The Nokia PureView 808 – Welcome Super Pixels!

Carrie Sylvester
Jul 18, 2012

Nokia PureView 808

Nokia set the mobile photography world all aflutter with talk of its PureView 808 smartphone, which was introduced at the Mobile World Congress in February 2012. The PureView 808 leapt over the competition, which tops out at 8-12 MP on the high-end cameras, to capture photos at up to 41 MPs. The camera combines a larger sized image sensor (1/1.2″), with software algorithm magic (Nokia-developed pixel over-sampling technology), and a lens designed by Carl Zeiss to deliver crisp clear mobile photos.

Although Nokia has stepped up to be a strong Windows platform supporter, the PureView is running Nokia’s Symbian mobile platform. It remains to be seen if that will be a check in the “good call” column or if it will be a negative. It has been rumored that Nokia has plans to put the PureView technology into its Lumia-brand of Windows phones, which would make Nokia camera phones some of the best available in the industry. InfoTrends will continue to monitor that rumor and keep our readers informed of any new announcements, our Tweeters are standing by!

In July, InfoTrends got an evaluation unit to test the camera feature on the phone. Instead of the typical feature review, InfoTrends chose to have an analyst take the camera for a test drive and compare it against her own personal smartphone, which in this case is an Android-based HTC Inspire that features an 8 MP camera.

Taking pictures

To keep the comparison somewhat even, the Nokia was shot in the 8MP Automatic mode and not in its full-resolution mode.

Photo taken with the Nokia PureView 808

The results show that both cameras resulted in a nice photo (in 8 MP auto mode). But the Nokia color and shadow results were closer to real-life than the HTC and it also has some of the background photo blur (a.k.a. bokeh) that one would see produced from a higher-end camera using a small depth of field.

Photo taken with the HTC Inspire

The dedicated shutter button on the PureView 808, a feature not found on Android phones, made capturing a photo a one-click process. Android phones usually have the shutter release on screen which means it can take a few steps to unlock the screen, turn on the camera, and take a photo. By that time a spontaneous photo opportunity could be missed.

One of the photos taken during the trial when zoomed in on garnered some particularly impressive results. The photo (below) of the goat looks nice enough, but when in picture viewing mode you can zoom in to over 200% and see the photographer and the PureView 808 reflected (pretty clearly) in the kidd’s eye. That is quality we’ve not seen in camera phone photos before now.

Sharing to Facebook

For this review the PureView 808 did not have cellular service, it did feature Wi-Fi so even with no “Gs” (eg., 3G or 4G) behind the upload the upload process to Facebook was quick and painless using the built-in Facebook app. Although the app was quick and easy to use, the organization function left something to be desired. The Facebook for HTC Sense app has a nice feature that allows users to create new albums or assign them to existing albums during the upload process. For people that upload a good number of photos that are a mix of mobile and regular photos. This is a better way to keep photos organized.

InfoTrends Opinion

Nokia’s PureView technology is a welcome addition to the mobile photography experience. It improves the overall image capture quality of a photo, even when set well below its maximum 41 MP.

Although it is challenging to convey the results of a photo comparison through a WordPress blog, I think that the PureView 808 camera produces impressive mobile photos, has very little (nearly undetectable) shutter lag, and photos can be taken quickly using the dedicated shutter button on the camera, which triggers the camera even if the phone is locked.

Nokia has a winning (photo) combination with the PureView 808, even when not using the PureView to its fullest resolution potential (8 MP instead of 41 MP) the end result was a welcome improvement to mobile photo quality. The PureView 808 is a good back up camera for someone that is looking to have a camera on hand at all times, it could even be a viable replacement for a point & shoot camera given it produces good quality photos and the convenience to share photos right from the device. Connectivity continues to be one of the most important features still lacking in the majority of consumer cameras today.

If you are interested in learning more about consumers’ mobile imaging behaviors, the 2012 Mobile Imaging report dives more deeply into the topic.

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