Review: Nokia 808 PureView

Performance and Image Quality

In use, the 808 PureView behaves much like a conventional cameraphone, purely because of its form factor. If you're used to a phone like Apple's iPhone 4S, or any recent high-end Android offering, you won't have any difficulty adjusting to the 808. 

A dedicated focus/shutter button on the right side of the phone (with the screen held in the orienation shown below) acts as a shortcut to activate the camera app even when the phone is sleeping. A 'hard' press is required to open the app and wake the phone - a quick or light press will be ignored, preventing accidental operation of the camera. From sleep to image capture is roughly 2-3 seconds depending on AF acquisition time, which isn't bad at all. Unlike a lot of other smartphones with 'hard' shutter buttons, the 808's shutter release has a two-stage movement, which allows for half-pressing to focus before taking a picture.

The 808's camera controls are well thought-out and easy to access. A 'hard' button on the upper right side of the phone (when viewed in the orientation shown here) acts as a shutter button in the conventional way - half-press for focus, full press to take a picture. An on-screen shutter release is also available - it's the aperture blades icon in the centre right of the screen in this image.

In 'Creative' mode, (shown here) you'll see a panel along the left of the screen that provides access to key modes and features including ISO sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation. Adjusting these settings is a simple matter of scrolling and selecting by touch, but we wish the icons were a little less obscure. 

With the camera app running, autofocus performance is roughly in line with my expectations from a modern compact camera - a bit of hunting in low-contrast situations, but in normal shooting conditions the 808 focusses in less than a second (usually), and almost always with unerring accuracy. Unexpectedly, the only times I had real issues with focus were when shooting pictures of people, when the face detection would very occasionally just give me a blurry image for no obvious reason. The 808's metering system is similarly, very reliable, although the match between live view brightness and final exposure can be pretty wide in especially dark and bright conditions. I've found that it's best to bracket around a little in very bright light to be sure of getting a pleasant exposure. An on-screen histogram would help a lot, but although a histogram appears when you're dialing in exposure compensation, it vanishes again when that screen is dismissed.  

Shutter lag is effectively non-existent once focus has been acquired. In poor light the 808's built-in AF illuminator kicks in and does a good job of providing enough light for focusing, but in this situation focus slows to usually at least a second for accurate acquisition.  

In full 38MP mode, there's a pause of roughly three seconds after taking a photograph and being able to view it or take another one. In the reduced resolution 3/5/8MP modes this delay is much shorter - roughly one second, for 8MP files. Viewing captured images is quick and easy. Like most modern smartphones, the 808 allows you to flip through captured images by swiping the screen, and double-tapping magnifies the view for critical analysis of detail and focus accuracy. 

Image Quality

The 808 is a perfectly pleasant phone to use for taking pictures - it has more options than most, and handles reasonably well as a camera. Where it really shines though is image quality. The 808 produces without a doubt the best quality images I have ever seen from a smartphone, and in some respects challenges a lot of 'proper' cameras, too. 

Full Resolution (38/36MP)

Let's start by looking at the big numbers - the 808's full resolution 38/36MP (depending on the aspect ratio) capture mode. 

At low ISO settings, in good light, the 808's full-resolution is excellent. Although not quite as detailed as we'd expect from a DSLR with a similar pixel count, the 808's JPEGs are very nice indeed. 100% Crop
Being a cameraphone, it's easy to forget just how big the 808's sensor is. Although not nearly as large as the sensors in DSLRs or most mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, it is big enough at the lens aperture setting of F2.4 to give a pleasant background blur when capturing subjects that are close to the camera.  100% Crop
This scene contains a lot of fairly low-contrast detail, and although output isn't not totally sharp at 100%, the 808 has done an excellent job, at least matching the average mid-range DSLR for pixel-level JPEG sharpness, and exceeding the abilities of some... 100% Crop
If you click through the images above to get to the full-sized original files you'll see that full resolution output from the 808 isn't just a 'stunt' setting. Resolution at low ISO sensitivity settings is genuinely very high, and in terms of detail, images from the camera at this setting can satisfy pretty critical requirements, including large prints. At 100%, low-contrast detail has a slightly 'digital' appearance, but to be honest, given that we're talking about a camera fitted inside a telephone it's hard to complain. 

PureView (3/5/8MP)

As I said in the introduction to this article, the 808 PureView's maximum output resolution of 38MP is far from the full story when it comes to photography. Most of the time you're unlikely to need full resolution output from a smartphone camera, and I'd expect that most serious mobile photographers will probably keep the 808 in one of its three 'PureView' reduced resolution settings. In these modes, you get the benefit of Nokia's proprietary oversampling, but remember that this doesn't apply when you're fully 'zoomed in', at which point you are effectively just looking at a crop from the full-resolution 38MP capture.  
This image was captured at ISO 64, in 8MP PureView mode. At 100%, detail is pin sharp, and resolution is truly impressive. You can count the blades of grass in the near foreground of this shot. 100% Crop
Another 8MP shot, this time taken at ISO 400. Exposure is accurate and detail capture is again, very high. Some granularity is visible in the smooth tones of the sky at the top of this image but it's subtle.  100% Crop
This image was taken in 5MP mode, with the 808 'zoomed' to the furthest possible extent to concentrate the composition on the tree branch in the foreground. This is a fairly low-contrast scene but detail capture is high.  100% Crop
When light levels drop, most cellphone cameras struggle to keep shooting without flash. But the 808 PureView has a maximum ISO sensitivity of 1600, which makes it impressively versatile in marginal light.  
This shot was taken in the 808's 8MP PureView mode and at ISO 800, JPEG image quality is impressive - certainly comparable with high-end compact cameras at 100%. It's easy to forget that despite its small form-factor the 808 is packing a sensor much larger than most of them. 100% Crop
The 808's maximum ISO sensitivity setting is 1600, and here, image noise is definitely a factor, and noise-reduction has a slight but noticeable impact on saturation as well. That said, detail capture remains high (this is an 8MP shot). 100% Crop
This shot was taken very in low light, also at ISO 1600 at the long end of the 808's 'zoom' in 3MP PureView mode. Image quality isn't great, (there's no oversampling benefit at full 'zoom', remember) and there's some banding visible too, but overall I'd call this acceptable given the conditions.  100% Crop
The 808's xenon flash isn't as powerful as those on most 'true' cameras but it's good enough for close-range portraits. Red-eye can be an issue though - I turned red-eye reduction on for this shot.  100% Crop

Highlight Clipping

When examining my sample images from the 808, the only real indication that I was looking at pictures from a compact device is dynamic range - or rather the lack thereof. This is one of the very few black marks against the 808's camera, that in scenes with a moderately wide tonal range, if you expose for the midtones you will probably see some highlight clipping.

This scene, taken at the 808's full resolution of 38MP in the 4:3 aspect ratio, demonstrates the phone's most serious weakness as a camera: highlight clipping.  100% Crop
The 808 has delivered a somewhat bright (but not overexposed) image of this lakeside scene, shot in 5MP PureView mode, and highlight clipping is very apparent. 100% Crop
I was having trouble with clipping in the log in the foreground of this shot, so I took a bracketed burst of three images at 0.7EV intervals and blended them quickly in Photoshop. Although much less convenient than an in-camera HDR function, it has worked well.  100% Crop

There's not much you can do about clipping, short of mounting the phone on a tripod and exposure bracketing (the 808 offers a 3/5 frame exposure bracketing feature of up to +/-4EV) or deliberately underexposing using exposure compensation, then pulling midtones up later using software. I have found that shooting in the 808's PureView modes improves dynamic range very slightly in real-world use, but clipped highlights are the 808's achilles heel at all of its four output resolutions. 

Clipped highlights are a pretty common problem in images shot with cameraphones and compacts, and one that manufacturers are increasingly solving using dynamic range expansion and high dynamic range (HDR) modes. Unfortunately, the 808 PureView doesn't offer an equivalent feature.  

I spoke to a Nokia representative about this, and it seems that Nokia tried to include an HDR feature in the 808, but ran into technical issues because of the huge processing bandwidth required to quickly capture then blend multiple 38MP exposures to create an HDR image. Bracketing was included in the 808's feature set to satisfy the needs of serious HDR enthusiasts who like to do their blending on a computer.


Click here to go to page 3 of our review of the Nokia PureView 808

Comments

Total comments: 353
123
Richie Beans
By Richie Beans (Jul 31, 2012)

I had an old Motorola candy bar phone with a Kodak 5M camera. I bought it knowing it would take better photos than any other phone at the time. I wish my current HTC incredible 8Mpx phone took photos half as good as my old phone did.

Great quality shots from your phone are a revelation! Wish I had the 808. Go Nokia!

1 upvote
Deaconclgi
By Deaconclgi (Aug 1, 2012)

Your Motozine did factually not take the best pictures at the time, the Nokia N82 not only took better pictures than the Zine but also had a more powerful Xenon flash, more precise Zeiss optics and a much larger sensor.

0 upvotes
GeorgeZ
By GeorgeZ (Jul 31, 2012)

Great review, wisely chosen words!
I've been using the 808 for 6 weeks and am happy with it, even Symbian is ok for my personal needs but of course it looks dated next to modern OS.
But this is just the beginning, there will certainly be Windows Phone flagship devices that will better the 808 is due time.
My only regret is that Nokia dumped Meego.

2 upvotes
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Jul 31, 2012)

About 50 people have left Nokia to start up their own company called Jolla to make and sell MeeGo smartphones. They have €10 million financing to build their first device and have already teamed up with China's largest phone retailer to sell it, so they have the money and the contacts. See what eventuates. So it's not just you wanting to see MeeGo operational:

http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=223307&f_src=lightreading_sitedefault

I'm wondering once they release it if it'll just be for their phones or if it can be ported to the 808. I doubt they can do their own smartphone with this sort of camera any time soon.

Then there's also the Linux Foundation's open-source Tizen meant to succeed MeeGo. That should work on the 808 eventually. Either way, I assume there'd have to be a specific 808 camera app written by someone for both MeeGo and Tizen.

https://meego.com

1 upvote
Gadgety
By Gadgety (Jul 31, 2012)

Yes shame about no Maemo/Meego with Pureview. It would have been a killer. Elop made his choice and now it's up to Nokia to focus its resources and make Pureview as impressive on the WP platform as it is on Symbian. If Nokia announces a 41mp Pureview WP in the fall lineup I will be SO impressed.

0 upvotes
GeorgeZ
By GeorgeZ (Jul 31, 2012)

I don't want to be too pessimistic but to make a successful OS these days that major developers support, that big companies make their apps for (like my bank, my newspaper and such) is almost impossible, certainly a couple of ex Nokia employees with 10 mill won't be able to do it. It'll be fine for nerds just like Maemo was, but it has no chance in the marketplace. Sadly.

1 upvote
MichaelEchos
By MichaelEchos (Jul 31, 2012)

Oversampling technology is not new...

0 upvotes
voz
By voz (Jul 31, 2012)

Did anyone say it was?

1 upvote
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Jul 31, 2012)

The surprise is that anyone did it. And the big surprise is that it was on a phone. And maybe the even bigger surprise is that it was Nokia. I would have guessed Samsung. They have their own manufacturing of sensors.

So - the big question right now is: when will camera makers dare to do over sampling?

0 upvotes
stylinred
By stylinred (Jul 31, 2012)

Oversampling may not be new but when Nokia first started designing this phone over 5 years ago there was no other camera with it, the 1st camera to introduce binning was the Phase One 65+ which didn't start selling until a year after Nokia had begun working on "pureview"

2 upvotes
kff
By kff (Jul 31, 2012)

What a pity! Nokia PureView 808 is so sophisticated technology, but it doesn't have thread for tripod ...

0 upvotes
Damian D
By Damian D (Jul 31, 2012)

Hence the Nokia accessory as shown in the picture.

2 upvotes
Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (Jul 31, 2012)

I wonder, does this pixel over-sampling trick has any affect on bokeh, when comparing 38MP and 3MP same close up shots?
Pureview technology is meant to look for sharpest (best) pixels in the over-sampling process, so how it behaves in the blurred parts of the picture?

0 upvotes
MichaelEchos
By MichaelEchos (Jul 31, 2012)

Nope. None at all, no difference.

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jul 31, 2012)

It's similar to cropping.

0 upvotes
The Squire
By The Squire (Jul 31, 2012)

I think DS's point is that if Pureview's algorithm aims for sharpness, how does it render areas that you actually want to be smooth, i.e. Bokeh. You don't want it to sharpen the endges or highlights in the bokeh.

If it was a straight crop, this wouldnt be a problem. But Pureview is trying to be smarter than that to increase image quality.

0 upvotes
Reg Natarajan
By Reg Natarajan (Jul 31, 2012)

I love the images, but I need Android. Hopefully Samsung and Sony will step up.

11 upvotes
kff
By kff (Jul 31, 2012)

Indeed !!!

0 upvotes
Tadeusz60
By Tadeusz60 (Jul 31, 2012)

Technically Android is step back, like VHS to Betamax video recorder formats. Android needs more memory and processor power, needs more developer efforts, is less environment friendly, but addicted simple people prefers it, i.e. people prefers giving more money to billionaires losing their time on tapping and seeing Android phone ;)

4 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

Why do you "need" Android? What does it do that Windows Phone can not?

0 upvotes
BubbaHotepUK
By BubbaHotepUK (Jul 31, 2012)

A separate volume control for music and ringtones would be a start! Support for memory cards, Bluetooth file exchange, background download of podcasts blah blah blah.... these are all showstoppers for me.

Windows Phone as it stands is seriously compromised compared to Android, iOS and even Symbian - a lot of style overs substance.

However, looking forward to Windows Phone 8, hopefully it should plug some of the major gaps, especially if it can support PureView technology.

1 upvote
Jens_G
By Jens_G (Jul 31, 2012)

My biggest gripe with Android is the lack of a dedicated shutter button.
If the 808 ran WP7 I would've been all over it.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Jul 31, 2012)

Why do you "need" Android? Apps. Windows Phone is really a very nice platform, but it's way too late to the game. If you want your phone to run a good selection of apps, you buy iOS or Android.

0 upvotes
Gadgety
By Gadgety (Jul 31, 2012)

@BrunoH. I need an app called MyLifeOrganized, a to-do list/project management database enabling multiple sorting of action items, eg sort action items by context, or by date, or by project. It's available for the competing platforms, but not for WP. The developer says it depends on uptake. Unfortunately WP, which ought to be the business choice, lacks business apps (see this post on WP forum, for example: http://forums.wpcentral.com/marketplace-apps/186782.htm).

In addition I like the Samsung Note form factor and pen/drawing capability. This, apparently, is not visible in any WindowsPhone road maps I've seen.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

@ BubbaHotepUK

Don't worry. Everything you mentioned (and lots more) are in the new Windows Phone 8 OS. Look at the new Nokia phones coming this fall and I think you will not be disappointed, especially if they got pureview built in! :-)

0 upvotes
svuori
By svuori (Jul 31, 2012)

@Tadeusz60: I can say all of those about every phone platform and manufacturer. They're hurting environment and someone's trying to get their grubby hands on your money.

Why people like or even "need" android? Because it makes their life easier. I need Gotomeeting on my phone because that's company's conferencing software of choice. I want the mobile banking app, remote control of my entertainment center, I want a good browser, webgl support. I would like good integration with google contracts, calendar, etc. And I want to write my own programs for it, no dev tools for linux. I want to be able to tinker around.

Some people use their phones for a helluva lot things and like to keep it that way.

0 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

@ JWest

So 110.000 apps (and counting) is not god enough :-)

And don't forget that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will have the same runtime, which means that Windows 8 apps will be easily ported to Windows Phone 8. I am not missing any major apps on my Windows Phone, actually there are far more apps than I ever care to look at :-)

0 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

@ Gadgety

True. apps have been coming slower to WP7 although they are coming. But apps will be very easily ported between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. So do all these companies making iOS apps just ignore the whole Windows market? I don't think so. they will make apps for Windows 8, and then porting to Windows Phone 8 is just a setting in the compiler - easy done. My guess is that the synergy with Windows 8 will push Windows Phone 8 forward a lot.

and one more thing...

Pen support is built in to Windows 8 tablets. Which could be shipped in any size hardware makers want. So for pen input and bigger screens than a phone, there will probably be some options this holiday season.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 1, 2012)

Yes, naturally just flipping a switch in the compiler will make an app written for a 23" screen work perfectly on a 3" one. :)

0 upvotes
delastro
By delastro (Jul 31, 2012)

I like that we can compare the Nokia 808 photo quality now with other cameras on dpreview. But I think you should give us the chance to compare the 8 MP way because 43 MP is not the way people use.

And to Nokia: how is it possible to make such an innovation with such an unflexible OS? Are those decisions the reason for the fall?

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 31, 2012)

You have that option - look in the 'ISO' dropdown and you'll see there's an (8MP) option per ISO sensitivity setting

1 upvote
delastro
By delastro (Jul 31, 2012)

top!

0 upvotes
Tapani
By Tapani (Jul 31, 2012)

Unflexible OS? On WP the PureView technology is not supported (yet?). By using their own OS they were able to make it work. Symbian is still widely used in Europe, my next phone will likely be Symbian, too. I don't like the locks of iOs, Android is a little better, WP8 possibly...

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Jul 31, 2012)

* Nice backup cam for the D800 ... LOL
* Unfortunately the only smartphones sold are iPhone and Android models.
* Selling a smartphone with an already dead OS is not the best idea

2 upvotes
Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (Jul 31, 2012)

Many people still use Nokia 3310, for example. How dead would be this one?
Symbian will be supported till 2016, and it will not stop working afterwards

5 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

"Unfortunately the only smartphones sold are iPhone and Android models."

Not so. Nokia has doubled their Windows Phone sales for three quarters in a row now. Although small marketshare, Windows Phone is superior to both Android and iPhone in many regards.

1 upvote
vetsmelter
By vetsmelter (Jul 31, 2012)

This "outdated" OS is to be supported until 2016.
http://www.phonearena.com/news/Nokia-outsources-Symbian-support-which-will-continue-until-2016_id22661/
Wonder if Android will still be around? ;)

Meanwhile there is a lot to like in Symbian too. You'll be transferring your images in a bar by blue-tooth out of the box, displaying your library on your friends HDMI TV
Enjoy real multitasking in stressful job environment, built in SIP (Voip), FM broadcasting of your music, free off-line navigation (ok, this great feature has recently been assimilated by MS through Nokia), creative camera applications being ported from the previous premier camera smartphone N8, etc.. extra long battery life when out in the bush and you need a reliable phone.

That said, the Symbian limit for screen resolution is really bothersome and Nokia's best modern OS to date is still Maemo (or the Harmattan-MeeGo version on the N9).

4 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

@ vetsmelter

All those features are to be included in Windows Phone 8. And some are already in Windows Phone 7.5.

Symbian is a dead end at this point. Windows Phone 8 (with its tie-ins to Windows 8 and the next Xbox) is the future.

0 upvotes
vetsmelter
By vetsmelter (Jul 31, 2012)

@ BrunoH
When the Nokia N8 was released I did not want to touch it but a year later nothing better was out yet.
Symbian will be around till 2016 (unless Nokia cheats their loyal consumers once more)
Sure you can wait for WP8 to be released later this year.
Then another year at least till PureView Camera tech gets finally integrated in a WP8 Nokia. (I know, so called really soon)

Today Symbian has all the real smartphone features it had for years, features which iOS and WP are still adding in their next iteration of OS + it offers Pureview technology.

I don't think MS is happy that their new smartphone hardware division launches this technology on the old platform which was declared "dead" by ex-employee Elop taking Nokia CEO office while saying exactly the same thing as you do: wait for the Windows Phone 7 Nokia's later this year (2011).
Well they were just phones, they are in the bargain bin right now and Symbian still offers the candy.
Sorry , dev cycles are too long to wait.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Jul 31, 2012)

The high ISO images (ISO 1600) in good light look good at normal viewing size, but the low-light ISO 1600 have some banding issues like the 2nd image (pool players) and the 6th image (purple bedside lamp) and blotchiness.

It's clear that the Zeiss lens is extremely sharp (like the RX100 lens which is impressive) although there seems to be some wavy mustache distortion seen in the 10th image (Do Not Disturb).

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Jul 31, 2012)

As for use of this tech in a cell phone, fitting such a large sensor is hard. However, the little Zeiss optic on this phone appears to resolve well enough to essentially match the sensor -- which is really impressive.

An APS-C sensor with the same density would have about 165MP. The real benefit to that and higher pixel counts in APS-C and larger cameras will be different from what it is in a compact/cell-phone form factor: out-resolving the lens will solve a lot of problems. That said, if Zeiss can create an optic like the one in this cell phone, perhaps they can build a smallish, fast, optic for APS-C cameras (especialy the NEX line) that can resolve 165MP? ;)

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (Jul 31, 2012)

808 has a plastic lens, as it is possible to make extremely good small plastic lenses cheaply, fairly fast diffraction limited even in this case. Bigger ones are not possible due to softness of the material, so bigger lenses must be glass, which can not be pressed but have to be ground to shape which is comparatively hugely expensive.

5 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jul 31, 2012)

Add to that is a single working aperture of the camera. Design would bring out the best of the single aperture and focal length of the lens.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Jul 31, 2012)

Well, according to Zeiss (quoted at Nokia's WWW site), the problem is that "a larger plastic surface area expands and shrinks too much at different temperatures." Glass is frequently pressed into aspherical shapes (most of my modern lenses have at least one such surface), but according to the same article, the plastic lenses used are extreme asphericals that "seem dimpled" - with shapes beyond what glass easily does.

The APS-C sensor needs an image circle just over 2X this diameter -- and the 808 diagonal is about 1.9X bigger than typical cell phone sensors, so we're halfway there with plastics. ;) Diffractive optics give an alternative way to cheaply implement complex optical transforms. I don't think we'll see 165MP APS-C lenses soon, but I think applying the same level of cleverness and new tech to design of lenses for mirrorless systems should get us there.

0 upvotes
happypoppeye
By happypoppeye (Jul 31, 2012)

too bad I hate phones ...ha

1 upvote
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Jul 31, 2012)

Impressive camera for a mobile phone.

Nokia should likewise do so with it's interface.

.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
zyran
By zyran (Jul 31, 2012)

Can't wait to see it on a Windows Phone 8.

5 upvotes
anthony mazzeri
By anthony mazzeri (Jul 31, 2012)

'pixel oversampling combines many pixels to create a single (super) pixel'.

What if it actually were a real super single pixel instead of combining 5 smaller ones, so the sensor itself would be 8MP. Would a straight 8MP image from that size sensor be better?

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 31, 2012)

Maybe but you couldn't 'zoom' in the same way.

1 upvote
Damian D
By Damian D (Jul 31, 2012)

Barney is right you wouln't have the capability to zoom. Adding to that the performance would otherwise be virtually the same. So this way you get the best of both worlds. :)

0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jul 31, 2012)

Wow, you were not kidding with its image quality and Gold award! I compared it to an S100, XZ-1, and LX5 and they look like a joke to this phone at ISO 200 and beyond.
At first, as I expecting any compacts will beat the Nokia in higher ISOs due to its high MP count (same pixel pitch though) but no, it was clearly the opposite.
I hope this sends a message to the companies above that compacts need a larger sensors like the RX100.
Put this on a modern OS, I'll get my first smartphone.

2 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Jul 31, 2012)

Most better compacts DO beat the 808 at high ISO. ISO 800 is pretty much the last usable setting on the 808. ISO 1600 looks unusable. The 1/2.3" Fuji X10 you can safely shoot to ISO 3200 with good detail, and unobtrusive noise. And an S100 with it's 1/1.7" sensor can comfortably shoot at ISO 3200.

Having shot the RX100 for the past week, it's great, but the X10 with the slightly smaller sensor and faster lens can achieve some nicer shallow DOF images at the long end. But both cameras have much better DR than the 808 which clearly has a major issue with clipping highlights. That's a major bummer.

0 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

Then congratulations to your new Lumia Phone! In September Nokia will showcase their new hardware lineup for Windows Phone 8. I bet Pureview will be in a Lumia Phone by then. That Windows Phone is the smartphone OS with highest customer satisfaction rating is nothing to sneeze at either.

1 upvote
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jul 31, 2012)

@marike6
I think what you're referring to is the absence of noise, which is done in-software/camera. There is clearly less noise but the detail is lost, smearing actually. The x10 is actually the worst of compacts with huge loss of detail at the absence of noise.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jul 31, 2012)

@BrunoH
September, then that's just a month away. Hope they could add more than just an OS change.
Imagine a slim camera, better than compacts in terms of IQ and LCD which happens to include a smartphone! LOL!

0 upvotes
stylinred
By stylinred (Jul 31, 2012)

symbian is modern you've just got to try it to see heck it still does things that other os' can't out of the box

0 upvotes
jnxr
By jnxr (Jul 31, 2012)

@DPreview, could you add LPH detail to this review

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 13 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 31, 2012)

We don't have the precise control over white balance and exposure that we'd need to do our standard resolution test, but we're working on ways to get around these limitations when testing mobile devices...

1 upvote
jaykumarr
By jaykumarr (Jul 31, 2012)

the price $699 is acceptable, since 'two year contract agreement plans' are at least $300 - $600 more than no-contract plans.

0 upvotes
robbo d
By robbo d (Jul 31, 2012)

Impressive, as i thought. the highlight clipping was a little disappointing and the HDR feature on my HTC has just arrived with an upgrade. So i'm sure thats no real hassle for a Nokia firmware upgrade.

With technology advancing like it has, this was inevitable. Compacts may well be in danger

Thanks Dpr, that was a justifiable and well put together review. I know you have issues being pushed for time and so many reviews to do.

Not available in Australia unless buying the whole handset from an importer.

3 upvotes
stylinred
By stylinred (Jul 31, 2012)

well there are hdr apps

0 upvotes
bestremera
By bestremera (Jul 31, 2012)

We should give one to an Olympic photographer right away while there's still time.

11 upvotes
Steve Bingham
By Steve Bingham (Jul 31, 2012)

Why didn't you use exposure compensation? I also see some camera movement in your samples. Puzzled by the review.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 31, 2012)

I did use exposure compensation quite a lot, but it isn't always reported accurately in exif (I'm using Adobe Bridge CS6 and it doesn't display at all). As for camera movement, I really hope that you can't see camera movement, but send me a PM with the images you suspect and I'll take a closer look.

0 upvotes
Matthew Miller
By Matthew Miller (Jul 31, 2012)

Unless I'm misunderstanding something you're saying — and I might be — I think you misunderstand the relationship between zooming and cropping as they affect depth of field. Assuming you print at the same size, and assuming you have enough resolution to actually resolve a distinction between blur and sharpness, Nokia's optical zoom should actually provide just as much blur effect as a real greater focal length.

See http://photo.stackexchange.com/a/10121/1943 for more on this (or http://photo.stackexchange.com/a/9626/1943 for a more math-heavy explanation).

1 upvote
Tee1up
By Tee1up (Jul 31, 2012)

Are there any iPhone users that can comment on this gallery compared to what they have shot? Just curious....

0 upvotes
jorg14
By jorg14 (Jul 31, 2012)

I have the first iPhone and have taken a few pictures with it. I'd say if I get a clear 600X800 I'm lucky. I'm watching this market closely to see if a smartphone can replace my small compact... just one less thing to carry. With a different operating system, I think this would do it.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
BrunoH
By BrunoH (Jul 31, 2012)

Given that this will come to Windows Phone this fall and that the current Nokia Lumia Windows Phones has most satisfied customers (http://blog.amplifiedanalytics.com/2012/07/customer-satisfaction-with-windows-smart-phones-rise-by-18/)
One would have to be crazy to not switch to Windows Phone if you like taking pictures... :-)

1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Jul 31, 2012)

A 38 megapixel phone with a Zeiss lens, in a package that looks like something desgined for the 1964 Worlds Fair. Wild. I'd like it a lot better without the phone but I suppose you can turn that part off. I've been saying all along that anybody can take "professional" photos with auto-everything cameras (Sony even auto-composes) and soon everybody will be equiped to do so.

1 upvote
Pixel Peter
By Pixel Peter (Jul 31, 2012)

I am using the Nokia 808 PureView for some weeks now and I am still impressed by its image quality. This phonecam gives me a lot of fun and I appreciate dp's review. I agree with most of dp's conclusions.

7 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Jul 30, 2012)

Alright....but does it have a left focus point issue?

5 upvotes
ismith
By ismith (Jul 30, 2012)

So much money for an average compact camera with an obsolete phone attached! Similar price to an unlocked iPhone 4s or Galaxy S III, which both do a decent job of taking snapshots... sorry Nokia, the camera concept is good, but the package does not appeal.

1 upvote
wy2lam
By wy2lam (Jul 31, 2012)

It's a camera review site, not a smartphone review site. In your opinion then no matter how impressive the camera is, the package "does not appeal" unless it's attached as part of either Google's or Apple's latest and greatest?

I have to say, it's quite a narrow world view.

13 upvotes
magneto shot
By magneto shot (Jul 31, 2012)

i have the htc one x with latest android os..but i am using the 808 as my main phone...well..yes the camera is just superb on the other hand while my htc cries for a recharge after 7 hours of my normal use...my 808 lasted me 2 days without charging...

6 upvotes
Anfernee Cheang
By Anfernee Cheang (Jul 31, 2012)

@wy2lam: If you were telling that this is a camera review site, then I must say this "Camera 808" does not appeal. As a camera it provides no optical zoom, poor dynamic range, incomplete set of camera features, and the image quality is only on par with some low level DC.

If it is a pure camera, I will say it can only get a pass score. We rate it a high score because it is a "phone camera". So when we talk about its value, talk it in whole: the camera, the phone, the OS, etc etc.

1 upvote
sir_bazz
By sir_bazz (Jul 31, 2012)

@Anfernee Cheang

To be fair we need to compare it to other devices in it's class.
For example, your method of comparison would see cameras like the new EOS-M or Nikon 1 compared directly to the Canon 1DX, (because they're all just cameras), which really isn't a relevant as they're completely different beasts.

Here at DPR, which is a photography based site, I think the 808 should be defined as being a phone camera with the review focusing on the camera. If we want to see a review on the phone as a whole then we should look for reviews on the dedicated phone review sites rather than here.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
1 upvote
peter32
By peter32 (Jul 31, 2012)

I bought one myself for my wife actually. And the best way to describe this phone is to be treated as a fujifilm X100 equivalent, a fixed focal lens camera that give exceptional quality and convenience.

2 upvotes
Anfernee Cheang
By Anfernee Cheang (Jul 31, 2012)

@sir_bazz

Frankly speaking, I totally agree with your point. And that's also the reason DPR gave awards to the reviewed cameras, which did great jobs in their own classes.

My first post is because ismith presented his/her feeling that the "package" itself does not appeal. But wy2lam stated that ismith should focus on the camera. Well, actually ismith did not say the camera is bad. We all know this is a camera site. But we can still point out that the good camera does not make the overall phone attractive, can we? ;-)

1 upvote
ismith
By ismith (Jul 31, 2012)

@wy2lam

I think you miss the point. This product is a phone with an amazing development in camera performance for such devices - and certainly if you want the best 'cameraphone' this is the right product for you, but the camera isn't good enough to replace my old compact, and the technology of the phone won't do all the things I can do with an Apple or Android system. I am allowed to by narrow minded about the products I buy, especially when I want the best from both camera and phone. If they do release a Windows/Android version, then 'the package' will appeal more to me.

0 upvotes
MaRcIu
By MaRcIu (Jul 30, 2012)

gold? lol

0 upvotes
NotSteve
By NotSteve (Jul 30, 2012)

My biggest dislike of camera phones is the horrible ergonomics. I'll have to read this review more carefully -- it sounds like this might have a better physical shutter button than most. I've noticed that there are a lot of really bad photos out there on social media that have been taken with phones. One issue is that while more people than ever have phones, a lot of people lack basic technique and composition, or it simply isn't a priority for them given the circumstances, which is fair enough for spontaneous snap shots. But, I really think that having to try and hold a cameraphone still that has an awkward shape, maybe not even have a physical shutter button, which you then have to contort your thumb or index finger to take a picture, causing camera shake, is just not a good idea. I find the camera on my i-product occasionally convienient, but never enjoyable.

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Barry Fitzgerald
By Barry Fitzgerald (Jul 30, 2012)

Banding at high ISO..

0 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jul 31, 2012)

Come on, it's a phone!

0 upvotes
Absolutic
By Absolutic (Jul 30, 2012)

I don't know, if it is me, but I have not been impressed at all by the samples and pictures provided there. Maybe I forgot how picture from point-and-shoot looks like, but these look mushy and really camera-phone like. Best point and shoots with smaller sensor (LX3 comes to mind) provide sharper outputs..

1 upvote
mick232
By mick232 (Jul 30, 2012)

Compare the studio sample against the D800.

Of course the difference is there, but it is not that high, considering the much smaller sensor and the "lens".

It is not a bad result at all.

3 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Jul 31, 2012)

It's not you. I'm impressed by the images DPR took, but not the quality. They are great for a phone, but remember that when this camera was announced people here were sounding the death knell for P&S yet I can think of any number of high end compacts that spank this camera phone. The worse part is the highlight roll-off and DR.

1 upvote
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Jul 31, 2012)

@marike6: you're right, they are great for a phone, and this is... well... a phone!

0 upvotes
stylinred
By stylinred (Jul 31, 2012)

you could check out the 808 flickr groups for some better samples

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Jul 30, 2012)

It's very impressive that Nokia have followed through with such an innovative product, which must have taken quite an investment in R&D. It's such a shame that we can't expect to see a camera like this on an Android phone any time soon.

Out of interest, is there any reason not to shoot with it in 38MP mode all the time? Correct me if I'm wrong, but (fantastic though the specs are) it sounds very much like any other digital zoom, just with a much more detailed initial image to work with.

1 upvote
gaiaswill
By gaiaswill (Jul 30, 2012)

They touched on it on page 2. 3 sec processing time instead of 1 sec. That's pretty significant.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Jul 31, 2012)

That's inconvenient, but still worth it. Shooting in full resolution means you're reserving the option to zoom (i.e. crop) until post-processing. Shooting in zoomed mode, or a lesser megapixel non-zoomed mode, just means discarding information needlessly, which is something I'm not willing to do.

0 upvotes
stylinred
By stylinred (Jul 31, 2012)

reviewer notes that there's less noise/clipping/etc in pureview mode

0 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Jul 30, 2012)

You're half wrong about the on-screen histogram, it will display when you select exposure compensation. Unfortunately half-pressing the shutter button makes it vanish again...

Interestingly you haven't mentioned either of my two biggest bugbears with it though:

* The inexcusable lack of a lens cover. Holding it in portrait mode pretty much guarantees you'll stick fingerprints all over the lens. I've had to resort to wrapping it in a lens cloth when it's in my pocket...

* The lack of image stabilization. I don't really have a problem when using it at 8MP, but I get a lot of shake problems at 38MP. I want to use the full resolution when I can.

The lens cover thing might not be such an issue if it weren't for the fact that the optional cover ($$$) isn't readily available in the UK. I've had to order mine from Amazon US, and I've been given a ship date of 1-4 months. Similar problems with the tripod mount.

Surely this cameraphone deserves a DPR award though; my issues notwithstanding!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2012)

You're quite right about the histogram, I just made a quick edit to make that clearer. I can't really get the histogram to be useful at all, to be honest, given the confusing disparity in some situations, between the live view brightness and the final exposure. Also, as you say, it dismisses when you exit exposure comp.

As regards the lens being prone to smear, I didn't go into it because it's a universal weakness of devices of this type. I've been using the hard case, which has a neat little cover, but this isn't perfect, because it makes the delicate 'two press' action of the shutter button harder to guage. Some things are still nicer on a 'proper' camera ;)

1 upvote
Lan
By Lan (Jul 30, 2012)

Thankyou for updating it Barney!

The lens cover isn't a universal issue with cameraphones though - my previous cameraphone, the Motorola ZN5 (Kodak collaboration) has a physical lens cover in a very similar form factor to the 808.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
1 upvote
magneto shot
By magneto shot (Jul 31, 2012)

i got my cover by just driving to a store nearby....and i got the tripod mount for free when buying the 808 from the authorized reseller....gee...i got lucky XD

0 upvotes
peter32
By peter32 (Jul 31, 2012)

Just to share, Damian Dining, one of the chief engineer that give birth to the pureview, did share that should a lens cover to be included, it will make the lens area thicker by 2mm. Not everyone wants that sort of thickness.
Just to share that apparently lots of stuff have been thought of during the designing phase.

1 upvote
stylinred
By stylinred (Jul 31, 2012)

well its gorilla glass so you shouldnt fret about scratches and a simple wipe does away with fingerprints (something i was concerned about as well)

0 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Jul 31, 2012)

@peter32: I'm sure they did discuss it, but having made that decision they I think they should have put a snap on cover in the box so we have the option of choosing for ourselves.

I know they sell covers with built in caps (and I have one on order) but considering the purchase price, I feel that something should have been in the box. Particularly since it may well be 4 months before my cover actually arrives...

@magneto shot: I'd say you did! Bought mine from an authorized seller too, and I got the standard contents of the box, nothing more, nothing less.

0 upvotes
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