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Nokia 808 PureView & Lumia 920 in night mode

I have a confession to make. I’m truly sorry, but I probably made a big mistake in a previous post. The one with the boat in Amsterdam. I was sure I had all the camera’s on “auto”, but after tonight, I’m not so sure anymore… Let me explain.

The next four shots were made this night, the sky is completely dark, the only light is coming from lamp posts. The subject is a car (not mine). I tried to work the “surprisingly bright picture magic” on the Lumia 920 once more, but it wouldn’t.

And with the Nokia 808 PureView, I tried a lot of things with different exposure and ISO, but without a tripod, I never really got a good sharp shot. Only after that, I worked with “night mode” on both devices…

So first, I’ll show you the two pictures where I pretended to know better, not putting anything on “auto”, but fumbling with the settings, I got these results – nothing to be really proud of, but I tried.

And yes, it was already late and very dark, I didn’t notice the Nokia 808 PureView was on 16:9 and the Lumia 920 was on 4:3 untill I saw the pics on my monitor – I hope you’ll forgive me for that as well. It won’t change the lighting in the shots anyway.

Here’s the best result I got from the Lumia 920 in my own settings:

And here’s the one from the Nokia 808 PureView in my own settings

You can see especially with the Nokia 808 PureView I wasn’t succesful… It’s actually embarrassing to share this one at all.  Without a tripod it’s obvious I was moving the 808 way too much for what I hoped to achieve, and the picture is too bright for a night scene like this

Luckily, there’s always “night mode”.

That’s the one you will find in “scenes” on the Nokia 808 PureView, and if (like me) you’re vain enough to think you can control anything best by yourself, you won’t see that “scenes” menu a lot. Chances are even you’ll see that particular “night” mode for the first time… (cough)

Anyway, here’s what the Nokia 808 PureView gets from the car in its own predefined night mode

That’s a pretty dark car, but the image is sharp – and the shot is more true to reality than my first attempt with the same device, forcing it to accept much more light, with all obvious disadvantages.

And here’s the Nokia Lumia 920 on night mode:

That’s all much more visible than my first shot with the Lumia 920, and sharp, but it’s not true to the nature of the scene – a car in the dark.

The “funny” coincidence is, that the way I tried to manipulate the settings of the Nokia 808 PureView – resulting in the too bright and unsharp picture – has lead to a shot with about the same amount of light the Nokia Lumia 920 shows on “night mode”. It has more light, but looks unnatural in this case.

Vice versa: the best result I got from the Lumia 920 when playing with ISO and “exposure value” myself, looks similar to the Nokia 808 PureView on “night mode”. Much darker, but more natural (again, in this case).

And this, my friends, is where I think I blew it after dinner in Amsterdam, with the nightshot of the boat in the harbour. I now think there is no way the Lumia 920 would have let so much light in, if I hadn’t put it on “night mode”. Hence, I should have put the Nokia 808 PureView on night mode as well, and I should have asked Peter to do the same on the Samsung Galaxy SIII for a true comparison.

I’m not happy about this, not at all, as you can imagine. But I think it’s better to just share this as well, than to be silent about it and hope nobody will notice. Somebody will someday, and I’d rather be first.

I hope I made up for it with this post, and I can only promiss to pay better (and much more) attention to the specific settings in the future. Good thing is there obviously is a tremendous amount of settings and possibilities in Nokia’s smartphone cameras, to get you the best possible result. You’ll only need to learn about them, and use them properly…

Update: here are the original shots on Flickr 

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34 Responses

  1. Sw

    Please delete those photos, people dont know how it works or what exif is.

    Please make a real comp with the same settings.

  2. stylinred

    thanks for that

    What I am very very very surprised at is if you run your 808 pureview shots in Photoshop and run “shadows & highlights” your results are like that with the Lumia 920

    I wonder if the 920s magic is simply running a “shadows & highlights” effect in the software?

  3. No amount of software can compensate for hardware, vv. That being said, I am glad that I chose the 41MP sensor. Software can be enhanced and added in the future, hardware can only be added externally, i.e., tripod, hardware OIS, etc.,

  4. I downloaded the original sizes of Marc’s 2 Night shots. Exif shows:
    808 0.5 sec f2.4 800 ISO
    920 0.9 sec f2.0 800 ISO
    So again the 920 exposes longer than the 808. Taking into account the aperture values, the difference is mathematically 2.57 stop.
    And indeed reducing (in Adobe Camera Raw) the 920 exposure by 2.6 stop gives the same result as the 808. And so does increasing the 808 shot with 2.6 stop.
    So also in night mode the 920 “takes” considerable more light. It seems again that the OIS of the 920 is not able to fully compensate the camera shake; the 920 shot is not as sharp as the 808. But the 920 shot is cleaner, (the 808 shows amp glow).
    Here are the 2 screenshots of my test.

  5. johnny

    The 808 shot is the same lighting as the 920 but without all the noise.. its so much better.

    The 920 shots look ok, but when viewed at higher res or full resolution they still look blurry. They only look clear when viewed at very low resolutions.

  6. MarcSilverTriple

    I’m not fully sure. I did some tries myself since I have the Lumia 920 myself. I do not understand yet how it measure the light in auto mode, but it might be tied with where you focus on. I got similar result to some of your previous shots in auto mode, and some darker as well. My conclusion at this stage is that it depends of where the focus point is.
    Is this can make sense compared to your own experience?

    • MarcSilverTriple

      After a few more shots, the light measure conditionning the time of the exposure seems definitely tied with the focus point in auto mode. Suggestion to check yourself:
      - choose to shot an area with dark zones and luminous zones.
      - take a shot with the shutter
      - take multiple shots by touching the screen in different areas for the same scene (if possible maintain the same angle).
      What I see here is the exposure/iso would depend of the amount of light in the focus area (the square)…
      Now, last comment. Even with OIS, long exposure is quite difficult. I shot yesterday an edgedog on the house mat ( http://t.co/8rZrEGsp ). I took the focus on the main part of the body, in a position which was quite difficult for me to avoid moving… It is not that sharp, but it is getting a lot of light due to the long exposure. It is quite better that whatever I could have tried in the past with another phone (such as a Lumia 900), but when exposure gets too long, it is very difficult…

      • Marc @PureViewClub

        very interesting, thanx. I’ve noticed there is a difference between taking a shot with the shutter and by touching the screen. Couldn’t really figure out what made the difference, thanx!

  7. Peter

    That’s interesting. Maybe I too should start using the Scenes mode :)

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Haha, it proved to be an eye opener even for me – and in all modesty, I’ve been using the Nokia 808 for the longest time…

  8. ois

    So basically if you keep the 808 steady, you can get a brighter shot with less noise ?

    • MF

      Depends how good is your “manual” OIS (aka your own hands). If you are physically capable of holding it like a tripod, you will get even better results than the 920′s OIS with shaky hands :)

  9. nikhil

    marc looking for a video comparison between the two pureview devices . I am very impressed with 808 results but most of the shots comes blurry even when i use d creative mode. I am.impressed with the optical stability of the 920..

  10. SU27

    hehe just ask someone to lend you his shoulder to put your hand on and no need for tripod :)

  11. saurabh shrestha

    gr8 comparison Marc.
    Can you also please bring some post where an amateur can get help regarding various camera settings and how to use the iso, exposure and other setting efficiently.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      On the Lumia 920? I’d gladly do that, I’m an amateur myself. A passionate one, but still :-)

  12. Thanks Marc.
    Another interesting serie.
    Could you please put this set of pictures on Flickr so that we can download the original sizes.

  13. Chani

    Marc, no apologies necessary – it’s your blog and we love it anyway. The frenetic speed at which you’ve been working, late into the night as well, lapses happen. We’re grateful to be treated to great shots, comparisons, and write-ups almost every day.

  14. Tom

    The biggest problem is that even we will have the same results: the pic from 808 will be as natural as it is possible from phone.. Why? Cause 808 has fuckin’ huge matrix and the pic from 920 is so good only from one reason – software.. The guys from Nokia made as good work as it’s possible to put so good camera in a small space. I have 808 and when you have more time to learn making pictures the resuluts will be better that in 920 when you adjust ISO and exsposure.. Trust me..

  15. vader

    This is probably the best comparison I’ve seen. Its the first to actually show the OIS working! The 920 and 808 probably have similar light grasping ability (from the bright shots), however they have different abilities. Even though the 920 shot shows much less blurring due to OIS, it has higher noise. I know its difficult to tell completely due to the blurry 808 shot, but you can see the noise on the 920 shot. The 808 gets rid of the noise with pureview.

    So there you have it – probably the best comparison of the technologies so far. The 920 eliminates shudder (blur) at the expense of noise – the 808 eliminates noise at the expense of shudder. With the casual shot (not set up), the 920 will give you a nicer shot (unless you have the hands of a surgeon). Under tripod conditions, the OIS benefit is lost, and the 808′s superior noise handling comes to the fore.

    Well done!

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Wow… thanks!

    • Benjamin

      Can’t agree more. I hate it when i use my 808 at night, can’t easily snap a photo without getting blur images… Hope i get the chance to try 920 soon.

    • MF

      That is a pretty good summary, but if you really need to, blur on the 808 can be controlled through higher shutter speed (which can be achieved by setting a higher ISO whilst maintaining the same exposure). This results in less motion blur but more noise. But thanks to its much larger sensor size, the noise level is pretty much acceptable up to ISO 800. Therefore it comes down to faster shutter speed at higher ISO for the 808PV, versus slower shutter speed at lower ISO for the 920PV. In theory I think both are equally good, but in practice I think the 920PV should give better results as hand shake tends to be a problem for many people.

  16. jeremey

    i like the more natural look of the 808. :)

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      I can imagine, but I think I’ve shown one can achieve an equal natural look on the Lumia 920 as well…