Lumia 1020 replacing my iPhone - reviewing the camera

Remark: Not a "scientific" review

Now, I used this camera to have fun with it - i did not do any lens chart test pics, pixel-peeping etc. Neither do I have the technical means to make such a test nor do I want to make it. If you look for this, just google around, you will find hundreds. 


As you probably know, one of the selling points of the 1020er is the built in camera. Here are the specs taken from the Nokia website:

- Main camera sensor: 41 MP, PureView
- Main camera focus type: Auto focus
- ZEISS optics: Yes
- Sensor size: 1/1.5 inch
- Main camera f-number/aperture: f/2.2
- Camera focal length: 26 mm
- Camera minimum focus range: 15 cm
- Camera image formats: JPEG
- Flash type: Xenon flash
- Flash operating range: 4.0 m
- Flash modes: Off, Automatic, On

Main camera
- other features: Optical image stabilization
- PureView
- Backside-illuminated image sensor
- 6-lens optics
- High resolution zoom 3x

How can a mobile phone have a camera with 41MP?

The idea behind this number is simple: its difficult to build a zoom lens in a thin mobile phone. Zooming digitally is quality-wise really crappy - so: take a high-resolution picture (with 41 MP or 34MP as Nokia shows in some screens) and zoom after taking the picture. There are enough pixels left and the quality of the lens allows for this. At any time you can go back to your 34MP photo and recompose/crop a new version of the 5MP. 


Combined with sharp Zeiss optics, an image stabilisation mechanism (you can even hear the lenses shuffle when you move the phone) makes a quite capable camera on paper. 


Now if you e.g. upload your photos to skydrive, the 5MP  version gets uploaded automatically (3072x1728 pixel). To get the full size images you need to connect your phone via USB and copy them directly.


But I shoot RAW!?

Since I work as a photographer I was blown away to hear, that Nokia is providing us with RAW DNGs out of the mobile phone camera soon: see here. Unfortunately so far I was not able to test this.

Manual Control

The Lumia 1020 camera allows you to control ISO and shutter speed manually. You still cannot change the aperture, but at least you can decide between ISO and shutter speed in your pictures. 

Full control for white balance, focus, exposure time and exposure compensation

Camera Software that comes with the Lumia 1020

The Lumia 1020 comes with a huge pack of apps that help getting the most out of your camera. I recommend using Nokia Camera for taking your Pictures. I played around with the Nokia Smart Cam but was not able to get real stunning results so far - but they implemented nice ideas and I was just using it in the wrong context. 

Unfortunately I have not found time yet to test the Nokia Cinemagraph, Nokia Creative Studio and the Nokia Panorama.

My personal experiences

With an aperture of f2.2 you can get a nice depth of field

The lens is extremely prone to flares (even if the light source is not directly visible in the frame)

The Lumia 1020 even allows for bracketing (but be aware the phone takes 2-3 seconds for storing each image in between the bracketing series)

Indoor images work fine (since you can control the whitebalance)

With the manual focus you can shoot objects nearer then the automatic can focus on - sorry for the early Christmas decoration ;)


It is fun to play around with the Nokia camera and the quality is impressive. Though an additional review of the rest of the Nokia software suite is needed ;)

Posted on November 20, 2013 and filed under Photography, productivity, Testing, Windows Phone, Windows Store Apps.