My week with Nokia


So you thought the iPhone 4s was the best camera phone ever?

Well, I thought so too. But, a friend of mine recently lent me their Nokia 808 pureview to have a play with, so I spent a week with the Nokia in my pocket instead of the iPhone, and I have to say, I was quite smitten.

For the techy types amongst you, here is exactly what is packed into its 5 x 2.5 inch frame:

  • 38MP maximum resolution (in 4:3 aspect ratio – output size: 7728 x 5368 pixels)
  • 1/1.2″ CMOS sensor, pixel size: 1.4um
  • ISO 80-1600 (+ auto)
  • Five white balance presets (including auto)
  • Exposure compensation +/-4EV in 0.3EV steps
  • Carl Zeiss F2.4 8.02mm lens (26mm, 16:9 | 28mm, 4:3 equiv)
  • Focus range: 15cm – Infinity (throughout the zoom range)
  • Construction:
    • 5 elements, 1 group. All lens surfaces are aspherical
    • One high-index, low-dispersion glass mould lens
    • Mechanical shutter with neutral density filter
  • 1080p HD video (up to 25Mb/s) with 4X ‘lossless zoom’
  • Stereo recording with Nokia Rich Recording – rated up to 140db

In fact, this camera has the highest resolution sensor of any camera (not just camera phones) outside highly specialised, or certain medium format equipment.

It all sounds pretty impressive, but does it take decent pictures?

Now, I have to admit, I didn’t test it to its full capacity, and I didn’t use the video function and nor did I test any of the phone functions. Just the camera.

On useability I would score the Nokia pretty well. It sits nicely in the palm although it’s quite a bit heavier than the iphone. It’s easy to take pictures either using the touch screen, or via a shutter button on the side which is quite handy and the mechanical shutter gives a nice satisfying clunky click, like a real camera. The only negative thing I would say is that it is quite close to the button which switches between camera and video, and seems to be positioned in the corner where you naturally want to place your thumb, and I did find I accidentally switched it over to video quite a few times whilst shooting which meant I ended up with video clips instead of still pictures. It’s quite a sensitive screen and easy to do, but after a while I got the hang of avoiding it.

It is definitely not as user-friendly as the iPhone, but that is partly because it is a much more sophisticated piece of kit. The quality of the lens was the thing which intrigued me. Why put a lens that good on a camera phone? I guess you could argue it’s a crazy thing to do, and there is probably only a very niche market for it, but I was keen to see how it performed. As for the high resolution, well, I am not completely convinced it is entirely necessary in a camera this size, or that it makes an awful lot of difference to the image quality in the end, but I would assume (although I haven’t tried this yet) if you were to blow these images up to a larger size the quality would be much better than that of an equivalent iphone image.

The camera has three shooting modes: automatic for point and shoot; scenes for a bit more involvement in selecting settings (but the camera still controls the main settings for you), and creative for full control over the settings (however, you are not able to adjust shutter and aperture separately). I chose to shoot in creative mode. In this mode you can adjust the ISO setting (I kept this on auto most of the time); sensor mode (I used full resolution); aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3 – the images below were shot in 4:3); JPEG quality (I went for superfine); colour tones (see below) and capture mode (there is even a bracketing mode in which you can adjust exposure compensation as listed above, and there is an interval mode and self-timer). There is also I flash, which I tested but didn’t choose to use very much. You can adjust saturation, contrast and sharpness too, although I chose to keep these on a medium setting as I like most people prefer to adjust stuff like this later on the computer.

One quite neat feature which I found very handy (once I had worked out how to do it): if you tap the screen in camera mode it brings up the focus mode which allows you to switch between infinity, hyperfocal, close-up and automatic. I should note though that I did find the focussing quite tricky and it was the one thing which put me off the camera a bit. It seemed to struggle a lot to focus at times, especially in low lighting conditions.

I did try out all the different colour modes, though most of my shots were done on normal. I found the colour tones were nice and subtle under the flat lighting conditions created by the overcast skies we had that week.


The sepia was a little too dark, and it had a slight green tinge which I didn’t really like, although in some shots it worked quite nicely.


The black and white was nice, if a little too on the grey side for my liking (I tend to prefer a little more contrast, which I could have added by adjusting the contrast). I did end up using it a lot though as it lent itself quite well to the dreary grey skies.


Vivid was quite good for adding a little punch to colours. Again, if you play around with contrast and saturation you can probably get the same effect anyway.


As I mentioned, I think most people nowadays tend to make their colour adjustments post shooting using photoshop or similar software, so I’m not sure of the benefit of these different options, but I guess they are fun to play with.

Most of the time I shot with the ISO on auto and the camera was fine, although in lower lighting it struggled a bit.The exposure compensation was ok, but annoyingly there is a long time delay between each shot, so it’s near impossible to get the same shot three times unless you have a really steady hand and a static subject. It’s a bit of an unnecessary feature really I think in a camera phone.

I thoroughly enjoyed my brief flirtation with Nokia. I’m not sure if I’m ready to swap it for my iphone yet, but it was fun while it lasted. Here are some of my snaps from the week (I didn’t adjust these in anyway so these are as shot):









For further information on Nokia pureview technology click here.

© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2013

16 Comments on “My week with Nokia

    • well it is fiddly in comparison; there is nothing like holding a proper sturdy camera in your hand. It seemed to perform well though I had some issues with focusing which could just be me getting used to the camera. The resolution is impressive for a phone camera, although I seem to recall that it is achieved by the camera taking three pictures and then somehow merging them together. I would have to check on that, but it’s not quite as it would seem.

  1. Great series, Emily. I like the idea of a weeks worth of images.
    Hard to believe there is a phone camera with such high resolution…

    • yes I quite enjoyed doing that, although it was a fairly boring week I chose! I’m not sure why they chose to pack all of that into a phone camera – I think just because they could!

  2. great shots…it’s encouraging that demonstrates yet again that no matter the tools, the eye/vision will make art

  3. Emily, I haven’t read the text but these photos are so beautiful, so artistic … I am in awe! 🙂

  4. Who in their right mind would think the iPhone4 camera was even a remotely adequate camera, let alone the best ever? Honestly, this kool-aid swallowing over Apple has to end some day soon!

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