I never thought that given a chance to go on a vacation and being provided with a choice of having either a DSLR with all the required Lenses or to Carry just a Mobile Phone with a Good Camera could have been a difficult choice.
No Seriously ! Since I travel a lot for assignments from place to place with all the equipment of my need , I just wondered every time if only we could seriously just carry our mobile cam with us and do our jobs using those , but then I won’t be hired anymore :P
But these days Mobile Manufacturers are moving away from those readymade SoC Cameras and making theirs with all the cherry picked features they can think of , example : A Simple feature of Optical Image Stabilization ( Stabilizing the Image Sensor / Optics in such a way so it compensates your body movement , which in turn reduces the camera shake , so much less shaky images when you are into the groove or on a fast moving train doing some heist or whatever ) a Simple feature but if you get accustomed to it then , its like a habit and our own Ashish Mohta is a live example of the same :P
Anyways back to the topic , during past few years of Development in Mobile Phone technology Nokia has over and over Pioneered over the Camera Optics and related technologies , be it the changes it brought over N8 in both Design , Build and Camera Quality , to the Massive 808 Pureview , to its Latest in line Lumia 920 , followed by 820 and 720. What I can say the least is that even if you hate the OS or bully it over iOS or Android , you gotta love the Justice done to the Camera Part by Nokia , so be it not for the OS but for the Camera , these Lumia are gadgets you must have (I know if you don’t have an iPhone then you don’t have an iPhone , but I am talking something for us general pocketed people).
Nokia has come close to deliver something desirable under justified budget for a smartphone.
At WPXBOX we recently had chance to try our hands on Three well build smartphones with Decent Camera. So in the following post we are going to know how far they go compared to a Regular Point and Shoot (These days the sensor size of both are pretty identical , so you can smell the competition rising).
Here is one thing you must know Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 has the same sensor , supported by Same Optics i.e Carl Zeiss Tessar Lens . There are minor difference in Optics Part (Lens) which seems to be making a huge difference in Image is the Aperture value , Lumia 720 has the Lowest Aperture Value (f/1.9) Compared to f/2.2 on Lumia 820 and f/2.0 on Lumia 920 and the Quality difference in Low Light environment are amazing.
Basic Overview :
Lumia 920 : Image Quality wise I would go for Lumia 920 , not only it produced the Sharpest of Images but add the Optical Image Stabilization and you got a Shake Free Image Clicking while on the move , or be it in low light ambience , like Sunset or so , it’s the indispensable. Also the detail retention on the images were pretty good.
Lumia 820 : Kinda Average performer in the stage If you ask me , In Daylight / Outdoors the Images are almost as good as 920’s but when the low light environment hits , it doesn’t perform that good , during low light the camera’s A.I (Auto Program) sets the camera shutter to a slower value , so as to capture more details but compensation is there , due to slow shutter the camera isn’t able to freeze the moment and resulting in blurry objects / people in the photo , add your hand shaking while clicking the camera and you get a whole slow and blurry picture (The Lack of OIS). So without the flash the low light performance of 820 is just average , nothing new.
Lumia 720 : When in a series , we expect Best-Average-Poor , but 920-820-720 is like Awesome-Will do-Great , so yes 720 does excels , it has the lowest Aperture value , enabling it to capture more light than any of its siblings , with f/1.9 it just shines in low light environment , the details are sharp and less noise compared to other cameras in same environment. Although the overall Image Color output seemed a bit dullish than 820/920.
Low Light / Aperture
All Camera sensors need one area to allow light to come in to go to the sensor , some has wider areas allowing more light to come in , some has narrow , now both has its Pro and Cons , see , Mobile Manufacturers shows pride when they market their phone having lower Aperture values so they allow photos in low light environment also , the issue is that the Mobile has no control over the Aperture Opening , so whatever the number of Aperture value is set , its set for all images.
We normally take close ups at Lower F numbers , allows the background to be blurred and our main subject to be in focus , something these cameras with lower f value will be good at , but these are not our daily subject , if we are photographing a group of people , a house , a hill etc , these values don’t help , I know this is not a everyday camera but its not helpful either , neutral f values are good for us , so far in Phones I see f/2.0 to be working fine , be it at iPhone or the 920 , both does great work regarding depth and all.
So even though 720 might win by marketing gimmick , but it won’t work for many situations , I am telling you again that 720 is great at low light but it has the focusing issue again , cameras with such lower f numbers aren’t able to take much area into focus during clicking , so much of the area gets blurred out. While 820 and 920 does this job fine.
Gallery Without Flash
ISO / Noise
As I observed that three of the phones performs much alike when it comes to ISO Performance ( ISO Sensitivity of the Image Sensor , higher the ISO number brighter the image will be but it will also add more grains to the image) . Although Lumia 920 has some way to reduce the Visible noise (Be it Luminance / Color Noise ) So Points goes to 920 for Noise Reduction.
The Phone works pretty decently deciding on its own as what the settings should be , from what is expected from Nokia , the A.I Does pretty neat job on three of the cameras. One thing is that the Image on 820/920 appears to be much warm and better than 720 , which by easy English means that 720 gives a bit of dullish image , It’s a software thing and can be tweaked outside the phone , so nothing of a major factor here.
As for firepower , 720 got a Single LED Flash ( I miss the old Xenon Flashes TBF ) while 820 and 920 both got equipped with Dual LED Flash Assembly , just brightens up your Pictures :P
Small area focusing are always a breeze , its easy if you do it manually or if you let the camera decide itself (Well for most images it does a neat job of focusing on proper areas) but like I said Focusing can be an issue for many images if you want most of the image to stay in focus , like I said due to lower aperture values these cameras doesn’t always provide proper depth of field in images (Rarely does for close-ups) so I have a mixed feeling about it.
If you have some cash to throw then do get the Lumia 920 , the Aperture values , the OIS , the Loseless 4x Video Zoom and the Pureview features all adds up and makes it a very decent Camera Phone and much useful one indeed , infact you would wish to carry it almost everywhere you go , it just fits for most situations.
And for Lumia 720 , it has a good camera and amazing photo quality than 820 in the price it comes in , so go for it if you don’t have that high budget for 920.
For 820 , I would say its just average even with all its mumbo jumbo , it still doesn’t go and match the 920 in most situations. So I won’t recommend 820 as all time carry around camera phone.