Nokia Lumia 1020, Best Smartphone Camera for Architectural Photography

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nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Best Smartphone Camera for Architectural Photography

There is a saying, the best camera is the one that’s always in your pocket. This is why Apple and Nokia focus on making the best camera phone in the market.

The opportunity arise when my 3 years old HTC android died a quick and sudden death by accidentally leaping out of the comfort of my pocket onto the tar road, I have to admit, I was glad the divorce was quick and painless and in come my new partner Nokia Lumia 1020. After much consideration and research, I’ve decided to purchase the Nokia Lumia 1020. I am not going to talk about the technical aspects of the smartphone, it can be found online. The main reason I chose Nokia Lumia 1020 is the wide 25mm lens.

Why Nokia Lumia 1020

Depending on one needs, my primary goal for buying a smartphone is the camera. I am not into games or any other apps; therefore the lack of apps is not a concern. Windows Phone 8 is not as bad as Blackberry, Microsoft sponsored some of the top developers to code for their operating system. Almost all top 10 apps in iOS can be found in Windows Phone 8.

Anyway, after comparing the Nokia Lumia 1020, Apple iPhone 5S and Sony Xperia Z1, I’ve decided that Nokia Lumia 1020 is the best camera smartphone, it may not be the fastest but the best in term of photo quality.

Bokeh Effect Photography

Some may say 41 megapixels is overkill, to a certain extend I agree. Instead of introducing more pixels, Apple has taken a slightly different approach in increasing the sensor area by 15%. According to Apple, bigger pixels mean better picture as the sensor is able to capture more light. Fair enough, however, a larger sensor with more pixels as seen in Nokia Lumia 1020 enables it to capture photos with Bokeh effect.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Photo of a flower with Bokeh effect
Photo of a flower with Bokeh effect (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

In photography, Bokehis the blur background effect; this out-of-focus background of an image gives the photo a professional look, something that can only be achieved by DSLR cameras.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Low lighting and the Bokeh effect
Low lighting and the Bokeh effect (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

Having said that the Apple iPhone 5S or Sony Xperia Z1 has the ability to perform such task but the effect is not as good as Nokia Lumia 1020’s Bokeh effect due to their smaller pixels.

Apeture, Focal Length and Lens

When it comes to camera and lenses. I tend to focus on aperture and focal length. The reason being that the smaller the focal length, the wider the lens, thus more activities can be captured, making the photo much more interesting.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample 25mm vs 27mm vs 31mm
25mm vs 27mm vs 31mm (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

I’ve created an example based on one of the photo I taken. If we were to capture the same photo at the same spot using 3 different smartphones, the results for Apple iPhone 5S will be within the yellow box, Sony will within the white box and Nokia Lumia 1020 for the entire photo. So much details are not captured by the iPhone 5S.

  • Nokia Lumia 1020 – 41MP | f/2.2 with 25 mm
  • Apple iPhone 5S – 8MP | f/2.2 with 31 mm
  • Sony Xperia Z1 – 20MP | f/2.0 lens with 27mm

A shorter focal length in mm means more details; this ultimately means a more dramatic photo.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample More details equals better photo
More details equals better photo (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

As for Aperture, there is only a 0.2 difference. Of course the smaller (in number) the aperture the better, it means more light, which means you are less likely to capture a blur photo.

Low Lighting Photography

I am not a big fan of using flash; the foreground is always overexposed, thus producing a very ugly photo.

From what I gathered, the Nokia Lumia 1020 performed pretty well under low lighting, not exactly fantastic but not too bad. These photos are taken in Auto mode.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Low lighting with no flash in a room with a candle
Low lighting with no flash in a room with a candle (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Low lighting with 1 small source of light
Low lighting with 1 small source of light (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

Unlike other smartphone camera, the Nokia Lumia 1020 comes with manual controls. This enables you to manually adjust the ISO, shutter speed, contrast and more. To reduce motion blur in low lighting, increase the ISO to 4000. The only drawback is the photo will be grainy.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Manual controls on the Nokia Lumia 1020
Manual controls on the Nokia Lumia 1020 (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

Details

When it comes to capturing details, the 41 MP sensors doesn’t let you down. Here is an example of the amount of details captured. There is no comparison; Nokia Lumia 1020 beats the competitor like how Muhammad Ali punched his opponent in one single blow.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample The amount of details captured is amazing, look at the tiny fur on the dog's nose.
The amount of details captured is amazing, look at the tiny fur on the dog’s nose. (image is not scaled down, original)

Camera Speed

Unfortunately, the camera speed is a big letdown. It slow to launch and capturing photos under low lighting requires a steady hand, unlike the Apple iPhone 5S, moving objects under low lighting is not Nokia Lumia 1020’s expertise. My Canon IXUS 310HS is way faster than Nokia Lumia 1020, since we’re talking about snapping photos of buildings, I believe this is not an issue, unless it is a demolition in progress.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample Photos can be somewhat blur under low lighting, increase the ISO to reduce blurriness.
Photos can be somewhat blur under low lighting, increase the ISO to reduce blurriness. (image scaled down to 2000px from 7700px)

Microsoft Windows Phone 8

Having used and owned Android, iOS and now Windows Phone. I have to admit that the best OS is still iOS followed by Windows Phone and then Android. The thing I really dislike about Android is fragmentation; this is made worst by the phone manufacturer whereby the minute you bought the phone, there will be no more major updates.

Most Apps doesn’t work on my previous Android HTC smartphone, same goes with my Sony Xperia Tablet, as for the iOS and Windows Phone 8, and it just works.

Honestly, Microsoft did a good job with Windows Phone 8. The current version is 8.0, from what I gathered, Windows Phone 8.1 will be available shortly and it promised to be better in term of performance.

Don’t get us wrong, Android is an amazing OS, I believe the Nexus is a good example of what Android smartphones should be.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Battery Life

The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 2000 mAh battery, a pretty decent size but I felt that for the price of the hardware, Nokia should have increase it to 3000 mAh.

Since the Lumia 1020 is designed from ground up to be a dedicated compact camera, the battery life for Lumia 1020 is a huge let down for someone traveling abroad. It is not exactly too short, neither is it long enough to last for days.

Unlike a dedicated compact camera where the LCD is viewable under bright sunlight, the Nokia Lumia 1020 performed badly, unless the brightness of the LCD is set to max, which in turn will drain the battery life. A catch 22 situation.

All in all, Nokia Lumia 1020 is a great camera smartphone for photography; photobugs will love this amazing smartphone. If you’re into traveling and photography, a portable powerbank is a must.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Storage

Unlike most smartphones, the Nokia Lumia 1020 captures the photo in 38 megapixels and then save another in 5 megapixels. Why 38 mp and not 41 mp? Why another 5 mp?

Well, the sensor is round (41mp) but the photo is square (38 mp). The phone will automatically crop off the un-effective area. As for the duplicate 5 mp file, this is probably because each 38 mp photo is approximately 10MB to 20MB in size, it could be that these photo files are simple too large for the smartphone to render and could possible consume unnecessary battery life.

To view the original 38MP photo, you will have to download it onto your computer.

If you are a photo bug, you will find the 32GB memory somewhat small, and the unfortunate part is the memory is not expandable. This is where most Android smartphones triumph over Apple iPhone and Nokia Lumia.

Nokia Lumia 1020 Videos (Filmed with Lumia 1020)

I am not into videography, but here is two short films captured using the Nokia Lumia 1020. Videos are in 1080 HD, you will need a super fast broadband to watch. Full screen mode is advisable.

Since I mainly work as a cinematographer I have tested the video quality of the Nokia lumia 1020. I have made a short film and compared the camera with three other cameras (Canon 550D/t2i, Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 808)

I have also tested some really nice built inn apps like the “Nokia Smart Cam” were you can change faces of the people you have taken picture of, make blurry effects, create actions shots and so on.

The 41 megapixel sensor gives you crystal sharp images. Since the images are so sharp, there are no problem zooming in and reframing the shot after you have taken it. I must say I’m really impressed with this phone, and I’m glad Nokia has used a lot of time to focus on the camera. – Andy AX

7 More Photo I Took With My Nokia Lumia 1020

All images are scaled down to 2000px from the original 7700px width due to the super large size.

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample

nokia lumia 1020 photo sample



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