Just how good is Nokia's PureView 41Mp camera tech?
Our pro photographer holidays in Stromboli to find out
When I first learnt about Nokia's 808 PureView phone featuring a 41Mp camera, I thought I'd either misread the specs or I'd somehow stepped into the future. A forty one megapixel camphone – WTF? Not even professional DSLRs showcase such a high resolution.
Nokia's 808 PureView 41Mp camphone
Well, once I ascertained that Nokia was true to its word, I had to find out what this apparent miracle consisted of and, more importantly, if this massively spec'd camera was any good. With a summer holiday long overdue, I took a Nokia 808 with me on a trip to Stromboli, an island off Sicily, to familiarise myself with the phone and take in the PureView experience.
The Nokia 808 looks like a fat version of most Androids on the market. It is chunky and heavy too, but it does feel good in the hand, at least as a phone. Yet as a camera, the complete lack of grip and the protruding lens so close to the left edge makes handling as uncomfortable and unsafe as any other phone. On the plus side, you can fire off the camera from a large button on the edge.
In fact, once you turn the phone horizontally to use it as a camera, it is a pleasant surprise to find that commands such as the shutter release and the zoom lever are exactly where you expect them to find them on a compact camera. Also, one indication of the seriousness of Nokia’s claim over the novelty of the 808’s camera tech is its lens. This bright f2.4 wide-angle 8.02mm lens – equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm camera – is from Carl Zeiss, a company that renowned for top quality glass. It's housed in that distinctive bulge at the back that also contains the Xenon flash and the stereo mic.
Apart from the tiniest ridged plastic strip for the answer/hang up and menu buttons, the 4in touch screen fills the front of the phone. Yet seeming somewhat inconsistent with the high resolution of the camera, the display has is a mere 640 x 360-pixels. Even so, it's bright and sharp enough with a good screen performance in broad daylight, no doubt aided by Nokia's ClearBlack display technology. In keeping with compacts, the Nokia 808 comes with a lens cap and a wrist strap, which I found very useful.
HDMI output option for viewing on TV
Despite providing the 808 PureView with a 41MP sensor, Nokia claims not to subscribe to a strategy of pixels for pixels’ sake. So how does it explain the rationale behind the 808’s feast of the blighters? The big idea behind PureView technology is pixel oversampling; combining many pixels to create a single 'super' pixel.
Next page: Sensory perception
"Instagram, being one example that photographers and Facebookers alike will certainly miss. "
So Nokia goes to great pains to create the highest quality mobile phone camera ever seen, and then the major complaint is you cannot install an app for degrading the pictures...
Pureview on Microsoft phones.... don't hold your breath it is NOT the same!
They've done the typical thing. Produced an amazing camera on an OS which is able to support such massive changes to the entire way the camera and the graphics functions. They have given this a name and then applied that same name to an OS which can NOT do the same in the hope of conning some people into spending money on a 'new' camera phone in the expectation it is as good as this 'old' camera phone.
It won't be, because it can't be. Maybe by the end of next year some of the magic can have been transferred but don't hold your breath.
As to the battery life comment, the battery life on the 808 - and indeed ALL symbian based phones runs rings around all the other smart phone contenders. The OS was designed from the very start (back in the '80's) to run on batteries - it is basically an evolution of the Epoc32 system that ran in the Psion series 5 hand held computers. Android and iOS are loosely based on linux which is a desk top system, winpho is sat on top of wince which is another cut down desk top. You will NEVER get the battery life out of these other devices that you will out of Symbian.
I would LOVE a copy of this whole article though - I worked on the device :) (not that you would guess I might be biased - but truly nothing else even comes close).
"The best camera is the one you have with you"
Or whatever the quote is. The snag with a decent quality camera (which until now has been "any dedicated camera") is that you rarely have it while you tend to have your phone a lot.
Sounds like Nokia could do well to ditch the phone components and repackage it as toughened, waterproof 'action sports' compact, possibly retaining the satnav optimised for mountains. It's got to be easier to make this design of camera shockproof than it is a camera with moving lens parts.
Instagram...now if ever there was an app for muppets...
"Yeah the idea for the app is we let people make their crappy photos even more crappy!"
"Who wil fall for that???"
"Who do you think..Hipsters!"