Nokia has made headlines in terms of cameraphones this year, with its 41 megapixel 808 PureView handset introducing the Finnish firm’s new imaging technology. With the advent of Windows Phone 8, Nokia has launched its new flagship, the Lumia 920, which features PureView technology, albeit in a trimmed-down, 8 megapixel version.
Having already tested the new device as a whole, we decided to take a closer look at its camera technology. We put the Lumia 920 through its paces alongside Apple’s iPhone 5 to see how its stands up. While we have had to crop some of these images in order fit them to the same aspect ratio there has been no further distortion or editing of the photographs.
Under natural light, we found that Nokia’s new handset performs very well. However, there is a band of red colouring which appears across the middle of the Lumia image which doesn’t appear on the picture captured with the iPhone. The latter photo has more distinction between the colours, with leaves appearing in quite differing shades of red, brown and yellow, whereas that captured with the Lumia 920 is far more uniform in colour with a red tone blanketed across the majority of the photograph.
Zooming in on a particular area of each image we found that this lack of contrast becomes even more exaggerated with the edges of the leaves being noticeably distorted. In the pictures below, the iPhone image retained an excellent level of detail and clarity while the Lumia can be seen to be lacking a little, with the edges of the leaves becoming hazy and blurred. The blanket red tone that can be seen in the centre of the earlier Lumia image becomes even more exaggerated too, with the iPhone achieving a much greater level of contrast and colours appearing far more distinct from each other.
Where the Lumia really comes into its own is in low light conditions and where a flash is required. A major part of Nokia’s Pureview technology is the introduction of physical image stabilisation, something which is done digitally on many smartphones.
Physical stabilisation keeps the camera sensor steady, allowing it’s shutter to stay open for longer. The longer a shutter stays open, the more light can pass through it allowing a clearer and more detailed picture to be captured, an advantage in dark conditions where there is very little light available.
In the following photos the Lumia achieved the best results, with the first image having impressively bold colours whilst being clear and detailed. The image from the iPhone however had less saturation in colours and looked somewhat washed out although it did still manage to pick out some very fine details.
Overall, Apple’s cameraphones have an incredible level of depth and detail and perform brilliantly under natural light conditions, picking out colours very well and achieving a realistic look that is representative of the scene that is being captured. However, it is in low lighting conditions that the Lumia 920 comes into its own, with the PureView technology making a significant difference to images that are captured in dark conditions.
Nokia’s new Lumia is an excellent cameraphone and the way in which the Finnish firm is expanding the capabilities of smartphone cameras into areas in which they have previously under-performed is impressive and bodes very well for the future.