OUT IN THE STREET
So are the photos any good? No, they’re not. They are awesome! With good light conditions, this smartphone produces staggering images. After a touch of post-processing, they can mimic the look of those taken with an entry level DSLR or mirrorless camera. It is actually that good!
White balance works like a charm in almost all lighting conditions as is light metering, colors are realistic and vibrant, images are sharp… but there are still some things that might be better. For example, there is no dynamic range expansion option. Personally I dislike HDR, but software DR expansion is a must have. Examples below demonstrate why this is a problem; in high contrast shots camera will try to correctly expose brighter areas, but the rest of the image remains to dark. It can be brightened in post process, but that’s something average smartphone user is not used to.
Light metering is pretty much consistent and correct, but highlight clipping does occur sometimes; painted windows are overexposed in this shot of church interior. Still this is a relatively small sensor incapable of high dynamic range. There is bracketing option though, so it is possible to create a sort of HDR in post process to avoid this problem.
Pureview technology seems to work great in real life use. When down sampled, images do look somewhat better; colors have better saturation and detail sharpness is stunning. Zoomed photos also look great; they can not be oversampled, but 100% crops of original 38MP shots are more than good enough to mimic zoom. I have almost exclusively used full resolution mode because they are most suitable for post process work on PC. For most users though, 8MP Pureview mode might be the best choice. Quality is fantastic, there is zoom option, resolution is large enough for all everyday applications and file sizes are modest (at full 38Mp resolution, single files take as much as 15MB of space). Below, you can compare the same shot in all the resolution and zoom options:
Full resolution (38MP):
Pureview at 8MP, 5MP and 3MP:
Pureview at max zoom; 8MP, 5MP and 3MP:
Image noise appeared to be very low at ISO setting of 50, 100 and 200 ASA. Everything above that starts to shove unpleasant noise reduction blotches. Noise is far less apparent when Pureview mode is used; oversampling eliminates some of the noise.
Macro is just mediocre; I couldn’t get focus below approx 20 cm. High resolutions saves the situation, but imagine focusing down to few centimeters with 38MP resolution; bug shots could be spectacular. I did get some rather nice flower shots though.
And for the end, there is a peculiar bug with B&W picture effect. Photos are actually not black and white; there is a very faint green tint to them. Color picker in Photoshop clearly shows it, just like bumping saturation on such B&W image. I managed to find another sample of B&W effect on techradar and this one also has the same green tint, so it might be that all cameras are affected with this bug. It’s kind of pointless if you have to desaturate already desaturated images… but this can probably be fixed via firmware upgrade. Nokia, are you reading this?
After a week of playing with this Nokia, I am tempted to say this is a nice digital camera that can make phone calls. And trully – photographs made by Nokia Pureview 808 are so good its hard to believe they are made with a mobile phone. There are some downsides though. I didn’t like how the Nokia handles compared to real digital cameras (slim body hard to grip), there is a bunch of options lacking like DR expansion or optical stabilization and some pretty weird bugs (greenish BW images), but even when all this is taken into consideration, this smartphone makes without a doubt best looking images on the smartphone market. Now imagine if all the “Cons” would be sorted out in the next generation phone paired with this sensor… And just like a cherry at top of the cake – be given RAW mode. That would really be something from photo enthusiasts “wet dream”. It looks to me Nokia made this phone just as a demonstration of force and even better products are on their way in near future.
As for now, if you are in the market for a smartphone with an emphasis on digital camera IQ, this is the one to buy.
- Extremely high image quality
- High resolution
- Pureview mode allows non-destructive digital zoom
- Hyper focal focus setting
- Built-in ND filter
- Interval shooting
- Bracketing up to 5 shots
- Three user-configurable shooting settings
- GPS photo tagging
- No optical image stabilization
- Uninspiring macro
- Bad handling (only compared to real digital cameras)
- Histogram appears only when EV compensation is used
- Image replay impossible to turn off
- No dynamic range expansions options
- No panorama mode
- Some firmware imperfections (green tint in BW photos)
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