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Comparing night mode, auto and flash on Nokia 808, Lumia 920 (and Galaxy Camera)

Here are some pictures that have been hanging around in several mobile camera’s for days, waiting to be posted here. Different scenes captured by the Nokia 808 PureView, the Nokia Lumia 920 and – even – the Samsung Galaxy Camera. Snapshots, really, taken without much preparation apart from changing a few settings. No tripod.

I hesitated to get the Galaxy Camera into this comparison with our favorite Nokia’s: first it clearly has got nothing to do with PureView, and second it’s not even a smartphone. It’s a “connected phone” however, and since it’s the only compact camera I can use, I’ll just include it for you to compare. Results are quite interesting I must say.

I’ll present the three scenes in this order: Nokia 808 PureView (all 8MP) – Nokia Lumia 920 – Samsung Galaxy Camera. In this post you’ll see resized versions, of course. Next I’ll show you some crops from the originals. All originals are in a dedicated set on Flickr, as you are used to by now.

Note that the Lumia 920 is still on the first firmware, I’m eagerly awaiting the update to PR1.1 (I sometimes hope Stephen Elop and Steve Ballmer are reading my blog as well :-))

Night mode
First, the shots in night mode. Here the Nokia 808 is in 16:9 aspect ratio, that’s something you get when choosing “scenes” and “night mode”. There’s no way to change that setting into 4:3 as far as I’ve seen.

I’ll share two shots of the Nokia Lumia 920 in this case: on auto and night mode. All settings on auto first

Nokia Lumia 920 in night mode

and the Samsung Galaxy Camera in night mode. As in my previous comparison, you’ll notice a much wider angle.

Short conclusion from me: Nokia 808 gives the most realistic result. The Lumia 920 captures a very surprising amount of light even in automode, but gives a yellowish gloom I don’t remember from that foggy night. In this case, it is obviously too light in night mode and also, it appears you have to make sure you don’t move too much…. The Galaxy Camera is quite realistic in “night mode”, but definitely on the dark side. You’ll find some more carshots on Flickr, taken a night  before.

Automode – from dark to light
Next: an interesting situation, going from dark to light, with all cameras in automode: stone stairs, leading to a basement.

Nokia 808 PureView first.

Nokia Lumia 920 next

Samsung Galaxy Camera

Short conclusion: The Nokia 808 PureView is a bit dark but very realistic (you can almost feel how moist this is), the Lumia 920 is maybe a bit too bright on the top and the Galaxy Camera “somewhere in between”.

Last, flash on all three devices. You’ll see a mess in my basement. The room I was standing in, was literally pitch-dark: the flash was the only source of light all devices had. The Lumia 920 is on “auto mode” by the way (not on “night mode”, I checked later to make sure,  in this case there appeared to be not much of a difference anyway).

Nokia 808 PureView. Update: Someone suggested I might have had ND filter on (or on auto) with this shot… Could be, I’ll make the exact same shot again very soon. Update 2: I checked. There is no difference. Will upload second shot to Flickr too.

Nokia Lumia 920:

Samsung Galaxy Camera:

Now this is an interesting one. Many prefer the Nokia 808 PureView for its most realistic result – but what is realistic in the darkness with only your flash to help you out? Certainly in this case, the Nokia 808 PureView gives the darkest result, next up is the Lumia 920 and the brightest is no doubt the Galaxy Camera.

So high time to go into detail: how do these flash shots compare? This time, I’ll crop the results from all three choosing a central part of the picture and then resize it to 640 pixel width. This will give me the exact same parts of the pictures to compare.

First the Nokia 808 PureView:

Although darker, the result is way less noisy than with the Nokia Lumia 920:

Last, the bright Galaxy Camera shot. It has less noise and is sharper than that of the Lumia 920, but remember the Galaxy Camera has a 16MP sensor, the Lumia 920 “only” half of that.

I think these crops speak for themselves. Most important: although the Nokia 808 PureView shot in the basement appeared to be just “darkest”, in fact it also gives the sharpest result – by far even!

These are just snapshots, really – not much time, nothing fancy, no tripod, just the same situation you’re in when you feel like taking a snapshot of a certain situation. I could go on cropping forever of course. I’ll leave it up to you, this post is long enough as it is.

I’ll give you one bonus shot though, the night shot with the car, when I had my Lumia 920 still on automatic flash. It flashes the fog which gives the picture quite a strange atomosphere :-)

Once more, all originals are on a dedicated set on Flickr (crop till you drop :-)

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29 Responses

  1. [...] 2,882 Times in 2,250 Posts Check these out: Comparing night mode, auto and flash on Nokia 808, Lumia 920 (and Galaxy Camera) | PureView Club "Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the [...]

  2. josh

    Guys that say its to bright, only use night mode without flash… And besides half you guys dont know how to use a camera, I’m awed by how good Nokia are able to make a good fairly slim compact camera phone,

  3. Chani

    I always thought that since Nokia is on the whole ‘trendifying’ trip, the advantage of the 920 was to be able to take quick and relatively clear party shots, with people as subjects. A phone to be used by people who want their night life captured easily. Click, tag, share. No one shares personal photos, but I’m sure the 920 does the job (I feel) it’s meant for, quite well, esp. post update. The 808 is the best compact device, OS regardless, the Galaxy Camera seems to be an in-betweener, but for a compact camera I wouldn’t pick it up.

  4. Pedro

    I’m really dissapointed with the Nokia 920, the quality of the images are so poor, mostly in daylight. I even prefer the N8 over the 920. But definitly the king is the Nokia 808.

    • Nick

      The N8 has a very good camera, no doubt. I have seen a couple of comparisons of the N8 vs Lumia 920 and the N8 seems to be overall best of these in fact. That`s impressive when we know ho old the N8 is… :-)

      • Marc @PureViewClub

        Another test I could perform. I’ll wait until I – finally – get PR1.1 on the Lumia 920 though. By the way: the N8 has a 12MP sensor and bigger lens. Not really surprising the results are better, right? :-)

  5. jake20

    Just up the ISO on the 808 in the dark and you will get brighter and better results than the 920
    Just Look..

    On AUTO

    On ISO 800

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Great shots!

    • SU27

      wow was that handheld?

      • jake20

        It was handheld but I was able to stabilize better by leaning the bottom of the phone on top of a car

        • jake20

          But with ISO 800 on the 808, you don’t always need to be perfectly still.. I also took this low light test on my 808.
          this one was handlheld 100%

          I see all of these low light comparisons 808 vs 920.. but they are all on AUTO settings.. nobody wants to take the time to show manual iso settings on the 808, and prove to everyone that the 808 can get better, cleaner, sharper results in low light the even the L920.


          ISO 800

          • Marc @PureViewClub

            Thanks for those shots! I would like to take the time to make shots like these in fact. I simply don’t have it.

            Also, I’m trying to compare shots the way people are likely to make them in daily life. It’s not like they are carrying a lot of equipment around to make the best possible shot. In that sense I’m communicating the use of camphones in the most practical way I guess.

            • SU27

              most practical? Taking shot with xenon is a lot more practical than holding your hand for ~3 seconds in the air waiting for sensor to collect the light :)

              and even without using flash you can always save your settings in a creative mode, it’s not like you have to fiddle with settings every time..just a touch or two

    • josh

      The same really

  6. Pawlee

    As time goes on I’m really unimpressed by the 920… while the light it collects (from seemingly nowhere) is very impressive, the results look horrible most the time.

    • Nick

      Agree, the 920 isn`t as good as I expected it to be. I can read in forums that most of users get better pictures with Iphone and Galaxy S3 than the 920…
      Yes, the 920 gives a lot of brightness i low light conditions, but that`s not the same as good quality. Also a lot of brightnes make the picture less realistic, that`s nothing I prefer..
      The 808 is way better than any other smartphone, fantastic quality and detail level:-)

      • Marc @PureViewClub

        Still, in this case, I think the Lumia 920 shot on auto is very good. Night mode has the tendency to overdo it, true. But it can be practicle at times. Still, you can choose if it fits your needs at the moment – or not. No doubt the Nokia 808 PureView is best – like I said, probably for years to come. It never fails to amaze me. And it has never disappointed me either.

    • josh

      Arrr dude all good cameras do that.. They slow down the shutter speed and suck up the light, its something DSLR cameras do.. Besides you need to learn how to capture images, if you do it right you can get amazing shots

  7. erices

    I noticed in 808 on Auto mode (or any other setting) for both photo & video, when I zoomed just a little it will allow some more light in resulting in brighter pictures.

    For video in low light, I set the framerate @25fps (15fps would be too draggy) then the Contrast at its lowest (-5 or something). Then just before filming I would adjust the exposure depending how much brighter I want the picture to be.

    The result is quite amazing, it really can make night with a little light source looks like daylight. Just don’t mind a little graininess.

    Sold my original 808 in anticipation of 920 which still hasn’t arrived, missed it too much, bought another 808 but the video from the new 808 captures crackling sound of the lens focusing. Ah well…

  8. George

    The detail level of the 808 is absolutely stunning, it blows the others away.
    Also, the 808 have the most realistic picture, no doubth, that`s what I prefer of a good camera:-)

  9. Dave

    Am I the only one that finds the 920 and its night mode to make unnatural looking shots?

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Not always. I can work miracles, I think I’ve shown so in other posts. Anyway you get lots more light in your picture. The effect is not “more realistic” per se – on the contrary. But you’ll see more. That might be a big advantage in some cases. Anyway it’s good you can choose to use it – or not.

  10. Richard

    I like that I can see that I have spent my money wisely in purchasing the 808.Thank you Marc for your time in reviewing these photos.

    • Dave

      Likewise, nice to have confirmation that the 808 will keep its lead for quite a time to come.

  11. Dr Prince

    I got a question, the Nokia Lumia 920 you used was with the stock firmware 1.0, or the updated one 1.1 ??


    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Good question I should have pointed out in my post (will update): I’m still on the first version, not PR1.1. Can’t wait!