Nokia N8 Review: HD Video – Samples Across All Conditions

Yesterday you saw the beautiful pictures the Nokia N8 is capable of producing, today we put its HD video capture to test. The N8 is Nokia’s first device that is capable of capturing video in the 1280 x 720 resolution. It records at around 90MB a minute capturing 25 frames a second. Another thing that Nokia has brought back from the N93/N93i era is stereo audio capture, powered by its dual microphones.

Nokia N8 Review: HD Video - Samples Across All Conditions

To give you a real world scenario of the quality you can expect from the Nokia N8’s video camera, Iain and I shot video in low light, bright light, daylight, at night, in noisy places, with stabilization, without it, with digital zoom, without it, panning, speaking, testing – in short trying to cover virtually all the different conditions the N8 could be used to shoot video in. The result ran into Gigabytes with over 30 clips. But instead of uploading them separately, I decided to capture the essence of each and mix them into one 8 minute video that should give you a taste of what to expect.

Do keep in mind that the video has been reprocessed twice, once in iMovie and then by YouTube, so you will see a slight drop in quality. I have also created the following timeline, to give you an idea of the conditions the N8 was filming in. Make sure you watch it in HD.

  • 00:10 Nokia DLR Station: Video shot waiting for the DLR at the station right next to the venue for Nokia World. Broad daylight, moving train. Gives you an idea of how smooth the video from the N8 can be, you might see the odd jump though.
  • 00:40 The English Countryside from a fast train: Video shot from inside a train to Edinburgh, you will see the reflections from the window. But despite the speed at which we were traveling, the N8 seemed to hold its own.
  • 01:00 In very windy conditions: Right on top of a hill overlooking Edinburgh, no protection from the wind, making it very hard to keep the phone still and rendering the audio capture ability of most phones useless. The N8 manages to get a bit of my voice in, no mean feat at all.
  • 01:20 Digital Zoom in Action: The thing about the N8’s digital zoom is that it offers around 3x zoom at negligible quality loss. At about 2x, its almost as if you were using an optical zoom. If you’re wondering how this works, this post is a must read.
  • 01:50 Panning the N8 in windy conditions: Probably the time at which the N8 will be at its worst, not even dedicated devices hadle pans well and the wind makes the phone very shaky.
  • 02:35 Very Noisy Conditions: Gives you a good idea of the N8’s dual microphones’ capabilities. One microphone is situated on the back, under the camera while the other is on the front. Great for capturing your own voice/commentary and the background collectively.
  • 03:00 Flowing Water: A look at the amazing detail the N8 can capture, smooth as you like.
  • 03:30 Following a subject around: A slow pan.
  • 04:10 Digital Zoom: The N8’s brilliant digital zoom in action again, birds at the beach.
  • 05:25 Chirping Birds: Gives you a good idea if the sensitivity the microphones posses.
  • 05:40 A road scene, in broad daylight: Gives you an idea of what a steady hand can produce.
  • 06:20 The road again, but this time at night: What really impressed me was the minimal noise and how well the N8 handled all the lights directed at its sensor. Amazing performance for a handheld device, dedicated flip HD camcorders would be proud.
  • 07:25 Scenes from the Nokia World party: Virtually no noise in low, moving lights. Then we head into the Nokia World party’s famous Gin & Tonic cloud, a room full of vaporized Hendrick’s Gin. The air was so dense that you couldn’t see properly with your own eyes, wonder what the N8 saw?

When you buy the N8, not only do you buy a great digital camera but also a very handy camcorder. No dedicated pocket digital camera (sub $200) that I have used came close to offering quality similar to the N8’s, specially when it comes to audio capture. The N8’s Active Hyper focal distance video focus system doesn’t allow it to focus closer than 60 cm, but anything farther than that remains in sharp focus throughout. This is a bit of a trade-off, but one that will help the majority of the people get great video without thinking about it. In any case, Nokia is still working on making this better and we can look forward to new firmwares that will make this functionality even better.

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14 thoughts on “Nokia N8 Review: HD Video – Samples Across All Conditions”

  1. The low light video is amzing.. i saw some samples on other sites and it seemed so laggy.. almost useless at night.. this here is awesome..!

  2. Really makes me want one…could be all around solution to memorize the kids while they are still small, no need to seprate machines (digicam + videocam)

  3. Thanks for continuing to do a great job. This is one of my go to blogs. I also follow you on tweeter. I cannot praise the work enough. Its first class. Thanks

  4. What continues to astound me about the N8’s camera is low-light performance.

    I’ve been 110% satisfied with my N900’s cam in broad daylight, but once it gets the least bit dimm, noise begins to generate in my photos. The flash casts a really ugly misty pale colour onto everything, so I just dont use it once its the least bit dark.

    The N8 seems to handle low-light really intelligently with hardly any noise, but above all it actually “sees” in the dark, instead of just trying to focus on light sources and leaving everything else in pitch black darkness.

    For me the final test in this video was the most impressive and IMO the most important. Low-light conditions are the only conditions where phones really haven’t previously performed.

  5. Can you upload the original files, if they look this good in YouTube then the originals must be excellent

  6. pretty happy with my new n8. touch screen is really nice, looks a little different than my old unlocked gsm phones but that’s ok. pretty happy with it. processor is faster and it’s great for my business in every way. not as much fun as my old unlocked iphones but i can’t complain. wifi and gps are great for getting around and helping me meet my deadlines. cant complain. also pretty great games in there I guess, for when i’m on the road. my wife loves hers for the facebook and camera and recorder to get all our little kids precious moments. texting and emailing can be a little difficult sometimes i’m used to having a keyboard i can push. but we got our blackberry unlock codes and htc unlocking for free so that’s nice! got our last couple nokia n8’s at 2 thumbs way up

  7. The Nokia N8 smartphone debuts the new Symbian^3 operating system, featuring a wealth of personalization features, usability enhancements, and a faster and more responsive interface

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