Having done a number of real world photo comparisons between Nokia's new Lumia 1020 and various competitors, including its own 'predecessor', the Nokia 808 on Symbian, I wanted to break down the word 'oversampling' and try to demonstrate what is - and, particularly - what isn't going on inside each of these camera-toting smartphones and their applications. Where do the photo pixels come from and does it matter which application captures them?
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I've handled a broad strokes comparison of the two 41 megapixel camera flagships of the smartphone world before, notably here (when I declared them roughly equal in merit though with very different processing pros/cons) and here (as part of a four way test, but with very similar conclusions), but what I wanted to do here was to push them both to the limits in real world low light situations. Would the benefits of Optical Image Stabilisation outweigh that of a larger sensor? Would a BSI sensor compensate for a smaller Xenon flash? Is the hardware oversampling engine from the Nokia 808 missed on the Lumia 1020?
It seems that Tuesday's news of Microsoft buying Nokia's devices arm, lock, stock and barrel, generated something of a storm of comment, mostly on conspiracy lines. But, this being All About Symbian, I wanted to address the question of whether the news will have an direct impact on the Symbian world. Read on for my thoughts.
You know, the more the world centres in on large touch-only smartphones, the more I continue to appreciate the genuinely different hardware we've had in the modern age in the Symbian world. Yes, the OS is effectively now frozen in stone (though, despite yesterday's buy-out news, Accenture will still hopefully be under contract to provide support/patches etc. for another two years at least), but there's really very little in the smartphone world that can compete with the 2011 Nokia E6, with its 'QWERTY candybar' form factor. Here then, for your consideration (and celebration) are five under-appreciated design features, over and above the highlights we've covered before. And perhaps extra reasons why you might like to buy up an E6, even if as a backup smartphone or for your 'collection'(!)
Burst photos are 'in' at the moment, and rightly so. While no use at all for traditional photography stars like coastlines and sunsets, when it comes to action shots of kids, pets and wildlife, it can be very helpful to take short sequences of photos so that you can pick the best one later - and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. Now, 'burst' mode is part of third party utilities, commonly, e.g. here, but I thought it worth highlighting that Belle FP2's Camera application includes a burst-like mode out of the box.
I've often proclaimed that the most natural way to use the Nokia 808 is in one of its 'PureView' modes, i.e. using the oversampling to produce the legendarily 'pure', noiseless pixels, rather than shooting in the somewhat artificial 'full' resolution modes, which expose the usual raw sensor pixels and their noise. However, when using the intuitive PureView zoom, you effectively end up down at the same 1:1 pixel use. Is this a problem? Exactly how far can you zoom in anyway? When should you use PureView zoom and when should you try to resist? Hopefully I answer these and other questions below.
Yes, yes, the headline sounds like an episode title from The Big Bang Theory, but I'm actually referring to something that occurred to me while writing up my feature on tweaking the Nokia 808's photo output to mimic 2013 user preferences. Buried in the changes there was switching the 'JPG quality' to 'Superfine', but the inclusion of this change was somewhat arbitrary, so I thought it worth investigating this one camera setting on its own. Is fiddling with JPG quality worth bothering with? What are the pros and cons?
Having completed a round of Nokia 808/Lumia 1020 comparisons, it's very evident that the Nokia 808 PureView and Nokia Lumia 1020's cameras are very, very close overall, though also with very different characteristics. As is common for other 2013 smartphone cameras, the Lumia 1020 is set up to deliver more saturated colours, sharpened details and lower JPG compression. In contrast, the Nokia 808 has always erred on the side of an ultra-natural, muted, unprocessed look. But how easy and effective is it to fiddle a little in the 808's interface to deliver similar 5 megapixel results to the 1020?
As a regular compiler of smartphone 'top 5's in The Phones Show, I find myself regularly finding myself happiest at least one generation from the current bleeding edge of technology, somewhat oddly. Causing me to stop and muse - what you might not have considered is that there are far more benefits than disadvantages in doing this, not least of all in helping your wallet out a little.
While working on my review of the video capture side of the new Nokia Lumia 1020, I took the chance to do some back to back comparisons, on my phone jig, with its PureView predecessor, over on Symbian, the Nokia 808. The side by side footage is below, for your interest, covering quality, colours and zoom capability. Summary: the Lumia 1020 footage can be classed as 'better' overall, but there are pros and cons on each side and in the end it's the OIS system that pulls the 1020 ahead. Interesting stuff!