We’ve all been saying it again and again that mobile phones can never replace a digital camera in terms of image quality, speed and reliability. But mobile phone brands were not sitting idle either, Nokia and Sony were both known for making strides in mobile photography but later on, other firms like Apple, Samsung and HTC starting offering good mobile phone cameras and features as well. But never a mobile phone camera quality came in the level which can be considered as a digital point and shoot, let along the prosumer ones.
2 years ago, Nokia released an exceptionally strange mobile phone; the Nokia 808 PureView. It had a gigantic 41 MP camera with a 1/1.2 inch sensor and a xenon flash. But due to limited hardware performance and decade old software, it never got the attention it deserved from consumers. Last week, Nokia came up with the best camera phone ever, which can also replace your digital point and shoot camera or even some prosumer cameras, in terms of image quality. You must be thinking that its an over statement, but here are some reasons that I think that way.
Large Sensor, Even By Dedicated Digital Camera Standards
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is equipped with a 1/1.5 inch CMOS FSI (Front Side Illuminated) sensor and a maximum resolution of 41 MP. This is very large, not only when compared to normal smartphone cameras such as Apple iPhone 5, but even when being compared to dedicated digital cameras such as Sony Cybershot HX30. I have compared the actual camera sensor size and tried to show how it stacks up against some dedicated cameras or smartphones. Now, I am not trying to say that the Sony HX30 is inferior to Nokia Lumia 1020 but take that just as a directive because a prosumer camera like Sony HX30 also has other features such as large optical zoom levels.
The camera sensor can resolve a maximum of 41 MP images but only 38 MP is usable in 4:3 mode. These days, almost everyone is using a 16:9 aspect ration be it for images or for videos. If you want to use 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, the Lumia 1020 can give you 34 MP images. You can argue that no one other than professional photographers may need such a high resolution. Also, it would be a hassle saving such large images and you may also face problems in sharing them with others, be it through EMail or through social networks. But Nokia explains that it uses an effective method called Pixel Binning where it takes very high resolution images and then bins multiple pixels into one pixel, there by increasing the per pixel quality. This method gives you very rich images at a resolution of 5 MP which are easy to share everywhere as well and also takes less space on the storage device.
Optical Image Stabilization Lens With F/2.2 Aperture
Apart from a very large sensor, the Lumia 1020 also has an optical image stabilization system set up for its autofocus lens. This idea was also implemented in last year’s Lumia 920 and the recent HTC One. This ensures that even when your hands are shaky, the image doesn’t come out blurry. It also helps in shooting smoother videos while in motion such as while traveling or walking.
Here’s a directive image published by HTC which shows that lower aperture value means higher amount of light entering into the camera system. The lens used in the Lumia 1020 has an aperture of F/2.2 which means, it can take more light into the sensor resulting into brighter and better images even in low-lit conditions, although it is not better than what HTC uses in its flagship device.
It’s Excels Where Digital Cameras Never Tried Keeping Their Feet; Internet Connectivity, Sharing & Apps
Digital camera brands were never interested into making their devices more connectivity friendly, everyone just focussed on better image quality and features. Smartphones are the pioneer in terms of connectivity. You would be blown after reading the number of connectivity features that recent smartphones offer, such as, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, A-GPS, NFC and what not. You also get a lot of apps such as social networking, image editing and after effects to bling up your photos. Internet connectivity opens up a lot of options. For example, you can upload your images and videos straight to Dropbox, SkyDrive or any other service and free up the local storage space on our device while keeping those files protected on the cloud.
Nokia ProCam App
The Nokia Pro Cam app is a huge step forward into camera software on mobile phones. It is an enthusiasts dream come true on a mobile phone. This app exclusively available for Nokia Lumia devices, shows you real time previews and effects of change in values of ISO, white balance, focus settings, shutter speed and exposure settings so that you can clearly know how an image will turn out at certain settings before clicking it.
Even with all these features it is expected that the Lumia 1020 will sell only moderately as consumers are wanting an Android powered Lumia 1020. As Windows Phone 8 is very immature of an ecosystem and Android would fare much better in offering a lot more features, applications and flexibility. You can argue that the dedicated digital camera is still a lot cheaper in comparison (Nokia Lumia 1020 price in India: Over Rs. 40,000) but it also gives you ability to talk, text and internet connectivity. Also, you would find that your mobile phone is always with you, anywhere you are but the same could not be true with a dedicated digital camera. The Nokia Lumia 1020 shows us that now even mobile phones can be compared with dedicated digital cameras.