41MP Camera Review: Nokia Lumia 1020 PureView, Sample Pictures and Videos


Nokia Camera & User Interface

Nokia camera & User Interface
Windows Phone 8 normally comes with a standard camera UI in every low-end or high-end smartphones but Nokia has their own camera app with distinguished user interface for the devices with PureView tag. First known as Nokia Pro Cam, later became Nokia Camera, was made available for high-end Lumia devices lately.

As for now when Lumia Black software update has started hitting Lumia devices globally, the Lumia 1020 in our hands has also been updated in between the process of reviewing. So I’ll try to differ the available and possible options and factors before and after the Lumia Black update applied.

For most users default Windows Phone 8 camera app should work fine as well as Nokia Camera with automatic settings. But if you want to do more with the Lumia 1020’s camera with huge pixels count then you must use Nokia Camera app, I must say. “Nokia Camera” has been reviewed in much detail with Lumia 925 previously for its capabilities to shoot with some photography enthusiasm and knowledge of handling the camera manually.

Manual Control:

Prominent factors in Nokia Camera app with Lumia 1020 are the manual control over ISO sensitivity, focus and shutter speeds. ISO can be controlled through 100 to 4000 where the shutter speed can be as slower as 4 seconds long. Long Exposures are pretty much useful in plenty of situations.

Comparatively the control options are not as much as you can find in Android’ camera UI, however the Manual Control in Lumia 1020 surpasses any other smartphone with the the option to control the camera completely according to your desire. Such as longer shutter speed can let you record a still scene for up to 4 seconds long to get as much light through the lens to the sensor for some shots like the one below.

Manual, ISO 100, exposure 4 sec.

Well, it’s for sure, that none other smartphone can stand with its lens like above open for that much duration. Lumia 1020 equips with Optical Image Stabilizer which is as much better with steadiness as high-end lenses on DSLRs. With shutter speed of 1/8th of the second can give enough good shot while hand-held avoiding serious camera-shake issues. However shots like above will need the Lumia 1020 to be put away on something or on a tripod to avoid camera shake – details are provided later below in the samples sections.

Most smartphones may go down for shutter speed to 1/15th of a second in low-light with higher ISO sensitivity to get some light on the sensor, which end up with an unusable picture with much digital noise enough to overlook the image. Above picture can not be captured with any other smartphone for now. You can compare the following two photos.

iPhone 5 iOS 7, auto (Left) – Lumia 1020 Manual (Right)

There is no manual control on iOS 7’s camera UI, hence the picture was completely taken with its camera while the picture form Lumia 1020 was manually controlled.

Nokia Camera App Settings:

Settings on the Nokia Camera app are straight forward just like the native Camera app, however a few more options with the core settings. Main settings menu can be turn in with tapping on the three dot “…” icon on the side of the live view. Direct option to switch to another camera app “lenses” is provided on the top and the front/main camera switch on the second.

wp_ss_20140124_0011 wp_ss_20140124_0013

Later camera settings depend on the camera you have enabled “front” or “main” camera. Following settings are from the main camera as we are dealing with the real camera.

Shutter delay can be set from 2, 5 or 10 seconds from the option “timer” on the main menu list.

Native camera app on Windows Phone does not offer HDR capturing. Even pro Nokia Camera app on Lumia 1020 doesn’t make HDR images instantly after taking the shot but it does offer “bracketing” for the purpose.

wp_ss_20140124_0014 wp_ss_20140124_0017 wp_ss_20140124_0015 wp_ss_20140124_0016

Bracketing allows you set “number of photos” as 3 or 5. Normally 3 are good for HDR processing. Secondly you can change the “exposure range” from “-0.5EV to +0.5EV”, “-1EV to +1EV” or “-2EV to +2EV”. Normally default middle option is good for HDR processing. Nokia Camera will produce 3 images with 3 different exposure values which you can bring on your computer with some software for HDR processing. Some of them free are “Luminance HDR”, “Picturenaut”, “Fusion HDR” or you can search the web for free HDR processing softwares.

Later on the menu you get “settings” for pictures, video and smart sequence. “Pictures” settings let you turn on the focus assist light on or off, gives you framing grid of your choice on the live view screen, let you change the aspect ratio between 4:3 and 16:9, and the major one “capture mode” that you can select from “JPEG (5 MP)”, “JPEG (5 MP + 34/38 MP)” and “JPEG (5 MP) + DNG (34/38 MP)”. Face tracking is also featured in the app and you can turn off/on the instant photo review after the capture.

wp_ss_20140124_0006 wp_ss_20140124_0007 wp_ss_20140124_0008

“Video” settings offer framing grid as well. Resolution can be changed between “1080p at 30,25,24fps” and “720p at 30,25,24fps”. Additionally you can set audio bass filter from 100Hz and 200Hz or turn it off at all.

Nokia Camera or Pro Cam Operations:

Simply by long pressing the camera shutter button on the phone launches the Nokia Camera app which is of course better than the default/native camera app on Windows Phone. You can start shooting with it just straight away. Half-press the shutter button to acquire focus which also locks the exposure and engages the optical image stabilizer in the phone. As soon the lock is made and focus is acquired you clearly notice the preview image floats eerily steady on the live view screen. Pressing the shutter button all the way down will take the picture.

Tapping anywhere on the live view screen moves the focus point to that tapped potion as well as it biases the exposure according to the portion of the frame you tapped on; well that’s the way it should work.

That’s it, as I told above. It’s just straight away to point-and-shoot with auto control settings on Nokia Camera app. But if you are some kind of enthusiast and want to play with manual controls, the Nokia Camera is just for that purpose rather than being just an auto shooter.

On the top of the live view screen, the Nokia Camera app plots a row of icons with preset values shown under them. Some of them are easily recognized that include flash, white balance, ISO and exposure compensation. In between them two are just unfamiliar to any other phone but surprised on the Nokia Camera app specially for their high-end Lumia smartphones which comes with the PureView tag on the back. Well they offer the manual control over focus and the shutter speed which can not be found on any other phone.

Tapping on any icon on the top row expands the control wheel from right surrounding the soft shutter button on the screen. You can use thumb to move on the wheel for your desired value. The more exciting fact is the relation between ISO and the shutter speed. Nokia Camera balances the shutter speed automatically when you change the ISO speed That’s what the dedicated cameras do if you are familiar with and that’s impressive to be on a phone. The Nokia Camera app reports the balanced shutter speed with your desired ISO speed so that you can know very well if it’s fast enough to avoid motion blur. If it is not, you can simply increase the shutter speed and let the app decide the correct ISO speed for it. In fact you can manually control both of them if you are sure you are doing it right.

All the control wheels can be expanded at once by dragging the soft shutter button on screen slightly to the left. That’s also useful as changing the values effects on live view screen so you can select correct values on the correct wheel just side by side.

Again unfortunately, Lumia 1020 doesn’t offer red-eye reduction in flash mode. You can set it to auto/on/off.

On screen shutter button is available for those love tapping the screen to capture a shot on the phone, I however prefer the two-stage hardware shutter button on the phone in most situations. The on screen shutter button can also be useful for soft touch to give relief to the device from undesired motion blur when slower shutter speed is used. A 2 or more seconds shutter delay “timer” could be useful in such situations.

Video Recording:

Along side the soft shutter button on the screen, there is the “Video Camera” icon to switch to video mode where you just can start recording the video. There is no manual control on the video mode other than the focus. You can set it at some fixed focus point when required or you can leave it to auto for continuous autofocus during the recording is in progress. Best thing is that you can zoom in and out while the video during the recording is on, that some kind a feature which is not present on other phones. Nokia 808 PureView was the first to introduce the zooming feature during the recording. Another thing is that you can’t pause the recording in between. Soft recording button turns on when you start recording and tapping it again will stop recording and save the file. A new video file will be created on next recording start.

Smart Sequence:

Another soft button on the screen with the still camera and video camera icons, a smart sequence soft button is provided which takes the shot and take you to Nokia Smart Cam. Read later below about Nokia Smart Cam after the break.

If you don’t like the guts of Nokia Camera app or you just don’t want to mess up with the manual settings of the camera, you can just use the native Windows Phone Camera app from your applications screen. You can even set the hardware camera shutter button to open native camera app instead of the Nokia Camera app in your phone’s “settings” > “photo + camera”. But make sure, you will get only 5 MP images from the native camera app and will not be able to use the full sensor power of Lumia 1020. Also what you zoom-in in the native app, that’s final. You can’t get benefitted of what Nokia Camera calls it “reframe” – read it below. I prefer you to use Nokia Camera (aka Nokia Pro Cam) even if you don’t want o use manual settings, it does much better even in auto mode than the Windows Phone’s native camera app.


Load More Related Articles
Load More By Khurram Ali
Load More In Camera & Photography