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Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode: Reinventing Zoom

By - On 3 March 2012 14 Comments

Yesterday I brought you some full resolution pictures from the Nokia 808′s 41 Megapixel camera, and those represented something of an extreme case. When Nokia made the 808, they didn’t intend on people taking 38 MP photos. In fact the default automatic mode shoots at 5 Megapixels (3072 x 1728) and the image weighs in at about 1 MB, a stark contract from the full resolution (7728 x 4354) photo that can go upto 16 MB or more.

The benefit of shooting in this mode is the oversampling that helps reduce noise and increase color accuracy and sharpness. A 5MP photo from the 41 MP sensor means that each pixel in the 5MP image is the result of the aggregation of about 8 pixels. The result is similar to what you experience when you resize a large photo into a tiny one and it suddenly becomes nice and crisp.

The second advantage of such a large sensor is the ability to zoom. Nokia calls it lossless zoom as unlike traditional digital zoom, there is no interpolation of pixels to get a zoom effect. Because the sensor is so large, the device is still capturing the same 3072 x 1728 image, just without oversampling. This still keeps the image fairly sharp, but now each pixel is not an aggregate of 8 pixels, but lesser depending on the amount of zoom in play. At maximum zoom, the ratio will be 1:1, at zero zoom its 8:1. So obviously, a fully zoomed in 5 MP photo will not be as nice as a 5MP photo without any zoom, because each pixel isn’t benefitting from any oversampling.

To give you an idea of how all this theory works in the real world, I took more than a few image samples with the phone in the automatic ‘PureView’ mode. As always, click on each image to access the full resolution shot.

A zero zoom shot, followed by zooming in with the automatic ‘PureView’ mode.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

I was able to get close without turning the image into the interpolated bloat that using digital zoom would have resulted in.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Next, standing across the street this is the picture I would get with a normal cameraphone.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

But if I zoom in a little, I can get much closer to the subject.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Again, from across the street.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

But if I choose, I could also frame the following.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Or choose an altogether different subject. Zoom does give you a lot of flexibility.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Indoors, with a fair decent amount of light.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

With PureView zoom:

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Another example:

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

With PureView:

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode


Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode


Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode


Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode


Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

I am not sure, but I think I already was zoomed in a little here.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

However, PureView lets you get much closer. This is great for macro shots, as you can use PureView to get up close with the subject, even if you are having difficulties focussing because you have positioned the phone too close.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Click though to open the above photo in its full size, then look at the top left corner. Even fully zoomed in, the amount of detail is impressive.

If you are watching these pictures on your monitor or even printing at the 6×4″ or even 8×10″ size, you should get along just fine. Displaying the fully zoomed shots at less than their original resolution will give the images the same pseudo oversampling effect that resizing a normal picture brings. Unless you are looking at them in the original resolution you’d be hard pressed to say any sort of zoom was involved.

PureView is clearly a technology of the future, after using the 808 for a couple of day I have a hard time switching back to the iPhone 4S or even the N8, both of which rely on digital zoom and its useless interpolation to trick users into believing the phones have ‘zoom’. While using a 808, on most days I’ll be happy to zoom in at less than a 100% to allow for some oversampling but if push comes to shove, its good to know that the 808 can handle itself.

Nothing on the market comes close to what Nokia is doing with the 808 PureView. They are once again reinventing mobile photography, just like they did with the N90.

Note: The pictures are from a prototype device, with the final camera firmware still being around 2 months away. The quality can only get better from here.

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  • Prashant said:

    The amount of detail in the background of the “intel” shot is amazing. Noise is present as fine grain and can be removed by post processing without loss of much quality

  • Ashish said:

    My mind is officially blown! You have the best 808 Pureview coverage, across the entire internet! Keep it coming.

  • Sample Pics: Nokia 808 PureView – PureView Mode : My Nokia Blog said:

    [...] More samples: http://thehandheldblog.com/2012/03/03/nokia-808-photo-samples-pureview-mode/ [...]

  • ojoiy said:

    Not impressed.

  • ddd said:

    some pix look good, while others don`t.

    For example i am not impressed
    with picture

    and following doesn`t look good either:


    was there something on the lens?

    Seems to be washed out looking…

    this pic looks quite muddy and for day light pictures quite noisy too

    and the colour obviously miss the right punch…

    I own the N8 and it makes good shots but i know people that even get out of the n8 bad shots, bause they don`t handle it correct.

    can you please try too clean the lens and do some better ones?

    and add a comparision camera shot or stuff like this.

    thx in advance

  • shubham said:

    pretty impressive …

  • Jan said:

    I totally agree with ddd!

    this camera(phone) should be able to deliver much better results. These images are flat and grainy. Was the iso set too high, or what happened??

  • JustVisiting said:

    Thanks for these zoom shots, Vaibhav.

    However – I don’t think I have seen any good comparison shots demonstrating the benefit of the pixel binning / downsampling technique when shooting in pureview mode eg in low light circumstances?

    Did you get a chance to try that with your proto device?

  • justin said:

    great comparison!

    my grip with most camera phones is that they can’t take great pictures of a moving subject – such as a kid that want stand still – would be curious to see how this phone held up in some type of “moving” setting

  • sam josif said:

    Its camera quality is amazing..

  • josif disoja said:

    Its best mobile of nokia

  • Jose Barrida, Jr. said:

    nokia endeed reinvented imaging technology! Amazing pictuerew and video quality. ti makes other phones coughing.I will difinetely acquiere this Pure View 808 when it hits the market. kudos to NOKIA FOR A JOB WELL DONE !!!

  • samuel said:

    i love d phone with all heart

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