The N86 Has An Effective 4x Digital Video Zoom

Nokia smartphones have had digital zoom for ages now, however there was never a point in using it as the picture quality turned terrible. Even in the video mode while shooting in the VGA resolution, despite having a much larger sensor e.g. 5MP, it only zoomed in using the VGA segment which resulted in pretty poor quality.

According to a killer discovery by Steve Litchfield, the N86 changes that. It uses the entire sensor to record video which results in better low light performance along with the ability to put the digital zoom to good use. Here’s what he had to say:

Nokia are simply using the whole sensor to capture light for the video – when zoomed in, they’re simply downsampling differently.

If you zoom in much beyond 4x, you hit the same problems as digital zoom on other camera phones, i.e. things start to pixellate in ugly fashion. But 4x seems about right, since the VGA rendered frame is about four times (linearly) smaller than the full 8mp sensor.

Check out the video for a better idea of how this works out in reality.

Thanks Steve!

2 thoughts on “The N86 Has An Effective 4x Digital Video Zoom”

  1. This is great – thanks for demonstrating. The optical zoom is one of the main reasons I’m still using my brick-like N93 from 2006, but this is just as good as the N93 optical zoom, if not better – and Nokia seem to have fixed the old problem with sound recording when zooming, which I’ve heard on both optical and digital Nokia zooms.
    I hadn’t realised about the limited use of the sensor when recording video with other Nokias – does this account for the much richer colours I’ve seen in @whatleydude’s N86 videos and improved low light? I’ve always thought that dull colours and low light performance have been the biggest problems with Nokia video – am excited to see these finally addressed.

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