After attending Nokia's Lumia 925 launch event in London yesterday, Andy Westlake, our Technical Editor in the UK, had a chance to get his hands on the new device, try it out and take some pictures of and with it. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to keep any of the samples images using the 925's camera and new 6-element lens. He also had a chance to speak to Juha Alakarhu, the head of Nokia's imaging department in Finland, and Samuli Hanninen, vice president of Software Program Management for Nokia, about the 925's new imaging technology and what it means for mobile photographers.

The Lumia 925 is beautifully made, with Gorilla Glass 2 covering the 4.5-inch screen and a metal band around the edges. The latter doubles as the antenna. 
The back is still polycarbonate though, like on previous Lumia models. Here you'll find the new 8.7MP camera and dual-LED flash.

Nokia once reigned as the largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the pre-smartphone era but since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007 has been struggling to compete with Apple, Samsung and other major manufacturers. But with the more recent launch of the Lumia 920 and other Windows phone devices in 2012 the Finnish manufacturer has been able to capture a small but (slowly) growing market share in the smartphone sector.

New wireless charging accessory covers for the 925 are available in various covers.
The three dots toward the bottom of the backplate connect the wireless charging cover.

One key ingredient to this increased popularity of the smart devices from Finland is Nokia's focus on its phones' imaging capabilities. Compact camera sales are plumetting as consumers are increasingly happy to use smartphones as their primary capture device. Nokia realized this early on, making superior imaging capabilities a unique selling proposition of its Lumia line, as well previous models such as the Nokia N8 and the arguably still best phone camera, the Nokia 808, both of which are running the now outdated Symbian operating system. 

At 8.5mm the Lumia 925 is thin and with its rounded edges feels nice in the hand.
However, if you want wireless charging you have to add an accessory cover that adds some bulk.

First impressions of the Lumia 925's camera capabilities      

The Lumia 925 follows in its predecessors' footsteps and offers -- for a smartphone -- impressive camera specifications:

  • 8.7MP sensor with multi-aspect ratio : 4:3 is 8MP, 16:9 is wider horizontal angle of view  (same as the Lumia 920)
  • F2.0 lens with a total of six elements (one more than the Lumia 920)
  • Optical Image Stabilization which moves the entire lens unit
  • ISO up to 3200 (Lumia 920 tops out at 800)
  • Nokia Smart Camera app

We were impressed by the phone's low light capabilities while shooting some samples at Nokia's launch event in London. We managed to get a recognizable image in a set-piece shot where both an iPhone 4S and a Canon 6D with Tamron 24-70/2.8 VC lens had problems. 

Thanks to its fast F2.0 lens, ISO 3200 and optical image stabilization the Lumia 925 could capture an image at a shutter speed of 1/4 sec. The iPhone 4S could not capture anything resembling an image in the dark conditions. With the 6D we could hardly see anything through the viewfinder and the focus was very slow but we took an image at 1/15 sec, F2.8 and ISO 25600. Unfortunately we were not allowed to keep any of the sample shots, but we are looking very much forward to getting a test unit into our studio. 

Imaging hardware and increased low light capabilities are only one aspect of the Lumia 925's camera. The phone also comes with the new Nokia Smart Camera app which allows you to create composite images, pick your favorite shot out of a series, erase unwanted objects in the frame, change faces in group portraits and add motion blur to the background to make the main subject of an image appear moving.  

We explained the app in a little more detail in yesterday's news story, but we've had the chance to play with Nokia Smart Camera app and capture some screenshots to show what it looks like on your device.

The Nokia Smart Camera app captures a series of frames ...
... which you can then combine to a composite "Action Shot."
Alternatively you can simply pick your favorite out of the series ...
... and add blur to the background to make the scene appear more dynamic.
In group portraits you can change the expression of each face individually ...
... to create the perfect group smile.
You also have the option to remove ...
... and re-insert moving subjects in the image.