The Nokia Lumia 920 was a sensation from the first day that it was announced because of his innovative camera featuring an Optical Image Stabilization, never before introduced on mobile phones, and due to his capacity of taking exceptional photos in low light conditions.
From then it has been receiving some critics due to soft photos, artificial digital artifacts, blurry and fuzziness photos, problems noticeable specially on daylight conditions. Nokia reacted quickly on launching the Portico update that brought some improvements to the camera.
Being on the verge of possibly buying one too, I've been investigating and viewing a lot of photos pre and pos Portico update and in diverse situations that lead me to start a discussion on twitter with some friends. This topic is the result of that chat and pretends to:
- bring a healthy
discussion about this subject with photo examples
- identify on which situations the problems occur (or are more visible)
- find ways to avoid/minimize those effects
- conclude the importance of those problems on the daily use of Lumia 920 camera
- gather suggestions for improving the camera of Lumia 920 and future generations
For this, I hope to count with the contribution of everyone that wants to join the conversation with their thoughts and photo examples.
So let me start with some examples (more will follow on the next posts) with a very special thanks to Pureview1000
for the contribution on the photos without which I couldn't have started this topic.
I will start with the comparison of some photos taken in similar situations with Lumia 920 (all photos made after Portico update) and Nokia 808 and pointing where I think the problems are (regardless of the image size, the crop was always made at 100%):- High level of noise reduction (even if this was lowered after Portico update)
Check the foliage. Not only there is no detail on the Lumia 920, but there is an aspect of an oil painting due to too much digital processing.- Too much sharpness
On the Lumia 920 there is a kind of an hallow around the foliage and it's noticeable too much sharpness.- Colors pushed too much
The first photo from 808 was original in 37Mp and was resized to 8Mp. Regardless that, for this purpose, it doesn't matter since what is happening here is that, due to the colors being pushed too much, all the details are gone with the Lumia 920 and colors turned unnatural.- Color clipping (strong colors tend to contaminate the surroundings)
Lumia 920- Strange digital artifacts around strong colors
The original 808 photo was in 37Mp and was resized to 8Mp. Still, the effects seen on the lights and around the metal are not caused by a lower resolution of the Lumia 920 but to a very different kind of image processing making the photos look pixalized.
Now, I must clear out that the Nokia 808 is really the top camera phone and most will say that I just can't compare things. Apart from that and from the fact that the sensor of 808 is much better and the lenses might also be of better quality, it's obvious that the photos from the Lumia 920 are being too much digitally processed and that is actually damaging the final results.
I think Nokia is trying to make the photos of the Lumia to be stunning in terms of low light conditions and very eye-candy with vibrant colors and for that they are:
- Pushing too much the exposure
- Applying a high noise reduction (still, even if on Portico they have reduced it)
- Applying too much sharpness to make the photos look more sharp to compensate the amount of Noise Reduction applied
- Pushing too much the colors to make photos appear spectacular but making them unnatural and provoking secondary digital effects
We, users, have a bit of blame on this because most don't know how to look at a photo. Most want colors that are not natural, blue skies with no noise and outstanding results that can be compared with professional equipment which is, in the end, a simple non-sense. Nokia is responding to this but I think that after the N8 and the 808, the Lumia 920 is a step in the wrong direction.
I also think that Nokia is betting too much on low apertures. It's more marketing like the amount of Mpixels (as for most people, higher the better, independently of sensor sizes, lens quality and final photo results). The Nokia N8 has an F2.8 lens, the 808 has F2.4, the 920 has a F2.0 and the new 720 has a F1.9 lens. What this makes is that you will get better results in low light, great bokeh effects but also undesirable things like a really hard time to get good landscape photo or good group photos as for the depth of field is becoming too short to get what you want focused. Unless it's released a phone where you can control the aperture, I prefer a balanced one (like F2.4) than a too much high or low one.
Just to finish this first post (as I hope it's just a start of a good discussion about this), let me show some crops from two photos with the iPhone4S (Thanks to Dave
). Most will say that it's a bad photo with too much noise for a daylight. The truth is that the colors are more accurate, the details of trees and foliage are there and it's a much more pleasant and natural photo than the ones the Lumia 920 is making.
iPhone 4S (on the same photo)
iPhone 4S (on a different photo)
With this examples, I wanted to make a point that you don't need a camera with 41Mp to still have details on the photos and that sometimes is better to accept the limitations of a camera than try to disguise it via digital post-processing. I think the photo quality of the Lumia 920 can still improve if Nokia is able to give us a less digital processed photo.
I hope that you understand that all my critics here are to be intended as constructive and I don't want here to start any discussion on what is the best camera or bash any brand.
So what's your thoughts on this?