back to article MYSTERY Nokia Lumia with gazillion-pixel camera 'spotted'

Nokia will plug the boffinry behind the 41-megapixel camera in its 808 PureView phone into a new Lumia smartmobe, it is rumoured. The technology involves a gigantic sensor capable of taking gazillion-pixel photographs and clever software to refine the image into a sharp 3MP, 5MP or 8MP shot. The results can match the output of …


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  1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      Good to see you're open minded about new things.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        "Good to see you're open minded about new things"

        Don't be silly, there are a gazillion new things that you might try every week. Triage.

      2. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        All new things should be taken with a pinch of salt based on the people who are trying to sell them to you.

        Would you try a "new" pie from the guy who was convicted of sneezing into his baked goods?

      3. Steve Knox Silver badge

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        Let's try this again.

        This is not a new thing; it's a rumor about a new thing -- a rumor about a new hardware component which isn't even the point of contention for people who don't wish to try Windows Phone 8.

        So why would this make someone try Windows Phone 8 NOW?

    2. asdf Silver badge

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      Wow Nokia hardware is such a waste on Windows Phone 8. I know for the camera alone if they come out with an Android version it would be the missus next phone.

    3. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      I will not try it here or there.

      I will not try it anywhere.

      I do not like it Sam I Am.

      I do not like this Windows Spam.

      Couldn't resist - too much Doctor Seuss in my formative years...

    4. N13L5

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      M$ must have Nokia in some nasty exclusivity contract for Windphone making.

      That's gotta be the only reason the board hasn't removed the sloppy Microsoft mole from his corner office.

  2. Gordon Pryra

    NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?


  3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

      Some phone camera are already better than the cheapest dedicated. The human eye has small lenses and short focal length. Insects have different visual systems. Always is a long time Eadon. Or have voices from the future told you this is so.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

        "Some phone camera are already better than the cheapest dedicated."

        Sorry. Wrong. Some phone CCD imaging components may be technically superior in, say, megapixels or other areas. But to say they are automatically surpassing to even the cheapest camera with proper moving optics is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, you can get some impressive and high res images but the fact is that the focal length just isn't there for anything but "people standing arm's length away" (ideal for a phone-photo of your friends, poor for anything else).

        And it doesn't really matter what clever tricks you play, you need the focal length which is a physical light path length. Hell, it's about the only photo application where you can (and do) get away with fixed focus.

        For a quick snapshot, yeah, a phone will do an amazing job given it's cost, size, secondary function, etc. To say it beats a camera with any kind of moving optics is really pushing it. I'm not a camera nut, it's taken me about six months to learn how to apply focal lengths, etc. for astrophotography from, basically, zero knowledge and the only camera I own - well, I don't, it's my girlfriend's.

        But there's a world of difference between webcam/phonecam fixed-focus, limited use, flash-backed images in good light versus what even the most basic camera with "optical zoom" can do. Hell, the fact that people still compare megapixels is quite hilarious, it's like judging a car by how many revs it can do (by which standard, my dad's go-kart will beat a Ferrari). You can take unbelievable images of nebulae with a CCD that's barely a couple of megapixels, but would struggle to reproduce with even the most expensive of SLR cameras with hacking them apart.

        There's more to a camera than megapixels. A lot more. What kind of ISO speeds does it offer? That's VERY telling, even some of the most expensive SLR's barely hit 1200 and some can go to ridiculous impossible-with-film ISO sensitivity. What focal lengths can it manage? What optics is it using (even the designer name of the lens doesn't mean much if it's cheap junk)? There are a million and one questions.

        The person who judges a digital camera by the megapixel is someone who doesn't take a lot of photographs outside of "happy snaps". I don't either. But I know there's a whole lot more to it than just how many dots you get into your image (which you then display on a 72dpi screen or take to ASDA and get printed at 150dpi anyway).

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

          @Lee D

          You might have missed the point- it is not being judged on the number of mega-pixels it has, but on the results it produces. Rather than give us a lot of theory, isn't is easier for you to look at the DPreview review of the 808- after all, it contains lots of test shots, many of them under their controlled studio conditions. They use the same conditions for each camera (DSLR, compact, whatever) they review, so that comparisons are fair and standard.

          True, you are never going to get fine user control over your pictures with this thing, but that isn't he point of this device.

        2. Chris 171

          Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

          I think you are confusing moving optics (zoom?) and fixed focus.

          Fixed focal length is a very differentent thing to fixed focus. No high end phone camera is fixed focus as far as I'm aware, that would be twatty. Probably best we leave hyperfocal distance for another day though. Feet are essentially your zoom with a fixed length lens.

          The inherent quality of the glass/plastic the sensor/film is looking through is where you get bang for buck. Certainly makes a bigger difference to images than any of the other technical points mentioned. Who is that Zeiss fellow anyway..

          That aside, if EOS is a combination of pureview 1&2 then I'm going to happily put up with WP.

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

          But to say they are automatically surpassing to even the cheapest camera with proper moving optics is a bit of a misnomer.

          "The cheapest camera with proper moving optics" is rather different from "the cheapest dedicated [camera]". You're not arguing the point in contention. Eadon claimed that phone cameras are always inferior to all dedicated cameras; that's definitely false, even if we only include digital cameras. (It's trivially false if we allow film cameras. The pinhole camera exposing Kodak 110 film that I made as a lad was significantly inferior even to the camera on my cheap Symbian S60 phone.)

          Also, "misnomer" does not conventionally mean what you appear to be using it for here.

    2. Shagbag

      Nokia were faking their demo camera shots in their ads

      Yeah, they lost a lot of street cred with that.

      I've already tried WinPho and I won't be getting this Nokia.

      ANOTHER case of sexy hardware being saddle-bagged with an OS that no-one really wants.

    3. GregC

      Pay attention at the back...

      That product shot is not a Lumia, it's the old Pureview.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

      Oh Eadon,

      Time to use your favourite fail icon, because your comment fails on so many levels.

      Once again the Nokia PR guys show a Lumia without showing the Win 8 i/face

      Now let's correct your comment:

      Once again the Register sub-editors show a Pureview 808 without showing the Symbian i/face.

      Oops! So just like the last time you used this comment, it wasn't Nokia's PR flacks who picked the piccies, it was the Register. Unless you're accusing El Reg of taking Nokia's cash to only show the pictures they want shown. And then for extra comedy gold, you failed to notice the that picture shown was an illustration of the size of the camera on the Pureview - as explained in both the text of the article and the caption of the photo.

      Perhaps you could try engaging brain before keyboard once in a while?

    5. 1Rafayal

      Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

      Eadon, you do realise that if you visit Nokia's website you can see a plethora of phones proudly displaying their Windows UI? I am betting you dont, so here is a handy link for you:

      Here is another great link, showing all the Nokia handsets (more or less)

      Seems to me that each of them are displaying the UI that you hate so much, as well as the Windows 8 button.

      I am going to assume Nokia only did this in the last 10 minutes or so, just to enrage you.

    6. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!

      >A phone camera will always be inferior to any dedicated camera, even a cheap portable one.

      Eadon fails to look at any comparisons between the 808 Pureview and 'premium' compacts such as the Lumix LX-5 or Olympus PEN. I don't know why - I'm pretty sure using Linux isn't a barrier to using Google... 'pureview 808 lx 5' for example. All of the reviews, tests, and side by side comparisons come to much the same conclusion.

      In some situations, especially low light, the 808 captured more detail, and generally holds its own. This is impressive, given that the LX-5 when released was a better low-light performer than most compacts, with a 1/1.6 sensor and an f.2 lens.

      To really put the boot in, almost all compact cameras use a propriety OS, shock horror - though I've heard good things of CHKD, a temporay firmware for many Canon compacts that allows all manner of scripts.

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      Eadon, have you signed a living will to state no resuscitation by equipment that uses Microsoft software?

      1. Steve Brooks

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        If your life depends on equipment powered by MS software you probably already died at the last BSOD, unfortunately the hardware couldn't sound the emergency buzzer because it was waiting for windows to finish its memory dump and reboot.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Jess

        resuscitation by equipment that uses Microsoft software?

        That is a scary thought.

        Do they still have the clause about not using it is safety critical situations in the EULA?

      3. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        Please, oh please! Now where did I put that baby Krait..

    2. Neil B
      Thumb Up

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      With the amount of utter bollocks you post about it Eadon, we all knew that already.

      1. fandom Silver badge

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        Dear Register boffins,

        Would you please create an optional filter that hides all posts that include the word 'Eadon' in the text.


        P.D. Maybe I shouldn't throw the first stone but this is getting completely out of hand.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With 20Mp sensor - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

    No, as no amount of hardware can make up for a crap operating system.

    Nokia need to disappear into a room and come out when they have got rid of Elop and have a Android product for sale. Until then, nobody cares.

    1. ukgnome Silver badge

      Re: With 20Mp sensor - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      no amount of hardware can make up for a crap operating system.

      You have probably never seen a lumia, let alone used one. If you had then you would understand why it deserves to be the No1 smartphone on the market.

      Android is a mixed bag, too many handsets and too many versions of OS

      iPhone has stagnated and failed to innovate

      Win 8 \ Lumia is a robust, fast, almost sexy phone that has power (sadly lacking in some apps)

      I'm an android user, but as soon as my old phone gives up the ghost I will invest in a mid-range lumia!

      1. Jess

        I will invest in a mid-range lumia!

        Because you really do want to buy a phone from a company with a history of dropping operating systems like hot potatoes, which has a an operating system from a company with past form for dropping operating system and replacing them with incompatible systems.

    2. Beau

      Re: With 20Mp sensor - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      But they already have disappeared into a room, and come out with phone, well some of them have.

      It's a Jolla phone with an OS known as Sailfish!

    3. John 120

      Re: With 20Mp sensor - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      Would be curious to know exactly what aspect you think is crap. Have you even used it as a primary phone for longer then it takes to fondle it on a display stand in the shop? I find it far quicker and easier then Android\iOS.

    4. Aoyagi Aichou

      Re: With 20Mp sensor - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      They do need to hang Elop and burn any agreements with MS, but they also need to come up with their own OS, preferably restarting the Meego/Harmattan project. I personally am not interested in yet another Android clone, especially not when Google starts getting heavily involved.


      WP8 has not only failed to innovate, it took massive steps backwards from WM6. It seems fast because of long pretty-looking animations. What has the "power" is the hardware, not the OS. WP8 deserves what it gets.

      1. Neil B

        Re: With 20Mp sensor - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        @Aoyagi Aichou

        In a world drowning under iOS and its Android clones, it just boggles my mind that MS can be accused of not innovating with WP7/8.

      2. JC_

        @Aoyagi Aichou

        WP8 has not only failed to innovate, it took massive steps backwards from WM6. It seems fast because of long pretty-looking animations. What has the "power" is the hardware, not the OS. WP8 deserves what it gets.

        If it seems fast to the user then it is fast. What other criteria is more important than having a happy user?

        Counting cores and claiming a phone is better is pointless willy waving.

        1. Aoyagi Aichou
          IT Angle

          Re: @Aoyagi Aichou

          @Neil B

          Microsoft took the approach of locking everything down, pretty looking and "app" centric, cloudy and other thing that Apple has been doing as well. The only innovation I've heard about concerning Lumias is the mechanical moving lens, but that's hardly Microsoft's work.


          I can also make a car look fast (for some people anyway) by adding stripes, flames and other nonsense. Or taking a picture of the car and blurring background and car's wheels. But neither of that makes the car actually fast. Claiming that it is fast would be a lie. So even though users are happy with nice animations and the device feels fast for them, it doesn't mean that the device actually is fast. Ergo they are lying.

          As for the power, I of course meant it figuratively, not that the phone on itself has outstanding performance.

          1. JC_

            Re: @Aoyagi Aichou

            Aoyagi, I don't think you understand: if the phone provides "nice animations" while doing something, then it is being responsive, not "lying" to you.

            Lag and stuttering are signs of a defective OS, not a feature.

            1. Aoyagi Aichou

              Re: @Aoyagi Aichou

              Well, the OS isn't lying, its fans are. It's exactly like that in games - they use elevators, airlocks and other small areas as transitions so that they can "seamlessly" load the next section, but that doesn't mean the game has efficient loading algorithms. It only means that you have something to look at while it loads on the background. If they made the animation three times as long, it would still look pretty and they would have enough time to "seamlessly" load HERE City Lens, for example.That doesn't make OS fast. It makes it "pretty", "feeling responsive", "fluid" and so on. Not fast. From what I have seen (and I have very limited experiences with that), iOS seems faster. If it was designed to be fast, I would be able (for example) to close IE and get into photos from the last month under a second. That's currently impossible, because the animations take up more than half of the time. God damn it, the phone has 1GB of RAM, why the hell is it so slow? 1GB of RAM is enough for Windows 7, so why do I have to suffer these annoyingly lengthy animations?

              Oh, and WP8 lags/stutters as well, don't think it doesn't (even when everything that can be turned off is turned off). Though I would hardly consider certain degree of lags as a sign of defective OS, that doesn't make any sense.

              I'll have to stop here, I don't want this to get derailed too much :/

  6. Shagbag

    "Our professional photographer's review of the tech"

    "The camera and the PureView technology are very attractive but the Belle OS puts me off making such an investment."

    Now substitue 'WinPho OS' for 'Belle OS' and you get the same response from El Reg readers.

    1. Jess

      the Belle OS puts me off making such an investment

      But the plug was already pulled on Symbian at that point.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm interested in new developments with camera irrespective of operating systems so looking forward to seeing where Nokia can take the next version of PureView. If its good I'll consider buying one but lets see first.

    What a halo of negativity reading these posts to start the day. I feel sorry for this bunch of goons whose hatred of Microsoft makes them blind to looking at potentially interesting technology. Every bloody day after day.

  8. jungle_jim

    The best camera

    Is the one you have, surely?

    I almost always have my phone, but rarely my DSLR

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The best camera

      I've not yet considered getting a DSLR for just that very reason... it's a bit of lump to carry around, and not something I would always want to leave in an unattended vehicle- in short, I wouldn't get enough use out of it to justify its cost.

      I do have a 'premium compact', a Lumix LX-5 that fits in a jacket pocket, and is with me enough of the time to capture interesting shots I stumble across, and in most conditions.

      However, even this I don't have with me as often as I do my phone.

    2. Mark Jan
      Thumb Up

      Re: The best camera

      I have the 808 Pureview and it's a great phone and camera.

      As the article said, I'm amazed at the regular software updates the phone gets.

      For example only yesterday it received 6 such updates.

      There have been some issues on it appears certain networks / 3G at certain times. I've experienced such issues but only on Vodafone, not for example T-Mobile. Could be that the frequency of the networks are an issue. However, yesterday's updates (one of which was for 3G) have apparently sorted it. In those areas where I previously had a non-existent signal strength, today I have 4 bars!

      Considering Symbian is supposed to be defunct I'm amazed that so much time and energy is being devoted to it. Well done Nokia or should I say Accenture!

      It's a shame that the world leading tech that Nokia had / has in imaging is still showcased in a phone that's a year old and in an OS that is supposed to be inferior to what they have now!

      1. triceratops triceps

        Re: The best camera

        is Nokia maps still being updated? really tempted to get the 808 because of the camera plus my c5-03's maps aren't supported any longer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The best camera

      I carry a Canon Ixus 500HS all the time, it's small and photographically it will completely trash anything that a phone manufacturer can squeeze into a phone. Quite frankly, a pixel counting pissing contest is a complete waste of time. If your grand ambition is photos of your drunk friends spewing up over each other, or a sneaky shot of your friend's genitalia to embarrass them with on Facebook a phone's fine, else get a camera!

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: The best camera

      The best camera

      Is the one you have, surely?

      Yes, but for many people, the snapshot-quality camera on their phone is already good enough. I can't see why I'd ever purchase a phone simply because it had a better camera. That's so far down my list of needs that it doesn't even register.

      So no, Andrew, Nokia's magic camera won't make me try WinPho 8. It wouldn't make me try any other phone OS, either.

  9. phr0g
    Thumb Up

    I'm in.

    Definitely interested. I like WP8 and I want a decent camera that can mean I don't carry a compact all the time. I almost bought the 808 despite the crappy OS and screen.

    1. Aoyagi Aichou

      Re: I'm in.

      You mean the OS which, despite being nearly dead, is still better (more open) than WP8 in most aspects?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm in. @Aoyagi Aichou

        More open does not *automatically* mean better. Or even more suitable. You just pulled an Eadon!

        1. Aoyagi Aichou

          Re: I'm in. @Aoyagi Aichou

          Well, naturally doesn't automatically mean better, but something closed so tightly that I can't even grab files from email and download them to (or access them from) PC or that I can't download any file of any type and any size or install something without the all-seeing Store's consent... that's pretty bad in my book. There also should be "and more open". I don't know where did the "and" go, I specifically instructed it to stay put. There are of course other aspects in which Symbian/Belle is better. I'm mostly ignoring Eadon (no offense, he does have good points at times, it's often buried under a pile of Linux (or whatever) fanboism), but if you get the feeling that I'm like him, please tell me or also ignore me ^^

    2. mhoulden

      Re: I'm in.

      Personally I'd be seriously interested to see what they could do if they made the Nokia N8 available with Android, and a bit of a memory and CPU upgrade. Symbian isn't bad but I upgraded from an N8 to a Samsung Galaxy SIII because the app support just wasn't there. Apart from the lack of NFC, the hardware on the N8 is still more advanced than a lot of other phones. Imagine if Androids had a built in FM radio and a separate charging socket as well as the micro USB port

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  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is the lens up to this level of detail? My Samsung SIII mini has a nice sensor on paper but the lens is utter shit so the images only look good on the screen. Printed out or displayed at any sensible size and there's just no detail.

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Lens

      "Is the lens up to this level of detail?" is exactly the right question to ask.

      The short answer is that boosting the megapixel count behind a crap lens is pure ad-hype, even if its true, and does nothing whatsoever for picture quality. Here's an example: I have both a DSLR and a snapper, both made by Pentax, so direct comparison is a fair test.

      The DSLR is a K100 with a 6MP 24x16mm sensor and uses good quality lenses - I use both the standard f5.6 35-100mm 35mm equivalent kit lens and the M-series lenses off my old Spotmatic F.

      The snapper is an Optio WG-1 with a 14MP 1/2.3" sensor and the usual unspecified small, plastic lens found in this class of camera. The WG-1 has the lens and sensor entirely inside its body behind a waterproof pane of glass, so it makes a good comparison with a mobile phone camera.

      Shooting the same subject at the same distance with both cameras (using the kit lens on the K100) clearly shows that the K100 has about three times the resolution of the WG-1, i.e. zoom right in on the image and compare sharpness: the D100 image is very obviously sharper. This shows that lens quality and sensor size are all that matters and pixel count is utterly irrelevant given the diffraction effects that limit resolution when lens and sensor are shrunk to the size needed to put them inside a 25mm thick body. Since no mobe is anything like that thick, it follows that their camera resolutions will be even worse.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Lens

        >"Is the lens up to this level of detail?" is exactly the right question to ask.

        It is a good question to ask, but it seems by looking at two unrelated cameras from Pentax you took a strange approach to answering it. Generally speaking, 'prime lenses' - those of fixed zoom - are sharper than zoom lenses. If you want to be more empirical about it, have a look at:

        "At its maximum resolution of 38MP the 808 is capable of capturing a ton of detail, and pixel-level image quality is up there with some of the best cameras around. In its 8MP PureView mode pixel-level image quality is extremely high at low ISO settings, and even up at its highest ISOs, the 808 gives a lot of 'proper' cameras a run for their money. " This is a photography review site that is fond of studio comparison shots under controlled conditions. There is no criticism in the review of the sharpness of the 808's prime lens.

      2. qwarty

        Re: Lens

        Not to disagree with the value of good lenses Martin but its all a more complex topic than you suggest. Time to focus, depth of field, length of exposure all go into making a good shot. Zoom speed. Continuous shots/second. DSLR video.

        If you have time to adjust settings, good conditions and a simple goal such as shooting a posed portrait shot, a DSLR is an excellent tool. Likewise standard landscapes. Less so e.g. in sports photography or casual snapping.

        Furthermore by embedding the camera in a fully programmable device like a phone, we are no longer tied to imaging and interface the camera manufacturer decided on, we can write our own software or buy apps. Wish I could do that with my DSLR.

        High resolution sensors and fast image acquisition change the rules of the game and open up interesting opportunities in processing the raw data stream even though end of the day we are happy with a 6MP image. For instance, in some situations, an effective way to avoid the need to mechanically zoom a lens. Key point is new camera technology is not just about shrinking the traditional optics and sensor to ape traditional cameras.

        I think Nokia are being clear that they are using the technology to improve camera flexibility, not selling the idea of shooting 41MP images like the old silly ad-hype for cameras.

    2. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Lens

      I completely agree with you & Martin, it is simply not possible to accurately render onto 20Mp through a small lens. It is costly & impractical to provide a large lens on a phone, I much prefer a well rendered image from a 4Mp camera than otherwise.

      Its composition & lighting which makes for a good picture.

    3. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Lens

      They put the big fat lens on an SLR just to look cool.... right.

      You might get... the results can match the output of a pocket camera, maybe even one of the better ones.

      I'm sure this camera is way better then the one in my Nexus 4. I'd have paid a bit more for a better camera, but I would not go for Winphone just to get a better camera. Just like I would not buy a Lada, just because it came with a great stereo.

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    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Aoyagi Aichou

        Re: Brought to you by Andrew O sponsored by the power of Microsoft

        I think everyone here knows that the WP "app" store's selection is tiny and I bet they mentioned it in several articles before. Then again, I personally would prefer what a lot of people here would no doubt call "bloated" - an OS that can do a lot on its own. Not all this "app"-centric crap.

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Let's talk photon counts and well sizes

    Cramming 41Mpixel into such a small format is apparently possible, but only by making the photosites tiny. This means the electron well can only hold comparatively few electrons before saturating. This in turn means that the number of photons detected before saturation is low, which means increased noise and lower dynamic range. By binning multiple photosites together into a much smaller number of pixels, you can counteract this, and no doubt produce some very nifty 8MP images (especially with good processing techniques).

    However, this will never match the quality of a DLSR, simply because the much bigger lens of a DLSR gathers more photons, which means better signal to noise. The reason is that quantum efficiencies (percentage of photons detected) of photosites are very high indeed (40% and above) so little can be gained there (and every gain at the phone end can be made equally at the DSLR end). A DSLR lens easily has 4x the diameter of that of a camera phone, meaning it gets 16x the number of photons. A phone sensor would need to collect 800% of all photons (which is clearly impossible) to match a DSLR sensor with 50% quantum efficiency.

    So, will these cameras produce nice images, good enough for most purposes? Even when deducting marketing speak: yes. Will they match professional DSLR kit: No; this little thing called physics gets in the way. On the other hand, do I carry a phone with me all day? Certainly. Do I carry several kilogrammes of DSLR kit around all the time? No way!

    1. qwarty

      Re: Let's talk photon counts and well sizes

      However there are a lot of other factors. Effectiveness in various lighting conditions. Supersampling at high frame rates. Using a wider angle lens with software undistorting for physically larger sensor in small space and wider range of shooting options. Dual/multiple lenses. Expansion lens systems for cameras.

      Not arguing with you, in principle DSLR large lenses and sensors could always do better in situations where DSLR works. The point is that the number of use cases is continually declining.

      I can quite imagine within a few years a good camera phone with one or two exchangeable backpanels with enhanced lens systems etc. will be sufficient to replace 95% of the DSLR market.

      1. Shagbag

        Re: Let's talk photon counts and well sizes


    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Let's talk photon counts and well sizes

      @Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      What you say is true. However, the 808 concept is simpler than that - people tend to use 'zoom' for pictures of landmarks and wildlife during the day when light is good and noise isn't really an issue (so the 808 takes a crop of the image, 1:1 pixels). People want low light capability in social situations, often indoors, often at night, when the zoom isn't required (interpolate several pixels to create less noisy image).

      Whilst it is good to think about the theory, it is good to balance that against looking at the results:

      "Will they match professional DSLR kit: No; this little thing called physics gets in the way." - Theory

      "Pixel-level detail is high at low ISO settings and acceptable even at ISO 1600 for non-critical applications. In terms of sharpness and detail, the 808 is more than a match at low ISO settings for most compact cameras (and some DSLRs) - Results of controlled testing.

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Let's talk photon counts and well sizes

      The comparison of the outside lens area and therefore the difference in maximum photon collection is all valid. However it's the poor efficiency of the lenses, and the poor efficiency of the sensors that are the biggest problem. A larger collecting (outside) lens will help and if the quality of the lens and the sensors are the same, then it will obviously be better. However there's much more to it than that...

      If the sensor is twice as wide and high in one camera (quadrupling the available area) then the lens does not need to focus the light as tightly, allowing better image detail as there is inherently more accuracy through improved tolerances.

      The sensors are also inefficient as in current devices as a large proportion of the incoming light is lost as it hits support circuitry and gaps between sensors and sensor groups rather than hitting the sensors. Improvements to the sensor orientation (vertical stacked circuitry) and other techniques are coming but don't appear to have made it to market yet. I can't remember the exact figures but right now it's something along the lines of 80% of incoming photons do not hit a sensor. Better collection results in a wider sampling range and therefore more accuracy across the scale.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Let's talk photon counts and well sizes

        True but for a given depth of field you need to increase the f stop for a larger sensor which in turn requires more light, assuming pixel density remains constant between sensors. However the required shutterspeed for handholding is an issue with larger sensors as a longer focal length is required to maintain the same fov. It's a giant balancing act. F2.8 of my 6x7 medium format is razor thin, a 110 f2.8 is similar to a 55 1.4 in 35mm terms. Large format gets much dafter. So with tiny sensors like this an f1.2 to f2.0 lens is pretty 'slow' given the relative pixel size and won't give shallow dof.

  14. The New Turtle

    I was very tempted by the 808 back at the beginning of the year when I replaced my phone. What killed it for me was the poor screen res and sheer bulk of the thing - a smartphone is more than just a camera that can be used to make calls. The new top-end Nokias are too bulky and too expensive to compete (interesting at £320, not at £520) again regardless of how good the camera might be.

  15. dzasterus
    Thumb Up

    NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

    already have and to be honest its a thousand times better than IOS

    1. Philippe
      Thumb Down

      Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

      You really have low requirements or low standards.

      I wouldn't call a thousand times better something which hasn't got a centralised way of managing notifications or a proper BBC iPlayer app in the Application store (store, market, shop, whatever.)

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        To be 1,000 times better than iOS it would need to make me tea and a bacon sandwich on request, bring my slippers and paper to my armchair, and get those damned kids off my lawn.

        Actually that's probably only 100 times better. So I guess we're talking bringing me smoked salmon and vintage champagne on request, with beef and claret to follow, then fruitcake and sauternes, cheese and port and whisky to follow.

        I could be perfectly happy with iOS, Android, WinPho or Blackberry phones at the moment. Each would annoy me with something they can't do, but would have some advantage over the other OSes to make up for it.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          @ I ain't Spartacus - Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

          "I could be perfectly happy with iOS, Android, WinPho or Blackberry phones at the moment. Each would annoy me with something they can't do, but would have some advantage over the other OSes to make up for it."

          This is a Reg forum. Who told you that you were allowed to post balanced opinions here?!

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: @ I ain't Spartacus - NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

            I HATE OS/2 WARP!!!!!!


      2. Pie

        Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?

        The offical BBC iPlayer app has just been launched.

        1. The_Regulator

          To be fair its not technically a native app its a wrapper but its a very nice wrapper none the less.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just as it is not sufficient to name an o/s as merely "Windows" without specifying the version eg. Win 95, Win XP and so forth, merely saying Symbian is not sufficient since Nokia deployed various versions such as Symbian 40 (S40) and Symbian 60 (S60) to name but two.

    It should be acknowledged that MS was very wise to secure the support of a company with the length and depth of experience as Nokia - actually of course there is no-one else anyway so it must have been a major incentive ! Nokia has been for decades the most successful and inventive producer, being the first company by many years to produce a smartphone (back in the 90's I belive). Yes a smartphone, with keyboard, screen, browser etc.etc.. As we have seen in recent years they are still innovating, it is just a shame it is wasted on a version of Windows since the previous resounding failure of MS to make any significant dent in the mobile phone market tends to drag down the success of Nokia.

    No, I have never had any connection with Nokia, but I wish people would give the company the credit it is due!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Symbian

      Nokia's "innovation" in the 1990s was as much about fashion as anything else along with the Communicator came replaceable cases and image SMS. Indeed Mr O infamously trounced Nokia for being late to the colour screen and cameraphone party.

    2. Shagbag

      MS was very wise to secure the support of a company with the length and depth of experience as Nokia

      I'm not sure MSFT had a choice. If you remember at the time, Nokia's Symbian phone sales were being eroded by the (then rising) Android phones and MSFT was still peddling the morobund Windows Mobile. It was not so much the Belle finding the Beau, it was more two fuglies getting it on out of desperation.

      1. Jess

        Nokia's Symbian phone sales were being eroded by the (then rising) Android phones

        They had been eroded by producing some unreliable flagship phones.

        The N8 is a brilliant phone and was very popular. Far more so than any Lumia. Maybe even than all of them together.

        Had they upgraded the processor and carried on improving the OS, they wouldn't have lost the huge chunk of market that happened on the move to WInPho

  17. Goat Jam

    Honestly, this obsessive focus on megapixels (see what I did there) is reminiscent of the old megahertz wars in the CPU sphere.

    There is more to a photographic device than just the raw number of megapixels in its CCD.

    I'm not saying that this camera phone isn't a fine bit of kit, but really, we need to get a grip here (ooh, I did it again).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, it's a rare occurrence, but I agree with you: My 10MP Nikon V1 is always going to produce better pictures than a 20MP cameraphone, the amount of light that passes through the lens and the physical size of the CCD will see to that. The quality of the optics as well, I don't care if the lens is made by Nikkor or Carl Zeiss, if it's only a couple of mm across and tiny flaw will cause a disproportionate amount of distortion in the image.

      This is not to say that phones can't produce excellent images, I have a Lumix 820 with a 8MP camera and it produces some really cracking shots, but it's never going to be as good as an equivalent DSLR/Bridge camera or top end point and push. Just the size of the CCD and the lenses will see to that.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        'Bridge Cameras' tend to have fairly small sensors, around the same size as most compacts... they have to, in order to offer a lot of versatility in the optical zoom range. Unlike a DSLR with any one lens, they can go from a reasonable macro shot to upwards of 24x zoom.

        >but it's never going to be as good as an equivalent DSLR/Bridge camera or top end point and push.

        Okay, If you Google "pureview 808 vs Lumix LX 5" and look at the pictures, you might be surprised.

  18. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Can it be hacked to put a working OS on it? Say Android? Then perhaps, then again perhaps not. Give it time and we'll have 20mp Camera-phones everywhere.

  19. David Cantrell

    Eleventy gazillion megapixels, and still a teeny tiny hole in the front to let the light in. So no, I won't be trying this. They've actually managed to do something even stupider than putting Windows on a phone.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >Eleventy gazillion megapixels, and still a teeny tiny hole in the front to let the light in. So no, I won't be trying this.

      Okay, why look at reviews and controlled tests when you have an opinion? Rather than think about it, why not just look at the pictures?

  20. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Any colour as long as it is black.

    Nice phone, but does it come in Android ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Troll much??

  21. Parax

    which bloggers have decided is called "EOS",

    Oh please don't! EOS is a fairly decent Canon camera range it doesn't need this saddle bagging on it.

    1. GBL Initialiser

      Re: which bloggers have decided is called "EOS",

      Maybe photography is all Greek to them?

  22. Rampant Spaniel

    I wonder what canon will think of borrowing the EOS term.

    As for dslr quality, we shall see what the results are like but they will have managed to do what many have failed to do before. Going with a relatively small sensor has some advantages (assuming you don't want low light or shallow dof) especially with BSI and a more advanced process than say canon. In good light this probaly produces decent shots when played to its strengths but the rest seems like the same bs we hear about each dslr being the end of medium format digital or large format film. It can happen, but it hasn't yet.

    1. GBL Initialiser

      "The resulting device, which bloggers have decided is called "EOS""

      It doesn't really matter. Nokia isn't doing it.

  23. graeme leggett Silver badge

    other factors

    quality of image is being able to keep the camera still long enough for the photons to be captured.

    A DSLR has a certain inertia from its larger mass that must aid stability - plus stabilizing lenses. Is this little fellow quick enough to take the snap that it can get the advantage or does it do it post capture processing

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: other factors

      >quality of image is being able to keep the camera still long enough for the photons to be captured.

      That is correct, but is not very helpful if your subject (sports, pets, children etc) is moving.

      You have other options to let more light hit the sensor: One is to give yourself a larger hole (smaller f.) to let more light in. The compromise is that this reduces the amount of your scene that is in focus (though sometimes this is desired). Here, the autofocus speed (or manual focus controls) come into their own.

      Another option is to up the sensitivity ('ISO') of the sensor, though this might increase the amount of noise beyond what you want. Generally, larger sensor DSLRs allow a higher ISO to be used without impacting on image quality as much.

      There are always compromises and decisions to be made on the part of the photographer, which is why they place importance on the camera's controls- many having a preference for external knobs and dials than navigating through nested menus with a d-pad. And why most DSLRs have user-configurable buttons and Custom modes.

      Oh, there is a lovely Instructables article about making a gyroscopic stabilising rig for DSLRs, made out of two old desktop HDDs : D

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: other factors

        I wonder what point diffraction kicks in with such a small, high density sensor?

        Removing the aa filter would be a sensible move with pixels that small and should help with sharpness to some degree. Until they start talking about actual pixel pitch and we get some real world examples in varying situations we can't discredit it entirely, but it does whiff of marketing bs.

  24. Amorous Cowherder

    "The results can match the output of an SLR"

    Hmmm, I'm sure it can. Shame it can't match the quality due to the superbly engineered and very expensive glass we use on (D)SLRs!

    There's a bloody good reason a 600mm L-series Canon lens costs around £10k!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its never going to match a professional camera and that's ok. If I can get shots even close to my compact canon I will be extremely happy as it means I don't need to carry a camera too.

  25. bailey86

    Shame for Nokia...

    ...if they could release an Android version then this would probably be a huge hit.

  26. Neily-boy

    The pixel race is still being run?

    This nonsense ended about five years ago for the camera manufacturers, when the camera buying public (with a big nudge from Panasonic) realised that more pixels did not equate to a better image. Fortunately enough for Nokia, Samsung, Apple et al, the phone buying public are still gullible enough to swallow the old phalluses.....I mean fallacies hook, line and gonads.

    My biggest gripe is that the tech press, who are paid to understand these matters, willingly assist in perpetuating these falsehoods and are therefore actively participating in the rip-off. To what end?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The pixel race is still being run?

      Nokia are not playing the mega-pixel game - it is an advertised featuire that the 808 usually outputs a 5 or 8 MP image.... You've missed the point, and the objective tests.

  27. Rick Leeming

    Just got a 920

    No regrets for getting the 920 I just picked up. Comparing shots with my wife's Canon Compact that's about 18 months old, and you can't tell the difference for the most part.

    I've also had an N8, and an extended play with a Pureview 808. Both stunning cameras on them.

    I tried some time with an iPhone, also with an S2 and other Android phones. I went back to WP8 as soon as I could. It's quick (yes it is), it's stable, it's easy to use, and it's reliable. In over 2 years my old HD7 never gave me a problem (until small child decided phone made a nice splashy in the loo), and I never regretted it. After the absolute abortion that was Windows Mobile 6.5 I was wary about going back to a phone using an MS Operating system. However It's actually pretty good. Nobody I know that has used WindowsPhone for more than couple of weeks considers it bad. Some people prefer android, but my experience of Android is less than stellar.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Mystery, uh?

    I wonder if this "rumour" has anything to do with the Jolla annoucement...:-P

  29. JohnStead2012

    Rejecting Android is Horrendous Blunder

    Rejecting Android and staying with Windows is Stupid Blunder.

    The same stupid decision when Nokia was insisting to use Symbian on 808.

    Follow Sony's strategy

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