We all should already know that Nokia really knows how to build great cameras into smartphones. They have proven this very often already by having the best camera smartphones for a long time already. However, their first device with a camera as a flagship feature was the Nokia N8 with a stunning 12MPX CarlZeiss camera. Two years later Nokia launched the Nokia 808 Pure View, which raised the bar to a completely new level. The N8 already was able to compete against mid-range compact cameras, but the 808 ruled them all and some even said it could compete against cheaper SLR-cameras.
But the 808 was a brick of smartphone: Thick, heavy, and unhandy. Also it ran with Symbian OS which was already pronounced dead at this time. Therefore Nokia had to make a device with its primary smartphone OS, Windows Phone, which was also way more handy. The Lumia 920 was launched. It runs the newest version of Microsoft’s mobile OS and is way more salable. It was still criticized for its weight and thickness, but it wasn’t the same as the 808.
The Lumia 920 sports, just like the 808, a Pure View camera, but a Pure View 2 camera instead of Pure View 1. PV1 has a fixed lens but a stunning 41MPX sensor. The sensor is big enough to capture great pictures even in low light because of the amount of light the sensor can catch. Additionally, there was a new zooming technology inside this camera: Lossless zoom. Since pictures were captured in 5MPX instead of 38MPX (the pictures were being downscaled which caused sharper and detail richer pictures) the user could zoom in without losing quality even without an optical zoom.
PV2 is less advanced but still very innovative because it’s the first time ever such a technology is built into smartphone: Optical Image Stabilization – short: OIS. OK, the pictures shot with a 920 can’t compete with the ones shot with the 808 in any way, but the Lumia 920 is the much slimmer and lighter device.
Then Nokia launched the Lumia 720 this year: A mid-range device with again a great camera. It doesn’t sport the Pure View brand but the camera is still something special because of its big sensor.
When I had the 720 as a trial device I also checked out the camera of course. I also still had the Nokia N8 lying around and of course the 920 as my personal device. Therefore I thought I should make a little comparison between these three devices. As much as I would have loved having the 808 here for a little test it was unfortunately not possible, so the comparison is restricted to the N8, Lumia 920 and Lumia 720. Let’s see it that way: We are comparing real phones with cameras here, and not cameras with phones
|Nokia N8||Lumia 920||Lumia 720|
In terms of colors the Nokia N8 is the clear winner here: The colors are nearly perfect. The picture is not too warm and not too cold and the contrast is great. Both Lumias have too cold of a picture, with the dirt in the background being more gray than brown.
When it comes to details the Lumia 920 is the winner: While the flowers captured with the N8 get a bit soft in the middle, the Lumia 920 captures even the smallest details. However, to the edges the flower gets a bit soft while the N8 keeps its sharpness almost completely. This isn’t a big issue however and I’d say the Lumia 920 has the overall clearer pictures because the most important part, the middle, is very detailed and the edges aren’t too bad.
Anyways, the Lumia 720 does a great job as well. The colors are almost identically to the 920’s, only a bit less saturated (the 920’s colors are a bit more natural in comparison to the 720) and the camera captures great details. While it has the same “problem” as the N8 with the motive getting softer in the middle while keeping it’s sharpness on the edges it’s still a bit better than the N8 in this case because the middle of the flower isn’t that unclear.
Almost identical results appear on the second picture:
The Lumia 920 and 720 are too cold, while the N8 has the most natural colors. Also the N8 has the best contrast with the tenor on the very left flower from white to yellow being the most visible and most natural. This tenor is barely visible on the 920’s picture and seems to be completely gone on the 720’s.
In terms of sharpness and details both Lumia 720 and 920 result almost identical results and beat the N8: The focused motive, the flower in the middle, is most clear on the 920 with the N8 being too soft. The left flower and right flower are the clearest on the 720 with the sharpness being pretty constant from the right to the left flower. The N8 has only the flower in the middle in focus and the both others are unclear. For me the 720 is the winner here because the focus is on all three flowers and not only the one in the middle. The 920 is the second best with the clearest middle flower and the N8 has the least clear middle flower and too soft textures on the right and left flower.
For me the winner here is the Nokia N8. Everything looks sharp and even the grass on the right edge is very clear. The colors are a little bit oversaturated and the 720 has the most natural colors. Overall the 920 is pretty disappointing with the grass on the right being way too soft and the leaves on the bottom being so too. The 720 has the complete plant in focus so the leaves don’t lose on sharpness at all (only the projecting ones on the top are a bit less clear) and the grass is evenly out of focus. The colors are a bit washed out but not too bad at all. In terms of colors the 920 is the winner, but it’s a matter of taste if the 720 or the N8 has the better focus. I liked the N8 more.
The second motive shows similar results: The 920 loses on sharpness on the left and right side of the plant, the N8 on the top and bottom. The 720’s picture gets softer on the top, left and right site.
The 920 has the most natural colors with the N8 being a bit too warm and the 720 once again too washed out.
In terms of Low-Light I have chosen capturing my stairs on the second floor because the light comes from the bottom and shines through the steps unevenly. This makes it a great motive for low light capturing in my opinion. Also the wood which the stairs are made of is a nice motive for checking how many details get captured.
It is pretty clear which device wins this round: The 920. It has the brightest picture with the most details. Also its picture is the least noisy. The second best picture is the one of the 720. It’s only slightly darker and just a small bit blurrier. The N8 loses totally here: It’s picture is the darkest, the blurriest and the noisiest. This was predictable since the N8 does not have the low-light capabilities the 920 or 720 have (920: OIS and 720: Big sensor).
The N8 has the highest contrast and the most natural colors when it comes to macro capturing. The 920 is the perfect low-light device and since it’s the high average in almost all points possibly the best camera smartphone in comparison to the other two. The 720 can’t compete completely with the N8 and 920, which isn’t too bad at all however because unlike the other two the 720 never was meant to be high-end. Still, in comparison to devices of other manufacturers (even some high-end devices maybe) the 720 does very well and is a great device for capturing.
All devices were set to automatic. Low light pictures were captured with the flash turned off. All camera settings were the default ones.