Nokia Lumia 1020: photo impressions

, posted: 8-Oct-2013 15:25

I must start this with a correction. I was more than a little incorrect before in stating that the 1020’s camera bump sticks out by ‘a few centimetres’. A more accurate measurement is 3-4mm from the body. The 1020 is in fact only about 14mm thick at the camera and around 10mm for the rest of the body. The 1020 is a comfortable size and fits well in one hand (though I do tend to end up using two for most things). The camera bump doesn’t really get in the way during use and actually gives you something to grip on while taking it out of your pocket.

The biggest complaint I have about the construction is that the handset feels slippery. I have yet to drop it, but at the same time I am too nervous to take it out of my pocket on my daily ferry rides for fear of it going for an unplanned swim. Obviously due to the shape it doesn’t sit flat either, so you either have to rest it on the screen or the camera bump on the back. A case should definitely be an early purchase in my opinion.

On to the camera. In a somewhat confusing move, camera functions are separated into three discrete applications. Nokia Pro Cam is used to perform manual adjustments such as ISO, focal length and shutter speed and capture the 41 megapixel monsters Nokia is so keen on selling. Nokia Smart Cam provides improved low light performance, burst shots, action shots and the ability to merge these in various ways and add effects like motion blur at 5 or 8 megapixels. Finally the stock standard Camera app is still available, though it will not capture 41 megapixel shots. Nokia is in the process of combining Pro Cam and Smart Cam into a single application though we don’t have a release date yet. Pushing and holding the camera button starts up Pro Cam by default, though this can be changed if you like (settings, applications, photos+camera). I will be focusing on Pro Cam for this update with Smart Cam coming in a later update.

The Pro Cam allows adjustment of several aspects of the photo, with a live preview. These include:

  • Flash - On, Focus Light Only, No Focus Light, Off
  • White Balance - Auto, Cloudy, Sunny, something else, Indoor
  • ISO - 100-4000
  • Shutter Speed - 1/16000 - 4 seconds
  • Exposure Value - -3 to +3

All are accessible from a bar at the top/side (depending on how you are holding the phone) and tapping on one brings up a slider that allows you to change them. Doing this absolutely requires two hands, unless you have incredibly long thumbs. Tapping on a screen will attempt to focus on that area, you can then take a photo by tapping the camera button on the screen or pushing the two stage camera button.

If like me those settings don’t mean a hell of a lot to you, there is a tutorial which pops up the first time you launch Pro Cam (and is accessible alter on) that takes you through each one. Cleverly each explanation includes an example photo and shows what changing the setting does to the image. There are a number of good getting started guides for how best to start using these settings, including this one (http://pocketnow.com/2013/08/12/how-to-take-incredible-photos-with-the-lumia-1020). I have been taking shots during my trips to work (the walking sections at least) and I have been using auto for all settings. You can see some of the results in the samples.

The 1020 by default captures a shareable 5MP image and a 34MP (for 16:9) or 36MP (for 4:3) when you take a photo. For the trainspotters, a 16:9 34MP image is 7712x4352 while the smaller is 3072x1728.

 

The 5MP goes into your camera roll and can be shared as normal. When going through Camera Roll it will show up with “captured with Nokia Pro Cam” and clicking the text will then open the photo in Pro Cam.

Opening in Nokia Pro Cam allows you to use cropping and re-framing. What this means is that you can pinch and zoom your photo or change aspect ratio, then save an image from that zoomed view. Because the 1020 uses such a high resolution sensor and oversamples, the amount of zoom you can do from a single shot is impressive. In the pictures below you can see the unzoomed original and a reframed shot. To be clear - both are from the same single photo.

Original

Reframed

Max Zoom

Once reframed, you hit save and can then reshare. However you can go back to the shot in Pro Cam at any point and reframe again (zoom out, zoom in on another area etc). The amount of zoom you can get is dependant on the original quality of the shot. Some of my auto shots taken in overcast conditions got very noisy at fairly low levels of zoom, something I am pretty sure could be resolved by adjusting manual settings appropriately when taking a picture.

The 5MP shareable photos end up in the Camera Roll in the Photos app and can be shared through the usual suspects (Facebook, MMS, Email etc). While the full size originals can only be accessed by hooking the handset up over USB. The smaller ones are around 2.5-3MB in size for a 16:9 image, while the full resolution ones are between 9 and 12MB.

What this camera does is make taking good looking photos a lot easier. Just take one, get the settings right and you can crop/zoom it later. Doing so on the phone is quick and responsive, no lagging at all. Where it does fall down however it starting up Pro Cam, which takes between 2 and 5 seconds. In addition, there is a 2-3 second wait after taking a photo while it processes. If you are wanting to capture something that happens quickly, better leave it running. In comparison Smart Cam takes around three seconds and the default camera app just one second.

So that is my amateur’s take on Pro Cam. Coming up next time will be Smart Cam, video and a hobbyist photographer’s take on the camera capabilities. I will leave you with a few more shots of beautiful Auckland City.

And some links to full resolution files:

http://www.wasabi2k.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/WP_20131002_13_07_45_Pro__highres.jpg

http://www.wasabi2k.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/WP_20131001_08_36_07_Pro__highres.jpg

http://www.wasabi2k.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/WP_20131002_16_57_32_Pro__highres.jpg

 

My Geekzone username is wasabi2. I am an IT consultant located in Auckland. I am currently working at SKYCITY. I have been interested in technology since I was a kid, where I got started breaking the family PC. These days I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the latest tech. My house has all mobile ecosystems covered (Android, iOS, Windows Phone).



Other related posts:
Nokia Lumia 1020 Social Features
Lumia 1020 for Work
Nokia Lumia 1020: some photos






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Telecom New Zealand
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New Zealand


Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

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