My take on the 41MP Lumia 1020 "cell phone" camera (with samples).

Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
195
Location
Arizona
Short summary:
I regularly shoot with a D800 so I was curious to try the 41MP (38MP effective output) cell phone camera. Even with the largest sensor of any current phone out there, it is off course even smaller than the Nikon 1 sensor.... So when I ordered a Lumia 1020, I wasn't expecting much. Was I wrong....

SKIP TO SAMPLES
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/


The camera itself is very large for a phone. It bulges out (although not as much as the 808). This thing has a physical shutter and an optical IS system you can actually hear engage. You know a 1020 when you see one. The optical IS really effective, particularly on video but in stills too. Too bad there is no disable option for when tripod mounted as I suspect it is robbing the phone from some image quality at high shutter speeds...


Nokua Lumia 1020 by lumia1020samples, on Flickr

Nokua Lumia 1020 by lumia1020samples, on Flickr

I got the camera grip for free. It will make the phone much easier to shoot with and it is a must for anybody using this phone since it ads an extra 30% or so battery life plus a tripod mount.

Nokua Lumia 1020 by lumia1020samples, on Flickr


Nokua Lumia 1020 by lumia1020samples, on Flickr

Before I get to the pictures, this is how "manual" mode looks like on the phone's UI

Phone UI by lumia1020samples, on Flickr

Having control of the focus, ISO, shutter, instead of simply EV (although that is also vailable). The white balance is "manual" but not the way we hope. It is settings based and not custom WB. Manual focus works great but you need to be careful.

There are no "zoom" controls, you slide up or down to "zoom" which is in fact just a real time crop of the massive 38MP image. This digital zoom is not unlike the zoom in your iphone/galaxy phone, except the image quality means you actually will want to use it...unlike in other phones. It is almost as good as optical zoom without the bulk.

Regret "zooming" in? no problem. The phone only crops copies of the original 38MP file. You can re-zoom and recompose at home to levels of quality you're happy with by simply re-opening the original file. If find 2-3x "zoom" crops from the 1020 hold up better when resampled to "typical" smart phone resolutions (8-13MP) than even the original images from other devices. I'll be shocked if other phone OEMs don't follow nokia's brilliant lead here.

For "sharing" the phone creates 5MP images of every photo you take. You have to use "apps" to pull/share the 38MP image out, or connect your device to a PC via USB. The quality of the 5MP image is excellent, but you can easily resample the 38MP images to about 21MP and still retain quality that makes point and shoots blush.

But enough talk, let's see those images. These were slightly post processed to my liking but I didn't push the limits of the jpg format...which BTW is the biggest hindrance on this phone as there is no way to turn off NR. I'd have killed for RAW to feed it into ACR. This phone has very aggressive NR which often limits its effective resolution. I realize all phones do that to look good in reviews...but it is sad there is no option to turn that off.

Here are the obligatory bug shots. Head over to flickr for the full size versions.



Macro by lumia1020samples, on Flickr


Mosquito Behind Glass by lumia1020samples, on Flickr

Structures

City Hall by lumia1020samples, on Flickr


Philadelphia by lumia1020samples, on Flickr



City Hall by lumia1020samples, on Flickr


Bokeh by lumia1020samples, on Flickr


Chocolate by lumia1020samples, on Flickr

Video IS and Zoom
These are a couple HANDHELD videos to test the IS/VR.
Flickr doesn't keep quality intact so keep that in mind. But it demonstrates how effective the VR is.

moving train with zoom
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9487525273/

zoom
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9487240615/

LATER...
Low light samples, video samples.

Conclusions
Everybody says that the best camera is the one you have with you...and this may be the first time that I find a camera that I want to always have with me and use it. Yes I have better gear, but I don't want to carry it with me all the time, and I have more portable cameras, even before this phone...but the images I used to get were still "cell phone" pics and most were good only as a reminder that I should have had my DSLR with me more often. This is the first time ever with any device I've owned that I feel I can rely on for quality...with some qualifications off course. But this device at least for me, crossed the line between "cell phone" into camera without leaving the phone behind. If only Nikon produced such device with RAW to address the shortcomings of JPG.

to the samples
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
 
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Joined
Aug 15, 2007
Messages
2,483
Location
Kalamazoo, MI
Great review! I just read that the lens is a 26mm field of view (35mm equiv) which is awesome. What's your guesstimate on where this falls regarding dynamic range at base ISO? Obviously not up there with a D800, but can it approach what we see with the 1-inch sensors in the Sony RX-100, Nikon 1 system?

I'm entrenched in Apple products, and it would be a huge pain to even migrate the phone OS, but this is a really intriguing product.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
195
Location
Arizona
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
Great review! I just read that the lens is a 26mm field of view (35mm equiv) which is awesome. What's your guesstimate on where this falls regarding dynamic range at base ISO? Obviously not up there with a D800, but can it approach what we see with the 1-inch sensors in the Sony RX-100, Nikon 1 system?

I'm entrenched in Apple products, and it would be a huge pain to even migrate the phone OS, but this is a really intriguing product.
I don't think it is too far from the Nikon 1 sensor but the issue is that this phone (as all phones do) uses a rather aggressive jpg setting which puts emphasis on making images pop. as a result, and because jpg is so constrained, the dynamic range is really nothing special...it is probably just above average for a cell phone. There is no option to dial back the contrast, or reduce the NR...so you're kind of stuck with images that pop a lot....at the expense of your DR.

Because the images are so large, I get why they had to use a rather aggressive jpg setting...but it would be nice to have the option of at least PNG or lossy raw. Heck give me the option even if I know I'll only fit a couple hundred images before I have to empty out the phone. This phone cries out for something other than jpg.
 
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Messages
1
Location
Williamsburg, VA
I have to admit that I thought the idea was somewhat gimmicky. The idea of a 40+ mp cameraphone struck me as just an enhanced digital zoom, but those are some pretty impressive demo shots!
 

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