The N86's mechanical-shutter 8Mp camera is, of course, the star feature. When other phone makers are touting 12Mp models, Nokia is being more restrained, bargaining on photography buffs knowing that the megapixel count isn't the only part of the story. It also hopes they'll appreciate the way a mechanical shutter - which gives the sensor a blast of light to work with rather than an over time average sample, and enables shutter speeds of up to one thousandth of a second - will make for better pictures.
Why no Xenon flash, Nokia?
Slipping down the camera’s cover activates the camera within two seconds, switching the screen automatically into landscape viewfinder mode. The camera button utilises a regular two-step autofocus-then-shoot system, and it works quickly and efficiently. Shots are snapped without any noticeable shutter lag. Processing time is pleasingly rapid.
Nokia has included a decent number of photo adjustment options, although not as many as you’ll find on high-end cameraphones from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson. There is a very neat panorama shot mode, though, which uses the phone's accelerometer to help line up the consecutive shots, and there are a good selection of scene modes for various shooting conditions.
The macro close-up setting can deliver sharp short-range shots, though aiming the autofocus precisely can be tricky with the large autofocus ‘frame’ in the viewfinder image.
The results from the camera are excellent for a mobile phone. Shots are crisp, with plenty of fine detail and great definition. Colour rendition is very impressive too: colours are vibrant and natural in a variety of shooting conditions. The auto metering system seems to adjust quickly to variations in light, producing high quality images.
There are few control options than other high-end cameraphones offer
Low-light shooting is reasonable too, the twin flashes providing strong illumination over a few metres - Nokia suggests a 3.5m range. Serious snappers will surely be annoyed that Nokia has built in LED light sources rather than xenon flashes, but the N86's flash doesn't make a bad stab.
Next page: Sample Shots
The point of having a camera phone
I have an N82 for the simple reason that the photo you took with the camera you had in your pocket will always be better than the photo you didn't take with the camera you didn't have in your pocket. And I've only got so much pocket space. And I carry my cellphone no matter what.
Yes, the resulting photos are poor compared to even a cheap dedicated digital camera. But I get photos, as opposed to nothing. So from that perspective, it seems sensible to try to get the best cellphone camera possible - because I'm always going to have it with me, so I'll always be capable of taking photos of some sort.
But yeah, looking at this as a real replacement for a real camera is, of course, silly...
Works for me
I got this for my wife on a T-Mobile upgrade. It's much better than the N95 she had before (which died after a drinks leakage in the vicinity) - the maps work really well with a very fast GPS lock, the pictures are perfectly good enough, and the music plays fine.
It was around £25 for the upgrade which to be honest I think made it a bit of a no brainer.
Hopeless and pointless, its a bit sad really that with so much interesting stuff happening on iphone and android, nokia come up with this crap. Sure they'll sell a few to some of the die-hards above, but at this rate they'll easily halve their current market share within a couple of years. Good Job Nokia!
"S60 3E user interface is beginning to feel old hat"
Understatement of the year. Or even the past 5 years.
Thanks, but in all fairness, I should point out that I'm pretty sure I'm paraphrasing Dan of dansdata.com. If only I really was that clever.