Zooming in on the Lumia 1020's camera apps and features
12th Jul 2013 | 20:34
A Pro Cam for the everyman
It's seemingly impossible to go a week without a new smartphone announcement, with manufacturers falling all over themselves to announce the "next big thing."
Some may be tempted to write off yesterday's reveal of the Nokia Lumia 1020 as just another debut of yet another Windows Phone 8 device, albeit one with a humungous camera, but the Finnish firm is hoping consumers will find that it actually enhances the mobile phone experience.
When CEO Stephen Elop took the stage to put the focus on the bombastic 41MP Pureview camera fitted into the Lumia 1020's frame, he showed the world the Nokia is ready to evolve beyond the traditional idea of a smartphone.
In addition to attempting to blaze a new path in the cellphone sphere, Nokia believes its latest flagship will offer prospective users true control and confidence in capturing their lives at the press of a button.
Two camera apps, one focus
That the Lumia 1020 has a better camera than most point-and-shoots, and low-end DSLRs for that matter, shouldn't intimidate potential users.
For Nokia, one of the core concepts of its latest phone is putting confidence back in the hands of the amateur photographer.
According to the company's research, consumers will take 7-10 pictures with a camera just to make sure they got the right image.
As Nokia's reps explained to us, with the Lumia 1020, the first picture you take will hopefully be the picture you keep. Granted, it make take the phone a little longer to save the 15MB image, but the aim is that it's worth the wait.
The phone's Pro Camera app should alleviate some of the unease and uncertainty users might have about getting the shot just right, as well.
Useful features like Reframe allow you to craft multiple images from just one massive 41MP shot, while more experienced photographers will still find all the ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed options they could hope for, allowing them the same level of customization they have with a full camera in a device decidedly smaller. The features aren't inaccessible to the non-photogs among us, either.
The Smart Camera app provides a range of "been there, done that" options at a slightly lower resolution, but is still capable of offering more creative ways to personalize your pictures.
Though you won't be able to take 41MP images with Smart Camera on, you'll have much more freedom and flexibility for action shots and editing within Nokia's built-in Creative Studio.
Technically, there's a third camera app in the default Windows 8 camera, but it's not fine-tuned for the new Pureview lens like the other two Nokia-developed apps.
It will still take pictures just like you'd expect, but it doesn't offer any of the bonus features found in either Smart Camera or Pro Camera.
Regardless of which app you use, all photos are taken with the new stabilization, multi-layered lens, and flash, which should help give even novices a chance at capturing the elusive "perfect" image.
The forest for the trees
Unless you've got an actual photographer in your family, most of your photo albums are probably full of either close-ups or wide-angle shots.
Your smartphone camera album is probably even worse, as most digital zooms end up looking awful and distorted.
Pro Camera's Reframe takes all the guesswork out of the equation, and lets you snap pictures now and decide what the story is later, without the loss of pixel density or fidelity.
To be fair, in our time with the Lumia 1020, we found zooming in all the way for the tiniest of details left things muddled, but the range of post-photo zooming is miles above what's available elsewhere.
Reframing works as soon as the photo is saved, giving you the choice of repurposing the still to your exact specifications quickly and easily.
While more savvy photo fiends are already doing these kinds of things in editing programs on their computers, having the option available instantly and on the go certainly helps the Lumia 1020 appear more flexible for the average consumer.
Simple and smart
Even if you'll be losing some of the ridiculous pixel density by using the Smart Camera app, there are still some advantages to the secondary application.
We've seen camera features like action shots, multi-shots, face-swapping, and the ability to wipe moving objects before, but that doesn't make them any less relevant for a phone like the Lumia 1020.
By including a wealth of options like those above, Nokia has effectively eliminated the hoping and praying typically associated with trying to get just the right shot.
In theory, users will be able to take solace that no matter what, they're going to get the shot they wanted... with a little help from Nokia's software.
Of course, there's something to be said for the lens and flash coming with the Lumia 1020 as well, as those components will do a lot of the heavy lifting in making sure photographs turn out the way you intended.
The Xenon flash isn't as harsh as an LED flash, but it is brighter and faster, which means images taken in low-light will come out stronger, even if people are moving.
Outside of turning the flash on or off, that's not something you'll ever have to manage; that's just the way the phone is built.
Additionally, the five lenses (one glass, four plastic) compacted together to create the Pureview design have stabilization measures built-in to ensure they all move in unison.
By ensuring the lenses will never be out of sync, you have a markedly lower chance of shaky cam happening with stills or with video.
Again, this should aid in taking all of the worry out of picture-taking, which in turn allows users have faith in their abilities, and should keep them snapping away without having to worry about standing perfectly still.
Point of sale
The Lumia 1020 is still a pricey piece of hardware (priced at $299.99 in the U.S. or about £199/AU$327) when compared to some competitors, but Nokia and its products appear set to take a different path than phones like Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One.
The Lumia 1020 doesn't quite hold up to the screen and hardware power of its top rivals, but as the line between spec-heavy devices has blurred, Nokia's phone is a bold statement about where it sees itself going in the future.
Based on our earliest impressions, every aspect of the Lumia 1020 has been fine-tuned to appeal to the snap-happy consumers that have flooded social networks with pictures of everyday life, while also offering power and performance that should impress pros.
As it will be arriving in just a few weeks in the U.S., we won't have long to wait to discover if consumers are willing to shell out premium prices for the convenience, and confidence, the Lumia 1020 provides.
You can find out more about the Lumia 1020's camera prowess in the video below: