Nokia 808 - a photography miracle

Started 11 months ago | Discussions thread
Jostian Veteran Member • Posts: 4,584
Re: Nokia 808 - a photography miracle

ProLeica Dan wrote:

I recently got a hold of the old Nokia 808 to test and play with for a few months now.

I have been doing photography as a hobby and for pro work for more decades than I care to remember. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years on all sorts of cameras and glass ranging from leica rangefinder films to hasselblads medium formats and briefly dabbled into large formats but found the weight penalty too much to handle.

my current gear includes the leica M8, M10, the hassies X1d, and the very old olympus E1. I also carry some old film slrs (OM1, om2n) that I shoot and develop every once in a while.

With this introduction, let me emphasize that I am not advanced technologically. I am just a guy who loves photography and anything related to the process. Let me also add that I have quite a quirky taste to say the least. I for instance prefer the output of the Oly E1 and the M8 over the much more advanced M10 due to the Kodak sensor's color tonality and film look. I am saying this so you take everything I say here with a grain of salt if you are in the hi tech camp.

This said, let me also emphasize that I never judge cameras' output based on the way photos look on a computer screen. I always print poster sized photographs on high end printers to judge the final output. i find the output on screens subject to too many variables including the color gamut and the color calibration which i dont bother to fix.

i was given a few months back the Nokia 808 that remained in my drawer as I didnt (and dont)think highly of smartphone cameras as the owner of the lackluster iphone 11 pro with its extremely ugly oversharpened photos. In mid march I decided, what the heck, lets try this little thing...the only initial appeal was that too familiar Zeiss glass name on the back.

I went on shooting at full resolution for a few months -not pureview mode- as I honestly dont understand all the pixel binning stuff going behind the scene. I am not dissing the function, I am simply too gullible to get the idea.

I printed some large photos begining of June and below is my modest feedback about the whole experience:

I will start with the cons first:

1- you obviously dont expect the shallow depth of field you are accustomed to with your MF hassies as they are simply impossible to achieve

2-No live histogram unless you adjust the exposure compensation

3- screen brightness doesnt reflect the scene...i.e, if you increase the exposure compensation by 1 or 2 full stops the screen would not adjust its brightness accordingly...hence, you have to be very careful exposing properly which makes the live histogram all the more very important.

4- The dynamic range is limited but the ND filter (yes there's one) can marginally help in tricky lights

5- auto focussing in dim light is lagging to say the least

done with the whining..

I dont know if this phone was reviewed before or not, I personally dont read reviews as they are mostly done by technical people more than photographers except the very few that you can find on this site..

Now to the meat of this review:

This is a camera that Cartier Bresson would have given his kidney to own and shoot street photography with (using the hyperfocal setting) at full resolution.

The prints from this little thing are reminiscent of my long gone contaxes with Zeiss fitted on them on some of the best Kodak Portra films.

The Zeiss lens is slightly on the cold side (most Zeiss glass is) unlike the leica warm colors- (difference is same between hassies and Leica due to this glass behavior)

The prints are simply outstanding and up to A3 sizes is indistinguishable from the best gear I have if you overlook the dynamic range and the depth of field.

The ease of use of this little thing is incredible...I turn the Hyperfocal function on and everything (to my eyes) over 3 meters is in perfect focus.

The color accuracy is in a different plateau from anything I used short of mf.

The details resolved are amazing for such a tiny sensor with almost no sharpening artifacts...

Needless to say that I only used at the 28mm focal with full resolution the way I used my contax with 28mm prime Zeiss

The lens matches the sensor beautifully and show no color fringing of any sort and very little distortion

yes, there is noise at all ASAs but it takes the character of film grain with no color blotching all the way to asa 400

If you treat this as a contax with a 28mm fixed lens, the prints will blow you away.

For fast focus, I constantly use Hyperfocal mode which is a dream come true for street photography.

The people who designed and executed this little marvel must have been avid photographers rather than techies...

I dont even know if anyone still uses this little thing but I am blown away by the results.


Yip we have done many comparisons here in the forum, I did one a few months ago, comparing the Nokia 808 vs Samsung, Huawei, iPhone in terms of SOOC jpegs and the Nokia 808 is still way ahead in terms of detail rendering (most natural, least processed look). I guess this confirms Nokia's goal where they said they purposely looked at developing the jpeg processing to resemble DSLR jpegs. Remember that Nokia developed the 808 camera module over a 5 year period, also partly why its as good as it is. Sure its HDR is not as great, and there is no OIS etc but the Xenon flash is amazing and the jpeg processing is without equal, mainly because Nokia developed the jpeg processing algorithms to produce jpegs like DSLRs do, which is very different to what current OEMs prioritise (computational wizardry, HDR) and not getting their jpeg rendering to look natural.

-- hide signature --
 Jostian's gear list:Jostian's gear list
Sony a9 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Panasonic Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 III +4 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow