Faced by the physical limitations of incorporating a high quality camera into a phone, Nokia opted for the largest sensor it could get away with – nearly twice the size of a compact camera and more than five times that of conventional phone camera sensors. While it's big, it's actually crammed with pixels of the same size of those used in compacts. Instead of capturing the output of each individual pixel separately – as sensors normally do – the trick is to combine the output of groups of individual pixels into a larger pixel.
Big sensor – now what?
This technology allows the 808’s sensor to capture as much light information as much larger pixels and sensors would. However, the process avoids the loss of quality usually associated with small sensors filled with too many small-size pixels that typically plague compact cameras.
What this means is that while the 808 is capable of shooting images at full resolution – 38Mp effective – it is only really meant to produce distilled images at its 8Mp, 5Mp or 3Mp PureView modes. The difference being these images deliver unprecedented quality by camera phone standards.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 808 PureView camera, as like many, I'd initially been drawn to the headline grabbing hype surrounding its astonishing pixel count, which rather eclipsed the technology behind this concept. Yet, true to its word, Nokia has produced a phone capable of incredibly detailed, sharp, nuanced and balanced pictures. As soon as I saw the results I was really and truly impressed.
Indeed, the idea of merging seven small pixels into one giant pixel, as Nokia puts it, seems to have achieved not only a new photographic benchmark but the upshot of it all is that the 808 PureView could hold its own with most advanced compacts currently on the market.
Looking at the PureView images – at 3, 5 and 8Mp – the level of noise is impressively low at all ISO sensitivities, with an almost complete lack of artifacts. Colours are accurate and natural across the range too, and images reveal an exceptionally broad dynamic range. White balance could be improved though, since it behaves somewhat erratically.
Excellent low light performance for a camphone
Although the end results are not necessarily far off, in use, the automatic white balance keeps changing slightly in the same lighting conditions and for no apparent reason. Resorting to the preset WB settings instead, proved much more reliable. Indeed, the twitchy white balance is about the only thing I can take issue with, since the 808’s photographic skills are truly commendable.
Next page: Soft focus
"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!"