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marc

Is the Lumia 920's PureView camera the best cellphone camera ever made?

It's tempting to sneer at Nokia's use of the "PureView" classification to describe the imaging technology used in the new Lumia 920 phone. Afterall, most people have come to associate the term with the PureView 808 and its 41-megapixel camera. But PureView is Nokia's branding, and they're using it to describe all of their next-gen imaging technology. And based on what I saw today at Nokia's launch event, I'd say that the term applies to the camera on the Lumia 920.

What sets the Lumia's camera apart isn't its 8.7-megapixel sensor or f2.0 lens; you can find those on other cameraphones. Rather, it's the camera's optical image stabilization, which Lumia claims rivals the OIS systems available in DSLRs. While I can't vouch for that, I can say that, in the demos I saw today, the Lumia 920's OIS made a dramatic difference in the kind of stills and videos you can shoot with a phone. For one demo, a Nokia spokesman shot a video while shaking the phone, the way you might do when holding it with one hand. The resulting video had no shakes or jitters. In another demo, Nokia took on all comers by asking us to shoot a picture of a vase placed in a darkened cubby using our own phones. The spokesperson then shot the same vase with the Lumia 920. In flash-free shots, virtually every other phone ended up with pics of a muddy mess, even in night-shot mode. The Lumia 920, on the other hand, took a sharp, well-balanced photo, even using what the spokesman said were the phone's default camera settings.

The software behind the Lumia 920's camera isn't yet, final, and at this point, it's unclear what other tricks it has up its sleeve (I'd like to see how it handles HDR, for example). However, for now at least, the Lumia 920 appears to be the phone to beat when it comes to low-light shooting, smooth, jitter-free videos, and action photography.

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11 replies
TgD

You know, up until PureView debuted, I was a heavy fan of the Sony Exmor R system in Cellphones. The backlit CMOS system they has is very good.

Now I am not so sure. However I am reserving judgement until I either:
  1. Get my hands on both for personal testing
  2. Read user reviews, which are not in controlled environments in optimal lighting.
The Nokia 808 and its 41MP glory hasn't hit widespread adoption, and the 920 will undoubtedly be more popular than it's cousin.

I don't think the PureView will be more popular from a pure numbers standpoint. (Especially since the iPhone is now using sony optics) and I do not see Nokia licensing out their technology when it is a differentiator they have in their corner.

TL;DR
image quality - Best is probably PureView (waiting for real reviews)
Popularity - Sony Exmor R

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TgD

In light of recent events, I am still skeptical.

Nokia has been caught "faking" video for its teaser as if it was shot from a pureview camera. They issued an apology.

Now it seems like the sample still images were faked too. This is a disaster if the camera is your main selling point

www.gsmarena.com­/nokia­_lumia­_920­_sample­_images­_fou...
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Jolly1976

Yeah, now do the research where they show actual photos and videos though. The ones in the presentation were done before they got a lot of there tech close to final. If you found the fake stuff, you should easily be able to find the real stuff.
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TgD

The research has been done, a while ago. Actual photos are linked to by that article. On the nokia site.

www.nokia.com­/global­/products­/pureview/

They do look very good. I am not a professional photographer though so if I can take pictures that look this good I would be happy. I am just wary of Nokia's methods in the whole thing.
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Jolly1976

Methods? They were showing a tech demo of what they expect their tech to look like. THey should have been more up front that they weren't the actual phone though.
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doctran

Taking your own advice and waiting for USER reviews before holding judgment.
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ZENerQi

I use the camera on my phone so much; not only because it is conveniently always at hand, but because I can edit, save offline, and share, without ever needing to plug in to my computer.

I know that I will get a WP8 device this year because I am invested in the MS ecosystem 100%, so if the 920 can take pictures as promised, there is no question what phone I will get.
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Jolly1976

So far everything I have seen with this phone is exceeded my expectation. The Camera from the images and videos I have seen have been nothing short of incredible.
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tarZen

People who are upset over the megapixels issue need to think again. While 41 megapixels is an astounding figure, that's all that it is. Nothing exciting. I don't want to take super huge photos that have no practical function yet take up insane storage space, especially on a mobile device. The software technology they demonstrated, however, is very exciting.
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doctran

You've missed the usefulness of the 41 megapixels. Very very rarely do I use the full sensor mode for photos. I do, however, use 3 and 5 megapixel mode and enjoy the lossless zoom. The zoom becomes much more useful when shooting video. Nothing else is comparable.
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RobertSprint

I used to think I'd never think of my phone as a camera for anything but maybe taking pics of an accident someone might get in. Then I heard about this phone's camera. As a graphics designer in New York, the thought of taking pics of graphic elements I like, then sending them to myself via AT&T's 4GLTE is powerfully tempting. So, yes -- I think it is.
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