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Two smartphones with 20MP sensors: Nokia Lumia 1520 vs Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (1)

This is the first part of a few battles between two 20MP sensors – those of the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. Sony boasts it’s offering a very good mobile camera and does so with a lot of technical brouhaha if I may say so.

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – and I quote – redefines the premium smartphone market by placing the best Sony technologies from the flagship Xperia Z1:  Sony’s leading camera technologies “G Lens”, “Exmor RS for mobile” and “BIONZ for mobile”; a 4.3 inch TRILUMINOS™ HD display and X-Reality™ for mobile; premium dust-resistant and waterproof (IP55/IP58) design.

Well: it’s waterproof, that’s for sure and I think it’s amazing that the mobile industry is allowing Sony to have this USP for this long (yes, I know Samsung announced the same for the S5 at the Mobile World Congress). The HD display of the Z1 Compact is certainly better than even the FullHD screen of its predecessor in terms of visibility – black is much deeper black on the Z1 Compact. But its no competition for Nokia’s FullDH ClearBlack, IPS LCD display.

Now how do the sensors compare? That’s what this battle is about. In this post you will see (only) two shots from both, shot in 4:3 to get the maximum out of the sensors. Both shots were taken inside, in more or less good lighting conditions. As you know, you only need to push the button once to get two shots from the Lumia 1520: one in high-res (hence 19MP) and one in PueView (5MP).

With the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, you’ll have to go to manual settings and choose 20MP for the first shot (the sensor is 20.7MP to be exact), and then choose 8MP for another shot in 4:3.

Like I wrote in an earlier post, you can’t choose 4:3 in the “Auto Superior” setting on the Xperia Z1 Compact, since that will only allow you to shoot in 16:9. You’ll have to wait for the Xperia Z2 to do so, but that will be a few months from now I guess.

I don’t know if the camera software on the Z1 Compact will be updated to do the same by the way, and in fact I’m not completely sure if the Z1 compact uses oversampling when it makes the manual 4:3 shots in 8MP (I guess so, what else would it do?)

In this post, first you’ll see the resized shots coming from the 5MP and 8MP results from both smartphone cameras. Next, you’ll see screenshots I made at 100% from those same shots. Last, you’ll see two crops from each shot I took at the highest resolution. So even with only two shots from each device, this will be a pretty long post I’m afraid – but quite revealing.

You know the drill, you’ll find all the original shots on OneDrive. In all comparisons, you’ll see the Lumia 1520 first. Here we go.

The first scene was captured inside a sports hall. The light was okay, not very bright, not too dark either. Average, I’d say, but certainly bright enough. Here are the resized results (from the oversamped shots – 5MP and 8MP).

2 Nokia Lumia 1520 Sports 5 MP2 Sony Xperia Z1 Compact Sports 8 MPYou see colours are much deeper and more defined coming from the Nokia Lumia 1520. Next, the 100% screenshots from these oversampled results (5MP and 8MP).

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What Nokia PureView flagship to choose: the Lumia 1020 or 1520? Or still the 808 PureView?

What Nokia PureView flagship to choose: the Lumia 1020, the newest Lumia 1520? Or still: the 808 PureView? I’m getting the question more and more often these days – and boy it’s a pretty tough one to answer. Like so often in life, it all really depends on your personal situation and preferences.

So I’ll just share my thoughts here for whoever is pondering on the same issue. This has become a pretty long post, and to those who already know what they want or like what they have, there might be not much news to read in this post, but you might be willing to add a few suggestions of your own.

I’ll illustrate this post with some of the shots I got from all three devices, working with them over the past months or even years. Click on the shot to see the original on Flickr (or OneDrive). Like this shot very dear to me, captured on the first day I could actually use the Nokia 808 PureView I had been looking forward to so much.

Nokia 808 PureViewClub - Now Famous Husky 640 x 480

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Exploring Tiny Planets

Suddenly everybody is sharing shots created with an application called Tiny Planets. Not sure how long it’s been in the Store, but it must have been half a year at least – and now it’s being picked up by everyone it seems. Is it a temporary thing or is it here to stay? I’d say it’s temporary, but it’s fun nevertheless to fool around with it.

What does it do? It takes your shot and turns it into a 360 degree presentation. It’s especially effective with landscapes and panoramas, as you can see in the next example. Here’s the (resized) original from a shot I captured of the Barcelona skyline.

Barca View

And here’s what it looks like after a treatment with Tiny Planets (resized as well).

Barca View TinyPlanets

I needed to resize the shot, since the output you get from Tiny Planets is a whopping 2048 x 2048 pixel format – equal to 4.2MP (click on the shot to see the original file).

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High-res results from the Nokia Lumia Icon

Not able to get my hands on the Nokia Lumia Icon to test it for a longer period, I asked my followers on Twitter if there were any passionate mobile photographers in the US planning to buy one on Verizon – but to no avail. I was happy to be able to test the Nokia Lumia Icon (even if for only ten minutes) during the Mobile World Congress, but I had to admit I wasn’t too thrilled about my own crops.

Thanks to a tip from @Chanimehro from India (who also takes care of the PureViewClub on Google+), I’m happy to be able to share some high-res shots and crops from Juan Carlos Bagnell here, blogger at SomeGadgetGuy. He’s known as @SomeGadgetGuy on Twitter, but as SomeAudioGuy (?) on Flickr, where he shares a few of the high-res results he got from the Nokia Lumia Icon. Irresitable to downlaod and crop a few of those of course! :-)

The Nokia Lumia Icon has a 20MP sensor like on the Nokia Lumia 1520. In high-res, it will give you a 19MP shot when you choose the 4:3 aspect ratio and 16MP in 16:9. Some of the shots on his Flickr page seem to be cropped, so I’ll only use the 16MP shots he’s sharing. Those I resized to 640 x 360 pixels, and I cropped the exact same size from the originals. Piece of cake :-)

Click on the shot to see the original on Flickr. You’ll find all his Nokia Lumia Icon shots here.

640 x 360 Nokia Lumia Icon - Flower - by Juan Carlos Bagnell 16MPCrop Nokia Lumia Icon - Flower - by Juan Carlos Bagnell 16MP Read more…

 
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Meet Heikki Sassi, Head of Audio Technology Management at Nokia

At an event like the Mobile World Congress it’s really remarkable how Nokia is not only showcasing its products, applications and services, but its own personel as well.

Where many other producers choose to have their devices demonstrated by stunning young female models, you’ll find lots of ladies and gentlemen who all actually know what they are talking about. They even know so into detail, since very often they either work at the specific department, or appear to be the ones responsible for it. This really shows Nokia’s passion for its own products.

So much to my surprise, I finally met up with Heikki Sassi, Nokia’s Head of Audio Technology Management. Heikki is an extremely nice and remarkably young gentleman, and he was more than willing to tell me what “directional recording” on the Nokia Lumia 1520 is all about. Let me start by saying it’s part of Nokia’s Rich Recording technology I’ve been admiring from day one (here are more than 40 posts related to it).

And what Nokia device could be better to record Heikki’s demonstration with than… exactly :-) Choose full-HD (1080p) to get the best image from the Nokia Lumia 1520. Remember we were amidst a hell of a lot of sound at the Mobile World Congress. Listen with headphones on to really hear what the four microphones are capable of.

On YouTube

You’ll just have to believe me during a few days at the Nokia booth at the Mobile World Congress, I actually never noticed the bird sounds, coming from the tree everybody was meeting under. It was simply too loud I guess. Now, in this recording, I clearly can hear them. So it’s even showing more than I see, but in a very effective way…

I asked Heikki to be part of my small series of Interviews, and he was happy to oblige after the Mobile World Congress, so I hope you’ll read some more from him here soon!

Please join PureViewClub on TwitterFacebookFlickrGoogle+ and/or Instagram.

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A smart move! The Nokia X-series: Android with Microsoft services (and a nice camera on the XL)

No doubt, Nokia “going Android” with the Nokia X, X+ and XL was the biggest surprise of this years Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, although we already heard much about it thanks to the incredibly accurate sources from @evleaks.

Now there is no PureView to be found in the Nokia X, but it’s a very interesting development, so I’d like to share my thoughts about it with you here anyway – moreover, the camera on the XL even proved to be pretty nice :-)

Go Nokia!

As Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop wrote it in his (in)famous memo, the mobile industry lives in a “war of ecosystems”, and a bit more than one year ago I wrote about what I thought of that “battlefield”. Reading that post now one year later, I’m actually a bit surprised – I’ll quote a few of my own lines:

Why would it be so unthinkable for Nokia to produce Android smartphones? Would that be some kind of treason? To what? (…) Nokia has always said it will be looking for the best way to survive in this war and keep all options open. (…) So if Nokia is really keeping an eye open for any plan B, isn’t it most likely to be Android after all? (…) I’d buy high-end Nokia hardware running on the newest Android platform too. In a heartbeat. Why not? It’s not platforms, it’s people who create wars.

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