Matching what your eyes see: PureView and a decent camera in your smartphone

No, not quite the same as Nokia's famous "More than your eyes can see"(! here's that pop video) - more, in this case, matching what your eyes can see. As someone who swaps devices on a fairly regular basis, I have observed something in my own behaviour, about how and when I use the camera in my smartphone. Judging from the comments of a few others in the tech world (notably James Pearce), it seems that I'm not alone in having my photographic imagination realised by the hardware in my pocket.

Spring blossom

Sunlight through spring blossom, taken on the Lumia 1020

Here's the thing. With a Nokia Lumia 1020 or 808 PureView, or even a Lumia 920 in my pocket, I have a certain confidence in being able to capture anything that takes my fancy as I stroll through life (somewhat literally, in my case). Whether it's a steam train in swirling mist or a flower backlit by the sun or a butterfly basking on a warm doorstep or a small child doing something unbearably cute or, simply, something striking in terms of colour or shape or texture, if my eyes tell my brain 'Snap this, now', then I'd like to put this into action.

And I usually do, with a fairly high success rate, thanks to the quality of the camera hardware in my always-with-me phone and my own photographic skills and awareness (hey, see also my tutorial).

Bokeh daffodils

Bokeh Daffodils, taken on the Lumia 1020

But here's the nub of the matter. I try/review a large number of other phones, with cameras of widely differing quality, and - in all honesty - I find I take a fraction of the number of photos that I do with one of my Nokia PureView devices. And I have the stats to prove it. In the last three weeks, I've spent equal time with the Lumia 1020 and the Galaxy Note II (listen to my Phones Show Chat podcast for more on my cross-platform device musings). And I've shot 29 'proper' photos on the 1020 and err.... two on the Note II.

Steam scene

Steam scene, taken on the Lumia 1020

You see, just as James (linked above) mentioned on his own Coolsmartphone podcast recently, this is what happens, almost every single time. A photo opportunity or view presents itself and I reach for my smartphone, instinctively. At which point computer-like logic kicks into my brain:

IF phone includes Nokia 'PureView' tech THEN

I realise that this is a little disingenuous - there are, of course, other smartphones with half-decent cameras. But I'm just trying to explain how my mind works. Nokia brainwashing, perhaps? There's possibly a little of this. Videos like this one, probably, getting under my skin... And, after all, the cameras in the likes of the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S are up with the Lumia 920 at least.

Or partly perhaps it is the extra possibilities that come with the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 - being able to zoom in losslessly, having a flash that copes with even pitch darkness, having creative controls that can produce good results in weird and wonderful lighting conditions, even shooting into the light and achieving other special effects - like I say, matching what my imagination and eyes are concocting.


Danilo Dion's 'Dragonfly', taken on the Nokia 808 PureView

James's own podcast mention was similar, along the lines of cycling to work on the same scenic route and, each morning, wondering whether to capture the early morning sun and scenery. He'd reach for his pocket, then realise that his 1020 was back home and that he was reviewing/using something different today - and he'd think "Can't be bothered, it won't turn out very well".

Garden Robin

Garden Robin, taken on the Nokia 808 PureView

I've peppered this short article with some of the photos that I and others have achieved using the unaided Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020. The aim is to see something and shoot it immediately. Yes, Google Glass has a camera in it, and that's perhaps the ultimate realisation of the interface for achieving the aim - but currently it (probably) needs a Nokia device to actually implement it.

What about you? Do you find yourself, instinctively, taking more photos with an 808 or 1020? Does the very presence of the 41MP PureView devices change the way you think about capturing the world around you?

PS. I should point out that I, and many others, take a lot of great shots of people as well - but for obvious privacy reasons they can't be shared in the same way. So you'll have to make do with nature shots and landscapes!

White Crocus

PureView white crocus, taken on the Lumia 1020

Published by Steve Litchfield at 9:57 UTC, March 24th

Section: Articles
Categories: Comment, Hardware
Platforms: General, Symbian^3, General, Windows Phone 8