Overview of the Camera
The Nokia Lumia 925 comes equipped with a 8.7 MPixels camera sensor of a 1/3" size, Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, a fixed F2.0 aperture and focal length of 26mm. With a dedicated camera button with two-stage auto-focus, this camera is able to focus anything from 8mm distance to infinity. The Dual Led Flash provides an operating range of 3 meters and serves as well for focus, night video or just as a flashlight.The lenses
While for most the Lumia 925 comes with the same camera as the Lumia 920, the truth is that some differences exist between them. The lenses that equipped the Lumia 925 are a 6-element lenses while the Lumia 920 has a 5-element lenses. In a conversation with Juha Alakarhu, he confirmed that the 6-elements lens provide a better sharpness.
One aside note to refer that also between the Nokia 808 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, the two 41Mpixels sensor camera phones, there is the same difference regarding the number of elements that compose the lens, with the Lumia having that extra element. Of course, the differences between the cameras of these two phones are many more but that you can read about it on a previous article that I made.The Amber Update
Having the Lumia 920, one of the things that I enjoyed more while trying the Lumia 925 was the possibility to try the Amber update that brought many new features, like the FM Radio, the Glance, Flip to silence, double tap to unlock and also an update for the camera. Beside the only visible change, the upgrade of ISO setting that now goes up to 3200, there were also changes on the algorithm used (the way that the image is processed from the sensor to the final result that you get - the photo). This was something also confirmed by Juha Alakarhu.
After confirming that, in fact, the photos from the Lumia 925 were better (as I will demonstrate later), my main curiosity which I was left was to understand if the sharper images were the result of different lens or the different firmware. Regardless what's the main reason, these words from Juha let me hoping for some major improvements on the Lumia 920.Testing the Camera
The Lumia Pureview generation became famous by the introduction of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) for the first time on cameras equipping phones. With it came the great lowlight photos with stunning results. The Lumia 925 is no different and the results I managed to get were on par or even superior to the ones that my Lumia 920 has used me to.
Not only the Lumia 925 can take great exposed night photos but he can take them using less exposure time allowing, with the combination of OIS, blurred free photos. Here's some example of what I was able to achieve:
At the night concert where you can see a detail in 100% zoom at the top left.
One of the news that was brought with Amber update regarding the camera was the new ISO 1600 and ISO 3200. From the tests that I have made, I don't think these alone are a big advantages at least not at this point. What I mean is that the results I managed to get at ISO 1600 and 3200 were always too bright and color reproduction was affected showing that the camera got a bit trouble obtaining the result pretended (remember that apart from ISO, almost everything also is still in "auto mode"). Here are some results for each ISO value.
I think with the introduction of Pro Camera and the ability to control the exposure time, the ISO 1600 and 3200 can be more useful as easily controlled. Regardless the results on higher ISO levels, the new ISO setting brought a new balance to the photos taken by Lumia 925 and you can see less noise on lower ISO levels when compared with the Lumia 920.
When directly comparing with the Lumia 920, I must say that differences, not being huge, are easily visible. I note that, on a first look, the Lumia 920 photos might look a bit more crispy but only because of over-sharped processed images. Once you get on your PC and start looking carefully at the photos taken, you will see an that in fact the Lumia 925 saves much better detail.
Regardless the fact that the lens are different and the better results achieved by the Lumia 925 can be in fact come from there, I truly believe that the algorithm change that Juha has mentioned has also a lot to do with the improvements I noticed.
Let me give you this daylight example of a photo I took at the beach:
The first thing you can notice is that color balance is totally different, having the Lumia 920 a more yellowish and saturated colors, the Lumia 925 presents a more blueish and not so vivid photo. Even if most people tend to be amazed by strong colors, in my opinion, the 925 represent better the true colors.
Seeing in detail, it's also visible that the Lumia 925 has much less noise at the same settings (both photos taken on Scene Auto and with ISO 100):
This made me believe that the noise reduction applied might be stronger on the 925 which could lead to details to be lost. The fact is that all the digital noise that I have complained about on my review of the Portico update of the Lumia 920 is not visible on the 925:
As you can see, even if the detail differences are not hugely different, the results on the Lumia 925 are much better than the ones obtained with the Lumia 920. On the Lumia 920 the digital artifacts are visible almost everywhere, specially on the cars on the parking and the rocks with the sun umbrellas, where on the 925 they are only slightly visible in small areas. This results on a more pleasant and natural photo on the Lumia 925.The video
Similar to the Lumia 920, the 925 also records video in mono. Of course, not having stereo recording sound, the Lumia 925 with his Rich Recording technology can still guarantee you better sound recording, special at concerts, than most other phones available on the market. Here's an example of a video recording that I made at night on a Concert performed by the São Carlos Theater Company.
While the sound recording was similar, the Lumia 925 video was, in this particular situation a bit over-exposed, while the Lumia 920 had a better balance.
Not with the Amber Update but with the Pro Camera that will also be arriving to all Lumia 92x series, is also coming the Stereo Recording. A recent video on Youtube demonstrates exactly this and other users are reporting that they are able to record in stereo and also have an option to adjust the bass filter (off, 100hz default, 200hz strong).The SmarCam app
One last word to a new app coming with the Amber Update: the SmartCam app. An useful and fun to use app that allow to combine photo and movement. This app takes a series of photos in a very short time allowing you next to create action and motion blur photos, change the face to the best expression or just chose the best photo.
Here's something that I made using the Action shot with this app:Other interesting facts
Being a guy that is always looking at the details and studying all the alternatives to get the best results, I was happy to see that Lumia 925 gives a much more complete EXIF info than the Lumia 920. Information about the Exposure Mode, White Balance and Scene Capture Type are saved, allowing me to identify easily which settings I used in my tests. I really hope that Amber update will bring this along to all Lumia devices.Conclusion
The camera of the Nokia Lumia 925 is one of the best available on the smartphone world and probably only beaten by the own Nokia's phones, the Nokia 808 Pureview and the Nokia Lumia 1020 which, with the 41Mpixels sensor, just stands out of any other competition.
If you want to read more about this phone and the Amber Update, you must not miss my review made at DailyMobile site