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Just Posted: Nokia 808 PureView Review

By dpreview staff on Jul 30, 2012 at 22:12 GMT

We've just posted a six-page review of the Nokia 808 PureView, focusing on its photographic features and performance. On paper, the 808 offers the most advanced camera features of any smartphone, including manually selectable ISO sensitivity from 50-1600, exposure bracketing, and five white balance presets. Then, of course, there's the unique way it uses its large, high pixel-count sensor - over-sampling each image to offer 8, 5 or 3MP output for sharing or 38MP full res files if you prefer.

As well as an overview of the 808's photographic features, we've also included plenty of real-world and studio samples, and we've added the 808 to our standard studio comparison tool. This will allow you to take a look at how it performs alongside compact cameras and DSLRs in both its highest-resolution 38MP and 8MP PureView modes.

So just how much of a threat does this represent for conventional compact cameras? Read our six-page review to find out.

Comments

Total comments: 210
12
vlad0
By vlad0 (Jul 31, 2012)

Great review! Times are changing...

I've had the smartphone for almost 2 weeks now, got it from amazon.. its an amazing device. The camera might not be the best, bit in terms of flexibility vs. size ratio, there is nothing else out there that can even come close.

Nokia did an amazing job overall.. it took them over 4 years to bring it to production..

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
1 upvote
NotSteve
By NotSteve (Jul 31, 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.

1 upvote
ScarletVarlet
By ScarletVarlet (Jul 31, 2012)

Nice, but for such a large resolution I'd expect a bit better. Some of those pictures remind me of the empty resolution of my 14MP P&S.

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Jul 31, 2012)

there are still very small pixels.. can't expect that much from them. Its amazing that it does as well as it does with the pureview algorithm., noise levels should be way higher than they actually are

0 upvotes
doctorxring
By doctorxring (Jul 31, 2012)

Very nice !

But I'm not giving up my iPhone for it. Even if it took pics like a dSlr.

.

0 upvotes
AmaturFotografer
By AmaturFotografer (Jul 31, 2012)

When will this sensor enter the world of compact?

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
What do I know
By What do I know (Jul 31, 2012)

Very interesting Phone, hope Nokia makes a comeback and keeps on amazing us

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

well done DPR! the decision to publish such a review clearly shows that DPR is paying attention to everything about cameras. The 808 is a clear standout in innovation and Nokia's decision to use large sensors in mobile phones is something that photographers would love to see others doing.

4 upvotes
morepix
By morepix (Jul 30, 2012)

Good job of a review, but let's hear what the Grinch has to say: There are so many /real/ cameras out there waiting to be reviewed, I regret seeing the valuable time and effort of DPR staff spent on dreck like this. How much of a threat it is may be of interest to the manufacturers of compact cameras. I imagine they're doing their own assessments. Let them.

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 30, 2012)

I don't think there are any other cameras that are more "real" than this camera. Well, if it had manual controls.

I really, really, really hate to say this because it's so often way overused, but - look at the studio shots.

Your complaint is like complaining about reviewing a tape deck when there are "real" record players to be reviewed, and why is anyone "wasting their time" on "dreck" like these stupid tapes and cd's?

Seriously, look at the studio shots - I'd love to see more comparisons that prove or disprove these results, but the 808 matches or possibly beats the Canon s100 at both low iso and high iso.

I mean - that's just crazy. And makes the 808 a "real" camera that absolutely deserves attention and review.

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

the effort and innovation done on the 808 deserves this review. Apart from my Leica M9 that i use for model shots, this camera phone is the only one that i happily carries around taking most of my daily routine shots of anything interesting i see.

If "the best camera is the one with you", you just can't beat the idea of a large sensor in a phone.

Its a slap in the face for other small compact cameras that canikon churns out wth puny sensors.

3 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (Jul 30, 2012)

Just get an RX100 and whatever phone of your choice.

1 upvote
Simon97
By Simon97 (Jul 30, 2012)

Interesting technology. I can see this combine with perhaps a 2 or 3x zoom lens so that pixel count does not need to be reduced as much with zooming and lens quality not sacrificed as well. The images here are much better than the current crop of 16mp compacts that are just atrocious.

Dynamic range is my only concern. It won't be adopted by serious shooters with that highlight clipping issue.

1 upvote
malcolm82
By malcolm82 (Jul 31, 2012)

The prime lens is the reason it can have image quality this good in this size, a zoom lens would ruin it.

0 upvotes
Antonio Rojilla
By Antonio Rojilla (Jul 30, 2012)

I'll buy one just because this phone will be a legend in two years when finally Microsoft kill the company.

BTW, here's an a fun side-by-side: http://www.quesabesde.com/noticias/nokia-808-pureview-pentax-645-comparativa-40-mp,1_8958

1 upvote
JesseAU
By JesseAU (Jul 31, 2012)

On the contrary. If this ran windows instead of symbian (and therefore 3rd party apps) it would be a much more compelling alternative. I'll wait for the next version.

2 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Jul 31, 2012)

It will take a while until they get windows NT to run this.. Symbian is a real time OS, much easier to deal with when it comes to modulation, which is what you need here.. there are no SoCs that support over 20Mpix sensors, so you need a dedicated GPU/DSP to make it happen, and for that.. Symbian seems to be doing quite well.

Also, there are plenty of apps for it.

2 upvotes
Antonio Rojilla
By Antonio Rojilla (Jul 31, 2012)

@JesseAu Yes, it would sell more if it had Windows, but that wouldn't stop Nokia from dying. Now if this camera were in a iOS or Android device...

1 upvote
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (Jul 31, 2012)

"Yes, it would sell more if it had Windows, but that wouldn't stop Nokia from dying. Now if this camera were in a iOS or Android device..."

We'll see whether Nokia dies or not. IMHO they won't - after all, they have the necessary know-how (decent engineers etc.) that produce some highest-quality hardware. Unlike Apple or Samsung, for that matter, who still haven't been able to come up with anything similar, camera-wise.

1 upvote
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 30, 2012)

I'm delighted to see the studio shots, and I real review!...sorta...

But other than the studio shots, it seems to be another "don't want to answer any serious questions for fear of offending someone" kind of review.

Where is the direct comparison to the Canon s100? Or the Sony rx100? Or a dslr? Or an iPhone 4s? Or...anything.

And this marketing friendly quote - "Nokia has also included a raft of enthusiast-friendly photographic features in the 808 including manual control over white balance, ISO and exposure (via exposure compensation and bracketing)."

Absolutely no mention of probably the most important manual control on a camera this size - shutter priority (aperture priority would be important on a dslr, but not on a camera this size, making shutter priority the #1 feature).

It's a really interesting camera, and I'm really happy to see dpreview put up studio shots for a direct comparison. But no direct comparisons to other cameras, or mention of the lack of shutter priority...

2 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Jul 30, 2012)

The reason PASM isn't mentioned is that there aren't (currently) aperture priority, shutter priority, or indeed manual exposure options - at least not that I've found.

Hopefully that'll change, but I can't say I actually miss them much - I couldn't live without them on my 5D2, but on the phone they don't seem quite so important somehow.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2012)

The 808 is an unusual camera in that we can actually run it through our studio comparisons reasonably easily, but it's still no picnic, and as you can see, not having manual white balance means that colors go awry slightly, and there's some exposure variation shot-to-shot as well.

Rest assured that we are working on a better way of doing standard comparisons with cameraphones. As for comparisons with other cameras, you'll find them available (as always) in the studio comparison widget. The RX100 isn't in there yet but will be added very soon (that's a separate task).

Your comments about not criticising lack of PASM have been noted - I've added a quick edit to make it clear that exposure is automatic only, but the entire review should be read as what it is - an investigation of the performance of an unusual breakthrough product, which is not completely comparable to either 'true' cameras, or to conventional smartphones. We haven't scored it, for that reason.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 30, 2012)

Hi,

Thanks for responding Barney!

I am a tiny bit confused about these two statements - from the review - "Nokia has also included a raft of enthusiast-friendly photographic features in the 808 including manual control over white balance"

From your comment - "but it's still no picnic, and as you can see, not having manual white balance"

(continued)

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 30, 2012)

The iPhone also apparently lacks manual controls over shutter speed, and it irritates me there as well, because there's no good reason they left it off - obviously the camera has to be able to control the shutter speed, and with a touchscreen you clearly have the ability to be able to adjust the shutter speed. They just decided it they couldn't be bothered to put it in.

I use shutter priority over 50% of the time I use my camera - not for something niche, but for something extremely common - taking pics of people in indoor lighting. A lot of phones in auto mode just decide that 1/15 is "perfectly fine", when in reality it gives me over 50% of my pictures being blurry beyond use.

What's so frustrating here is that the 808 - according to theory about the sensor size as well as the actual studio shot results - appears to be totally capable of being direct competition to 'true' cameras - with a real flash, it would have everything that everyone really "needs" in a compact camera.

0 upvotes
sir_bazz
By sir_bazz (Jul 30, 2012)

The Nokia 808 has a fixed aperture lens of f2.4 so there's no way to implement PASM modes.

A variable aperture lens in a phone would be nice though....maybe the next big technology breakthrough for smartphones.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2012)

I think the point here is that my statement 'a raft of enthusiast-friendly photographic features' really has to be read in the context of the type of device. The 808 is a smartphone. white balance presets, exposure comp, bracketing, manually selectable ISO (up to 1600) etc., are - unequivocally - 'enthusiast-friendly' features, and we're very impressed to see them in a device of this type. No, it's not perfect, but complaining too much does feel a bit like criticising a talking dog for its grammar...

4 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 30, 2012)

"The Nokia 808 has a fixed aperture lens of f2.4 so there's no way to implement PASM modes."

Clearly that only prevents aperture priority from being implemented, that doesn't affect that ability to have shutter priority.

0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 31, 2012)

"The 808 is a *smartphone*... but complaining too much does feel a bit like criticising a talking dog for its grammar"

I kinda get where you're coming from, but but what makes it a "camera"?
- Sensor size? It has it - larger than every enthusiast compact except the rx100.
- Is it having a real flash? It does!
- Actual resolution you get from the camera? According to the studio shots - it matches or beats enthusiast compacts.

These studio shots are really impressive.

According to the article, Nokia even make a tripod for it - they're targetting enthusiasts.

What I'm saying is something "On a camera that clearly targets enthusiasts, whose performance actually rivals or beats many of the enthusiast compacts, it's dissapointing that Nokia did not allow manual controls".

I mean - this thing could be an actual compact camera killer with manual controls. Seriously.

1 upvote
beholder1
By beholder1 (Jul 31, 2012)

Although the manufacturer does not, there are apps for manual shutter speed control on specific OS/IOS devices. Just to clarify.
One of the great things about a smartphone camera is the possibility to store new software whilst having cellular connectivity for data.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
PaulRivers
By PaulRivers (Jul 31, 2012)

"Although the manufacturer does not, there are apps for manual shutter speed control on specific OS/IOS devices."

Really? Like what? Do they require jailbreaking your phone?

I did a lot of research last year, and I couldn't find anything, everyone seemed to think it just couldn't be done.

0 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Jul 31, 2012)

gsmarena had a lot of comparos

http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_808_pureview-4577.php

0 upvotes
beholder1
By beholder1 (Aug 2, 2012)

Yes. But, unfortunately, nothing above half a second. No jail break required. I discovered the app from the following article: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/1493430965/mobile-imaging-apps-an-overview .
Notice the app I use is mentioned under "Filter effects Apps" as "also worth a look".
I use the iOS app "SlowShutter".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
beholder1
By beholder1 (Aug 2, 2012)

Scratch that. I just realized it is a "filter" effect after-all. It looks like screen-shots of the phone are taken while filming to mimic the effect. "Mattebox" cam does show shutter speed and ISO whilst filming with the option to lock-in the exposure. I will have to look into any "jail-broken" options. http://www.iphoneography.com/journal/2009/11/26/new-iphone-photo-app-slow-shutter.html
Also refer to "Magic Shutter" review on the same 'iPhoneography' blog.
The iphone lacks a physical shutter. It is a simulated shutter. Control over any "shutter" is only a simulation i.e. - "filter or mask". The fixed aperture and sensor size is really what decides the speed at which a exposure consumer photo can be taken without mar to general appeal.
I never really cared to look into this further until now.
Thanks for helping me clarify some confusion.

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
beholder1
By beholder1 (Aug 2, 2012)

Correction: Technically I am not qualified to speak for 'Apple' on how they expose shots or engage the camera shutter. I do however wish DPReview would allow me to delete a certain of my posts! ;)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
DanK7
By DanK7 (Jul 30, 2012)

"So just how much of a threat does this represent for conventional compact cameras?" I am reminded of how the sales of wrist-watches has fallen, with fewer and fewer young people wearing them, perhaps in part due to mobile devices. On the one hand, it's nice to have a camera in your pocket at the ready; on the other, it's still a long way from replacing my DSLR.

0 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Jul 30, 2012)

Yup! It represents a serious threat to the mass compact market. In my experience the image quality is significantly better than the average compact.

Currently the area it falls down, and ironically the reason it wins, is the large sensor. The large sensor gives you all the image quality, but it also gives you a somewhat eyewatering price tag.

Have a look at the studio comparison if you want some interesting details. They're comparing it against the D800, which is the current dSLR champ, and whilst it isn't a match, it comes out better than the vast majority of compacts. Now have a look at the results compared with the Nikon S9300 (the most recent compact camera reviewed) for example.

If Canon and Nikon don't have a phone waiting in the wings they would well be looking at a Kodak moment...

3 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Jul 31, 2012)

the ps industry is in big trouble..

0 upvotes
redeye47
By redeye47 (Aug 1, 2012)

It's hard to say tha point and shoots are threatened by a $700 camera (phone). This might change if it ever got subsidized by the phone companies as iphones/droids, etc do

0 upvotes
sir_bazz
By sir_bazz (Jul 30, 2012)

Good job guys.

As an aside, the latest version of the Camerapro app now supports the 808 and brings a more flexible interface to the camera. It also displays the ISO on the screen when selected manually.

0 upvotes
TOM SKY
By TOM SKY (Jul 30, 2012)

Have not see much happening on DPReview site could it be lack of new cameras coming out or ideas ?

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2012)

We've published more camera reviews so far in 2012 than ever before in the same time period.

Comment edited 10 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
TOM SKY
By TOM SKY (Jul 30, 2012)

maybe i just missed some action here well my fault

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2012)

No worries, we're doing more on the front page these days than in the past so you might well have missed some stuff depending on how regularly you check back. Bookmark this page:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews

3 upvotes
Vitruvius
By Vitruvius (Jul 31, 2012)

Could it be that August an September are announcement months and that DPR might be reviewing a number of cameras that are about to be made public??? Duh..

0 upvotes
adrianlew
By adrianlew (Jul 30, 2012)

get an I phone and SLR camera and you will be better off :)

2 upvotes
Lan
By Lan (Jul 30, 2012)

Disagree. This is an infinitely better camera than any of hte current iPhones - I've used them all. Similarly the Nokia seems to have a far better *phone* component as well.

If you want connectivity the Nokia again wins hands down.

If you want apps, then no, the 808/Symbian are not for you. That's the reason you'd buy an iPhone.

I already have a dSLR; and now I have the Nokia 808. I'm happy.

7 upvotes
sir_bazz
By sir_bazz (Jul 30, 2012)

Well that would be true if you only take pictures with the DSLR but if you want to leave the DSLR as home and take pictures with your iphone then you'd be wrong.

3 upvotes
MGJA
By MGJA (Jul 30, 2012)

So, basically Dpreiew finds the IQ great for a compact and the interface lacking. And the galleries seem to bear that out, as far as the IQ goes. Not bad.

Kudos to Nokia for the sort of innovative drive that I can't help but to wish some camera manufacturers would bring to imaging.

3 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Jul 30, 2012)

This article has been online less than 10mins, and you've already got the measure of the product and of our take on it? You're a fast reader... ;)

5 upvotes
fotokeena
By fotokeena (Jul 30, 2012)

Maybe Nokia should get into cameras as their main business, and phones as a sideline.

1 upvote
fotokeena
By fotokeena (Jul 30, 2012)

The Nokia 808 PureView is a camera with a built-in phone.

3 upvotes
vlad0
By vlad0 (Jul 31, 2012)

its much more smartphone than a camera actually..

2 upvotes
Total comments: 210
12