Nokia 808 PureView: Just How Good Do the Images Look in Real Life?

Nokia 808 PureView: Just How Good Do the Images Look in Real Life?

A Day Out with the Nokia 808 Pureview and Nikon D800

Nokia surprised the mobile phone industry (and probably the world as well) when it announced the 808 PureView. Sporting a whopping 41-megapixel sensor, we explained in a previous article what's to be expected from a smartphone camera that has more megapixels than a digital compact camera. But theory aside, just what sort of image quality do we expect from the 808 PureView? 

And since we were at it, we felt it would be interesting to see how images from the 808 PureView’s 41-megapixel sensor stack-up against the 36.3-megapixel images from the Nikon D800. We are aware it’s comparing apples to oranges; after all, we do know it's unfair to compare a top tier DSLR camera to a smartphone camera. But blame it on our curiosity. Do take note this isn't an image quality comparison between the Nokia 808 PureView and Nikon D800, but rather a look into how image sensor size is probably the biggest factor in image quality instead of raw megapixel count.

  Nokia 808 PureView Nikon D800 with 24-120mm Lens
Sensor 1/1.2-inch sensor with Nokia Pureview Pro imaging technology and Carl Zeiss optics 35.9 x 24.0mm CMOS sensor (Nikon FX format)
Total Resolution 41 megapixels 36.8 megapixels
Effective Resolution 36 megapixels (4:3) 36.3 megapixels
Focal Length 26mm (16:9), 28mm (4:3) [36mm equivalent] 24-120mm
 F-Number f/2.4 f/4
Light Sensitivity ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 ISO 100 to 6400 (expandable to ISO 50 to ISO 25600)


Indoor Photography

So how does the 808 PureView fare when shooting indoors? Thankfully it allows for adjustment of ISO values, and surprisingly it does a decent job of shooting in low light. In fact, if the indoor lighting is passable, you might even get away with shooting at ISO100, and thus have cleaner images. Though this means the camera will shoot at its widest aperture, so be prepared for a shallower depth-of-field.

Nokia 808 PureView

Shot at ISO400, and aspect ratio 4:3. This results in the highest resolution possible by the PureView, at 38 megapixels.  You will notice the auto white balance is slightly off high, with a tad too much blue. However noise is well-controlled and the image is pretty sharp around the area of focus (the cup). Once you blow the image up past 50% of its resolution, you will notice that it's the down-sampling at work, and that noise is very apparent if you view past 50% of its original resolution.

Shot at ISO100, aspect ratio 16:9. This results in a 36-megapixel image as compared to shooting with an aspect ratio of 4:3. Here the auto white balance seems to have got it right, and oddly noise seems to be more well controlled too despite the lower ISO setting. Similar to the previous image, noise is very apparent if viewed at original resolution. But if the image is going online (and thus be scaled down), it will be more than sufficient in terms of sharpness.


Nikon D800

A shot from the Nikon D800 at ISO400, and 36-megapixel resolution. As you can see, the colors are more saturated and image is much sharper at the point of focus (the cup). However, for a mobile phone camera, the 808 PureView performs admirably well in an indoor environment.


Nokia 808 PureView and Nikon D800 - 100% Crop

Taken from the higher resolution 38-megapixel image, you will notice noise is very much present in the 100% crop from the 808 PureView.

The D800 shows that noise is well controlled, and the image is still sharp at the area of focus (the lines on the cup)


Outdoor Photography

Once we were done with the 808 PureView indoors, it was time to bring it out, especially when it was bright and sunny outside. Shooting in Auto mode, the 808 PureView will allow the camera to determine the best settings, so we opted to go with the "Creative" mode which allows for more manual controls. Unfortunately, the 808 PureView suffers from a problem common to most digital cameras offering manual controls, and that is images are underexposed under bright sunlight as it's very tricky to get metering correct. One way to work around this is to use the exposure compensation, which is also found on the 808 PureView.

Nokia 808 PureView

Shot at ISO100 and 4:3 aspect ratio. While it was bright and sunny, the auto metering got it a bit off and the image turned out to be slightly under exposed.

ISO100, and at an aspect ratio fo 16:9.


Nikon D800

Over here it seems based on just standard web images the D800 image seems to look similar to the ones taken by the 808 PureView. Let's take a closer look then.


Nokia 808 PureView and Nikon D800 - 100% Crop

At 100% crop, noise is obvious even in daylight, and the 808 PureView seems unable to capture a lot of details.

A 100% crop from the D800 photos reveal that the image is still sharp, and not much noise is displayed. The detail level between both products are a world apart when zoomed in, but hardly differ when scaled down to web usage resolutions.

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