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Hands on with Nokia's 808 41Mp camphone

Lumia 610 too

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Image is everything..?

Compared to a Nokia Lumia 800, the 610 isn’t as snappy nor are the swipe transitions to move between columns as smooth. The Nokia Blue theme looks rather washed out and the screen appears a bit murky, but turn automatic brightness off and things improve, although the battery life will no doubt suffer. Web browsing also lagged behind the Lumia 800, but it just took a couple of seconds longer to load pages. As with other WinPho handsets – regardless of manufacturer – on many occasions more positive presses are needed to get to where you’re going. Frequently, two taps are required, as if the first one is ignored, just in case you pressed by accident.

Nokia Lumia 610 Windows Phone 7

A 5Mp camera but no HD video on this Lumia

With a dedicated camera button on the side, its 5Mp snapper turns out perfectly acceptable images for a phonecam. You can tap on the screen to focus on selected areas and you can get in close macro mode with a focusing distance of about two inches. Sure the images show evidence of JPEG noise artefacts but you can tweak the ISO and, overall, the colour balance is good. Alas, video is limited to VGA resolution – no 720p HD recording here.

When it comes to phonecams though, Nokia has form. Yet with its hands tied by Microsoft’s specifications in the WinPho domain, to innovate and differentiate its handsets photographically it has to dial up its old pal Symbian. On the day, the pre-release 808 models had a Symbian Belle revision on board that was less than a week old.

Nokia 808 Symbian 3 camera phone

The 808's sensor is around five time larger than a typical phone cam

The Nokia 808 is a chunky beast, with its Carl Zeiss lens and sizeable 1/1.2in sensor bulging at the back and seems a little top heavy. The sensor can manage images of up to 7728 x 5368 – over 41Mp in a 16:9 aspect.

A 4in 640 x 360-pixel touchscreen dominates the front and after all that Lumia fascia smoothness, it’s rather quaint to find a hardware call/home/end button bar at its base. At first, you overlook it and then wonder how to get out of the mode you’re in, but in a short time it all becomes fairly intuitive. Skimming through the 808’s various homescreen and apps inspired confidence although – with no Sim allowed and the Wi-fi reception seemingly wayward at the time – testing was pretty much limited to the camera.

Nokia 808 Symbian 3 camera phone

Camera image options

You have to dive into the settings to be sure PureView is active and there’s even fine and superfine JPEG compression quality options. The camera is littered with options to modify the image capture prior to shooting and a whole lot more for afterwards.

PureView actually defaults to a 5Mp mode for pics posting which involves noise removal algorithms (pixel-binning) to improve its overall quality. Yet the idea is to use the a combination of pixel oversampling (to deliver the perfect pixel) and the resolution of the sensor to enable a non-optical zoom function that has the capacity to deliver magnification without upscaling. For a more in-depth overview, Nokia’s PureView white paper is here [PDF]

Nokia 808 Symbian 3 camera phone

There is the option to capture at full resolution which is 34Mp at a 4:3 aspect and the Nokia bods on-hand encouraged use in this hi-res mode. During capture, there’s a bit of a pause before the screen goes live again which can make it difficult to judge just when the image was taken. Trying overhead shots of Trafalgar Square and afterwards zooming in on the Olympics countdown clock was rather on the bleary side, but it was some distance away.

Nokia 808 Symbian 3 camera phone

On-board tweaking

Yet even on a a fine day it seemed there was a sensitivity to camera shake, despite my best efforts. Admittedly the temptation was to drill down into every image captured and then mumble about the presence of JPEG artefacts, but unless you’re planning to run a poster campaign on billboards across the land, you’ll be more than satisfied by the results at less extreme magnifications. With 1080p video recording on board too, and Nokia’s slide zoom function offers a 4x magnification in this mode.

Nokia 808 Symbian 3 camera phone

Inside the 808

Yet seeing the results on something more than a 640 x 360 screen is going to be the only way to get a complete picture of the performance of the Nokia 808. However, Nokia has made some sample images available while we wait for the 808 to makes its imminent debut. ®

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