Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nokia Lumia 920 test and review

The Nokia lumia 920 is around £450  "pay as you go" phone it rocks some windows 8 Software has a pretty nice design, a one piece body, a vibrant screen, and comes in some pretty colours.  Weighs 185g, released last year around september time
however you can find it a lot cheaper here

Anyway those things are not important to me, for me it is all about the camera.

Nokia sent me this phone to try out and review for them. They asked me to report both good and bad bits of the phone with regards to the cameras, which are also video cameras.
The only other phone I have to compare it against is a 4 year old HTC sense which has been battered dropped and abused pretty hard for a long time.  Fortunatly I also recently bought a new iPod Touch (5th gen, 32gb) which rocks a 5mp f/2.4 camera on the (scene camera) which can also record 1080/30pvideo and a 1.2mp face facing camera that can do 720/30p and only weighs 88grams, released last year around september time

The Lumia 920 has an 8.7mp Optically stabilized f/2 Scene camera with PureView tech which can also rock 1080p video, And a 1.3mp Face facing camera with 720p video as well. So seems like we have a close battle.

So straight off the bat regarding the stats, the Nokia wins with higher MP scene camera, optically stabilized and larger aperture lens scene camera.

It is hard to find any details of what the equivilent focal length of the two cameras are, one is 3.3mm but no idea what that is in 35mm terms. (after some more research I have found a reference to it being 26mm, however not 100% sure of this)
What I can say for sure is that the Lumia has a wider angle lens as seen here.


Look closely and you will see that the top images is from the iPod touch and the image get just to the bottom of the pool table and just above the light, the Lumia 920 images goes significantly above and below. The Lumia will also go broader however the camera settings were on a 16:9 Aspect ratio and that is why you are not seeing more area at the sides of the pool table at the moment.

however look at the colours! and the exposure difference
the Lumia makes it look dark and blue/miserable
the iPod Touch makes it look bright and warm (in comparison)

This was repeated in many of the images i took side by side, in low light conditions.

The images above are a good example of the extra width of lens angle you get on the Lumia compared to the Apple ipod touch (lower image)

However what you dont get in the Nokia Lumia straight out of the box is a panorama software.
the ipod touch, straight out of the box and in the same software as the camera icon, givers you a panoramic sweep function which can let you take images like this.

Where the exposure for the sweeping panorama is fixed from where you start the sweep? ie the top image the sweep started from the left (making the bridge bright but the sun totally over blown) and the lower image the exposure starting from the left making the details in the shadows impossible to see.

In bright conditions the Nokia was doing a good job, its images were crisp, clear and vibrant. however there is no HDR function like what you get on the iPod touch 5th gen, 
The Nokia Lumia 920 also seemed to Max its shutter speed at 1/2000th of a second while the Ipod went faster and with a lower iso. meaning that shots looking straight into the sun (mega bright images) are totally blown out in the Lumia 920

So great, the iPod touch is able to get more sky details, but look at the dot to the centre right of the image.  This is Camera lens flare (or Glare)  This is something that so far i have not seen in the Lumia at all. (not seeing it is a good thing in case you were wondering)

On the way back from the stunning sunset at South Queensferry I drove past a field and with the sun just hitting it at such a low angle it looked beautiful!  I had to jump out and take a shot.

 The Nokia lumia has produced a lovely looking image, warm, saturated, and well exposed.

The apple iPod Touch has created a very nice image but a little less warm, maybe actually a slightly more accurate white balance but also looks a little less satureated, and again not as wide,
so it seems like the Nokia Lumia won this match.... However the Ipod was able to do this.

So end of day 1

iPod Touch
Face Facing camera :

More accurate white balance
less changeable white balance
Exposes face better in challenging lighting
faster shutter speed
more variable iso

Scene Camera:
Has panorama tool built in
has hdr tool built in

Nokia Lumia 920
Face camera:

Wider angle lens

Scene Camera:
Image stabilisation
more saturated colours
wider angle lens

Day 2

On facebook i got a good question about the DOF (depth of field). Asking how creamy can these two cameras make the out of focus background look?

So for that i have taken a shot of some flower from very close up. I have also cropped the iPod Touch image so that it is in the same 16:9 aspect ration as the Nokia Lumia 920

By now you should be able to guess which image is which just by looking.
If you cant, the, let me tell you. The top image is from the Lumia, you can tell because it has a wider field of view.  It definitly shows a shallow depth of field as it adaquately renders the out of focus background part (the bridge) a creamy blur compared to the iPod.
So one win to the Lumia.
look at the colours, yes the lumia is more saturated but look at the detail that is lost in the close up flower because of the mega saturation of the pinks...
Win back for the ipod... maybe?

For the days shoot Kim and I visit Bamburgh Castle (which costs about 10 per person to go into)

First shot here with the Nokia lumia and the colours are ver vibrant, there is no lens flare, and a nice warm tone

The apple iPod image is a little flat, cooler in white balance and suffering from lens flare

Easy win for the Nokia Front facing camera


Both iPod and Lumia have the ability to Zoom in on an image by using a 2 finger movement of expanding the image. This is clearly only a digital zoom and not an optical zoom so the quality will always drop.
2 Questions,
a) which will zoom the most
b) which will give the most detail

First off the normal wide angle shots, the Lumia doing a fine job of giving the image punch and vibrancy. well done lumia

Then the zoom in…..

The iPod looks grainy and under exposed, the lumia looks brighter and sharper.

lets see if this is consistent.

Beach shot

The apple iPod images above seem more zoomed in, but then again the wide angle is not as wide angle, 

the colour of the lumia is lovely!

Win to the lumia again.


The Apple iPod Touch 5th gen 32gb has a trick up its sleeve here.  It already has an inbuilt HDR function.  You can set it on or off, and if on you can set it so that the camera still saves the non HDR version as well.  and boy does it do some good examples!

As you can see the HDR version has really brought out the shadows and made the blown out area around where the sun is far far smaller, And only a couple of tiny tweaks in lightroom and you have an image that really pops, (mostly up the vibrancy)

The lumia on the other hand on the same image, does not offer this function, so it is pretty much a silhouette.


The apple iPod touch comes with an inbuilt panorama function where you just sweep the camera either horizontally or vertically and it just combines the image.  this is also straight in the camera when you first buy it and in the original camera app.

The Nokia Lumia 920, you have to download a panoramic app (so will need a wifi connection and windows or nokia account) and comes up as a separate app.

The critical difference is that the Nokia app is a photo sticker app compared to the apple photo slider

Neither is perfect, but for general use and for blogging purposes which is best?

Major error here.

While trying to write this blog I notice that none of the Panoramic images form the Nokia are on my adobe lightroom folder.  I then checked the phones "camera roll" also none of them there,
so I opened up the windows phone app and browsed the folders in the phone…


So it seems like the only panoramas I can show you are the iPod touches.

However Since finding this issue i have gone out and shot some more panoramas and think i have figured out the problem.

I shot 5 panos today, but only 3 have come up on the phone…. Whats going on you ask?
The panorama app on the Nokia Lumia 920 requires you shoot 2 or more photos , once you have done what you want to shoot, I normally just click it off and put it in my pocket (like i do with the iPod). Only now have I noticed that there are some little blue dots rolling across the top of the screen. and then a notice saying , saving panoramic image… which seems to take around 10 seconds.

So I guess that every time I have taken the panoramic shots, I have just gone, click click click, that looks like a pano, and then click screen off, and into pocket. and it has never saved the images!

What you can't do though is mount the camera/lens in portrait orientation and take the shots, thus giving you a wider angle of view Vertically, (which incidentally is how the iPod does it.

See the same areas shot with the iPod (sorry the one with the cow is not identical, but i have done a video of those areas as you will see in the video)

So in terms of ease of use the nokia lumia panoramic photo sticher app is not my 'go to' option.

Here are the last shots i am going to leave you with


The Nokia Lumia 920 has done a good job, its Photos from the Scene Facing camera are vibrant and the wide angle lens is lovely. But lets break it down to its distinct parts, (scene facing, photo and video, and face facing photo and video)

Scene facing Camera (photos)
It has been better than the iPod Touch 5th gen on a number of factors

1) Wideness of lens
2) Optical stabilisation
3) more vibrant colours
5) Potential for shallow depth of field

But on some factors it has not been as impressive

1) Dynamic range
2) Panoramic photo stitcher
3) Ability to cope with very bright lighting
4) White balance all over the place

Scene facing camera (Video)

Better than iPod,

1) Wider angle lens
2) no lens flare

Worse than iPod
1) White balance
2) Lower exposure

Face Facing Camera (Photos)

Better than iPod
1) Wider angle

1) white balance
2) exposure of faces

Face Facing Camera (video)

Better than iPod
1) Wider angle

1) white balance
2) exposure of faces

Phone camera in general
Easy to use one handed, however to start and stop the video or take a photo only requires the touching of anywhere on the screen so many times i accidentally turn the recording off when i was swapping hands or rotating the phone in my hand.
In comparison to the iPod it is heavy and massive. but that is really just a personal preference.

Would I Recommend this???

IF! you are a windows user, have easy access to internet and wifi and are willing to sign up for Nokia and windows things then YES, the camera is great and the screen showing you the stuff is lovely

IF, however you are a Mac user, or just not used to windows phone system, then NO!
only because the installing, downloading and transferring of files could end up being a pain in the butt.

but in terms of camera function, if you are not planing on using the face facing camera much then this is a great lens and camera on a big phone.