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Divine Fireworks, with the Nokia Lumia 1020

You know that now and again I highlight shots from other people here as well – in fact, there are at least two mobile photographers I’m planning to feature in due time. This one shot however is just begging to be shared.

I first saw it in the Nothing But A Nokia group on Facebook, where hundreds of ardent mobile photographers show what they achieve with their Nokia phones – it’s really worth joining!

A few years ago in France, during an impressive thunderstorm heading my way, I tried to capture the lightning. I’ve been making several dozens of shots before it started to rain – and failed for the most part (you’ll see the best I got in the add I keep repeating at the bottom of my posts).

So from experience, I know you must have extreme patience and some love from above to capture a scene like this…

Divine Fireworks by Kirstie McGuinness 640 x 360 watermark

As you can see, the shot was captured by Kirstie McGuinness (Las Vegas). I contacted here on Facebook and asked if I could see and share the original shots – and I promised to add a watermark so that others won’t be able to claim it’s theirs.

I asked about how she managed to do this and she wrote:

The shot was taken with a Lumia 1020, focus set to infinity, shutter speed set to 4 seconds. It was July 4, 2014 and my family and I were at the annual fireworks show in Boulder City, NV. We had set up our seats at the golf course so we could overlook the park where they set off the fireworks. I had my phone in the Nokia camera grip mounted on a mini tripod setting on the side of my dad’s truck.

My husband and I tried different settings for taking the shots. He has more photography experience than I, so he found the ideal setting much more quickly than I would have. As the fireworks show began, a storm approached as well. I was focused on trying to get a shot of the fireworks, so I just kept clicking photos hoping for a good one.

When the lightening struck, I noticed that I happened to get the shot of it. I was so shocked to see the image on my screen! We looked at it with wonder then nobody touched the phone until I could get home to download the image for fear that it might get accidentally deleted. It was a once in a lifetime shot for me. Im a novice photographer and only got interested in it because of Lumia and instagram. The Lumia community and shots like these that make me want to improve my skills and keep me excited. 

Well, I’m glad Kirstie allowed me to share it here as well. And not only that, you’ll find the original shots on the PureViewClub Flickr page as well, in 5MP and 34MP. Like I wrote I added the watermarks. I hope you like this single shot as much as I do! :-)

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Comparing 11 smartphone cameras: Nokia (3), Samsung (3), LG (2), Sony, Oppo and Huawei

Last weekend has been quite interesting. I brought a few test devices on a family visit, and two family members appeared to own some very useful gear as well. I’m not sure if this has ever been done before, but in this test I will compare the results coming from no less than 11 (!) smartphones. I just hope you like bricks! :-)

We’ve been discussing corner sharpness recently, and I wanted to get a subject that would give me equal visual information in just about every part of the shot. Hence a brick wall seemed like a great idea to me. Also, I wanted to avoid the usual confusion about different phocal length, so I positioned myself in such a way to get more or less the exact same 16:9 shot.

The phones you will see in this test are: the Nokia 808 PureView, Lumia 1020 and Lumia 930, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, S5 and K Zoom, the LG Flex and G3, the Sony Xperia Z2, Oppo Find 7a and Huawei Ascend P7. Quite a gathering, isn’t it?

Resolutions are quite diverse, but this is a collection of current high-end smartphones of six different companies all bragging in one way or another about their cameras nevertheless – I think it’s worth the time to see what they are actually capable of :-)

I’ll only share the shot itself once, as captured with the Nokia 808 PureView (8MP)

Brick Wall - Nokia 808 Pureview 8MP

That’s all. Pretty boring shot in fact, right? But it gives us quite a lot of information…

Let me add that it was clouded outside. Very clouded even, but as always, it’s likely there will be very small variations in the amount of light, but I’m quite sure the differences are negligable. I made at least four shots with each device and picked the best (there weren’t too much difference anyway).

I will share the results more or less ordered by the amount of MP used, “zooming in” so to say. You will always see the name of the devices used above the crops. Also, I tried to order the shots in quality, so you won’t need to be scrolling up and down too much.


First I’ll share crops from the center of each shot. The first two are from the 5MP results. First the one coming from the Nokia Lumia 930, showing a darker result as we’ve seen in previous comparisons.

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Panasonic announces the smartphone camera Lumix CM1: Leica optics, 1 inch sensor (20MP)

It’s all over the web since this afternoon (I read it at The Verge first): at the Photokina in Frankfurt, Germany, Panasonic has announced an Android smartphone camera with a 1 inch 20MP sensor, the Lumix DMC-CM1. It will be available in France and Germany this year, but it’s no exactly sure when: some sources say November, others Christmas – with a pricetag of a whopping €899.

What’s so exciting about this new Android? For sure, it’s the 1 inch sensor size (even bigger than the 808 PureView has), which is supposed to be comparable to Sony’s RX100 (according to the Verge). Panasonic uses a Leica DC Elmarit 1:2.8 lens. We all know what Leica stands for, so it looks like a promising competitor for the Nokia collaboration with Carl Zeiss.


On a sidenote, its design does remind me of the old Sony Ericsson P1 a bit (here). More technical data. Aperture ranges from F2.8-F11. It has a mechanical shutter and manual control ring. For video it supports 4K with 15fps and 1920 x 1080 with 30fps. Its technical datasheet doesn’t mention OIS however, and there is no Xenon flash either.

The Lumix DMC-CM1 camera runs on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and is powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor. If offers 2GB of RAM (where I think 3GB would have been nicer considering its price). The display is 4.7-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) – which already tends to be rather small these days. It 16GB of storage. I’d prefer 32GB of course, but it’s expandable with a microSD card (up to 128GB).

As far as I’ve understood it will only be released in Germany and France this year, so I guess that’s why I only found this German Panasonic website with details, shots and even a few samples.

Below you’ll find the promotional video you might have seen on many other websites as well. You’ll find some great pictures over at the Verge website, I took the liberty of borrowing two of them for this post, I’ll try to get in touch with Panasonic since I’m sure you know how much I’m looking forward to test this new smartphone camera! :-)

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One scene, seven smartphones: Nokia (3), Samsung (2), LG and Huawei

Whenever you see a guy standing at one scene for about twenty minutes patiently making the same shot over and over again with different high-end smartphones, there’s a pretty good chance you found me.

The scene this time is near a small pond a building in Hilversum, brightly lit by the morning sun. The smartphones used are the Nokia 808 PureView, Nokia Lumia 1020 and 930, Samsung Galaxy K Zoom and S5, LG G3 and Huawei Ascend P7.

I’ll only share one shot from the complete scene here – you’ll find all originals on Flickr as usual. This is coming from the Nokia 808 PureView in 8MP.

Nokia 808 PureView 8MPNow what you’ll see below are two crops from all seven results – one from the center, one from the center at the far left.

First: the 5MP resolutions from the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Lumia 930. Note the remarkable difference in color (again).

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More, much more about the upcoming Nokia Lumia 830, “the affordable flagship” (updated)

No, it’s not like I have one in front of me already – I wish. But I do have some additional info I still owe you as promised in my first post about the Lumia 830. First of all, I’d like to return to the fantastic presentation last Thursday by Chris Webber and Kristina Björknäs.

Not only did they introduce the Lumia 830, but the new Windows Phone OS it ships with as well – Denim (following Black and Cyan). Denim adds a few very important features like much improved shot-to-shot time.

In the demonstration mr. Webber gave, it’s ovious you won’t need as much time to start up the camera either (although that has already improved significantly after the Nokia Lumia 1020, which may still be close to perfect in picture quality, but slow). Shot to shot time during the demonstration looked like a bit less than a second – not the “milliseconds” that’s being promised. That is still quite slow when you compare it to some Android devices that shoot images with the speed of a machine gun.

More PureView innnovations
But the imaging team has added a very interesting new feature with Moment Capture: 4K video with 24fps and 8.3MP per frame! That means that from every video you shoot, you can freeze the shot you like best and save that seperately – in 8.3MP resolution! And then of course, you can get several shots within the blink of an eye. In the demo it looked really convincing and I can’t wait to test it. 

More good news: Kristina Björknäs demonstrated Dynamic Flash and Rich Capture (auto HDR). This will allow you to shoot with flash, but add the amount of flash you like in your shot afterwards. Or you can decide how much of HDR you need in your shot when you didn’t use the flash. That looks no less than  sensational, and from September 4 we can count the amount of days it will take other companies to announce this feature in their smartphone camera.

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Jo Harlow speaks about “computational photography” (not about the next 41MP sensor)

I’m not much into rumours, so I’m not sure whether I should post about this or not. But hey, if it’s good enough for WPCentral, it must be good enough for me I guess.

WPCentral wrote about a few quotes over at Techradar, where they were able to quote Jo Harlow, Corporate Vice President of Phones Business Unit at Microsoft.

They asked ms. Harlow “if a phone with the power of the Lumia 1020 could still appear” – and quoted her as follows: “Absolutely – we’re not end of the mission in camera technology, or in computational photography. We continue to invest in that area to bring the next greatest thing in high-end imaging.

Techradar’s conclusion is blazing fast: “while Harlow predictably wouldn’t be drawn on a timescale for such a device, it’s feasible that it could launch before the end of the year, given cameraphones can be seen a better gift in the holiday season, and it would make sense for Microsoft to launch something by November to take advantage of that.”

It even got WPCentral excited enough to write “a Microsoft executive has hinted that the company still has plans to release Windows Phone products that will have higher end camera hardware like the Lumia 1020 with its 41 megapixel PureView lens.”

Considering the amount of reactions I get after posts like these, many people are (like me) really looking forward to a new device with a 41MP sensor (Techradar writes about 42MP). But it’s not what Jo Harlow said.

What I find way more interesting in her quote is what she says about “computational photography”. That’s far from new, since she said exactly the same well over a year ago, in an interesting post over at the Indian BGR.in. Let me quote from that post, even so much later.

In that post, Jo Harlow says “I think that is a key challenge to bring to a smartphone because computational imaging or computational photography requires computational power. That was one of the limitations in bringing that kind of experiences on a smartphone. Changes in the processing capabilities of smartphones opens it up as an area of exploration“.

That’s what Jo Harlow said in May 2013 and I think it’s exactly the same as what she said recently. And in my opinion it’s more about computational power than about a 41MP sensor – which after all is “just” hardware, depending on how you look at it.

Moreover, if the future of imaging is about computational power, my guess is it won’t make much sense to work with a 41MP sensor – giving you so much data that would only slow down that power. So in other words: it may have the power of the Lumia 1020 (as she was asked), but there’s no reason yet to hope for a successor with a 41MP sensor.

Techradar’s conclusion “it’s feasable that it could launch before the end of the year” because of the holiday season is just wishful thinking. I’m pretty sure that if you’re really into mobile imaging quality, you’ll have to hold on to your 808 PureView and/or Lumia 1020 for quite some time – and you can wish for something else for Christmas this year.

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