreground.

Of course, OIS keeps the camera steady, not your subjects. This can be used artistically -- cars passing at night become light streaks -- but when shooting fidgety people you risk your subject blurring themselves out of the photograph. 

With an exposure of 1/3rd of a second, passing cars streak lights through the scene.
Here’s the pitfall of OIS: at a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second, the stabilization keeps things steady but can’t do anything against subject movement.

The 920’s F2.0 lens gives you about a half-stop advantage over most of the competition. So for example, with lighting and shutter speed being equal, the 920 could use an ISO setting of 200, while a competitor might need 280 or more. It’s not a big difference, but it’s an advantage.

If you really want to work in the dark, selecting the “Night” scene mode lets the camera drop to exposures of half a second. This is really outside of the OIS’s performance envelope for a normal shooting position, though you may luck out if your brace up just right.

This shot looks brighter than the actual scene did to the naked eye. The “Night” scene mode was used, allowing the 920 to select a glacial shutter speed of half a second. Missed focus probably accounts for at least some of the fuzziness.

You might need that extra exposure time because the 920’s ISO range tops out at 800. No tiny sensor delivers pretty results at higher ISOs, but there is utility in having more reach for situations where the alternative is no photo at all. Given the 920’s noise levels at base ISO, though, it’s easy to understand Nokia’s decision on a triple-digit cap. 

The 920’s flash is capable enough for casual portraits, though even two LEDs won’t compete with a traditional xenon flash. The LEDs do double duty as focus assist and red-eye reduction lamps. They then pulse once, brightly, to provide flash illumination. The brief pulse helps freeze the subject more than continuous illumination would.

The 920’s dual LED flash works fine for casual portraits.

Video

The 920 shoots full high definition 1080p video, though the default is 720p. Video quality is good, and the 920’s optical image stabilization provides an unusually steady image that’s familiar in dedicated cameras but a novel luxury on a phone.

Movement is smooth and detail is good in this bright scene, with the sky slightly more electric than it was to the eye: 

In this lower-light close-up shot at 720p, the 920 manages to shift focus without hunting. Shooting video with the OIS's Steadicam effect is a treat:

Non-camera considerations 

The Lumia 920 is more than just a camera, of course: it’s a phone you’ll carry with you every day. So we’d be remiss in not mentioning its weight. At 185 grams (6.5 ounces), the 920 is heavier than the great majority of phones in its class. Whether you find it chunky or just solid is a matter of personal taste. We weren’t particularly bothered by the heft, and it actually makes it that much easier to hold the phone steady on camera duty, but you should know this thing has some mass.

If you’re coming from iOS or Android, also note that Microsoft’s revamped phone OS is a relative newcomer to the game, so the app selection lags more established environments. This is likely to change as the platform gains traction, but you usually buy phones for what they do today, not what they should do tomorrow. If a particular app is essential to your mobile mojo, make sure there’s an equivalent for Windows Phone.

On the plus side, the 920 has a gorgeous screen, with a pixel density that exceeds even Apple’s Retina displays. It remains usable in bright light.    

Conclusion

The Nokia Lumia 920 sports a very capable camera. Thanks to its optical image stabilization, it can capture clear images at low shutter speeds that would elude any other phone on the market. This makes it an ace at low-light photography of stationary objects, and partially addresses the Achilles heel of every phone camera on the market except Nokia’s own 808: poor low light performance. OIS also helps with borderline shutter speeds that non-stabilized phones routinely use anyway. While they simply hope for the best, the 920 stands an excellent chance of delivering a sharp image.

The multi-aspect-ratio sensor combined with a wide angle lens also gives the 920 a uniquely broad view of the world that will tickle anyone who feels stymied by their phone’s boxy, narrow outlook.

Unfortunately, the 920’s daylight performance is only OK. There’s at least as much noise as much of the competition, if not more. So much engineering has clearly gone into the 920’s camera unit that we’d hope for class-leading sensor performance, but it seems to be middle of the pack. The good news is that with 7 or 8 megapixels to play with, a lot of the sins visible at 100% disappear at more realistic magnifications.

The 920 is a solid offering, especially at $99 on contract from AT&T in the U.S. Nokia’s innovation around the camera takes mobile photography into new levels of darkness, but don’t expect miracles from the phone’s typically-performing sensor.

What we like: 

  • Optical image stabilization enables blur-free slow shutter speeds
  • Dedicated two-stage shutter button
  • Wide field of view
  • Flexible choice of aspect ratio
  • OIS steadies video shooting
  • Great screen
  • Solid build

What we don’t like

  • Ho-hum pixel-level image quality even at base ISO
  • Some clunkiness in camera app interface

Keep the conversation going in our Windows Talk forum


Peter M. Ferenczi is a freelance writer and avid photographer. He lives in Paris.

Comments

Total comments: 66
WindowAppReviews

I own a Lumia 720 phone, windows phone are the best one , with new interfaace. Lumia 920 is also nice phone. One of my friends own it.

One thing i will miss in my Lumia 720 is 1 GB Ram which is in Lumia 920

0 upvotes
BBViet

I wonder if even 1% of the target customers of this phone care for such technicalities in a review.

3 upvotes
gnewsch

Kudos to the reviewers friend or whoever that is who let the reviewer portrait him like that. I am a bit ambiguous about whether a camera phone review needs to bring up the issue of missing limbs without any background information or obvious reason, but maybe that's just me.

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm

No issues are being brought up, it's simply a screenshot that was used for a review.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf

@Lars Rehm
Whose screenshot? Nokia, the phone owner or yours?

When I first saw the picture I thought there was something wrong with the phone's exposure and the arm blended into the black table.

0 upvotes
davidevitali

"Here’s the pitfall of OIS: at a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second, the stabilization keeps things steady but can’t do anything against subject movement."

You want subject movement freezed with a 1/10th of a second shutter speed and then you blame OIS for that? That's the pitfall of photography's fundamental rules!

7 upvotes
Lars Rehm

Nobody is blaming OIS. The author is simply pointing out a drawback of the concept of keeping ISOs down in low light with the help of OIS.

1 upvote
inrissk

@davidevitali no one's blaming anything, the review is just pointing out the nature of its shortcoming. calm down.

Comment edited 52 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
wakaba

Been using it for a couple of months. Phone and OS are really good, WP8 is finely crafted piece of interaction software - way better than ios, andr.

Not on par with a Pureview, but practical and dependable lowlight performance. Tipscreenshots are prefered mode of ops. Wideangle does a good job, mail, skydrive and fb integration is very good.

M43 and compacts are now officially totally dead, like forever.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
inrissk

"M43 and compacts are now officially totally dead, like forever."

compacts probably but m43? why would you classify m43s with compacts?

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
tipsandyou

Its 3.5/5 rating to Lumia.Find full review of Nokia Lumia 920 on http://wiki-trends.com/nokia-lumia-920-review/

1 upvote
brdeveloper

Sadly, Nokia N8 and 808 Pureview do a better job. It's sad that Nokia has abandoned real big sensor cameras...

2 upvotes
osu9400

This is the best camera phone I have ever used but there are some strangely missing features. For example:

- Spot metering: Yes you can touch the screen to focus on a particular area (no need to half press a button), but it doesn't meter on that spot. This is a regression from other windows Phones I have used in the past.

- No way to preset contrast & saturation. This was available in other older Windows Phones.

- There are all kinds of pano &HDR apps, Why aren't these part of the OS. Nokia does integrate into the "lenses" feature which is a compromise.

-------
Couple of nits on the review:
- A long button press is only needed when the phone is off to activate the camera
- A short button press will suffice when the screen is on
- I didn't see any mention of the proximity sensor that will prevent camera launch when it is in your pocket
- You can also use this phone with gloves on which is useful when shooting outside. You can even touch the screen to focus and shoot with gloves.

2 upvotes
DarkShift

Frankly 920's samples shot at daylight look horrible. Awfull watercolor like smearing with not much details to speak of. Two years old Galaxy S2 delivers much better results.

In low light it looks poor compared to m4/3 cameras sporting IS.

1 upvote
Darren Brade

Been using my Nokia 920 for a couple of months now and as a general snapper camera, find it pretty much does a great job. Low light performance is better than any compact camera i've seen and i rarely need to use flash.

Obviously cant compete with my 5d mk2 but i dont carry that everwhere.

2 upvotes
Paul Paplinski

Perhaps my eyes deceive me, but the pictures in the day light (not going 100% zoom) are not that bad, and would consider them good. Compared to my Nikon P300, the shots at 100% are the same pastel like.

What I wanted (and expected) from DPReview is to do a side by side comparison with the leading camera phones in various pictures. Include the iPhone 5, Galaxy S3, One X+, and maybe throw in the 808 PureView.

Without a true comparison, it's all subjective and the Lumia 920 is left alone to be judged. So please provide an update to this article and compare the Lumia 920 to it's rivals. You've done it late last year, why stop with the Lumia 920?

8 upvotes
Joao Cardoso

I've been using the phone for over one week now and I'm very happy with the results. And I dont even have the FW update. Sure there is some noise even at base ISO but the overall image quality is good and there is some margin to improve using many apps on the market. I specially like Pictomaphone and PicturesLab. here are some samples: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/9670996794/albums/nokia-lumia-920

3 upvotes
Kuturgan

I've L920 since one week now. I can't be more happy with it. Previously I owned Galaxy S3 but I hated it design and cheap construction. The photo quality is very good and will become even better with new fw updates promised by Nokia. L920's photo/video quality outperforms other big boys like Iphone5 and Galaxy S3.

4 upvotes
zonoskar

Why all the negative comments? The quality is on par with other phone camera's, maybe a smudge below the best of class. But OIS is a real benefit in video's, there is no denying that. Also, the rich audio recording make for even better video's in loud environments. For more pictures: http://connect.dpreview.com/forums/post/50457426

6 upvotes
Jostian

geez, photo IQ, even after update is HORRIBLE, can't believe Nokia cannot get the camera right in the 920 especially after t he brilliant cams in the N8 and Pureview??? The photos have no detail whatsoever!!!

0 upvotes
Hobbit13

I think using the camera module of the 808 would not only make the 920 too large, but also way too expensive. And the 920 already is rather expensive. But it is unacceptable that the 920 does worse than the N8 in quite some situations....

0 upvotes
CyberAngel

the expenses of developement have been paid by the Nokia 808.
It's the stupid 20 Mpix limit of the current Snapdragon Krait from Qualcom plus MS Phone 8 software
Maybe the next gen is around corner
I would pay straight thousand (dollars, pounds, euros) for a Lumia 1808 OIS+ 1/1.2" Pureview^2
NAD keep it. Just throw in an SDXC card interface and USB 3.0 port and replaceable battery!

1 upvote
CyberAngel

SnapDragon 800 has a 55 Mpixel limit and it's out already. The simpler SnapDragon 600 is already used in Samsung Galaxy S4. I just hope that Nokia does OIS with the big sensor of the 808.
When?? Maybe next Xmas, maybe NXT year?

1 upvote
Carsten Saager

OK, last nail in the coffin, I will not get a 920

0 upvotes
madmaxmedia

I was hoping for more from the 920 camera, the results seem worse than the iPhone 4S. The 4S has slower lens and no IS, but the 920 images are way too processed.

0 upvotes
Goodmeme

Come on dpreview. Every phone review should include more negatives about the sensor size and the usual presets favouring slower shutter speeds which mess up lots of photos.

Not to mention the lack of manual modes?

0 upvotes
mrdancer

I wonder if they could've brought the pixel-binning over that was available on the 808? 1mpxl images are much more useful on phones/data plans/ websharing than 7mpxl images, so pixel-binning would make great sense for getting better images. Maybe they had to save that as an improvement for the next phone model?

0 upvotes
Hobbit13

just download the fullres pictures from this review and resize them, then you'll notice that the resolution "just isn't there". The smudgy details are seen, even on 1MP.

1 upvote
mrdancer

Resizing (or downsizing) is not the same as pixel-binning. With pixel-binning, you throw out all the bad pixels and retain the good ones. So, take an average 7mpxl image, throw out the worst 6mpxls, and end up with a great-looking 1mpxl image, perfect for sending out on limited data plans.

1 upvote
EasyClick

Photos looks awful more like a 4 megapixels image scaled up with blotchiness all over it.

0 upvotes
Noirist

What's the measured resolution of the 1080p video?

0 upvotes
vetsmelter

It seems to me there is nothing really special to see here and the user cases are rather limited for the optical OS.
The NYC hipsters will still not be able to take low light pictures from friends in clubs w/o flash.

The 2nd Pureview camera being less impressive than the first illustrates Microsoft urged Nokia into taking whatever camera tech out of the deep freezer that could be ported quickly to Microsoft OS.

As far as the real Pureview 808 is concerned: the Symbian OS flies in multitasking with a custom firmware from
http://theonecfw.blogspot.be/

+ if you like to increase the consistency of the user interface: add Andromenu on top.

Oh I need phone conversation recording. Certainly a plus to have Symbian OS if you are looking for that feature.

0 upvotes
Miguel J Princz

After seeing these photos, I'll keep my Nokia N8, period.

0 upvotes
zonoskar

I kinda expected a bit more in-depth review from dpreview to be honest. I'd like to see the same sort of graphs for noise performance as the normal camera reviews get.

I do agree with the review, the default camera app is weak. Have you tried the app ProShot? This app adds all the manual controls you'd like. The only thing missing is HDR and panoramic shots. BTW, all the pano and HDR camera apps I tried suck big time. None give usable results. WP8 needs more apps in this field!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Lars Rehm

We'll add more test data to this review sometime soon.

4 upvotes
zonoskar

Ok, looking forward. Also add comparisons to iPhone and Galaxy S3 please.

1 upvote
CyberAngel

Remember to test the VOICE recording in your video shootings. The microsphones are amazing!

2 upvotes
gl2k

Another perfect proof that phones deliver absolutely unusable images. I mean let's be honest what are those crappy images good for, except an awful FB post supplement.

3 upvotes
dnebdal

Oh, I'd guess about the same things as a huge amount of snapshots taken through history with all sorts of more or less crap cameras - looking at them again later to reminisce about the time and place where they were taken.

2 upvotes
Peiasdf

Feel like a half-assed attempt by Nokia. Maybe Nokia is desperate but if you want to show off your latest and greatest, it better be the best and greatest.

The original iPhone and Lexus LS400 comes to mind of great product that trump all existing competitors. If this phone packs Lenovo K900's hardware and have more thought out controls, it may just be that phone.

1 upvote
cheetah43

"... the 920 doesn’t link exposure to the focus point ..." - serious!

0 upvotes
rothx

maybe it was caused by matrix metering?

0 upvotes
cheetah43

Reading about 920's camera in IT or mobiles' reviews is one thing, reading here is a totally different thing. Thanks

0 upvotes
dpkmd

There is not only a panorama mode but also one with facial recognition. When you were exploring that lenses option, you should have clicked the option to find more lenses.

Panorama is in there as well as smart shoot, which not only has facial recognition but also takes 5 pictures and allows you to pick the best faces for each person from each of those 5 shots.

I'm guessing they don't "bake" it in so that they can update the features as they see fit where as if it was built into the camera app, they would probably need to go through Microsoft for any upgrades. There is also the cinemagraph app from Nokia. Since lenses are such a major feature of the camera, it should have been properly reviewed and used.

4 upvotes
Lars Rehm

You are of course right, some of these functions are available as a lens although it's not quite clear to me why the panorama app for example is not installed as default. We'll add more image test data to this review in the near future and also have a closer look at the lenses on that occasion.

2 upvotes
dpkmd

I don't remember off the top of my head but I'm not sure there was much in the way of any Nokia software being installed by default aside from Nokia Maps and turn by turn and probably because those replaced the default MS apps.

MS may not want to much installed by default by anyone, could be why Smartshoot, Panorama and Cinemagraph were left for the user to download.

By the way, on a second read through I'm afraid my post came through more hostile than intended in parts and for that I apologize.

What I would love to see is a possible reason for such discrepancy between shots at times. A user below posted a picture he took and it's similar to example shots in the WPCentral forums, seems closer up portraits and other shots turn out great but anything else pretty much falls flat.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
b534202

My 920 comes with the panorama lens app.

Comment edited 19 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Lars Rehm

It did not come pre-installed on our unit but we have downloaded it and adjusted the text accordingly.

1 upvote
CyberAngel

Oh, really?

2 upvotes
tinternaut

Ok, if the marketing blurb risked having this happy S3 owner changing phones, this review doesn't. The HDR mode alone has delivered some very keepable results on my Sammy (really, in good light be extra careful to hold the camera steady and it does what it says on the tin).

Pity Nokia didn't integrate their best sensor with this one!

2 upvotes
tompabes2

Unfortunately this review confirms what we already knew: the stabilizer gives a great advantage over other cameraphones in low light, but in standard conditions the quality is worse than all the other high-end phones. The tiny sensor has all the limitations of a standard cameraphone sensor (burnt highlights, high noise) and to be sincere is even subpar. The 920 cannot compete with iphone, GS3, Droid DNA and the like. Now I know that there are many Nokia/WP fans out there that will try to deny the obvious. I don't want to bash the phone or the OS: I'm just talking about the camera. Colors are too saturated, dynamic range is low, detail is low, lens sharpness is low, there's also some corner softness. Worse than other cameraphones, unless you're really a low-light shooter.

3 upvotes
Hobbit13

I'm happy I bought a Nokia 808, instead of waiting for the 920! My 808 can easily compete with a Canon S90 high-end compact. While the output of the 920 can only compete with compacts in the $75 range!

If only the 808 would have had stabilization.....

6 upvotes
GeorgeZ

I too use the 808 and am very happy with it photo-wise, but it cannot "easily compete" with a S95. That's an exaggeration, as so many comments here are.

2 upvotes
Hobbit13

Competing does not mean that the 808 is better in every way. Absolutely not! The S90 / S95 has a dynamic rang that is way better, and optical stabilization helps to keep ISO low. But the 808 captures much more detail, the edge to edge sharpness is much better, it has a much better screen. In high-iso the 808 is a bit better, but not enough to compensate for the lack of IS.

It's amazing to see that a smartphone is better in some important fields than a high end compact camera.

1 upvote
Lupti

I had 808 and S95 and after comparison I disagree with your statements.
S95 shows more detail - you have to use RAW but seriously, who buys a S95 to use the mediocre JPEG mode...
Regarding high ISO the 808 is not better, only has more aggressive NR.
Better screen? Well, the S95 has twice resolution - 808 has better technology but I still would prefer the S95 here.
Amazing? Well, there is a difference of 2 years between these devices - and smartphones are still phones, not cameras. People should deal with that.

1 upvote
ryder78

Lupti - re. your comment on high ISO of 808 isn't better as it only has more aggressive NR, I don't think this is the case. The Canon S95's sensor is quite a bit smaller than the 808 at 1/1.7". The larger 1/1.2" sensor of the 808 produces better results in high ISO. Have a look at the studio comparison tool here on DPReview. The image of the S95 shows greater levels of noise than the 808's image in ISO800.

1 upvote
Hobbit13

Compare these two shots of the Hamburg State Hall, taken with the 808 and the S90:

808: https://dl.dropbox.com/s/xynces8vnlzewd7/IMG_7283.jpg

S90: https://dl.dropbox.com/s/xynces8vnlzewd7/IMG_7283.jpg

both processed in Lightroom, for the S90 from RAW with lens corrections enabled. For the 808 it's from the full res JPEG @ 95% quality.

The 808 has much less noise, and does not suffer from chromatic aberration. Further more the detail is much higher.

Perhaps the S95 is a bit better than the S90, but the difference cannot be that large.

In scenes with more dynamic range the S90 will be in favor, but for this scene the 808 clearly is the winner!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
JABB66

Please put the correct link for the 808, you posted twice the S90 photo ;)

1 upvote
Hobbit13

oeps, 808 link:

https://dl.dropbox.com/s/otggyap81i6nf40/2012-12-18-0269.jpg

1 upvote
wakaba

Got this phone and on average the pics are very usable. Not super but mostly better than p&s allow. Winner.

6 upvotes
xMichaelx

Agreed. On par with my 8-year-old P&S, which was expensive and big, but pretty good at the time.

And WAY better than my 1.5-year-old Motorola camera phone.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
JABB66

It depends of what P&S you are using.
Those consumer oriented P&S with tiny sensors and all the Megapixels you can throw at it are just horrid and should be banned as a fraud.

But there's a few, like my Casio EX-FH100 with 1/2,3" Bi-CMOS but only 10 Mpx ,that have an excellent Image Quality, hardly distinguishable from an entry DSLR in daylight and with much better quality in low light that all those cheap P&S.

1 upvote
makofoto

A friends terrific sample shot: http://public.fotki.com/makofoto/work/miscellanous/julian-jr-high-rez.html

Click on the Down Arrow to see the full reg file.

8 upvotes
dpkmd

Yeah it's truly odd, it seems the phone does okayish with landscape shots but closer up shots and portraits look amazing, not sure why the discrepancy.

1 upvote
makofoto

Changed my settings so you can see that file at full rez

1 upvote
CyberAngel

makofoto!
You should work for the dpreview
since they obviously don't know how to shoot
;-)

1 upvote
Total comments: 66
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