Tag Archives: Nokia N8

The N8’s Active Hyper-focal Distance Video Focus System Explained In Detail

The spec sheet on the Nokia N8 mentions ‘Active Hyper-focal Distance’ as the method used by it during video capture and unless you did some research on your own, I’m sure all of you are wondering how exactly does it work (I was). In part 2 of the making of the N8’s camera (part 1 was about photography), Damian Dinning explains exactly how that works, and why Nokia chose it over continuous auto focus and focus at the beginning of the exposure.

So instead of I saying the same thing in my own words, I thought it’d be better for you to read what the man had to say himself. It might seem long, but I assure you its more than worth a read.

‘The N8 uses a system we refer to as ‘Active Hyper-focal Distance’. Hyper-focal distance is a specific lens focus position which by using depth of field allows the greatest range from near to infinity for objects to appear in focus. The Nokia N8 uses a 28mm (35mm film equivalent) focal length Carl Zeiss lens. This provides us with huge depth of field. But by using the hyper focal distance means objects placed between roughly 60cm and infinity will appear sharply focused.

The N8's Active Hyper-focal Distance Video Focus System Explained  In Detail

The reference to ‘Active’ relates to the nature of how we maintain this hyper-focal distance lens position. Most autofocus camera modules in camera phones rely to some degree on friction. The problem with this is that the lens which moves for focus adjustment can slip after being driven to the correct intended lens position. This isn’t normally a problem in the case of still photography, but in the case of video can create problems especially when recording with HD resolution. To combat this problem, for the first time we actively monitor the lens position and then adjust it if required. The result is simply, video that’s always in focus.

The alternatives today are as follows: 1. Focus at the beginning of the exposure and then lock it or 2. continuously focus during the video. Unfortunately both have disadvantages. The first means if your subject moves or you alter the composition it will be out of focus. The second means the image in screen needs to be always be in focus. However, maintaining this without seeing focus hunting is very difficult. Add to this, when your subject moves from it’s original position, or there is insufficient contrast or illumination it simply won’t be able to focus and unless you’re lucky, your video will be out of focus. Before I continue, yes our system does have the disadvantage of only being effective for subjects which are beyond 60cm. We felt however, this was a worthwhile trade-off given the benefit you get in return, always in focus video, regardless of where your subject is, how fast it moves, how much contrast there is or how much available light there is. And you’ll never see it focusing or hunting during filming either’.

So there you have it, film anything farther than about 60 cms and you’ll have great video. I personally don’t mind the trade-off but find myself wishing for continuous focus or even the ability to manually focus at the start, it would be great for filming all those unboxing videos. But Damain goes on to say something that gives me reason to be excited.

‘Of course the ultimate solution would be to combine both of these in some way. Earlier in development we trialled a continuous autofocus system for video, but concluded for the time being that the performance didn’t warrant its inclusion in the product at sales start. Having said that, we are continuing investigations to find a way to get the best of both worlds in the future. Let’s see…’

So if I interpret correctly, it is possible that continuous auto focus comes to the N8 via a firmware update later, the keywords being “didn’t warrant its inclusion in the product at sales start“. It is clear that Nokia’s really working hard to make the N8 the best camera phone on the market and if you take the time to go through the entire piece, you find a lot of insight into how the digital zoom works and how it is quite close to optical zoom when it comes to performance. The N8’s auto capture ability, with its dual microphones is also talked about.

If you are interested in the N8, both part 1 on photography and part 2 on video are a must read. Oh, and there are a ton of pretty impressive photo samples as well.

Sunday Watch: The N8 Stars In A Bunch Of Videos

A pretty large bunch of videos showing off the N8 has popped up over the last one week. Some demoing it in general, some not demoing it but showing what you could do with it and so on. The first on the list is the viral video that Nokia’s itself released, they ask if this is the greatest foosball match ever played and if you watch the video, you will have to agree.

The next is a much more general overview of the N8, the browser, multitouch, music player, camera and so on. While its in a language most of us do not understand, you should still be able to easily make out what is happening.

Following on we have a teaser of the Asphalt 5 game that Gameloft’s been developing for the N8. It supports both multitouch control and accelerometer navigation. Impressive.

The last is a small Ovi Store and Wikitude demo, the reason I’ve put it here because it might just be showing off the reboot of the Ovi Store that was promised a while back.

Do keep in mind that these videos have been shot on prototype hardware and software and the final product should be even better. Any thoughts?

Video: An In-Depth Look At The Nokia N8

In what is the most comprehensive look at the N8 so far, Nokia Conversations has published a video in which Chris Bennetts, Senior Project Manager at Nokia sits down with the Nokia N8 and shows off its smarts.

“Nokia N8’s homescreen, demonstrating the customisable abilities of the handset, true multitasking that makes running multiple apps a breeze, the lighting-fast onscreen keyboard, email and messaging, internet and browser capabilities and finally maps and navigation.

Some aspects of the device look pretty different from S^1, so I think that should make a lot of people happy. Plus the homescreens look great and I am pretty happy with the nifty speed with which the N8  seems to work. Coverflow also looked nice. They have promised a part 2 and 3 of this video next week and I can’t wait for it.

Some Interesting Nokia N8 Snippets

The N8 has been on everyone’s mind recently and over the last week, some interesting snippets about the N8 have come to light. The first is that the N8 supports animated wallpapers, the second is a behind the scenes look into the making of the N8 and the final is a real world look at the N8’s video capture ability.

Behind The N8: This video published by the Nseries blog shows Axel, Pinja and Mikko from Nokia’s Mobile Computers design team discussing the inspiration and craftsmanship behind the newest addition to the Nseries family, the N8.

Animated Wallpapers: Daily Mobile has a video showing off Animated Wallpapers on the N8. The best part is that the animated wallpaper is motion sensitive, i.e. it reacts to movement detected by the Accelerometer.

A Real World N8 Video Sample: Soon after the N8 announcement, Nokia showed off a video shot from the N8. It was created with precision using sliders and tripods and we did not have a ‘real world’ sample, until this video popped up. The raw .mp4 shot on N8 is now available for download, if you really want to know how the N8 is going to perform in real life, I suggest you go ahead and download the 88MB file.

I am specially impressed by the audio capture during the video, looks like the dual microphones are really coming into their own on the N8. The focus is also pretty nice. Since the video was shot on a prototype, the final results may vary.

Thoughts: Nokia Hits The Sweet Spot With The N8’s Specs & Price

Nokia today finally announced the much leaked Nokia N8, its first Symbian ^3 12 Megapixel Pixel touch device and instead of dishing out the press release to you, I decided on looking into it a little more before making up my mind and bringing you my thoughts.

The N8 brings quite a lot of first’s for Nokia.

  • The first 12 MP camera.
  • The first Nokia to shoot 720p HD video.
  • The first device to run Symbian ^3.
  • The presense of a Xenon flash and a LED in one device.
  • Only the second Capacitive touch device, but the first with multitouch.
  • The first Bluetooth 3.0 device.
  • The first with HDMI out and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.
  • Qt integration.
  • Powered by an ARM 11 processor running at 680 MHz, making it the fastest in a Nokia yet.

Symbian^3 itself brings a ton of new features such as coverflow, a visual task manager, even better multitasking with data paging, single tap access, streamlined menu, 3 homescreens with 6 widgets each and Flash Light 4.

Nokia N8 Pictures

Other key features:

  • A slim profile of 113.5 x 59.12 x 12.9.
  • 135g in weight, which is not much considering its carved from a single piece of anodised aluminium.
  • 3.5″ capacitive multitouch display with a 640x 320 pixels resolution.
  • 720p video recording at 25 frames per second, with an LED light.
  • Camera aperture of F2.8, focal length 5.4.
  • HDMI out with the Nokia Adapter Cable CA-156.
  • The fairly standard 3.5mm jack.
  • WIFI, Radio, FM transmitter, A-GPS.
  • A 1200mAh BL-4D Li-Ion battery.
  • 135MB phone memory, 16GB inbuilt with support for a microSD card.
  • 256 MB RAM and 512 MB ROM.
  • Initially available in five colours: Dark Grey, Silver White, Green, Blue and Orange.
  • Capacitive stylus

Now that you have finished reading a very impressive spec list, here is the most impressive things about the N8, its price – $499/€370/£320/Rs. 22,150 before taxes or subsidies.

The N8 will come in five great looking colours (Silver white, Dark grey, Orange, Blue and Green) and the aluminum build will mean that it will feel premium. Hardware wise, its virtually perfect, even the 1200 mAh battery is supposed to last as much as the N97’s 1500 mAh, if not more. There are even more hidden goodies like stereo microphones for stereo audio capture, a shutter release at 150 milliseconds and effective digital zoom.

The only question now is whether S^3 will deliver? The criticism people have heaped on it is that it looks a lot like S^1, but I have a feeling that while it may not be as revolutionary as S^4 can be, the small tweaks and improvements will result in a much better experience. Integrated Qt should mean that we will have even more apps for the platform and Flash 4 (with Flash 10 compatibility for video coded and formats) will certainly help.

The N8 has a non removable battery, this will be important to some, but for the most of you it will be a non issue specially with products like the Proporta Turbocharger in the market. If I really had to pick faults, I’d say the lack of a hardware keyboard is a let down for me.

Wondering what my first reaction to the N8 was?

Aluminum + Xenon + 720P + Price Point = Sold!

In fact I’ll take two, Black and Silver/Gray please. If you (Nokia) can get it out soon, then pretty please with a cherry on top!

We saw some aggressive pricing with the Cseries and the recently announced E7, but with the N8 Nokia has really taken the fight to the opposition. It is a fight that they seem to have started very well.