THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS | A PRO PHOTO & VIDEO BLOG

Nokia 808 Pureview Smartphone Shakes Things Up with a 41MP Camera

Posted in News, Photography by Nathan Lee Bush on February 27, 2012

When the iPhone 4S landed in October of last year, with newly impressive specs on its already industry leading camera, I mused that it could represent a beginning of the end moment for the endless array of compacts sold every year.

What photography-indifferent everyman would part with a couple hundred extra Benjamins if they had something adequately sufficient for their needs (usually just cataloguing events) already in their pocket? With its relatively fast lens and shrinking shutter lag times, the 4S was approaching the good-enough quality of your standard P&S. My mother is an ample case study. Her fretting over what camera to replace her malfunctioning Point-and-Shoot with ended with the arrival of her shiny new 4S.

Today Nokia dropped an even bigger game-changing bomb with its announcement of the 808 PureView smartphone, sporting a f/2.4 Carl Zeiss lens and packing a whopping 41MP on a 1/1.2″ sensor (relatively huge, approaching the size of the Nikon 1 sensor).

Now, as we all know by now, lots of Megapixels on a small sensor is bad. But Nokia cleverly sidesteps this problem by oversampling, averaging the noise out and outputting 3, 5 and 8MP files, a technique known as ‘pixelbinning.’ On a 5MP file therefore, seven pixels would be averaged out to one to reduce noise. It also allows you to effectively zoom despite the fixed focal length by sampling the native pixels (though, of course, you lose the benefits of the interpolation). You can also, if you’re crazy, output at almost full resolution of 38MP. Maybe Nokia is gunning for the D800? 🙂

Watch the video above to see how flexible the camera interface is, both for photo and video, and instantly recognizable to a photographer or filmmaker. One frustrating point with the native iPhone camera app is its dumbed-down interface, with little manual control. They assume (rightly) that my mother doesn’t want to be bothered with ISO, aperture or shutter speed. But I find it a point of frustration that these factors are outside my control. The short video shows off these controls, as well as exposure compensation and white balance control. Nokia seems to have enthusiasts and pros in mind with this offering. I’ll admit I’m tempted away from my trusty iPhone 4.

All this points to a larger trend: there’s lots of innovative pressure coming from outside the established photo brands at the moment, from Apple (Steve Jobs stated in his official biography that one of the main sectors he wanted to transform was photography), Lytro and others. The major players, are stepping up their game to compete. In the end, the resulting breakthroughs in such a scrappy, competitive sector, will always benefit the customer.

You can download some pretty mindblowing samples from Nokia’s blog. Here’s one for your pixel-peeping eyes. Click for the full version:

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Nathan Lee Bush is a fine art photographer and filmmaker in New York City. His work is on his sitevimeo and blog

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2 Responses

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  1. […] we look at the game-changing announcement by Nokia of the large, 41MP camera sensor in their new 808 Pureview Smartphone, which oversamples and then averages the pixel clusters to reduce noise, producing 3, 5 and 8MP […]

  2. […] the best camera to compete in this dynamic playing field. And its lucky for that: Nokia’s PureView technology already blows everything else out of the water. But considering the, frankly, shocking growth of […]


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