back to article Just how good is Nokia's PureView 41Mp camera tech?

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 808 PureView 41Mp camphone Nokia's 808 PureView 41Mp camphone …

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  1. EddieD

    Wait for the 920

    There was a post here recently that linked an engadget page on the low-light capabilities of modern phones - a 920, i5, SGSIII, PV808, and in many respects the 920 beat the 808.

    It seems Nokia have kept their edge in imaging - whilst not cutting edge, my Lumia 800 gives pretty good images in trying circumstances.

    1. Arctic fox

      Re: "Wait for the 920" I agree as far as that goes.

      We have a fully updated N8 in the house (primarily my good lady's phone although she will sometimes allow me to take some snaps with it :)) and our view after living with it for about eighteen months is "lovely camphone, shame about the os". I know that Symbian has it's supporters/aficionados here at RegHardware but both La Señora and I find it (still after a year and a half) clunky and counter-intuitive. Whatever else one may opine about the "facilities" in the winphone os it is not in any sense difficult to use. If one is a digital photography enthusiast and needs/wants the best camera available (defined here as the one you always have with you) then taking a look at least at the 920 when it's released would certainly IMO be the way to go.

      1. chainxor

        Re: "Wait for the 920" I agree as far as that goes.

        The N8, unfortunately, doesn't do Symbian Belle justice at all. I just moved from my old N8 to the 808, and I must say, the difference in speed alone is worth the money!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait for the 920

      LOL, the 920 is only Pureview in name. it's doing nothing that Sony havn't been doing on their cameraphones for the last 2 years.

      Seems you got sucked into the hype....

      http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/technology/technology/theme/exmor_r_01.html

      The Xperia Arc (Jan 2011) had this same tech.,

      1. dotslash
        Stop

        Re: Sony Cam Phones

        Whilst the Sony sensors are very good (and indeed, nikon does some very good things with sony DX and FX sensors), do the sony cam phones come with OIS? I didn't think they did, always happy to be told I'm wrong though...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Yes, Sony has been fitting backlit sensors since early 2011.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7vxpNDFMm4

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Re: Wait for the 920

        Rubbish. The 920 isn't just back illuminated, it has optical stabilisation too, which uses gyros to keep the lens and sensor still.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait for the 920

      I think the 920 is for people who want a better phone and less emphasis on the camera.

      The 808 is for people who want more emphasis on the camera and aren't really bothered about having a smartphone.

      Either way, these Nokia cameras are leagues ahead of anything else and the low light performance just shows how "specs" count for nothing. Look at the images in the article below, especially the performance of the amazing super sophisticated quad core wonderphone the Galaxy S3 :D (which is the worst performer).

      http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/26/lumia-920-low-light-shootout/

      And yes, they used the "auto" mode and you could play with settings to get better results. But this is a test to demonstrate how optimal the hardware and software combination is. Most people leave their point n shoot camera on auto.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait for the 920

      Does the wife of the guy on the boat know what's he's been up to?

      She does now!

  2. Magnus_Pym

    So...

    ... it's all good but lack of support for the OS puts you off.

    Looks like all that target practise Nokia have been putting in with the footgun have paid off. They can hit the target every time now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So...

      So would you rather they were still using Symbian?

      As for Android, it can sod off. I don't want it and having Nokia supporting an alternative is good for me.

      1. N13L5
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: So...

        I'll take any phone OS, so long as its not Microshuft.

        The hopefully ex-monopoly is out of the question...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent Review

    Bring back the ratings!

  4. Kevin7
    FAIL

    I had a Nokia N8 - with admittedly a more modest 12MB camera however Symbian is one hell I wish never to return to. For 400 quid you could buy an excellent camera, you really wouldn't want to inflict the pain of a Symbian powered Nokia phone on yourself.

    1. DaddyHoggy

      SE Satio

      I had a Satio for a while with its lovely 12MP camera (having always had SE phones from the W200i through to the C902) but the OS, a nasty kludge of Symbian and SE GUI made the phone a nasty diabolical torture device to use.

      It put me off smart phones for a year (I went back to the C902) until I discovered the joys of Samsung and Android and while the camera is OK on my Galaxy with some nice features the quality of the imagery isn't a patch on the Satio. Such a shame Symbian is such a bad OS.

  5. Piro

    If it was cheap..

    ... Then it might be nice as a compact camera. However, as the bloke above me says, north of 400 quid will pay for a lot of camera.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: If it was cheap..

      >north of 400 quid will pay for a lot of camera.

      It will, even a low end DSLR. However, for about £400 and pocket sized, you'd be looking at something like a Lumix LX-7 or Canon S100... search internet for 'nokia 808 vs LX 5' for some surprising comparison shots. The 808 performs better than the LX 5, which has a faster lens and bigger sensor than most compacts.

      1. dotslash
        Stop

        Re: If it was cheap..

        plus, most £400 cameras won't browse the internet, check your email, call people, text people, watch videos on, listen to music, play games on...

        Today's phones pack a lot of stuff in one package making them quite good value as it is. Putting a usable camera on them is quite salivating.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: If it was cheap..

      You mean it will buy a lot of camera body. You would really need to spend £400+ on a lens and £400+ on a camera body to get anything decent.

      Most kit lenses are slow, you won't get anything like f2.0 in a kit lens and the 920 can shoot at f2.0.

      A camera is a combination of a good sensor and a good lens. People worry about the body too much and forget that the lens is the more important factor for getting sharp pictures.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Giles Jones

        The f-number means nothing without context. The Lumia 920's f2 is equivalent to about f9 on an APS-C DSLR.

        Why? Because the APS-C sensor is ~4.5x the size of the Lumia 920's sensor.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice review

    My only criticism would be that I'd would like to have seen a couple of 41MP scapes in perfect and not so perfect light, just to see how the camera fares at its maximum possible resolution (not that I'd likely use that, but just curious :).

    1. tmTM

      Re: Nice review

      I'd like to see a couple of snaps not taken by a professional.

      Hand the camera to the nearest joe bloggs and see how well the pictures stack up.

      I've seen sample shots for alot of mobile phone cameras, they never look as bad as the ones I produce.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice review

        The professional aspect of photography isn't just technique. It's framing and knowing what good light is and how to capture it.

        If you take a camera out on a dull overcast day and take photos then they're going to look melancholy and the colours look really poor. You also need to think about shadows, it's no good taking a photo at midday and having a lack of shadows on a landscape.

        This is why so many people get disappointed when they buy a new expensive camera and then realise it isn't taking better photos. It is just capturing the same boring, dull conditions the previous camera is.

        If you want beautiful landscapes then you aren't going to take them if your local area looks like Afghanistan.

        1. Alan Firminger

          Re: Nice review

          But Afghanistan is very beautiful.

  7. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    "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.

    1. mfalcon
      Thumb Up

      Re: "The best camera is the one you have with you"

      Absolutly right. I have a nice Fuji Finepix which takes good pictures even if it is getting a bit old now. Since I got my N8 about 18th months ago just about every photo I've taken has been with it. The reason is simple. I carry my phone just about everywhere. I don't carry my camera everywhere.

    2. Joe K

      Re: "The best camera is the one you have with you"

      Also if you've had a great phone camera for a few years you end up with thousands of great shots that you wouldn't have otherwise had, either because you can't be arsed carrying a good camera, or your phone renders all those memorable moments as blurry embarrassments.

      Always worth the investment i feel, and being scared off by a perfectly respectable operating system is quite foolish.

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Re: "The best camera is the one you have with you"

      Not to mention "no SLR" policies at many music venues.

  8. MacroRodent Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    instagram?!

    "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...

    1. jason 7
      Facepalm

      Re: instagram?!

      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!"

    2. David Ward 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: instagram?!

      couldn't agree more, have an upvote good sir

    3. /\/\j17
      FAIL

      Re: instagram?!

      "Nokia Belle also lacks the support of many applications readily available for Android and iOS – Instagram, being one example..."

      Umm, no. Just no.

      In what way can Nokia Belle lack support for an application? The application developer may not have released a version of their application for Nokia Belle but that's just crapness on the application developers part and hardly Nokia's fault!

    4. chainxor

      Re: instagram?!

      By the way, if one insists on using "hipster"-filters to destroy their fotos, there is the fairly excellent Molome app for Symbian that does almost EXACTLY what Instagram does.

  9. Dave 15

    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).

    1. Davidoff
      WTF?

      PureView and Windows Phone

      "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"

      What a load of fanboy bullcrap. Of course Windows Phone can do the same, in fact any modern phone OS can do the same as the reason why the PV808 can process such large amounts of imaging data is *not* because of the OS but because the PV808 has dedicated processing hardware.

      As the owner of a Nokia N8 (12MPx with large sensor) I am, too, disappointed that the new Lumia 920 comes with a measly 8Mpx snapper and where the 'PureView' branding has been applied to a mechanical stabilizer and a litlle bit better low light performance, but I don't have to lie to myself to make Symbian aka Nokia Belle looking like the best thing since sliced bread. From a user perspective, it's at a level with Android of 2009, and as good as Symbian is technically as an OS, Nokia always has had the by far worst implementation of it (non-touch phones running S60 when other Symbian phone makers were putting out touchscreen phones which already had true touch interfaces like UIQ). And some of the updates for what was Symbian^3 even made bugs worse or removed functionality that has been in there before.

      The best thing in Nokia going for Windows Phone is that the software is made by someone else. Nokia can make great hardware, but they almost always screw everything up when it comes to software.

      1. Dave 15

        Re: PureView and Windows Phone

        True the images are processed directly by dedicated hardware but the OS has to be able to use the dedicated hardware and allow things such as passing the huge volume of data directly from the camera processing on the dedicated chip to the screen graphics without passing it through layers of software. If it can't then the layers of software wilt under the pressure of the data and it stops.

        I think you'll find I did admit to be a fanboy :)

        1. Davidoff
          Holmes

          Re: PureView and Windows Phone

          "True the images are processed directly by dedicated hardware but the OS has to be able to use the dedicated hardware and allow things such as passing the huge volume of data directly from the camera processing on the dedicated chip to the screen graphics without passing it through layers of software."

          That's wishful thinking, sorry. Almost anything that in regard to a captured picture (including image manipulation) is done inside the imaging processor. What you get on the phone screen has been vastly downscaled before by (yes, you guessed it!) the imaging processor, so the amount of data that leaves towards the GPU is tiny anyways.

          And yes, even on Symbian there are a dozen or so software layers between most of these stages as there are on any modern phone OS. And that is no problem whatsoever.

          They key is in the imaging hardware, not in the OS. And we will most certainly see similar hardware on a Nokia WP8 phone sooner or later (better sooner if Nokia wants my money).

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: PureView and Windows Phone

          Good, we don't want your stupid closed minded attitude anyway :)

        2. RICHTO Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: PureView and Windows Phone

          You obviously havnt used it then. Its leagues ahead of anything else on the market in terms of stability, performance, usability and social networking integration.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: PureView and Windows Phone

            I tried it briefly. It made me want to vomit my spleen through my tear ducts. Perhaps in a couple of updates time it might be ok.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PureView and Windows Phone

        Windows Phone can't handle Pureview, so they just took the name, as they knew Microsoft fanboys are too stupid to notice..

        I wouldn't trust what you see anyway, they had to fake all the footage..

        http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/5/3294545/nokias-pureview-ads-are-fraudulent

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pureview on Microsoft phones.... @Dave 15

      "indeed ALL symbian based phones runs rings around all the other smart phone contenders."

      Not really, on like for like usage. Symbian doesn't have any magic sauce when it comes to the efficiency of the semiconductors that the phone is assembled from, the screen, or the antenna. I see no material difference in battery life between my old Symbian powered N5800 and my SGS2, when subject to moderate use. However, the SGS2 is more capable, and nicer to use, and so gets used far more.

      Certainly if you leave your phone in your pocket all day every day, then the Nokia has longer standby (though in the real world nothing like the 400 hours the makers claimed), but throw in a modest number of calls and a few other activities and there's very little in it.

      Which is why people are happy to buy Andoid and IOS. "Good standby if you don't use it much" isn't a compelling proposition from Nokia, even though people do want better battery life.

    3. Andy Christ
      Facepalm

      iOS based on Linux? Really?!

      But thanks for the laugh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iOS based on Linux? Really?!

        Based on Darwin isn't it?

        Even so, that is an OS without any inherent regard paid to the power efficiency of its memory management which is where Symbian scores over it. Reading the crop of user reviews on Amazon is would appear 24 hours of heavy app usage can be expected from the 808, so it does indeed run rings round any Android phone I know. Having just suffered the double misfortune of breaking my compact and scratching the lens on my camcorder, I'm quite tempted to shell out for one.

        1. hazydave

          Re: iOS based on Linux? Really?!

          All mobile OSs have extensive work on their power management. That's not where the power is going.

          If you look at a typical modern smartphone (Android, iOS, and certainly the forthcoming Windows 8 phone), you'll find as much as 50% of your power going to the screens. That's what higher quality displays (IPS, OLED, 720p or nearly so) can do for you. Nokia's not going to be any different... in fact, their PureMotion screens incorporate two innovations that will eat even more power. One is the trick they use to get the LCD switching time up.. they hit the LCD with a voltage spike on the incident of the switching signal. This gets them about 3x the speed of other (read: iPhone) LCDs, but it's taking more power. The other is a claim of better daylight readability, which is exactly what Asus does in their IPS+ display mode: big fat backlight. Anytime there's light, heat, or a strong radio signal, that's power going out of the battery.

          They "fix" this in the 808 by just not playing the game. The 808 runs a 640x360 OLED display, 1/4 the resolution of most 2011-2012 smartphones.

          Some Nokia phones, like the 808, achieve better power characteristics simply by going retro. The CPU in the 808 is based on ARM11. The successor to ARM11 was ARM Cortex A8, which was replaced by the A9, and over the next year is likely to be replaced by the A15 (and similar cores: Qualcom has the Scorpion, comparable to the A8, and the Krait, same class as the A15... Apple's new iPhone 5 has a core similar in performance to an A15). In short, they have a CPU from 2006 or so, just run a bit faster... yeah, you're going to save a little power there.

          And yet, the N9 claims about 70% more talk time than the 808, even with the same battery size (or close enough)... so what's the deal there?

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: iOS based on Linux? Really?!

            I thought it was the screens that generally chewed through battery? Certainly if I dont use the screen much on my phone I get much much longer battery life. Start using the screen for reading ebooks and you can see the battery drop quicker.

    4. PowerSurge
      Happy

      Re: Pureview on Microsoft phones.... don't hold your breath it is NOT the same!

      According to wikipedia: iOS is derived from OS X, with which it shares the Darwin foundation, and is therefore a Unix operating system. iOS is Apple's mobile version of the OS X operating system used on Apple computers.

      OS X has origins in BSD which is unrelated to Linux. Linux is also a unix-like OS but is not the same.

      Most desktop unixes use GNU for the base user-space programs (GNU's Not Unix). Apple, I would guess, don't. They instead use NeXTStep (from Job's NeXT company). FYI there is a clone of the NeXTStep user interface called WindowMaker which runs on Linux. It uses a UI paradigm refreshingly different from Windows.

    5. hazydave

      Re: Pureview on Microsoft phones.... don't hold your breath it is NOT the same!

      The OS use on a modern smartphone is so small, it's not really relevant. The main point of designing custom OSs for mobile or even just for smartphones was that, simply put, early smartphones were not capable of running a PC-class operating system. The same issues were true for PDAs of the day, which is of course why so many early smartphones were based on PDA operating systems (and in fact, the Windows 7 Phones still are... they're running WinCE, not WinNT).

      Back when you had a monochrome, transflective LCD screen, a CPU, a tiny bit of memory, and a phone modem as pretty much the whole phone, the OS could well have been a significant part of the power consumption. Not anymore, and not for a long time. The main impact from the OS on battery life isn't even the OS itself, it's the hardware's ability to manage power (clock speed control, shutting off unused resources, etc) and the OS's power management support for that, too. When it comes to power hogs, it's primarily the screen, if you have a good signal, or the radio (3G, 4G, doesn't much matter) when you don't have a good signal.

      In the case of Android, yeah, that's Linux. UNIX began as an OS for minicomputers in fact, not microcomputers. But that was the 1960s, and nothing particularly relevant to today. Linux is fully capable of function on modern low power microprocessors, and under the Android project, modern power management was brought in as well (that was part of the original Linux fork Android took, which was merged back earlier this year). Linux is also one of the most popular embedded operating systems today -- it's seen plenty of use in low power applications, even before Android.

      iOS is derived from MacOS, of course, which is based on CMU's Mach kernel and BSD UNIX -- no Linux in there. On MacOS, Apple has delivered some of the best power management on any OS... MacOS PCs typically run longer than most similar Windows PCs, even these days given identical hardware... most of that's due to MacOS's well tuned power management. Which is also on the iPhone.

      Your battery life depends quite a bit on what you're making those batteries do. Certainly, if your OS is doing more things, it's going to use more battery power. If it's running on higher class processors, it may (though not always) use more power. Larger and higher definition screens also suck down much more power... an example: the current 9.7" iPad screen takes 2.5x as much power as last year's identically sized iPad screen. The only differences are due to pixel density. SymbianOS phones have typically had much lower resolution screens than their iOS or Android counterparts, which is a significant contributer to battery life. They also tend to have slower CPUs and fewer hardware features. That's not a SymbianOS limit, that's just the reality of Nokia not focusing on SymbianOS phones for the last several years, as they try to kill the market.

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    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.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice review

    Only thing I would mention - if you are waiting for Windows phones with similar tech (i.e. the high pixel count sensor, rather than something just called Pureview) it's going to be a long long wait. AFAIK, there are no Windows phone GPU's that can handle the resolution, and won't be for some time.

    1. Davidoff
      Holmes

      There are no Windows phone GPU's that can handle the resolution

      No, there aren't. There also aren't any for Symbian phones (the Broadcom BCM2763 that's in the PV808 maxes out at 20MPx). That's why the PV808 has a dedicated imaging processor. Which can be used with Windows Phone, too. Or any other modern advanced phone OS.

      It may also be worth remembering that the reasons why the PV808 was running Symbian and not Windows Phone 7 are that the development started before Nokia adopted WP and because they had more flexibility in the hardware as on WP8 (where MS dictates what's in the box).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are no Windows phone GPU's that can handle the resolution

        It is just the BCM2763 doing the image processing - I should know as I worked on the project! A few tweaks were required to get the extra pixels through, but it was only a matter of balancing memory requirements and processing time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There are no Windows phone GPU's that can handle the resolution @DavidOff

          Sorry, AC above is correct. There is no 'extra' stage between the sensor and the BCM2763 - although Broadcom marketing blurb says 20, it's is actually handling the full sensor with no extra hardware. I don't know where people got the idea of the extra stage from, but it seem quite prevalent, and quite quite wrong.

          Which is why you won't see this tech on a WinPho in the near future. No WinPho SoC support this high a pixel count.

          Citation: Work on the camera side of the 808 project, so I'm wondering who the AC above is..! As for a 'few' tweaks to get this resolution working - it took more than a few tweaks!

  12. The Axe

    Cameraphone or phonecamera

    Considering it's camera capabilities it would have been better to put it all in a proper camera case with the phone bit tacked on for data connection of uploading pictures and bluetooth for audio if really needed (you wouldn't hold a camera to your face to talk into, grip would be wrong). That way it would be easier to hold and use it as a proper camera.

    BTW, there is a bug in that first big 41MP image. Literally there is a bug on a petal ;-)

  13. Tegne
    WTF?

    With that headline I was expecting an opinion based purely on the fantastic camera.

    But I guess unsurprisingly it turned into an anti-Symbian whine.

    1. Davidoff
      Holmes

      But I guess unsurprisingly it turned into an anti-Symbian whine.

      Well, I guess if you haven't used a modern Android, iPhone or even WP7.5 device then you may see it this way. However, reality is that for anyone used to a modern phone OS using Symbian is like a step back into 2009, and it's general flexibility is simply irrelevant if the functionality you want is not available on Symbian.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But I guess unsurprisingly it turned into an anti-Symbian whine.

        I also thought that after my 1st week with the 808, and disappointment in the lame Nokia Store, but then realised, how many unique apps do i actually use anyway?

        Nokia's built-in browser, email, messaging, twitter, facebook, flickr, maps, driving, DLNA-push, office (proper MS office), calculator, weather, media editing, run/cycle-tracking, travel recommendation, voice search, wifi-tethering, etc, etc apps are all superb.

        There are also free alternatives in the store (Opera is the real deal too, unlike the reskinned WebKit appstore one), and your good stuff like VPN, Putty, converters, or just make a homescreen web-link to replication all those pointless web-apps like Ebay, TripAdvisor, Amazon, etc.

        If you like mobile games then yes, you're fucked. Otherwise i've found that i can live with the rare exception (instagram, lol) or just fire up an old iTouch for those tower defence games i miss.

    2. larokus
      Linux

      Re: With that headline I was expecting an opinion based purely on the fantastic camera.

      In all fairness the author has little if any credibility. He still has a 3.5 inch iphone4 in late 2012.

  14. Glostermeteor

    Why oh why, did Nokia dump Symbian! That one idiotic decision was what forced me to dump Nokia phones after 11 years of loyalty and go with Samsung, and also is the reason why I will not be buying this camera phone despite it being very cool. Why would I want a phone with an OS which is now extinct?

    This latest version of Symbian could well have kept Nokia in the game, its as swish as Android and cuts out a lot of the lags and bugs that previous Symbian versions had. But no, instead they decided to dump their one Unique Selling Point and cosy up to Microsoft. Symbian INVENTED the concept of apps, widgets and all the other goodies you now see on Android and iOS, they were the FIRST to do it, and built up a very good ecosystem of apps and developers, I had my first Symbian phone in 2002.

    1. Davidoff
      Holmes

      This latest version of Symbian could well have kept Nokia in the game

      No, it couldn't. Even the latest Nokia Belle is stuck at a level comparable somewhere at Android 1.6 and 2.1. It's not Symbian's fault, it's Nokia's. Converting S60 (which was designed for non-touch devices) into a touch interface didn't work well, there are just too many oddities that other phone OSes which were designed for touch from the onset haven't. Nokia never had a proper roadmap, updates have always been delayed for months, and often instead of fixing problems just introduced new problems and took away functionality. Nokia is, plain simply, crap at doing software.

      At the end of the day, it doesn't matter that Symbian had apps and something like app stores years before the first iPhone came out (my SE P990i had an app store, and with UIQ also a GUI that was designed for touch screens from the start, unlike any Nokia Symbian phone). Symbian was certainly a great OS, but due to Nokia's incompetence it's development had stagnated for more than three years, which was more than enough time for other mobile platforms not only to catch up but to leave Symbian behind.

      I like my N8 (which is at the latest Belle Refresh), but having used other modern cell phones (I have a HTC WP7.5 work phone and also two Android handsets running 2.3.7 and 4.0.4) I can't omit that the N8 feels terribly outdated and underperforming (camera aside).

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Nokia can't and/or won't support Symbian properly, thanks to Flop.

      I've suffered e-mail on Symbian 3 since I bought the N8 and here we are two years later with Belle Refresh and Belle FP2 and e-mail support still doesn't work. IMAP IDLE support was dropped with Belle Refresh instead of fixed, POP3/IMAP polling is unreliable and still doesn't work properly in Belle Refresh, the only thing that works reliably is ActiveSync but you can have a maximum of 1 (one) account. E-mail notification is non-existent; just a beep and if you didn't hear it then you've missed it, there's no e-mail icon on the notification bar or screensaver and no flashing indicator light either which is a step back from Symbian 1. The phone also had Ovi Push Notification support for applications but Nokia's just knocked it on the head with the latest update too.

      Meanwhile the Belle FP2 rollout for the newer Symbian phones has been stopped because it bricked phones.

      I was a Symbian fanboy for technical reasons but Nokia's just butchered the OS. Nokia are have shown they're incapable of supporting it, and my next phone will probably be a Samsung.

  15. Richard Ball

    Video tear

    Looks lovely and well done on the innovative use of a big sensor - however:

    Why do all mobile devices, costing hundreds, and offering HD video resolution, all suffer from the wierd distortion that occurs whenever the camera is moved? I presume it's because the image is effectively being 'scanned' from the sensor, so that for any given frame the timing at the bottom of the sensor is different from that at the top, but it must be possible to do this better and dispense with the distortion?

    As far as I know proper video cameras don't do this (I'm assuming as I rant) so why do expensive 'premium' mobile-type devices have to?

    1. Dave 15

      Re: Video tear

      Rolling shutter is the answer you are looking for and yes it is the frame being scanned - if you move it fast enough the bottom is looking at a different image to the top.

      There are other methods for shutter control that don't cause this effect but I believe all mobile cameras use the scanning technique.

      Attempts can and are made to reduce the effect but it really can't be eliminated completely if you move the camera fast enough.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Video tear

        What Dave 15 said:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolling_shutter

        Also, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still waiting for anything worth spending on

    I still don't have time to play with a Smartphone - I don't need any more toys in my life. I grew out of playing games. I just have a simple phone for ... phone calls!

    Any time I have to spare, to surf the web, I'm near a proper computer or have my netbook.

    - but I would like a reasonable camera in the phone I always carry.

    Sadly there's no such thing as a cheap and cheerful mobile phone with good battery life and a camera that comes anywhere close to the average 50 quid point-n-shoot.

    Why?! Am I really the only one?

    1. Dave 15

      Re: Still waiting for anything worth spending on

      There are PLENTY of cheap and cheerful mobile phones with pretty decent cameras. Try visiting a phone shop or cheaper still visit ebay and pick up someones cast off, all you need to do is ignore the 'smart phones' if you don't need that stuff (and most don't). I have a little s40 which has a reasonable 2mpix camera that makes a reasonable fist of most normal point and shoot shots, does well for phone calls and has a battery life of around a week. This is not the only one, and in this market there are a huge number of manufacturers offering different form factors. My main gripe is that I don't like touch screens and I don't like 'chocolate bars', I want a flip phone for pref or a clam shell if I can't get a flip.

      As an aside I was knocked off a motorbike a while back, taking the phone out and snapping photos of the scene (road conditions, where on the road the bike had landed, the damage to the car, the number plate, drivers face, damage to the bike etc etc etc ensured the insurance claim was quick and painless, very different to the insurance claim with the last car accident where the guy denied hitting me, changed where the accident happened and blamed me (eventually I won, but it took nearly 3 years).

      I also find that taking a quick photo with the phone saves writing down adverts :)

      If you carry a phone to make phone calls make sure it also has a camera for the unexpected uses.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still waiting for anything worth spending on

      Get an old N82 for £50. Excellent phone, and a truly excellent camera that still blows away 95% of other new camphones: http://mynokiablog.com/2012/07/05/aas-nokia-n82-vs-nokia-n8-vs-nokia-808-pureview-camera-tests-and-a-damian-dinning-response/

      I'd sell you mine, but i'm keeping it as a handy backup network camera.

  17. hexx

    could somebody explain

    what is 'wide' aperture? all i know there are small and large apertures

    1. That Awful Puppy
      Trollface

      Re: could somebody explain

      It's a sort of a photographer shibboleth, to weed out the wannabes. Go to any pro photog event, and watch people who say "large aperture" get quietly escorted off the premises, never to be seen again.

      1. hexx

        Re: could somebody explain

        no, there's no such a thing like a 'wide' aperture, my comment was ironic, you have wide angle of view or narrow angle of view but aperture doesn't have property of being wide or narrow since it's circular.

        1. hexx

          Re: could somebody explain

          but you can have lens wide open - meaning shooting at the largest aperture available on a lens ;)

        2. That Awful Puppy

          Re: could somebody explain

          Yours may have been ironic, but mine was dripping with sarcasm. Look, if you want to go all pedantic, go ahead. But is it really worth it? A "large" 3 TB HDD will have a larger capacity than an IBM 2310, yet it will be quite a bit smaller, physically. I don't see anyone complaining about this apparent nonsense, apart maybe from Dr. Sheldon Cooper, hallowed be his name.

          It's just a bit of jargon, no need to get all upset about it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF?

    I'm going to Stromboli next week, and recently bought the 808 too, mostly because very few phones have a cam anywhere near as good as my 5yr old N82, and i'm not dropping in cam quality for any damn operating system.

    After getting used to Symbian's quirks i couldn't be happier. Pic quality is as perfect as expected, but the sound, oh my frigging god, it is as if you have multiple quality microphones based around you ran by a pro-soundman. I've never heard anything like it.

    A quick test in the back garden, then replayed with headphones, was mind-blowing. I could hear the birds, next door arguing, the school down the road, amazing stuff.

    This and an iTouch=sorted. Nice to be out of the fanboi OS-wars.

    1. Dave 15

      Re: WTF?

      Little mention of the microphones are made, they are brilliant - did hear a side by side comparison of the iphone and 808 at a rock concert. One sounded like a scratched and beaten gramaphone the other was just like you were still there... guess which way was which :)

  19. Tim Walker
    Unhappy

    Going against the flow

    If I had a pound for every comment, blog post, tech review, etc. that talks about Symbian being clunky, outdated, unfamiliar, etc., I could probably afford to buy an 808 PureView SIM-free (which, to my great chagrin, is likely the only way I'd ever get the chance to own one, with no UK networks offering it on contract - thanks for nothing).

    I don't begrudge such people their opinions, but they are just that: opinions. I don't find Symbian clunky or outdated, and I struggle with such comments being presented as objective truth - as if no-one could conceive why anyone could possibly want to stick with a Nokia smartphone when there are bigger, shinier iOS and Android models coming out all the time?

    In a few months' time, my mobile contract comes up for renewal, and believe me, I've looked long and hard at potential replacements for my Nokia N8 (the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is tempting, for one). However, I feel I'm quite happy with the N8 and its features - just to take one reason from my list, the stills camera on any 2012 smartphone (aside from the 808) would be a downgrade from the N8, and I like to have a decent camera with a proper flash on my phone.

    I'm happy with the apps I use (Exhibit A: find me an iOS/Android social-networking client that comes within sight of Gravity on the N8, and I'll look at it), and although there is the odd "hole" (e.g. Skype video-calling), it's nothing I couldn't fill with my netbook or a tablet. Certainly not enough to outweigh the N8 features that 2012 smartphones still don't offer (or not as elegantly).

    The one UK phone outlet I found that offered the 808 on contract, has now stopped doing so, and I can't afford to buy one SIM-free, so I'm basically faced with "upgrading" to an iOS/Android device which will lack some key features from my N8, or sticking with my N8 and saving myself some cash (possibly putting it aside to land myself an 808 in a year or so when the price should've plummeted).

    I know that in the end, I'll have to move away from this platform, but I'm just not ready to give up its benefits yet... though I really must say the Note 2 is interesting :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Going against the flow

      > The one UK phone outlet I found that offered the 808 on contract, has now stopped doing so, and I can't afford to buy one SIM-free, so I'm basically faced with "upgrading" to an iOS/Android device which will lack some key features from my N8

      You don't have to upgrade at all; when a contract ends it usually goes onto a one month rolling contract.

      Stick with the phone you like and you will have the option of getting a new one if something comes along to tickle your fancy.

      I am in a similar position; my contract is up but they will have to prise my N900 from my cold, dead hand....

      1. Tim Walker

        Re: Going against the flow

        Quite right - to be fair, I did mention that sticking with the N8 was my other option :-) Yes, I think I'm probably going to hold fire and see if I can land myself an 808 more cheaply further down the line.

        (and there are sometimes when I wish I'd got an N900 myself...)

    2. chainxor

      Re: Going against the flow

      I bought the 808 SIM-free, and I have not regretted it at all. iOS sucks ass in my view compared to Belle FP1, plain and simple.

      The 808 is FAST and it is smooth to operate.

      I also have an iPad when I feel the need to tryout some new app or game - I am actually surprised how little I use the iPad, except for gaming.

      All the important stuff for me like Vimeo, YouTube, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Skype, Nokia's (excellent!) Maps, Dropbox (CuteBox app), SkyDrive, Office etc. are all there on the 808 and it works like a charm!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Going against the flow

      Wouldn't you be much better off haggling over your monthly contract and getting yourself a cheap deal in return for 18/24 months' no handset lock in and then using the cash you save to pay off a loan taken out to buy the 808 sim free? If you do it right (apply for your PAC first), it is possible to save quite a bit. The handset will be worth more at the end too.

  20. badmonkey
    Devil

    Ahem

    >>> "Instagram, being one example that photographers and Facebookers alike will certainly miss..."

    Per title.

    And no mention of "photographers" and "Facebookers" in the same sentence if you please!

  21. Tim Walker

    Instagram alternative

    Some might think it a tiny bit perverse to take photos of the 808's quality and then mangle them down to a 600x600 square, but if that floats your boat and you're missing Instagram, try MOLOME. It's free in the Nokia Store (the Store client should be on the 808), and offers various Instagrammish image filters; MOLOME can also forward your snaps to social and cloud storage networks, including TwitBook, Tumblr, Flickr and Dropbox (plus others).

    MOLOME doesn't quite offer the... oh, I have to say the word... "ecosystem" (PTOOOOO! yuk, that leaves a bad taste) that Instagram does (make books and fridge magnets out of your pics, etc.), but if that's your bag then you could always find a similar service that supports Flickr, and use F as a relay to upload your snaps from there.

    Yes, I use MOLOME, and no, I have no connection with them (usual disclaimer, blah yada etc) ;-)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, once I ascertained that Nokia was true to its word

    They aren't being true about the 41mp claim, it's a simulated figure based on supersamping...

    1. Andrew Garrard
      Facepalm

      Re: Well, once I ascertained that Nokia was true to its word

      Oh yes, they're completely lying. It's *only* 38MP. Which isn't interpolated (except in a Bayer sense), that's actual sensor sites.

      Let's pick our fights?

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: Well, once I ascertained that Nokia was true to its word

      Actually, the sensor IS 41MP, but depending on the aspect ratio of the image you want it can only use up to 38MP and still have a rectangular image.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital zooms

    "The combination of a longer focal length with a wider aperture creates a smooth but well marked background defocusing effect that greatly enhances portraiture and still life shooting."

    The author knows the lens is fixed but seems to think zooming can change the depth of field, this is not the case as it is just cropping the image.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Digital zooms

      Depth of field is also a function of the format, so when you crop an image to 50% and then enlarge the crop back to the original size, the DoF halves too, since the blur is also doubled in "size".

      Try it in a DoF calculator. Double the focal length, f-number and circle of confusion, which is what you do by cropping to 50%, and the DoF halves.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Digital zooms

        Or even better, try it with a photo taken of a flat, detailed surface at an oblique angle so you can see the principle at work.

  24. chainxor

    Instagram

    Molome is the app you want to download on the 808, if you need Instagram-like filters, it works flawlessly.

  25. Andrew Garrard

    No magic

    "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."

    Which is in fact exactly what happens on most cameras if you save a lower resolution image than the default provided by the sensor. And, indeed, it normally improves the noise handling. I've no idea why everyone is making a big deal about this, other than that Nokia can justifiably claim that the sensor resolution is not detrimental. (Now, arguing about whether Nikon should implement a "small raw" mode on their high-end DSLRs is another matter.)

    "This technology allows the 808’s sensor to capture as much light information as much larger pixels and sensors would."

    The fact that the 808 has, for a phone (and most compacts), a chuffing enormous sensor and a fast lens means that it can capture a lot of light information. The amount hitting the sensor is the amount hitting the sensor. The amount per pixel is small, but DxO do their noise tests normalized by total image area, and exactly the same concept applies. So "[fewer] larger pixels", yes - "larger sensors", no. So much FUD about downsampling...

    Anyway, nice bit of kit. I might pick one up as a compact camera once their price drops to clearance levels. Not so tempting as a phone, though.

  26. David Black
    Gimp

    2009

    I see a lot of comments about using Symbian being like going back to 2009 in smartphone terms but I'd just like to understand what exactly is so different about the typical iPhone 5 experience and say the 3GS experience in 2009? Maybe a lift in performance and the improvement in screen (and the wonderful maps) but still it pretty much looks and feels very 2009 on both devices. Maybe I'm missing something.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    41MP camera takes snapshots and dumps all that sensor goodness into a crappy lossy JPG! Brilliant!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sorry to break it to you, but Blu-ray is compressed too.

  28. Andrew_b65

    iPhone user - Q. How did I know on the very first page?

    I will not be rushing to trade in my iPhone - no shit, Sherlock.

    A.

    "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."

    Despite being a professional snapper, this chick instinctively holds a phone in portrait when taking a photo like all those other gormless iphoners.

  29. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Fat pixels

    They're amazing for a cellphone but I call BS on the resolution. Zoom in to the high res images and search for anything that has an optical resolution better than 3x3 pixels. It's not there. The prototype sample photos from Nokia actually had 3x3 bricks where there were unmasked defective pixels.

    The technical white paper indicated that there are 41 M sensors for superior noise reduction and digital zoom, but said the rest of the hardware must process a downsampled or cropped image. My bet is that the marketing department demanded the 41Mpix back even if it meant upsampling after downsampling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fat pixels

      Of course, if the final image requested is 8MP, then there is subsampling and processing to get to that size. If you ask for a full resolution image (38MP max although sensor is indeed 41MP), then the processing is done on the whole image, not any subsampled image.

      It's one of the reasons that WinPho won't have the tech for a while, none of the WinPho SoC/camera pipelines can handle the very high pixel counts, unlike the BCM2763. Note that the ISP on the 808 is the same as the one on the RaspberryPi....a Videocore4.

      Citation: Worked on the project.

  30. Alan Firminger

    Is this an answer in search of a question ?

    Yes it works.

    The full resolution shot is in focus over a narrow range, 1607 is sharp but not behind or before. The lens is at or near full aperture, stop it down and optical interference will give a softer image. I once worked with microfilm which provided lines across the picture comparable to this sensor - a good 50 mm lens would work best at f/5.6 equal to 9 mm diameter, this 8 mm lens working at f/2.4 is only a 4 mm hole and it gets worse as stopped down.

    In the full resolution shot smooth parts of the picture show mottle. But surely the issue is the effective pixel area, why not get the same result using fewer larger pixels ?

    It is excellent to record secret documents when at AWRE.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this an answer in search of a question ?

      It's called AWE nowadays and you have to leave your phone at the gate. (And cameras, pendrives, anything else that might possibly contain NV storage. If it does get in, it doesn't leave again in any purposeful sense.)

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