Low Light - Output Modes Compared: 

The simple fact that the 808 offers user-selectable ISO sensitivity settings up to ISO 1600 makes it considerably more versatile than the average cameraphone when the light gets low. On this page, I want to see not only whether the output is any good, but also, whether the 808's PureView modes offer significantly better image quality than the maximum resolution output. 

For this test I put the 808 on a tripod and shot the same scene at ISO 1600 at all four of its output resolutions. Light was provided by a single low-intensity tungsten bulb, and exposure was 1/25 sec at F2.4. I used a 2 second self-timer to make sure that everything stayed sharp.
3MP (100% Crop)
 5MP (100% Crop)
 8MP (100% Crop)
 38MP (100% Crop)

It's hard, looking at 100% crops, to really say which of the 808's three PureView modes gives the best image quality, because of the disparity between the magnification at 100%. Scene detail that is smallest (in the 3MP shot in this case) always looks a little better defined than the same detail, reproduced larger. By 38MP, the disparity in magnification is so great that direct comparison is difficult, although it is obvious that at a pixel level, the 808's output is much grainier, and less sharp than it is in the lower-resolution PureView modes.

So is the difference between the various output modes big enough  to justify shooting at 3MP when 5, 8 and 38MP are available? On the basis of these tests I'd have to say that in my opinion no, it isn't. The most significant benefit of shooting at 3MP and 5MP has already been highlighted - namely, a greater effective 'zoom' compared to 8MP, which in turn offers greater versatility than full-resolution mode, where you can't 'zoom' at all. The 808's 5MP PureView mode is a good compromise between resolution, filesize and versatility when it comes to framing, which is probably why Nokia made it the default. As I mentioned earlier in this article, I have also noticed that clipped highlights are slightly less of a problem in the 808's PureView modes compared to full resolution, but clipping (to some degree) remains an issue in all modes. 

Video Mode

The 808's video specification is impressive for a device of this type, boasting 1080p HD video at 30fps with stereo sound. As with stills, video can be recording using PureView zoom technology, for an equivalent of 4x zoom in full HD, 6x zoom in HD (720p) and 12x zoom in nHD (640x360px). Astonishingly, as a result of the 16x oversampling in video mode, the 808 processes over 1 billion pixels per second when recording video footage.

The 808's audio in video mode is a little bit special as well. Nokia calls the 808's sound recording system 'Rich Recording' and it is notable for being able to record distortion-free sound up to around 140-145db. I haven't had the opportunity to really stress test this aspect of the 808's feature set, but Nokia has an interesting demonstration video here

Sample Video 1

This video shows the 808's impressive digital zoom feature in video. Zooming is achieved in the same way as it is in stills, by swiping vertically on the screen. Weirdly though, the footage only 'zooms in' when you release your finger, having achieved the desired framing. Nokia insists that this approach is better for video (allowing you to preview framing before committing to the zoom) but it takes a bit of getting used to, and means that it isn't possible to zoom in smoothly or slowly. Zooming out, however, works as you'd expect, with the framing following your finger movement. 

Click here to download the original MP4 file

Sample Video 2

This video clip was taken at the extent of the 808's 'zoom' in highest quality (1080p) output handheld, and shows how effective its digital image stabilization is at cancelling out camera shake. Footage is nice and detailed.