With eight years since the classic Nokia N95 was selling in the mainstream, with one of the first five megapixel cameras in the phone market and the best, with 1/2.5" sensor and 'Carl Zeiss' optics, I thought it would be interesting to see how far the technology has come. After all, the Lumia 930 occupies pretty much the same photo-enthusiast consumer spot, at least in the Windows phone world, yet it outputs at a nominal 5MP still. But how different would the pixels themselves be, with eight years of sensor, optics and processing tech improvements under the 930's hood?
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I've had many requests for a camera head-to-head between the Nokia Lumia 830 and 930, not least since they're now about the same price at some outlets. But I thought I'd wait until they both had Lumia Denim and the new camera software. And then, heck, I couldn't resist adding in the Lumia 1020 and Symbian-powered Nokia 808 PureView into the mix. Plus an Android imposter, just to add an extra reference point. Gulp! So much to analyse and comment on below.
In perhaps the most 'current' Pimping piece yet, I tackle the Nokia 808 PureView, still a lot of people's main device, perhaps based on the super flexibility, the great camera, the gadgets, and so on. But what are the keys to keeping this going into 2015 - any tips, tricks or software goodies that you need to know about? It's all here. This is a major revamp to the original article, bringing advice, links and software up to date!
Supremacy, as used in the headline above is about absolute superiority over all others. Whether it's a kingdom or sportsman or, in this case, a range of smartphone cameras. The thing is that over the last decade I've been so used, at every stage, to my Nokia flagship smartphones having superior imaging built-in, that it has been something of a shock to realise that, with the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the competition has caught up. Or at least, got close enough that for even technophiles there's no real difference in quality of results. Have the Nokia 808 PureView and Lumia 1020 been dethroned? Not exactly, but the thrones are now looking within reach of a pack of status-seeking courtiers....
“What an oddball pair of smartphone cameras to compare!” I hear you say. “One from several years ago, one with greatly different ambitions from the current month!” Indeed, though the question I was really asking myself was whether improvements in sensor technology and image processing since about 2011 could compensate for a seven times smaller sensor. In other words, could refined tech and intelligence trump physics?
No, no, I haven't got an iPhone 6 - but reader Vlado Grouev has been doing some detailed shootouts and I wanted to delve deeper into his data. The units tested, under various light conditions, were the iPhone 6 (not the 6+) and the Nokia 808, running in its 8MP PureView mode. Which one has the better camera? Go on, have a guess. A wild guess.
I may get mocked for my 'party' mock-ups when testing smartphone cameras, but my tests represent a better look at real world photos, i.e. of people indoors. Moreover, I also take into account facilities like lossless zoom, whereas this slightly questionnable set of test results from the usually reliable DxO mark folks shows the new Apple iPhone 6 models to both be top of the tree, with the classic Nokia 808 in 6th place and the newer Nokia Lumia 1020 down in 10th place overall! Remind me to take the DxO testers down the pub sometime and explain how to really test phone cameras....
As part of a continuing series of features taking a good long look at the state of mobile, and aiming to be as brutally honest as possible, here I use my experience in the mobile industry to tackle the really tough 'what if' questions that have probably been in your brain for the last three or four years, as 'All About' readers. Hopefully my answers will provoke debate in Disqus below, too - why not get involved?
Look, I get it, there are plenty of Symbian enthusiasts here - I'm one of them. But every single time something breaks in terms of compatibility with a particular Internet service, we see the same comment from multiple people: "But Nokia promised us support until 2016!" That was indeed what was promised on stage at MWC 2011. But then you have to look at both what the word means and what's happened to the company itself since then. I'm not apologising for Nokia's multiple faux pas and for the current situation in 2014, but let's at least be realistic.
The clue is probably in the generic term 'camera-centric', really. However much people in the tech world like their phone cameras, having just a little too much emphasis placed on imaging - enough to warrant a significant bump on the back - seems to be the death knell for a device long term. In part though, this is more down to the time needed for R&D, but the end result is (yet again) a device which seems destined to be sidelined a little....