Review: Nokia 808 PureView
1 Nokia 808 PureView: Introduction
When the Nokia 808 PureView was announced earlier this year its 41MP camera sensor (for a maximum output resolution of 38MP) made headlines all over the tech industry. Not only does it feature the highest-resolution sensor of any mobile phone camera, but at the time of writing, the 808 PureView features the highest-resolution sensor of any current camera outside of highly specialist (and very costly) medium format equipment.
We've been eager to gets our hands on an 808 since the phone was announced, and a loan sample finally arrived in our Seattle office recently. We've been using it ever since. Please note though that this article doesn't touch on the 808 PureView's performance as a phone. That's not what interests us. We want to see what it's like as a camera...
Key Photographic/Video Specifications
- 38MP maximum resolution (in 4:3 aspect ratio - output size: 7728 x 5368 pixels)
- 1/1.2" CMOS sensor, pixel size: 1.4um
- ISO 80-1600 (+ auto)
- Five white balance presets (including auto)
- Exposure compensation +/-4EV in 0.3EV steps
- Carl Zeiss F2.4 8.02mm lens (26mm, 16:9 | 28mm, 4:3 equiv)
- Focus range: 15cm – Infinity (throughout the zoom range)
• 5 elements, 1 group. All lens surfaces are aspherical
• One high-index, low-dispersion glass mould lens
• Mechanical shutter with neutral density filter
- 1080p HD video (up to 25Mb/s) with 4X 'lossless zoom'
- Stereo recording with Nokia Rich Recording - rated up to 140db
The Nokia 808 PureView's large CMOS sensor has 41MP total, outputting a maximum of 38MP (resolution drops to 36MP in 16:9 aspect ratio). Such a high resolution sensor would be little more than a stunt if the camera specifications aren't up to scratch, but Nokia has designed the 808 to be a serious photographic tool. As well as some pretty impressive hardware, 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). Exposure compensation is as good as it gets though, in terms of manual exposure control - the 808 does not offer PASM modes (not unsurprisingly).
The Finnish company is at pains to point out that when it comes to image capture, the 808's headline specification of 41MP is far from the whole story. In fact, one of the reasons why Nokia has incorporated such a high pixel count is to allow the 808 to produce better quality lower-resolution images (3MP, 5MP or 8MP).
While it might sound counterintuitive to shoot a 38MP camera at 3MP, it actually makes a lot of sense in a device of this type. Apart from anything else, if you are one of those people whose first reaction to this product was to scream 'you don't need 41MP in a camera phone! The world has gone mad! The sky is falling in!' in a sense you were right - most people simply don't need to capture such high-resolution images on a phone.
But what you probably do want from a cellphone camera is good image quality, decent speed and responsiveness, and wouldn't it be nice to have a zoom, too? That's what the 808's lower-resolution PureView modes are designed to allow.
Putting optical zooms into cellphone cameras is hard. Really really hard, which is why manufacturers tend to include digital zooms instead. Effectively just cropping and upsizing, conventional digital zoom kills image quality. Normally, the instinct of any serious digital photographer would be to run away from 'digital zoom' features for precisely this reason. But the 808 is very far from conventional.
|Images captured in the 808's PureView modes are created by oversampling from the sensor's full resolution. At the 808's 'native' focal length of 28mm equivalent, the oversampling ratio is 14:1 for 3MP images, compared to 8:1 for 5MP and 5:1 for 8MP.|
In Nokia's words, 'pixel oversampling combines many pixels to create a single (super) pixel'. In theory then, at 28mm (equivalent) - i.e., without any 'zoom', the camera's 3MP PureView output should give the best critical image quality, followed by 5MP, then 8MP, and then 38MP. When fully zoomed in, all four output modes will give the same pixel-level image quality, since at this point there is no oversampling going on -as incated by '1:1' in the graph above.
How much you can 'zoom' using the 808 depends on what output resolution mode you're in. If you're shooting at full resolution you can't zoom at all - you're stuck with the lens' native 28mm (equivalent) focal length. In 3MP PureView mode you get the equivalent of a 3.6X 'zoom' - this drops to roughly 3X in 5MP mode, and about 2X in 8MP mode. The table below shows four images, taken at the 'longest' extent of the 'zoom' in each of the 808's output resolution modes.
|38 MP (1X)||8 MP (~2X)||5 MP (~3X)||3 MP (~3.6X)|
Compared to today's travelzoom compacts a 3.6X zoom is nothing much to shout about, but it's better than no zoom at all or - worse - a conventional digital zoom that upsizes cropped images into mush. Even a 2X zoom in 8MP mode allows a useful degree of control over framing, as you can see from the image above.
You can view and download a PDF on Nokia's PureView technology here.
|Antz by Deadfisheye|
from Animated Film Title
|The Ladder - Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art by RJD13|
from Lookin' Up!
Sigma announced pricing and availability for its much-anticipated 14-24mm F2.8 Art lens today, revealing that the ultra-wide zoom will begin shipping mid-March for $1,300 USD.
A recent breakthrough means the future could include sensors that perfectly describe the light in the scene, offer new computational possibilities and give film-like latitude in the highlights. And yet we may never see them in cameras, says father of the CMOS sensor, Professor Eric Fossum.
The Tokina FíRIN 20mm F2 FE AF is a followup to the MF version released in 2016, which adds (you guessed it) autofocus capabilities. Optically, the two lenses are identical.
The VMC-MM2 release cable allows owners of Sony's ultra-compact RX0 to sync the sort-of action camera with a Sony alpha (or Cyber-shot) camera and capture photos and video simultaneously.
Sony just released a new wireless flagship flash for E-mount with guide number 60. The HVL-F60RM offers "high-power flash output, reliable continuous performance and advanced control features with integrated radio control options."
The Opera 50mm F1.4 FF is a full-frame lens for Nikon and Canon mounts, while the FíRIN 20mm F2 FE AF for Sony E-Mount replaces the FíRIN 20mm F2 FE MF announced in September of 2016.
Two veteran sports photographers share stories and tips from photographing the Olympics, as well as other high-profile sporting events throughout history.
We've added the Panasonic GX9 to this buying guide to to place its specifications and features in context, alongside its competition. When our full review is complete the camera will be considered for an award.
Tamron has announced a full-frame 70-210mm F4 tele-zoom, boasting moisture-resistance, a minimum focus distance of 0.95m/37.4in and up to 5 stops of stabilization – all for $800.
Details are thin at this point, but the 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD will offer "superb optical performance" and a moisture-resistant construction.
The Pentax K-1 Mark II promises less noise than its predecessor and offers a cool new Pixel Shift mode that lets you leave your tripod behind. Find out what's changed - and what hasn't.
Ricoh has announced an updated version of its K-1 full-frame DSLR. The Pentax K-1 Mark II gains an additional 'accelerator' processor that enables improved image processing as well as a handheld version of its Pixel Shift Resolution mode.
For a limited time this summer, current K-1 owners will be able to send their cameras in for a circuit board replacement, essentially upgrading to a Mark II. They'll even get a Mark II logo swapped in on the front of the camera.
Panasonic has continued to develop its organic/CMOS image sensor tech, and the latest breakthrough is big: an image sensor that can shoot 8K at 60p, boasts incredible dynamic range, and has global shutter capability.
Services like Copypants and Pixsy help anybody find copyright infringers, send take-down requests, and quickly demand licensing fees and damages. But do these automated systems also open the door to prolific copyright trolls?
The new 5x4-inch field camera was designed by UK photographer and custom camera maker Steve Lloyd, and it promises to be lightweight, easy-to-use, unique, affordable and upgradable... as well as a bit funky.
AP photographer A.M. Ahad captured this video that shows how tourist 'travel photographers' will stage scenes in an attempt to capture award-winning images.
Camera accessory manufacturer Really Right Stuff is relocating. The company is moving its headquarters from California to Utah, citing rising costs and promising 'expansion on every level' as a result of this move.
Fujifilm's new X-H1 sits above the X-T2 in the company's X-series APS-C lineup. At the X-H1's launch in LA last week, we sat down with the camera's product manager, Jun Watanabe, for a detailed look at the new camera.
The so-called 'Prosthetic Photographer' uses AI to continuously scan the environment for 'ideal' scenes. When it sees one, it uses electrodes to zap the photographer, forcing them to press the button and take the shot. It's an... interesting idea.
A helicopter pilot and his student claim a civilian drone was the cause of their crash landing last week. If their story is confirmed by an ongoing investigators, this incident would mark the first time that a drone has caused an aircraft crash in the US.
Lensrentals' Roger Cicala just tore down the Sony a7R III to see just how much Sony did (and didn't) improve the camera's weather sealing over its predecessor. The results are a "good news, bad news" deal.
Popular Science takes a look at the glass and tech that Canon packs into its 59-pound, $200,000+ broadcast lenses that are currently being used at the Olympics.
Samsung just set a new solid state storage milestone with its new 30TB SSD, the Serial Attached SCSI PM1643. This monster was built for enterprise use, but we can't wait to see this tech trickle down to consumers.
The third Excellence in Performance (XP) lens from Samyang, the XP 50mm F1.2 for Canon full-frame cameras is meant to resolve over 50MP for photography and easily capture 8K resolution for video.
On this week's episode of The New Screen Savers from the TWiT Network, DPReview Science Editor Rishi Sanyal talks with host Leo Laporte and co-host Megan Morrone about some of the newest tech trends in smartphone cameras.
A blockchain crypto-art rose based on a digital photograph by Kevin Abosch was just sold for the equivalent of $1,000,000 USD in cryptocurrency to 10 equal investors. If that last sentence made absolutely no sense to you, read on.
Tamron is teasing another lens announcement, but this time leaked images reveal what it is. On February 22nd, expect Tamron to unveil the 70-210mm F4 Di VC USD.
Swiss Olympic skier Lara Gut wiped out on a run last week, and slid straight into a group of photographers shooting the action from the sidelines. Getty photographer Sean Haffey kept on shooting as Gut slid towards (and eventually hit) him.
Leaked product images show Samyang/Rokinon is preparing to add another super-fast lens to its 'Excellence in Performance' series of lenses: the Samyang XP 50mm F1.2 EF.