Initial image samples from the new Lumia 1020 provided by Nokia have us eager to start snapping our own gallery. Click on any image to view it in high resolution.

Nokia is already showing off the imaging capabilities of the Lumia 1020 smartphone it announced yesterday

The samples show off the photographic possibilities made possible by the device's 41MP imaging sensor, an iteration of the groundbreaking technology the company debuted last year in the 808 PureView phone. While the 41MP spec and 34MP to 38MP maximum file output size (depending on aspect ratio) sounds impressive, the real value of such high pixel density lies in oversampling for a higher quality image output at more manageable files sizes. The Lumia 1020 allows you to simultaneously shoot both a full-resolution capture and an oversampled, immediately shareable 5MP version of every image. (If you really want to delve into the science of oversampling, check out Nokia's whitepaper on the Lumia 1020, and specifically page 6.)

And while the 808 was the first phone to showcase this technology, expectations are even higher for the Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia 1020, which Nokia says offers completely redesigned sensor hardware. We think the Lumia 1020's 41MP 1/1.5" back-side-illuminated sensor might hold even more promising photographic potential with its more modern design, combined with a faster aperture.

Although the 1020's sensor is around 30% smaller than the one found in the 808, it's still larger than the 1/1.7" type found in most high-end enthusiast compact cameras. The Lumia 1020's aperture is also 1/3EV faster (F2.2 vs F2.4), which makes up for much of the difference in sensor size.

The 808's front-side-illuminated sensor didn't perform as well as its spec may have suggested. When tested by DxOMark, the 808 performed only slightly better than a 5-year-old-camera — specifically the Canon PowerShot G9. The 808's Nokia/Toshiba sensor was larger and several years newer than the G9's, yet it barely out-performed it. It was noticeably out-done by a contemporary camera, Canon's S100. Both the Nokia and the S100 used FSI CMOS sensors and yet the S100 was found to be noticeably better. This means there's considerable room for the new BSI sensor in the 1020 to improve over the 808's: meaning we may finally see a smartphone that's not just a match for the latest mainstream compacts, but one that can compete with some of the best enthusiast compacts on the market.

The Lumia 1020 also employs optical image stabilization, a six-element Zeiss lens and a new Nokia-developed Pro Cam app, which seem to result in some impressive initial samples provided by the Finnish phone maker today. 

While we'll wait to make any real conclusions until we can take our own sample images with the Lumia 1020, our hands-on with the device at yesterday's press event in New York City has us eager to see more.