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

Hands-on with Nokia's Lumia 925 and exclusive interview

41

After attending Nokia's Lumia 925 launch event in London yesterday, Andy Westlake, our Technical Editor in the UK, had a chance to get his hands on the new device, try it out and take some pictures of and with it. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to keep any of the samples images using the 925's camera and new 6-element lens. He also had a chance to speak to Juha Alakarhu, the head of Nokia's imaging department in Finland, and Samuli Hanninen, vice president of Software Program Management for Nokia, about the 925's new imaging technology and what it means for mobile photographers.

The Lumia 925 is beautifully made, with Gorilla Glass 2 covering the 4.5-inch screen and a metal band around the edges. The latter doubles as the antenna. 
The back is still polycarbonate though, like on previous Lumia models. Here you'll find the new 8.7MP camera and dual-LED flash.

Nokia once reigned as the largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the pre-smartphone era but since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007 has been struggling to compete with Apple, Samsung and other major manufacturers. But with the more recent launch of the Lumia 920 and other Windows phone devices in 2012 the Finnish manufacturer has been able to capture a small but (slowly) growing market share in the smartphone sector.

New wireless charging accessory covers for the 925 are available in various covers.
The three dots toward the bottom of the backplate connect the wireless charging cover.

One key ingredient to this increased popularity of the smart devices from Finland is Nokia's focus on its phones' imaging capabilities. Compact camera sales are plumetting as consumers are increasingly happy to use smartphones as their primary capture device. Nokia realized this early on, making superior imaging capabilities a unique selling proposition of its Lumia line, as well previous models such as the Nokia N8 and the arguably still best phone camera, the Nokia 808, both of which are running the now outdated Symbian operating system. 

At 8.5mm the Lumia 925 is thin and with its rounded edges feels nice in the hand.
However, if you want wireless charging you have to add an accessory cover that adds some bulk.

First impressions of the Lumia 925's camera capabilities      

The Lumia 925 follows in its predecessors' footsteps and offers -- for a smartphone -- impressive camera specifications:

  • 8.7MP sensor with multi-aspect ratio : 4:3 is 8MP, 16:9 is wider horizontal angle of view  (same as the Lumia 920)
  • F2.0 lens with a total of six elements (one more than the Lumia 920)
  • Optical Image Stabilization which moves the entire lens unit
  • ISO up to 3200 (Lumia 920 tops out at 800)
  • Nokia Smart Camera app

We were impressed by the phone's low light capabilities while shooting some samples at Nokia's launch event in London. We managed to get a recognizable image in a set-piece shot where both an iPhone 4S and a Canon 6D with Tamron 24-70/2.8 VC lens had problems. 

Thanks to its fast F2.0 lens, ISO 3200 and optical image stabilization the Lumia 925 could capture an image at a shutter speed of 1/4 sec. The iPhone 4S could not capture anything resembling an image in the dark conditions. With the 6D we could hardly see anything through the viewfinder and the focus was very slow but we took an image at 1/15 sec, F2.8 and ISO 25600. Unfortunately we were not allowed to keep any of the sample shots, but we are looking very much forward to getting a test unit into our studio. 

Imaging hardware and increased low light capabilities are only one aspect of the Lumia 925's camera. The phone also comes with the new Nokia Smart Camera app which allows you to create composite images, pick your favorite shot out of a series, erase unwanted objects in the frame, change faces in group portraits and add motion blur to the background to make the main subject of an image appear moving.  

We explained the app in a little more detail in yesterday's news story, but we've had the chance to play with Nokia Smart Camera app and capture some screenshots to show what it looks like on your device.

The Nokia Smart Camera app captures a series of frames ...
... which you can then combine to a composite "Action Shot."
Alternatively you can simply pick your favorite out of the series ...
... and add blur to the background to make the scene appear more dynamic.
In group portraits you can change the expression of each face individually ...
... to create the perfect group smile.
You also have the option to remove ...
... and re-insert moving subjects in the image.

Comments

Total comments: 41
wakaba

920 is already a great phone. Wifi memory is great, cam good, wireless charging - its like - how could you ever lived without it? Warm water, washingmachiche, lightbulb...
The angled corners are a bit prone to scratching. I see the 925 solved that.

The rear cover probably provides a bit of cushioning. Meaningful.

0 upvotes
Axee

I have found that the Nokia has the best Camera phones. Other high-end phones like Galaxy S4, HTC One and iPhone 5 have average or low camera lens fitted inside those phones.

Just saw this low light comparison images of these devices and Nokia Lumia 925 (One of the latest Lumia phone) simply smokes them out.
http://axeetech.com/2013/05/20/nokia-lumia-925-camera-better-the-other-high-end-android-or-ios-device/

1 upvote
Jostian

a low light shot (no flash) with my Nokia 808PV at 1600 iso, show me another Cameraphone that can get this clarity at 1600 iso, so please Nokia give us a bigger sensor and Xenon, like we have in the 808PV http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51488705

2 upvotes
Jostian

If there's no Xenon flash then they are not serious about the imaging prospects of the phone... The N8 and PureView 808 have Xenon and the results speak for themselves, there is no good reason for removing the Xenon flash, especially if touting the imaging capabilities of the phone, No Nokia lost the plot here seriously, they can 'market speak' all the other specs all they want, but an LED is NOT an option for photography in low light, it merely helps with video, but is useless for photography... Nokia, shooting themselves in the foot again and not knowing why its sore!!!

1 upvote
Menneisyys

"No Nokia lost the plot here seriously, they can 'market speak' all the other specs all they want, but an LED is NOT an option for photography in low light, it merely helps with video, but is useless for photography."

It's still by far the best camera phone in low light. Even if it's "useless for photography", as you state. "The best camera is always the one with you" - and if it's the 925, then, at least you can get a much better low-light shot than with anything else on the market right now.

1 upvote
Jon Rty

Of course there is a good reason to remove the Xenon flash, the capacitor.

http://i.imgur.com/rhGeF.jpg

After the battery and display, it's one of the largest components in a phone. As long as capacitors are big, tubular devices you won't see them in slim phones.

0 upvotes
Jostian

Dear menneisyss think you are a bit confused and the only person in the world who thinks a LED flash is better than a Xenon flash... there is no way that the 920 with its LED can take better photos than a Xenon equipped phone, search the web there a many many examples showing the difference in IQ between LED and Xenon.

0 upvotes
Hobbit13

@Jostian
"Dear menneisyss think you are a bit confused and the only person in the world who thinks a LED flash is better than a Xenon flash.."
Menneisyys did not even remotely make that statement. He just stated that this phone does well in low light. That has nothing to do with LED/Xeon flash.

0 upvotes
MistyFog

I think you will find many fans of no-flash low light photography. I am one of them. I disable flash by default on my 808. I find that things are so much more interesting this way.

Moreover, there are many scenes where flash will not be helpful. It has its use, but its no deal-breaker.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys

"

Dear menneisyss think you are a bit confused and the only person in the world who thinks a LED flash is better than a Xenon flash... there is no way that the 920 with its LED can take better photos than a Xenon equipped phone, search the web there a many many examples showing the difference in IQ between LED and Xenon."

Of course I don't think so. I'm sorry the 925 doesn't have a xenon flash like the 808 did. However, even with it "only" having a LED flash, the OIS, the fast lens and Nokia's traditional excellence in photo hardware (the Nokia N95 was, for example, two years ahead its time, compared to, say, iPhones) makes it by far the best low-light camera when you can't use a flash.

0 upvotes
Jostian

Dear mistyfog, if you READ my initial post I was comparing LED to Xenon, so by replying the way he did menneisyss didnt understand my argument by commenting on the low light abilities of the 920 which I never argued with, my issue is between LED and Xenon as I stated in my original post to which people replied... the low light of the 920 without flash may be ok but it comes nowhere near the low light abilities (without flash) of the 808PV, and by that I'm emphasising the fact that if you dont use a flash then you need a decently fast lens and big sensor (the 808's sensor is about 5 times larger than the 920's and if one uses the 8MP mode the low light IQ is truly amazing, better than most high end P&S's).

0 upvotes
MistyFog

@Jostian
The concept behind the 920 Pureview is that the OIS allows the shutter to stay open much longer with less likelihood of motion blur. Instead of shooting at say 1/4 seconds versus, say 1/16 seconds. This helps to compensate for the smaller sensor by allowing more light to go through. From my experience with both 920 and 808, I find that the 920 performs somewhat better in low-light situations.

0 upvotes
Charles Babbage

Why on earth every mobile phone manufacturer tries to copy everybody else’s design is beyond me. Holding a tile in your hands and/or next to your ear is not exactly elegant and it certainly does not take better pictures. Even the unofficial name for such monsters 'phablet' sounds demeaning. No wonder that the N8 still sells at a good price in eBay and elsewhere :-(

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

The Lumia 925 has a 4.5-inch screen and as such can by no means be called a phablet. This term was first coined for >5-inch devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note. The Nokia is my no means small but there are much bigger phones out there.

1 upvote
BigEddieA

I just acquired a Nokia 900 and love the phone overall. The Amoled display is a big plus. I can see the direction towards providing an integral camera capable of satisfying the discerning photographer. Any thought
to 'modernize' the tiles, screens, etc ? They are looking dated to some degree. Should be more exciting!

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

The Lumia 900 is an older model. If you aren't running that version yet you should be able to upgrade the OS to Windows Phone 7.8. However, the Lumia 900 doesn't allow you to run Windows Phone 8, the latest version of the OS.

0 upvotes
ZorSy

"We were impressed by the phone's low light capabilities while shooting some samples at Nokia's launch event in London. We managed to get a recognizable image in a set-piece shot where both an iPhone 4S and a Canon 6D with Tamron 24-70/2.8 VC lens had problems.". Hmmm, how do we take this? 6D with a fast lens is easily outperformed by a phone camera? Comparing phones to phones is fine, this comparison is bold (and rather brave) statement IMO...

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

Note: Our statement is only true for this specific low light scene. For everything else we need some further testing. All we can say this far is that the 925's AF works well in low light (of course on a sensor this small it doesn't have to work as well as on FF-DSLR) and the OIS is god enough to let you shoot at 1/4 sec. This combined with a F2 lens and ISO 3200 means you can shoot in very low light. Of course a D6 will get you better results in almost any situation but from experience I know that shooting at ISO 25600 and 1/15sec on a DSLR doesn't usually get you great results.

2 upvotes
ZorSy

Thanks Lars, that's why I actually pointed this out: without some technical background in reporting, it may sound a bit confusing. In short, combined FL+aperture/sensor size (AF DOF)+OS+ISO works well at low light....I think it's reasonable to expect that OS would gain its effectiveness the smaller the sensor/optics becomes, which matters for static low light scenes and handheld.

0 upvotes
Jostian

Hi Lars, if there's no Xenon then they (Nokia) are not serious about low light photography, a faster lens helps a bit but without a decent flash (Xenon) in low light the IQ will always be dodgy!! Cannot believe the same guys that had Xenon on N8 and 808PV have dumped one of the things that gave their phones the edge at night... disappointing indeed, any Cameraphone without a Xenon flash is not to be taken too seriously as an imaging device!

0 upvotes
jgardia

Hi Lars,
I don't want to be harsh, but I found your comparison somehow unfair. Maybe if you describe your setup a bit more we can understand better, but I cannot really get why you can handhold a phone for 1/4 sec, and you cannot do the same for the 6D, and change the ISO to 6400 (from 12800).
If you keep the same exposure time on both devices then I think the comparison is fair.

0 upvotes
MistyFog

jgardia: I have taken many handheld photos with the Lumia 920 at 1/4 seconds blur-free even at very low light, but I find it much harder doing the same with my Sony NEX (even with image stabilized lens). I'm taking those photos without any physical support, or even without leaning/resting my hands/body on any object.

My guess is the significantly heavier weight of the DSLR makes a huge difference. Another possible explanation could be that tapping on-screen results in less camera shake than pressing on the shutter button.

1 upvote
makofoto

The 920 is already has such a good camera ... and improvement will only make it better. Check out this shot of a friends kid ... click on it to see the full size file: http://images108.fotki.com/v613/fileLW2j/8ecda/4/43793/4909192/JulianJrhighrez.jpg

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Jostian

But without a Xenon flash you'll always be compromised in low light and night situations... great pic by the way.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys

"Unfortunately for mobile photography enthusiasts the Nokia representatives would not comment on whether we can expect Nokia 808 camera technology in a Windows 8 phone any time soon."

That's bad news. That's what I've been waiting for - a 41 Mpixel monster with OIS and, hopefully, 1080p60 / stereo Rich recording. Or even 4K, even if "only" at 15-20 fps.

5 upvotes
Lars Rehm

Easy, you are kind of asking for a lot here :-) I am sure they will stick the original 808 technology into a Win 8 phone sometime soon. I would suspect they struggle to do it at a price point that's attractive to consumers.

1 upvote
ARTASHES

Lets hope it will have better sensor (Sony), original 808 sensor was actually mediocre for it's size especially at high ISO department,

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

You would expect any new 808 style device to have a newer generation sensor but in general you should not judge this sensor by its 41 MP output. The whole point of the concept is to create very good 8MP files by pixel-binning and I thought the 808 was amazingly good at doing that.

4 upvotes
ARTASHES

I don't judge it by it's pixel output, but for it's size, that's normal for 41 mp 1/1.2 sensor to be noisy at 100% view, but it was bad event at web view, above 800 ISO there was some color cast and banding (but great details), when Sony's 1/2.3 back-lit are pretty good up to 1600, maybe that was Nokia's bad jpeg processing, but is suspect that at time Nokia gone for other sensor supplier (due to unique size and spec of sensor) but which wasn't as advanced as Sony's sensors
PS I think the same thing is happening with HTC One

0 upvotes
vlad0

The HES9 sensor in the 808 was cut into 1.4 micron pixels, hence the noise levels when you shoot in 1.4 microns.. but it gets much better if you use it in pureview mode where it oversamples the image... getting up to around 3.0 microns equivalent.

Still not better than physically bigger pixels, but much better than bare 1.4s

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 54 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Hobbit13

There are not that many 41MP sensors around, actually one 1... so the next 41MP phone by Nokia will have the same sensor, perhaps an updated version.

Dynamic range is not that good, I would trade in the 41MP sensor for a 8MP sensor with better dynamic range any day. Optics in the 808 are fantastic, and JPEG processing is very good as well. I don't use the "zooming" often, because image quality drops when you loose the pixel binding, in all situations with less than perfect lighting.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys

" but is suspect that at time Nokia gone for other sensor supplier (due to unique size and spec of sensor) "

The 808's sensor has been manufactured by Toshiba and they (NOkia + Toshi) have been working on the sensor + camera for years, that is, before Sony became (around 2009) the Nr. 1. in the sensor business.

0 upvotes
ARTASHES

808 was announced much later 2009 and at that moment Nokia and more others were using Sony sensors in their flagships

0 upvotes
MistyFog

@hobbit13:
"Dynamic range is not that good, I would trade in the 41MP sensor for a 8MP sensor with better dynamic range any day"

You kidding? The 808 has excellent dynamic range. Even the deep shadow areas hold a lot of details which can be revealed in post-processing. It is really awesome for single-exposure HDRs.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys

"808 was announced much later 2009 and at that moment Nokia and more others were using Sony sensors in their flagships"

According to some interviews with Nokia folks, they've been working on, together with Toshi, the PV technology since 2007. Back then, Sony definitely wasn't the best sensor manufacturer.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf

Lamo. Can't Nokia just produce one flagship phone one a year and sell it to all carrier? The 920, 928 and 925 are basically the same thing and I doubt the camera will be better using the same sensor and f number.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

Well, I agree but not entirely. The 925 is a little too close to the 920 spec-wise for my taste as well but in the camera department some quite significant improvements have been made. ISO 3200 combined with OIS is pretty cool and Andy was very impressed by the phone's low-light capabilities. The lens is also new, it's got 6 elements now (a first for phones as far as I am aware). Definitely looking forward to get one in for testing.

2 upvotes
Peiasdf

I look forward to the camera testing as well but if Nokia do not make a single worthwhile flagship phone a la iPhone, HTC One, Galaxy S4 and Xperia Z, Nokia is not going to be regarded as leader.

0 upvotes
cplunk

This is a bit true. Maybe they could learn from Apple that an Iphone 5 is an Iphone 5, even if the verizon version has a different radio, most people don't notice unless the try and switch sims to change carriers.
Nokia always having these different combinations of phones for different carriers, even slight different phones for AT&T and Tmobile with different features has always been a bit annoying to the well informed, and probably just leads to confusion with the less informed, who are then more likely to buy something else (an iphone, because an iphone5 is an iphone5, regardless of the carrier).

0 upvotes
MistyFog

It's only a mid-year refresh, yet it's already introducing some pretty significant improvements on the imaging aspect. I'm really curious as to the introduction of one additional lens element, and how it improves image quality and sharpness. My guess is the improvement will be non-trivial. Sample shots comparing the iPhone 5, SGS4, HTC One and Lumia 925 already look very promising indeed.

0 upvotes
Oelph

Sounds great! I think compact cameras will die out as smartphone camera tech improves. It's such a compelling package: always with you, immediate sharing and now some truly fantastic software tricks which are evolving photography into a new age. Some may not like it. A lot of us have a yearning at times for the more traditional approach. But the average consumer will flock to these and abandon any dedicated camera.

I think Nokia are in a position to capitalise on their imaging expertise to lead the smartphone/smartcamera market and turn around their fortunes..

4 upvotes
Total comments: 41
About us
Sitemap
Connect