Choosing a PureView flagship

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You've got to love an informed summary, in this case Marc, from The PureView Club, summarising the pros and cons of the Nokia Lumia 1020 and 1520, with special focus(!) on the camera side of things, and set against the context of the older Nokia 808 (PureView), which still might be a valid choice for some people. It's a longish piece, but a good primer on the devices with high resolution sensors and oversampling.

From Marc's article:

What Nokia PureView flagship to choose: the Lumia 1020, the newest Lumia 1520? Or still: the 808 PureView? I’m getting the question more and more often these days – and boy it’s a pretty tough one to answer. Like so often in life, it all really depends on your personal situation and preferences....

I’ll illustrate this post with some of the shots I got from all three devices, working with them over the past months or even years. Click on the shot to see the original on Flickr (or OneDrive). Like this shot very dear to me, captured on the first day I could actually use the Nokia 808 PureView I had been looking forward to so much.

Nokia 808 PureViewClub - Now Famous Husky 640 x 480

Nokia 808 PureView
The first PureView device (and flagship), the Nokia 808 PureView with its overwhelming 41MP camera is getting harder to get, although it has become pretty cheap now if you’d like to settle for a second hand device. Where I live people are offering it roughly for somewhere between 150 and 250 euros. Would it be a good choice? That depends on what you expect from it.

Its OS won’t receive any more updates, part of its functionality (like the weather service) isn’t supported anymore and might even drain the battery if you use 3G (I use my 808 offline only).

Although you’d be buying into a “dead OS”, making calls with it won’t be a problem of course. Standby time is absolutely excellent (especially if you turn 3G off). And although it’s not as easy to share your shots, it’s not impossible – you could even choose to only use WiFi.

There are other advantages when choosing this “old” device (available since june 2012). The camera settings menu is still very rich and versatile, although you can’t manually change exposure time.

Its 16GB internal memory is extandable with a micro-SD (up to 64GB according to some, I use 32GB). It has HDMI out and supports USB-on-the-Go (both of which I never used in the years I worked with it).

It has a strong Xenon flash (stronger than the one on the 1020, the 1520 has a double LED). Pushing the “wake” button for a longer time will start a very strong flashlight too (which I used a lot!). You can actually exchange the battery of the Nokia 808 PureView, or even put a ridiculously large one in....

Marc then goes into more detail on the background of the Nokia 808, before launching into the current camera phone champion:

Nokia Lumia 1020

....That’s why the built-in software is so extremely important, and we’ve seen major changes coming to the Nokia Lumia 1020 with the Black update, also apart from Raw support. Much better compression, much better colours and contrast – a much better JPG result in general. This isn’t new by the way – owners of the Nokia 808 PureView have seen major improvements coming with software updates.

With Nokia Camera, you still choose an enormous amount of different settings to get the exact shot you’d like: white balance, distance, ISO, shutter time, exposure value – but there’s no seperate ND-filter and there still are no controls for sharpness, contrast, brightness and saturation.

....I don’t think I have to explain the major advantages of the Lumia 1020 running on Windows Phone. The once limited Store is now piled up with all the apps you need. I can’t think of any I’m missing to be honest, in fact: I couldn’t think of one application missing at all – but I’m quite sure some dedicated apps you might know from Android or iOS isn’t there yet. So be it, I guess it will come in the near future.

...Also, the Nokia Lumia 1020 offers Rich Recording like the 808 PureView, but it adds Optical Image Stabilization Nokia introduced with the Lumia 920 – enabling you to make incredible shots under not so great or even dark circumstances.

Marc then closes the classic 808/1020 argument with:

So the 808 could still be a good choice and most likely a cheaper alternative if you can get it, with a few imaging features you won’t (yet) find on the 1020, but also some things you might really miss, like OIS.

Marc also seems impressed by the 1520 'phablet', also with oversampling camera...

Nokia Lumia 1520

This is the device with which the Black update was premiered, but it didn’t just stand out for that. In a lot of respects this is Nokia’s best Windows Phone so far in term of specifications. It has got a whopping screen size and quality. Flying to Barcelona I’ve been looking at not much else than this fantastic screen, watching several videos I copied to the micro-SD – since yes, the Lumia 1520′s 32GB internal memory is expandable.

...Nokia Camera is exactly the same application on your 1520. The only important camera difference is – of course – the size of the sensor: 20MP, which means 19MP effective in 4:3 aspect ratio and 16MP shooting in 16:9. Do you notice that difference? Yes of course you do: the Lumia 1020 has a sensor twice this size, so no wonder. But still, the Lumia 1520 is capable of making some great shots with high quality, and it’s even easier to show them to others on the 6 inch screen.

You can read the full article here. Marc doesn't really pick an overall winner, but his expansion of the pros and cons for each should be enough for any prospective purchaser. I'd include my own one line summary of each:

  • Nokia 808 PureView: Biggest and most flexible camera, but slower and less future proof for everything else
  • Nokia Lumia 1020: The best camera overall, with an almost perfect set of hardware and (fixed) software after the Lumia Black update
  • Nokia Lumia 1520: A compromised camera but still decent, in a very high spec phablet body

Source / Credit: PureView Club