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Video Capture: Nokia 808 PureView v iPhone 4S

So far I’ve published unedited full resolution photos from the 808 PureView’s 41 Megapixel sensor, I have also published a ton of photos with the PureView mode engaged, but now its time we turn our attention to its video capture abilities, after all this is the first Nokia to capture videos in full 1080p HD resolution at 30 frames a second.

A few days before the 808 reveal, Nokia’s camera guru Damien Dinning tweeted “when we do 1080, we’ll do it like no other”. It is clear that they have, the advantages of using PureView are evident in video capture as well. You get 4x zoom while recording 1080p video, which goes upto 6x in 720p and a staggering 12x should you choose to shoot in 360p. We also get improved low light performance due to the larger sensor.

Further, most manufacturers like Samsung and even Apple crop frames when shooting in 1080p so that the processor can handle the load, however even in 1080p the 808 PureView gives users the same wide field of view as the 720p. But what I am most excited about is what Nokia calls ‘Nokia Rich Recording’. Audio plays a huge role in how pleasing the 1080p video is, and continuing in the tradition of the N8, it captures stereo sound.

What is improved is that the 808 can record upto 140-145 db, which is 4 times louder than conventional mics, most phones according to Nokia max out at 110 db. Nokia Rich Recording also lets the 808 record very low frequencies also without any distortion. This means that you will get great sound in your videos irrespective of the fact whether you are recording loud music at a concert or birds chirping in the park. I

As a quick test, I shot the exact same video with the iPhone 4S, widely regarded as the best 1080p capable cameraphone, and the 808 PureView. You’ll notice a wider angle with the 808, better sound and colour reproduction. I didn’t do a zoom comparison as the iPhone cannot zoom while shooting video.

(I suggest watching the video in full HD)

 Stay tuned for more video samples from the 808 PureView. What do you think?

Note: The video above was taken with a prototype PureView 808 and Nokia was very clear that the camera firmware was in no way final and that improvements across the board, including in video capture will be made before the device ships.

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode: Reinventing Zoom

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

Original:

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

PureView:

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

Original:

Nokia 808 Photo Samples In The PureView Mode

PureView:

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.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

The Nokia 808 PureView is breaking new ground with its 41 Megapixel camera. But as Nokia’s camera guru Damien Dinning himself explains, its not about using the 41 Megapixel sensor for full resolution photos, but to take those 8 Megapixel images from it that will be far better than anything else on the market.

Another advantage is lossless zoom, because you are coming from a 41 MP sensor, there is no need of the useless digital zoom that ruins pictures without fail.

However, there may be times when you do want to shoot in ultra high resolution, and Nokia’s created an advanced ‘Creative’ mode for that. In that mode you can shoot at 38 MP if you are using the 4:3 aspect ratio or 34 MP if you’re shooting in 16:9. The obvious advantage of shooting in such a high resolution (7728 x 4354 or 7152 x 5368) is that you can crop any part of the image and it will remain very useable. For example, look at the pictures below.

Note: You can click on the originals to get to the full resolution. Make sure you are on a speedy connection, as their sizes vary from anything between 9 MB to about 16 MB each.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

You would be surprised to see that it is a crop from the following shot, where you’ll be hard pressed to even find this gentleman.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Similarly, the following tents are not even properly visible in the original shot which you can find below.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Pretty amazing. In such a situation, I could also have chosen to use the ‘PureView’ mode and zoomed in on the subject before I took the shot. The advantage of doing that would be a much smaller 8 Megapixel original, but with excellent quality.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Here’s another example.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Original:

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Crop:

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Original:

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Looking at those shots it becomes clear that even in today’s day and age, compact digital cameras would have a hard time competing with what Nokia’s done with the 808 here. Finally, here are a few more untouched camera samples.

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

Full Resolution Nokia 808 PureView Camera Samples

I must stress that these photos have been taken with a prototype device, which is around two months away from a final firmware. Since a lot of the magic happens in the software, the picture quality will only go up from here. Also, most of these shots were taken while I was walking around, with barely even a second spent on composing the shot.

If I had decided to mess around with the settings a little, and may be wiped a little grease off the lens (I have a suspicion there was some!) I’m sure the picture quality would have been even better.

What do you think?

[Update: Shots taken with the 808’s PureView mode are here. Zoom in action].

Successor Match: Nokia N8 vs Nokia 808 PureView

Successor Match: Nokia N8 vs Nokia 808 PureView The Nokia N8 has been the best camera phone on the market for the past one year, even coming close to a DSLR in good light. The PureView 808 with its 41 Megapixel sensor promises to take that title away from its very able predecessor. While I was not able to do a camera shootout between the two, I was able to do a full hands-on comparison between the two.

The N8 now runs Nokia Belle, while the 808 will ships with Nokia Belle Feature Pack 1. Then it also has a 1.3 Ghz processor, compared to the 680 mhz chip on the N8. Also inside is a much more powerful GPU and another dedicated chip that takes the load off the camera.

Here is the full rundown (YouTube HD link):

The Definitive Nokia PureView 808 Video: Damian Dinning Interview

Like I mentioned in my PureView 808 hands-on post, I spent a good 15 minutes talking to Nokia’s imaging guru, Damian Dinning about the 41 Megapixel packing camera flagship, a device 5 years in the making. If there is one PureView 808 video that could get you info on everything from its conception, challenges, features and even the camera UI, then this is it.

Any questions? Let me know below.

Nokia PureView 808 Hands On

Nokia’s just made the sucessor to the widely regarded Nokia N8 official and it comes to us in the form if the Pureview 808. The number that shouts at everyone is its 41 Megapixel sensor. However, the real story is how Nokia uses that monstrous sensor to create the best camera phone on the planet. While the camera is the showstopper here, other noteworthy specs include a 4″ Clear Black display, a 1400 mAh battery, 16 GB of internal storage, HDMI out, a FM Transmitter, Secure NFC and Bluetooth 3.0.

I was able to track down Nokia’s imaging guru Damien Dinning for a definitive hands on with the Pureview 808. In the 12 minute video Damien takes us though what Nokia set out to achieve and how they made the decision to use  the Pureview technology. He then talks about the in and outs of the sensor and finally we get a look at the all new camera UI, which I must add is excellent. The interview with Damien is coming later here, but for now I’ll talk you through the device in full HD (YouTube link).

Camera Highlights:

  • 41 MP sensor with PureView imaging technology and Carl Zeiss optics
  • Video resolutions: Full HD (1920×1080) 30fps [Default], HD (1280×720) 30fps, nHD (640×360) 30fps
  • Lossless Zoom: 4x1080p [Default], 6x 720p, 12x360p
  • Frame rates supported: 15, 24, 25, 30fps
  • Stereo High Amplitude Audio Capture (HAAC)
  • Three shooting modes: Auto, Scenes, Creative
  • Integrated video editor for trimming video

More coming soon. Meanwhile I recommend you read the white paper on the PureView 808.

[Update: 16 minute hands on!]