Walking on the wild side: upping the Nokia 808 to full 41MP status?

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Following an interesting Twitter exchange, and in light of the paucity of new updates coming out for the Nokia 808 PureView, I'm more inclined to give publicity to what are normally classed as 'hacks', breaking through the usual Symbian OS safeguards in order to achieve extra functionality. In this case, extending the camera resolutions available to the Nokia 808 to include, notably, a full 41 megapixel mode, using the full (though not guaranteed) capability of the sensor. Samples and details below, along with appropriate caveats!


The claim here is that by applying the appropriate 'mod', available here (and rough instructions below), the Nokia 808 PureView can be persuaded to shoot in a full 5368 x 7728 pixel (41483904 pixels altogether, i.e. 41MP) mode, rather than the 34MP and 38MP modes usually associated with 'full resolution' on the 808.

You may remember Nokia's illustration of the 808's sensor at the time of launch? Here it is again:

Sensor use on the 808

As you can plainly see, the sensor has pixels which fall outside of the 'optical format area'. In other words, there's potential detection of light in these four corners, but reliable light fall isn't guaranteed (outside the circle shown above).

In practice, of course, there's some light available to these 'forgotten' pixels, but if I look really, really closely at the sample 41MP images below, sent in by Sawan Bruins, I think I can detect some image degradation in some of the corners - see below. The effect is marginal, but it's there.


In each case, click the image to download the original 41MP version - warning - you'll need lots of RAM and suitable software to be able to view the full images!

Click to download the original 41MP version!

Click to download the original 41MP version!

Click to download the original 41MP version!

And, to illustrate what I meant about the corners of some of the images, here's a blow-up of the shot above, looking at the bottom right corner - the red dotted line represents (approximately) the guaranteed limits of the optical format area:

Extreme crop

So, is it just me, or does the extreme bottom right (i.e. outside the optical limits) start to get close to black? Which is as expected, of course.

How to

This mini-guide and the samples above were sent in by Sawan, so please don't ask me to vouch for any of it. And the usual disclaimers apply - if you brick your 808 (unlikely, but....) then it's not our fault!

Over to Sawan (I haven't linked to any needed binaries for legal reasons, but I'm sure Google is your friend here):

You first need to "hack" your device. This basically means that the certificate restriction within the file system (to check the integrity of software files) can be turned on and off. You also need to install a good file explorer. If you not allready have installed it, I advise x-plore.

1) Hack your device
2) Once you're done, go to rompatcher and enable the "open 4 all" option -> This gives you acces to the whole filesystem
3) Use x-plore to go to c:\private\10202be9\10282EDC.txt
4) Copy the file and place it some were you can find it (e.g. on your sd-card or internal memory)
5) Now open the 41_12_mpx_mod.rar file (from the URL at the top) and copy the private folder to c:\ -> It'll override the file you just backed up
6) Restart your phone and open the camera. If everything went well, you now have more resolutions to chose from in PureView mode (including 12MP) and in full resolution (41,5MP in 4:3 aspect ratio)

PS: The anti virus software that is installed that makes it possible to replace the files for the hack ('savemanager') can be shut down by pressing 'Options' and 'stop'.

PPS. If you want to go back, just replace the txt-file with the original one you backed up and restart your device.

Wrap up

The 'mod' is certainly an interesting proof of concept. Though, aside from the caveat that you might do something silly inside the file system and lose all your data, there's also the question of why anyone would want 41MP images in the first place.

I've said, many times over, that the Nokia 808 wasn't designed, primarily, to take full resolution photos - everything's geared around oversampling to some degree. So adding an extra 3MP to a mode that I wouldn't use in the first place, some pixels of which may have dubious values, to create monstrous 12MB JPGs that cause problems for many applications and which can't be viewed in their entirety even on the largest computer screens, seems more of a technical than a practical achievement.

Am I totally off beam here? Comments welcome - would you be interested in a 41MP mode like this? Maybe you've already tried the mod - how did it work out and did you find a use for the resulting JPGs?

(Thanks to Sawan for providing the material here, much appreciated.)

Source / Credit: Sawan Bruins