I currently have a Panasonic GH2 and I love it to bits. I love taking videos of my family and I know there isn’t anything around its price range that can compete with the GH2. But I always wanted in-body IS (IBIS) for my manual focus lenses (very shaky videos when hand held!) and a smaller form factor if possible. It seems Panasonic might be bringing out what I always wanted from them later in the year with the upcoming GX2 in August with its tilt-able EVF as well as IBIS!
This first part of my review on the Nokia Lumia 920 camera will not have a lot of information other than some full size sample photos taken with it while I got to use my cousin’s nice looking grey unit for a few hours as well as some first impressions. Nothing fancy, just simple shots while I was out and about. =)
Nokia Lumia 920 has a PureView Phase 2 camera with the following key specs:
– 8.7MP 1/3″ BSI sensor (Pixel size 1.4 µm)
– 26mm equiv. FoV (at 16:9) Carl Zeiss lens with fast f/2.0 fixed aperture
– Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
– Mechanical 2 stage dedicated shutter button
– Powerful fast-pulse dual LED flash
– Min. 1/3 second shutter speed in Auto mode and 1 second shutter speed in Night mode.
On paper, the specs are very good. In fact, other than Nokia’s very own camera-centric 808 PureView and N8, there is no other smartphone currently in the market that has better camera specs than the 920.
I’ll keep it short and simple for now as I haven’t had any extensive use of the Lumia 920 yet.
1. Camera feels speedy enough when taking photos with the physical shutter button. I did not notice any significant lag from when the shutter is pressed to when it actually take the photo. Once I get more hands-on time with it, I will post some more info about its speed.
2. Without any case for the Lumia 920, I didn’t feel confident in holding it with my right hand single handedly to take photos like a normal small compact camera. I guess it’s due to the round shape of the sides and the relatively small protruding shutter button. I’m sure it would improve if you get a case for it that allows for a more secure grip.
3. Daylight image quality is nothing to really boast about due to its heavily post-processed look to them which I am not that fond of. However, once the photo is resized to the more commonly used web-use sizes smaller than 2MP (1600×1200 or less), it is not any different to any other high-end competitor smartphones out there right now. Also, Nokia did state that they will work to improve the quality with future software updates.
4. In terms of low-light images, due to its hand-shake reducing OIS, the fast f/2.0 aperture lens combined with a very slow 1/3 second shutter speed support in Auto mode, Lumia 920 can take some seriously well exposed photos at night hand held that most other smartphones just cannot do. (Most smart phones don’t go slower than around 1/15 seconds in Auto mode using the default camera app) The level of noise is also very well controlled with low chroma noise while keeping enough detail even at ISO 800. More samples with various ISO will come in my upcoming part #2 review.
My gripes with the default camera app
– No exposure lock during focus lock (while shutter button is half-pressed)
– Exposure compensation is very fiddly to get to and use.
– No sharpness or contrast settings.
– No metering mode options. (this was a problem for some photos seen below)
– No JPEG compression settings.
– No customizable UI elements.
– No setting to turn off OIS (would be handy for reviewers at least. =p)
I will stop here for now as I am planning to post Part #2 later on with full sized ISO image comparison shots and night shot comparisons.
– Click on the photos for untouched original image files straight off the Lumia 920.
– I did try to ensure I got good focus lock before taking each shot.
– I made sure that the lens was kept clean at all times also.
Here is my take at comparing the latest high end Windows Phone 8 phones from Nokia and Samsung via their specs/news etc. Although the hardware specs have been finalized, the software part can still change until their release date. So this comparison will mostly focus on what we can currently compare and that is the hardware specs. I’ve tried to be as neutral as I can but as there are far more information and buzz for the Lumia 920 than the ATIV S, I had to make a few assumptions for the ATIV S based on Samsung’s current phones such as Galaxy S3. Anyways, let’s begin!
– Lumia 920 is 2mm thicker, 0.3mm wider but is 7mm shorter in height than the ATIV S. Lumia 920 is 50g heavier.
My Take – ATIV S looks very similar to the older Galaxy S2 but with some nice Aluminium touches around and back of the phone. Lumia 920 on the other hand looks much like the previous Lumia 900 but is a little bigger and heavier due to the bigger display and screen. Overall, the ATIV S will be considered easier to hold and pocket due to it being thinner and lighter. In terms of looks, it’s all up to personal preference really.
– ATIV S has a 4.8 inch 1280×720 (HD) resolution Super AMOLED (Pentile Matrix)with Corning Gorilla Glass 2. (Same display as Galaxy S3) Lumia 920 has a smaller 4.5 inch but higher resolution 1280×768 (WXGA) resolution PureMotion HD+ IPS LCD with Super Sensitive touch and Corning Gorilla Glass 1. (unless Nokia says otherwise, I see no mention of it being Gorilla Glass 2 so far)
My Take – This is a tough one. I actually really like AMOLED due to its super high contrast and deep blacks which LCD’s just can’t compete with. In terms of daylight visibility, I can only assume Nokia’s new display will be noticeably better as Nokia is really advertising how special it is and even releasing a white paper with the technical details about it. Basically, Nokia has implemented a very high quality polarizing filter that reduces internal light reflections. Samsung does use something similar but expect Lumia 920 to edge out here.
In terms of size, ATIV S wins here. Keep in mind that, even though ATIV S has a bigger display, the phone itself isn’t any bigger and is actually easier to grip. In terms of resolution difference, it’s not huge although Nokia has the edge here. Some will care about the higher PPI of the Lumia 920 but in reality, the difference should be pretty much invisible to the eye so take it with a grain of salt. So in terms of text readability, the bigger screen of the ATIV S may actually be better even though it has a lower PPI due to the text being larger.
– Both ATIV S and Lumia 920 are using the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC (MSM8960) with dual core Krait CPU and Adreno 225 GPU. Both also have 1GB RAM on board.
My Take – Speed wise, don’t expect anything different as they both use the same CPU and GPU with same amount of RAM. Both should be blazingly fast as each other.
– Samsung ATIV S has a seemingly standard 8MP camera with single LED flash. Lumia 920 has a PureView branded 8.7MP camera with 26mm equiv f2.0 Carl Zeiss lens and high pulse high power dual LED flash. Front camera wise, ATIV S has a 1.9MP camera (Full HD) while the Lumia 920 has a 1.3MP camera (HD).
My Take – Going by experience, it seems the camera on the ATIV S will be practically identical to the camera on the Galaxy S3 and iPhone4S. It’s not a bad camera by any means but it’s not anything to really brag about either as it’s nothing new now. On the other hand, the camera on the Lumia 920 is technically superior in nearly every way. It has a faster (brighter) aperture “brand name” Carl Zeiss certified lens, a slightly higher resolution sensor and something NO OTHER mobile phone camera has which is the Optical Image Stabilization. (OIS for short) This OIS allows you to reduce hand shake blur during low light situations resulting in a sharper image the first time. It means you can take sharper photos of food at dimly lit restaurants, nicer looking night portraits with more visible back scenery etc. Also, Nokia claims that the dual LED flah that Lumia 920 has is a newer generation LED that has a shorter burst with a higher output allowing for closer-to-xenon flash performance. (well, not quite xenon still but yeah…)
Both phones (thanks to Microsoft) has a dedicated 2-stage physical camera shutter button like a “normal” camera on the side of the phone. This allows for a more secure grip, easier self-portraits and just a more natural way to take photos single handed. This is once thing the ATIV S has over the Galaxy S3 while most Nokia phones had this already.
Overall, Lumia 920 wins here for sure. (spec wise at least but should do in real life also once released)
– Samsung ATIV S comes in either 16GB or 32GB built-in with an additional expandable MicroSD card slot for up to 32GB extra. Lumia 920 comes with built-in 32GB storage but does not have any MicroSD support.
My Take – For those who likes to keep tons of music, movies, photos and video recordings on their phone and need more than 32GB of space, ATIV S clearly wins out here due to the expandable MicroSD card support. Considering a brand new 32GB MicroSD card costs around AUD$30, it doesn’t cost much to upgrade the storage space on the ATIV S. But in saying this, many users will find 32GB built-in to be plenty so the merit of MicroSD support only comes into play to those that actually require it.
– Lumia 920 has a non-user-replaceable 2000mAh battery. ATIV S has a 15% larger user-replaceable 2300mAh battery. Lumia 920’s internal battery has built-in wireless charging support.
My Take – Samsung has actually not stated any run times for the ATIV S. But considering it has a bigger battery than the Galaxy S3 while the display is same and CPU being not any more power hungry, I can only assume the battery life should be as good or better than the Galaxy S3. With that assumption, we can then make an educated guess that the battery life of the ATIV S will be better than the Lumia 920 going by the battery times that Nokia stated on their web site. (as Galaxy S3 specs state a longer battery life than the Lumia 920’s specs)
As I mentioned in my Lumia 920 & Lumia 820 Comparison article, another big difference here is that the battery on the ATIV S is user replaceable. Yes, some will argue that you can just carry one of those portable battery chargers but I’m sure you would rather just carry a fully charged spare battery to simply swap over without needing some portable charger dangling on it during use.
One advantage of the Lumia 920 over the ATIV S is that 920 supports wireless charging out of the box. Although it would have been nice if Nokia slipped in the wireless charger in the box also, at least you can buy a nice looking wireless charger pad / pouch / dock etc and just place it on top to charge the phone without needing to find the end of the cable to plug into the phone charging socket. (also not have to worry about damaging the charging socket etc)
Both phones are not yet released to the market so I can’t make a definite conclusion which is better. But really, I’ve outlined the major hardware differences so hopefully you can make a better decision as to which is better for your needs and wants. The OS experience should be near identical due to both using the same Windows Phone 8 OS. However, Nokia is investing a lot more into its Lumia phones and have some excellent Nokia exclusive apps lined up for it. Adding to that the non-shaky OIS the Lumia 920 camera has and the Super Sensitive touch which would be a god-send for those with long nails or gloves on, I do believe 920 is the better device overall for the masses between these two. We’ll know more once both are out. =)