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Author Topic: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review  (Read 21763 times)

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Offline Jonas

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  • Nokia Connnects were kind enough to send me a Nokia Lumia 1020 for a trial with an extended period of one month. As I expected, the performance of the Windows Phone was excellent, always smooth and responsive, with the great Nokia Camera manual controls.

    In this post I will share my experiences with the Nokia Lumia 1020 camera trying to point out all his strengths but also his weaknesses. Before explaining my personal opinion on the camera, I must clear out that, apart from anything I will say next, this is, by far, the best camera I ever tested on a phone.

    One note, the photos on this article have not been edited apart from resizing to demonstrate the results out from the camera.

    _____________________________________

    The 41 MegaPixel camera concept as I see it
    _____________________________________

    Since Nokia released the 41 MPixel camera, I've seen many people posting blurred distant objects (or even the moon) that can be seen on the photos taken with the Lumia 1020 when it's full zoomed. I can also confirm that it's possible.



    Apart from the fact that it's really remarkable the details you can see when you zoom in the photos, I don't see this as something useful or even an advantage. I prefer to point out that a non-zoomed photo has such a big amount of detail that, seen as it is, it is just stunning! Without any use of other specific feature, the photo quality of the Lumia 1020 is on par with other compact or even professional cameras. The photos are crisp, sharp look with a good and balanced exposure and color temperature.

    My usage of the 41 MegaPixels sensor were mainly to obtain sharp 5 MPixel photos and re-arrange some photos with a moderate zoom in, line up the skyline, etc.

    __________________

    Daylight Performance
    __________________


    The performance of the Nokia Lumia 1020 is really close to perfect. The photos look great, well exposed and with vivid colors but still with a natural look (the contrast and color saturation applied on the post processing aren't too aggressive). For the more demanding photographers, there is always the DNG option where you have the final word on what post-processing to apply. For those that don't want to use the DNG feature, the final results are great as they are.



    As an amateur photographer I got used to always set some settings on manual. On the Lumia 1020, it wasn't an exception and I took most of my photos with the setting of ISO 100 and all other settings to Auto.

    ________________

    Night Performance
    ________________

    While during daylight (and with good conditions) the difference between manual mode and auto are not that significant. Is at night that the manual commands really make the big difference.

    Auto Mode (settings the auto mode choose: ISO 2500, 1/3 Seconds of Exposure Time- Tripod Used)



    Manual Mode (ISO 100, 4 Seconds Exposure Time - Tripod Used)



    The differences are notorious. I don't consider the photo in the Auto Mode bad as with a ISO 2500 it managed to control the noise (some compact cameras have more noise on ISO 800) and an exposure time of 1/3 almost allowed an handheld photo. The colors are still there and the noise reduction level was moderated.

    Of course, for long exposure photos I have used always a tripod (like on both of the above photos) as OIS, for good as it might be, is never enough when you take photos with a exposure time bigger than 1/30. Anything below that, is bound to get blurred by the camera movement/shake. Another simple technique that I've used on all photos is setting the timer to 2 seconds to avoid any initial shake from pressing the shutter button (or touch screen).

    I'm a fan of night photography and I must say that I really enjoy taking photos at night. So, here a couple more:





    I think the photos speak for themselves. The quality achieved by the Lumia 1020 is really impressive!

    I did noticed one annoying problem while shooting at night. Every bright spotlight can and usually creates a reflex on the lenses that results on white dots. They can be visible even seeing on smaller scales.



    The solution can pass by playing the alignment of the photo with those lights, some digital post-processing for removing it or maybe the use of an extra lenses (haven't tried this solution).

    Another problem is that these same sources of strong lights are hard to control on the Lumia 1020 as it tend to create blank and/or purple rays on the photo.

    ________________

    Macro Performance
    ________________

    The Lumia 1020 is not the best phone for macros for the fact that has a minimum distance of about 15cm to focus or at least, the results could be more impressive. Still, when compared with other phones, the Lumia 1020 has the great advantage of the massive resolution which allows you to crop the image to a point where macros can still be impressive.

    Here are some macros with the help of the crop.



    I think they look great so I'm pretty satisfied with it beside the 15cm minimum distance to focus. I can't stop thinking that with a reduced distance to focus the results would be stunning.

    _________

    ISO Tests
    _________

    I must confess that I use almost in all my photos the ISO set to 100 (minimum as possible) to reduce the noise from the photo. Still, in some circumstances where the light is not as strong and you need a faster shutter speed (less exposure time), due to movement objects or because you don't have a tripod to use at the moment, the Lumia 1020 can perform still really well at ISO levels of 200 and 400. From there, the noise on the photos become too much visible and, in JGP mode, the noise reduction gets too aggressive so you get a mixture of noise and blur.

    I compiled some tests using all ISO levels available on the Lumia 1020 that goes from 100 to 4000 and you can see it on the following short video.


    In more detail, I selected a part of the photos to show the behavior of the camera on the different ISO levels and you can see it here:



    As you can see, higher the ISO, higher the noise and more aggressive is the noise reduction applied. Also, the balance of the colors tends to be gone on higher ISOs. Still, with different exposure times, the color can still be seen. Here's the one photo from same place, also with ISO 4000 but with the exposure time of 1/2 Second.



    Regarding the ISO, I think if you have the ability to choose a Low ISO, then go for it. The best results come from there and use only higher levels of ISO when strictly necessary.

    _______________

    Video Recording
    _______________

    While most videos look great, I noticed some artifacts on some I made, specially while moving and on bright sunny days. The artifacts are more due to the type of sensors used on the Nokia Lumia 1020 and are usual on CMOS sensor types. This is something known on the photography field and it's called Rolling Effect or Propeller Distortion. If you curious about it, just search on YouTube for "CMOS Sensor" and one of the terms I pointed and you will get plenty of info on it.

    You can check some videos I made on the final video in the end of this article.

    ______________________________________________

    Things I would like to see in the next Nokia Camera App
    ______________________________________________

    Apart from my desires on the Hardware part for the next Pureview Camera generation (introducing a variable Aperture like on Nokia N86 was my favorite new feature), I think there are still things that can be done on the software side.  Without developing much, here are some features that I would like to see on the Nokia Camera app.

    - More Automatic Modes (like Macro, Night Portrait - Being aperture fixed, Landscape and Portrait mode don't apply)
    - On the manual focus, the indication of the focal distance (in cm/meters)
    - A zoomed square at the center while manually focusing (to guarantee perfect focus)
    - Focus Bracketing
    - First/Second curtain Flash option
    - Independent Focus and Exposure points
    - RAW Video format

    This are only some points. I might develop these ideas on an own topic.

    _________

    Conclusion
    _________

    The photo quality of the Lumia 1020 is a reference on the market, only rivaled by his predecessor, the Nokia 808. Even if I think there are still some ground for improvements to develop more features and to correct some issues the photo quality achieved by this phone can make you rely on it for most of the circumstances, allowing you to let your digital camera at home. Resuming on some Pros and Cons here are my thoughts on the Nokia Lumia 1020 camera:

    Pros:
    - Stunning Photo Quality
    - Great night photography performance
    - High Resolution zoom
    - Excellent resize/adjust photo options on Nokia Camera (setting the photo as pretended without losing the original)
    - Good Video record performance
    - Manual Controls

    Cons:
    - Bright lights (sun or at night) tend to cause purple flares
    - Spot lights at night cause reflexes on the lenses, making dots appear on the photo
    - Focusing and CMOS problems (Rolling shutter effect) while video recording in movement
    - Slow shot-to-shot time while using 34MP (JPG or DNG)

    So, if you are looking for the best camera phone on the market right now, don't look further. This is the one. Did I get convinced with the Lumia 1020? Let's just say that I bought one that arrived just a couple of days before returning the trial one.

    And now, for the resume of my all experience with the Nokia Lumia 1020, I leave here a video that I hope you will enjoy.


    Have some questions that you would like to clarify? Feel free to post them here and I will be glad to answer them.

    Offline PureView1000

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 04:48:36 PM »
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  • Wow, really great review. You took it through everything... Using a tripod seems essential... The nightshots are incredible clear and sharp. Fantastic my friend.... And congrats for your own 1020
    Be good, do something good...start the day with a smile.

    Offline AirAzores

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #2 on: April 26, 2014, 05:48:34 PM »
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  • I want one!!! :D

    Offline fis

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #3 on: April 26, 2014, 07:11:54 PM »
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  • great review mate!

    Offline Fonsini

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #4 on: April 27, 2014, 08:02:54 PM »
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  • Excellent work Jonas! It's very complete with lots of details! :)

    Offline Massis

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 05:39:25 PM »
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  • Very nice review, I like your subjective (and more realistic) approach to the device, from the point of view of a photographer and not only a device-reviewer.

    Two points I would like to elaborate on:

    a) The concept of 41MP.

    While I share your point of view (zoomed out for 5MP use = 99% of cases), I do see an advantage the 1020 has (that the 808 didn't have). It's the combination of 34MP + DNG. When I was using the 808, I was shooting in Pureview mode. Editing the JPG is an heretic, but not so heretic with a "pure" 808 JPG. Not the flexibility of a RAW capture of course, but quite possible though.

    Now the benefit of 34 MP RAW is: by editing the RAW, you can achieve the quality of the 5MP Pureview result (you have to denoise, sharpen, etc. yourself). BUT, and this is the main difference with the 808, if you crop out a part of the RAW, then you'll still have a picture you can exploit (crop will typically be 3-5 MP). So you can extract a part of the 34 MP AND edit it and postprocess it as it's a RAW. With the 808, editing a JPG is acceptable ONLY with the 5MP JPG, not the full resolution 34 MP.

    So now I'm discovering new possibilities. Let's take a concrete example. You shoot a landscape, zoomed-out, wih the 808 and the 1020. If you wanted to keep only a part of the scene, you could with the 808, but your JPG would be small, like 640x360 for example. With the 1020, as the 34MP picture is not (necessarily) a JPG, but a RAW, you can edit the crop, denoise, sharpen, etc., and finally get a 5MP crop.

    This is very useful if you have to crop a part of the capture. So back to your first section: I do see an advantage of this "sozoooom" examples. People don't realise what it means, but combined with RAW, it's a major asset of the 1020.

    b) Low light and tripod. Of course, typically for your 4s long exposure (even during day, you would need a tripod because of the exposure time). BUT. I have tested the 1020 for the very first time in a church the last week-end. Hand-held, no flash. I've started to edit the RAW, the result is amazing. What I mean is that you can achieve great low-light conditions pictures with the 1020 handheld (you couldn't get with the 808 in the same conditions).

    When ready, I will post pictures to illustrate my b) point  ;)

    Offline rzierik

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  • Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #6 on: April 29, 2014, 10:07:24 AM »
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  • Very nice review Jonas.  Love the videos too. I've been using the 1020 since November 2013 but my knowledge and experience is nowhere near yours and many of the guys on the site. Until I joined you I was mostly using the auto mode and only rarely the manual settings. There were times (especially in a very good lightning conditions) when I was really impressed and happy with the pictures taken in auto. But, many times I just wasn't getting what I wanted unless I adjusted at least one of the manual controls - having said that, they were still better than from my Samsung Omnia 7, Lumia 620 or 800. But they were definitely not comparable with the samples  I've seen on the net. Using the manual settings though the results can be amazing as we can see from your article. I agree with everything what you said and even though at the moment I am posting my photos as they are without any editing, I really like the fact, that we are able, as long as you enable the option 5mp + 34mp, to reframe  and to a certain extent crop the original. I do use it a lot especially when posting on the Instagram with the awkward 1:1 frame which is just not suitable for all the photos we are taking.
    Thank you again for the review and also for running this great site.

    Offline Jonas

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  • Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #7 on: April 29, 2014, 11:17:36 AM »
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  • Thank you all for you positive feedback!

    @Massis
    I totally get you point. I haven't explored much the RAW potentiality of the Lumia 1020 (even if I have used and even posted a photo here taken in RAW) but I will explore it more and hopefully be able to post more about it in a near future on a specific post. I have still a lot to learn when it comes to RAW editing.

    @rzierik & Massis
    When I said that I didn't used much the zoom, I meant I don't tend to abuse from it. I do use it (when it comes to macros, I use it in every photo) and I use it to reframe or make a moderate zoom on my photos. I do love the fact that I can make it with the feeling that I'm not compromising anything as the high resolution guarantees me that my final photo will still look sharp.  :)

    Offline theOne1893

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #8 on: April 29, 2014, 03:33:43 PM »
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  • Hey Jonas,

    Very nice review! I especially like the ISO comparison and the videos :Thumbs
    I have my 1020 since it was released here in Switzerland last october and I really like it, I can't see any other phone on the market that would fit me better right now.

    Inspired by your review, I would like to share some of my own critics about the 1020.
    (I don't want to sound too negative about this phone, as I said, it is currently the best phone out there for me... but there are some things that bother me (and since you already covered most the positive sides, I'd like to share some downsides))

    I know this is about the camera and not the device in genral, but performance is an issue in my opinion.
    The Snapdragon S4 is simply not up to date... While everything built-in (Nokia Camera aside) works very fast and responsive even on the low end devices, 3rd party apps could sure use a performance boost.
    With a relativly high price, I would expect more from the 1020 than beeing "yet another 920 clone".
    Don't get me wrong, the phone doesn't feel slow or outdated... just not as good as it could be (or should be, given the price and date of its global release).

    Overall I would call the performance very consistend, rather than fast and fluid.

    As for the camera, even Steven Elop mentioned yesterday, that the 1020 could have been better, if Nokia and Microsoft would have worked closer together (can't wait to see the proof in form of a 1020 successor :D)
    Of course it is complaining on a very high level, but the 1020 does feel like a compromise coming from the Nokia 808.

    This comes down a lot to my personal behaviour, but the camera's speed is a real issue for me.
    I like taking spontaneous shots of people, with the 808 thats no problem. Keep the shutter button pressed and you have a series of photos (of which you can pick the perfect moment you were looking for), with 4 seconds shot-to-shot time thats not possible and you can easily miss a great moment.
    That also applies to photos of animals (even more so, because you can't tell them to hold still and smile at the camera).

    The option to save custom settings (creative mode on the 808) is another thing I really miss.
    Let's say you are on a hiking trip, on the 808 you can use the custom settings for different scenarios.
    I can fiddle with the settings to be perfect for landscapes and then save it as C1, switch to C2/C3 for close ups or people without messing up my landscape-settings.
    That way I can adjust for a scene with minor changes, instead of going through everything again (focus, WB, etc.).

    Although, the 1020 does deserve credit for the more intelligent automatic mode and the easy to use interface, making it less of a pain to adjust correctly.

    As far as pure quality goes, it can't really decide which one is better... it really depends on the situation.
    I kinda prefer the 808 more "pure" approach, but the 1020 definitly evens the odds with its software capabilities like reframing.

    @Jonas
    I do have one additional question for you.
    It feels like the results shot with "smart sequence", "refocus" or "cinemagraph" on the 1020, are actually inferior to what I got from my previous Lumia 920.
    I know you had a 920 too before, did you notice anything like that?

    Offline Jonas

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  • Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #9 on: April 29, 2014, 04:03:38 PM »
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  • I do have one additional question for you.
    It feels like the results shot with "smart sequence", "refocus" or "cinemagraph" on the 1020, are actually inferior to what I got from my previous Lumia 920.
    I know you had a 920 too before, did you notice anything like that?
    Thanks for your extended opinion.

    I didn't notice such big difference between the 2 but since I still have both 920 and 1020, I will put them on a test in similar situations and will get back to you on this.  :)

    Offline theOne1893

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #10 on: April 29, 2014, 04:14:20 PM »
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  • To wrap things up on my previous comment:

    The only competition the 1020's camera has, comes from the 808.
    But they are too different to really pick a favourite, the "41MP PureView" branding aside, they have nothing in common...

    The 808 has the larger sensor, ND filter, stronger flash, additional jpeg settings and it works much faster.
    On the other hand, the 1020 has a BSI sensor, many more software features (reframing, smart sequence, etc.), a gorgeous, easy to use interface and of course OIS.

    Ultimately I think the Lumia 1020 is a good (upper) mid-range smartphone with a high-end camera.
    With the price dropping and Windows Phone 8.1 right around the corner, definitly a phone worth buying!

    @Jonas
    Thanks! I would test it myself, but I don't have the 920 anymore...

    Offline Massis

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #11 on: April 29, 2014, 10:58:21 PM »
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  • @theOne1893: When S Elop answered that, it was just a confession: the OS was not capable to support the 41MP. What else could it be: the hardware was there (808 being the evidence). I've discussed this tonight during a Nokia France/Microsoft France event, they agreed that the OS was catching in terms of hardware support.

    I told them that coming from the 808, the 1020 was a compromise (and I'm happy to have switched). They know what the photographer community wants, for sure  ;D

    Oh and the champagne was good, thanks for asking  :D

    Offline theOne1893

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #12 on: April 30, 2014, 12:01:40 AM »
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  • @Massis
    I hope you had fun with the MS/Nokia staff!
    Out of curiosity, did you get invited for any particular reason or was it an open event?
    Anything interesting you would like to share about it?

    BTT; yes, I know it was the OS holding back a "better" Lumia 1020... but as a consumer, I don't really care for the technical excuses, I just want the best damn phone they can build :P

    I just think the timing was unfortunate.
    If it would have been released alongside the Lumia 920 (or even in spring last year together with the Lumia 925), nobody could have complained.
    (Obviously by then the combination of OIS and 41MP wasn't ready yet, just saying "what if" ;))

    But they kept it US-only during summer and it hit the global stores later in october!
    October 2013 was almost a year after the launch of the 920 (and it's still based on the same technology!) and actually the same month Nokia showed us the much more powerful Lumia 1520.

    So speaking for the global market, if the Lumia 1020's launch would have been delayed just one or two months, it could have been released alongside the 1520.
    Making the 1020 much more powerful and future proof and at the same time, offer an up-to-date alternative for those of us who don't want a phablet...

    PS:
    About my "what if" scenario...
    Obviously a release alongside the 920 would have been pointless. If the 1020 would have been ready by then, nobody would need a 920.
    But alongside the 925 would have been good, one with a kick-ass camera and the other one slim and stylish, a great choice for customers.
    Alongside the 1520 would also have complimented the product range, with a phablet and an equally capable 4.5" device...both taking advantage of the momentum around the GDR3/Nokia Black update.
    And it wouldn't even have conflicted with the upcoming 930 either, given that this one will offer a 5", 1080p display and a slimmer, stylish form factor.

    The last option would have been my favourite and let's face it, the 1020 didn't sell so well that they couldn't have waited one or two more months...

    Offline Massis

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #13 on: May 01, 2014, 12:13:42 PM »
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  • It was a private "WP8.1 presentation - VIP" event  ;D

    I don't know why I was invited; I only tweet my pics and don't run a blog or whatever.

    No news, we already know much about 8.1

    I only put the pressure on them saying that absorbing Nokia means a lot of responsability and expectations  :D

    Offline huellif

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    Re: Nokia Lumia 1020 - One month Life changing experience - Review
    « Reply #14 on: May 01, 2014, 10:26:33 PM »
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  • Nice review Jonas :)

    It would be intresting to see a side by side review on this level which compares the 808 (larger sensor) and the 1020 (OIS + backlight illumination).
    And it's a shame Nokia didn't give the 808 DNG, MF, manual exposure time and other useful software features :( 

     

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