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Nokia brings RAW format support to the Lumia 1520; Lumia 1020 following soon

The camera in smartphones has improved over the years to the point where you can purchase a Windows Phone with a 41MP shooter. As well as the megapixels, Nokia also includes numerous features that come together to create a superb experience when snapping those special moments.

The company is now looking to bring in RAW image format support. 

This will be a first for smartphones, according to a blog post over on Nokia Conversations. The Lumia 1520 (and Lumia 1020 in time) will be able to save photos in lossless DNG (Digital Negative) format. But what does this mean for the average consumer and enthusiast? What's the difference between DNG and JPEG (the latter is currently used for saving images)?

RAW format essentially enables you to work with the images and develop them post-capture. When saving in JPEG format, the smartphone carries out the processing to enable you to save and share the end results on social media and more. With the RAW files, Nokia will allow you to define the likes of noise filtering, tone mapping and sharpening on a PC.

This is quite the advancement as not even point-and-shoot cameras support the format.

Say hello to the new DNG format.

What's more is you'll be able to fine tune settings and achieve some interesting effects. There's also some future proofing with RAW. Algorithms may alter in the future, enabling you to revisit photos captured with the Lumia Windows Phones to work with advanced technology. The Lumia 1520, Lumia 1020 (with an update to the Nokia Camera app - coming soon) will have the setting turned off by default, just in case you're not wanting it.

Good news is should you be an average user and don't require the format, you won't have to use it. Simply continue with saving JPEGs and you're golden. However, should you wish to go advance, the RAW DNG format comes alongside a 5MP oversampled image. You have the high quality JPEG for sharing and RAW image files for USB transfer and PC processing.

Shot with a Lumia 1020

Juha Alakarhu, head of imaging technologies at Nokia, commented the following:

"This is one of the most exciting announcements of the week for me personally. It has been a key request from so many of our users for a long time now. People who are passionate about photography can be more creative and do more with the images from their Lumia than ever before."

Of course, Adobe is behind the RAW format. Here's what Winston Hendrickson, vice president of products, Creative Media Solutions at the company had to say on Nokia's announcement:

"Adobe is excited to see Nokia be the first to bring advanced, raw imaging technology to the smart phone market by utilizing the openly documented Digital Negative (DNG) format as part of their leadership efforts. By adding DNG support within the Nokia Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520, Nokia is dramatically improving the artistic control and flexibility available to their customers."

Source: Nokia Conversations

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Can't wait!!! Yippie
  • Nokia adding RAW AT&T taking it away.
  • Hopefully this wont be the case.
    We haven't seen AT&T block apps perse; At least not the camera app....
    But if they do, we'll have to go the unlock route and say bye-bye to AT&T as a provider..
  • If ATT does that they can expect a lawsuit from me. Fuck those damn bastards.
  • Haha. Good luck with that.
  • NO need for that.
    I contacted the BBB website and filed complant agaist AT&T for not allowing me updates that were givin to them by Microsoft.
    They AT&T contacted me, we came to an agreement, i got a any phone upgrade for free( any phone HTC, SAMSUNG, IPHONE or WP,
     I sat on it till the1020 was launched, got it free.
    Will i get updates on that phone? Who knows. But if enough people keep calm and just grind it out with the BBB you can change AT&T's  " i dont give a sh!t about you "  way of denying you the updates.
    They just bet you will buy a new one instead of take action.
    Now, Go and Multiply
  • The thing is I don't want a free upgrade, I am perfectly happy with my 1020 and until another 41mp Nokia device comes out I consider it a downgrade. So while that is a good solution for anyone trying to get a new phone its not a great thing if you want your existing one updated.  
  • I just did the same thing. I submitted a very lengthy complaint about the way they handle OS and firmware updates, now I just have to wait and see what they say.
  • Given that there's no cost, political, or competitive advantage for them to do so I doubt it.
  • All I need now is the ability to use process my bracketed photos without using a PC! An HDR element built in to the app would be EPIC!!!
  • +1, also a time lapse photography mode in the smart cam would be really good.
  • +1020!!!
  • This is why Microsoft is purchasing Nokia...... Technology advancements bringing new items constantly
  • Raw requires less processing in camera?  If it does will the camera shoot faster?
  • No. RAW doesn't get processed and compressed, this is true. Due to the size and information stored in a RAW however it uses much more CPU cycles. RAW is much more demanding so you'll likely have to wait longer between photos.
  • Ahhh . . . the WAV of photo formats :)
  • Ha!
  • Nicely put! As music producer first and camera enthusiast last, it makes sense now lol
  • It's more the flac of photo format ;)
  • No love for Lumia 800? :(
  • Get a WP8
  • ^ this comment
  • Yeah man, you are missing a lot get a WP8
  • Lol
  • Even no love for Lumia 820
  • Nope!
  • I have a Nokia lumia 610 with 256 ram but I'll buy a 920.
  • I wish i had mine L800 still working but i got an 820 as repair . love that thing too now my daughter got it and im stuck with this lumia 1020. :)
    Il buy some second hand l800 later just for the have but never looked back since im on a WP8 device.
  • Fellow Lumia 800 user here.. Yea WP7 is in the massive Microsoft closet for good bro! Only way forward is WP8!
    I'm upgrading in December and this is just another reason why I am almost sure I'll be geting that inspireing awesome slab of megapixels the 1020!!! CAN NOT WAIT!!
  • RIP iFruit.
  • Lol, yeah right
  • I wish.
  • You have something against the GTA V app? lol
  • Yea, it still hasn't been released for WP.
  • :P
  • Yes Yes Yes!
  • Any reason why the L92x doesn't get this?
  • Because we get spat on by Nokia
  • Im wondering the same thing, is there anywhere/anyone we could ask?
  • I'm guessing because the 92x series doesn't have large camera sensors like the 1520 and 1020. There's no need for raw formats when the image size isn't even large to begin with.
  • Considering that the L92x series produces amazing images, superior to many 13mp camera phones in the competition, that doesn't seem like a really valid reason for them not to be suported.
  • But pureview make image better, not the lens, and it would be great for L92x since, I believe, to reduce picture size.
    After all, L92x is the must innovative smartphone.
  • Actually a lot of people have been complaing about image quality issues after the amber update. Pictures are being given a green/yellow tint and sofening after processing.
  • My original Canon Rebel had raw and it was 6MP. I used Lightroom to fix lots of things (saturation, exposure, sharpness, white balance, etc) that have little to do with file size. Processing raw fikes lets the photographer make decisions usually predetermined in the jpg algorithm. This would most definitely be useful for 92x users.
  • A raw file isn't all about image size, but 'quality' and the ability to apply adjustments to the raw captured data before the file is processed by whatever algorithms a manufacturer decides to apply when saving to a smaller lossy jpg format.
    Perhaps raw file formats will follow for other Nokia Lumia 9xx series phones with Pureview at a later date. We can but hope.
  • Incorrect and go get educated. Sensor size has nothing to do with raw formats. Every picture is captured raw before it goes through a compression algorithm to store as a JPG on your phone. Technically, there's no reason why a 92x phone (or any other camera) could not have this feature. Likely Nokia will keep this raw feature on its newest of phones for sales purposes only.
  • Not just sales, but support reasons as well. Supporting more models makes the testing matrix more difficult, and carriers don't like having to update all their user education materials for already released models. 1020 and newer models is the right approach.
  • It has nothing to do with image size, it's about getting the pure Bayer results into editing software. 8MP is more than high enough resolution to produce great pictures.
    More likely, it's about the buyers. People that care enough about photography to use RAW images will buy a 1020 or 1520 at this point, likely still opting for the 1020. 920/925 buyers at this point aren't the super-serious camera nuts, just the people that want a really good camera in a phone. The original 920 buyers may fall into that bucket, but it's not enough to justify porting RAW support to the hardware.
  • Or they're poor saps like me stuck on Verizon for another year.  Since friggin at&t has US exclusivity on the 1020, and now the 1520, I'm out of luck until my contract is up.  I want to switch exclusively for the 1020, but I doubt I can talk my wife into buying out our contract!  I'm actually running a GS3 right now, jumped ship when they were still on WP7.5, simply for lack of custom alert tones (yes, I'm that petty, lol).  But the 1020 is definitely the phone to draw me back.
  • 929, then.
  • Ram?
  • Thats how they will differentitate between the 92X series and the 1020.
    I know the 92X series produces geat pics  but the 1020 is THE camera phone. Plus only the 1020 and 1520 as of yet support lossless zoom in the WP segment.
  • Lossless zoom? That is funny.
  • Pray, enlighten us what is funny. So that we can laugh together on it.
  • It's not a differentiator, the sensor is. The people that don't care enough about the sensor to go 929/1020/1520 won't care about RAW enough to make it worth the cost to develop the firmware for the 920/925.
  • Its a Sony
  • Hehe ... I think I remember that ad phrase :D
  • No 92x love? :(
  • If you want RAW support and are buying a phone tomorrow, is the 920/925 an option for you? No, it's either the 1020 or 1520.
  • OH YEAH!!
  • Wow. and Wow again
  • Seriously the camera on the L92x series wouldn't be up to snuff for this. It's more hardware than it is code.
  • False. RAW is all about software. The camera already takes RAW images and then uses additional software to process the JPG.
  • Yes, but the camera lens are different in the 10x series than they are in the 9x That would be the reason why the L9x series wont get this.
  • Still false. Don't make up lens stories please.
  • Raw has absolutely nothing to do with the lens. Don't guess.
  • Trololo, you know nothing Jon Snow!
  • Haha!! We need a like button in the comments section. :)
  • Hahaha, true hopefully they will add it to the 92x with the Lumia Black Update since all Lumias will now get the Nokia camera app with the aforesaid update.
  • Yep, lenses are different, but has nothing to do with capturing RAW images. 9X, 10X, or 15X devices should be able to capture RAW as long as the firmware allows; so it gets down to software; hardware is irrevelent
  • Yes its software, but I'm guessing the same software that converts the raw data to DNG on the 1520 is the same for the 1020, but they might have to do new code to convert the raw data to DNG for the 920. They have to decide if they want to commit the time to develop that code for older models or focus more on pushing out new stuff for the newer models. I hope they can do both.
  • what happ to 825 with 5.2 inch hd screen, pureview camera, higher processor and more for those who cant afford a 1520 but want a big screen phone with more advanced features that are not in 1320 (like pureview) ????
  • +920, literally...
  • And once again the likes of CNN and others miss out on this. But if Apple were to give people RAW format, CNN would have it all over their homepage, followed and 2 articles a day on why people should be excited for RAW.
  • Here's the thing. CNN survives on advertising. Their readership is full of iFans, so they produce articles for iFans. This generates more ad revenue. That is how the "news" business works, Sparky.
  • Who uses cnn for tech news?
  • I think he meant cnet probably.
  • While I wish the major tech news outlets would cover this stuff more, I understand that they know this only affects a relatively small user base. Something that affects 40% of cell phone users is going to get more press than something cool for 4-5%. Being a 1st on any phone should be noteworthy though, I would think.
  • How big these files gonna be
  • 50MB!!!
  • Judging by the samples, approximately 41-44MB each... :) At least that is on the 1020...
  • Wow! As a hobbyist I wonder if it is worth it. I guess we will see. That is huge though...
  • That's my question as well. It could become a problem on the 1020 with its 38mp camera, and 32gb of non-expandable memory. The 1520 shouldn't have any real problem however.
  • I tend to leave around 6gb free at any one time. I have a ton of games and apps I don't ever use...I need to start clearing out the house, so to speak. I have like 4gb of music stored, but they are all Nokia Music mixes. How many pics could one possibly take in a day that they truly wish to keep? You just transfer them to a PC every couple of days. Tbh, my only real gripe is once you take the photos off the phone - currently the 38mpx high res shots - you can't access them again if you decide to transfer them back! :'(
  • Well maybe its to you in with the Lumia 2520, given that they will be shipping Nokia camera with it :P. Joking aside, I do hope they release a companion app. Ever since work decided to get dslrs instead, the 1020 is currently way down on my list lol. Before this announcement it was off it but the ability save in raw is gold.
  • Awesome!! Instant compatability with LR!
    One thing i've been a little disappointed with the 1020 is automatic white balance. Normally, I just leave it on auto on my SLR and fix it in post, but on the 1020, I've got to be more careful about picking the right one. Now I can just shoot and be done. Thanks Nokia!
    Not as if anyone from MS would see this, but I'll put it out anyway - please keep up this level of support after you gobble up Nokia.
  • gobble gobble
  • We had this conversation yesterday.  Raw is not an acronym.  :)
  • You think it is Raw, I think it is RAW. You read it Raw, I read it R,A,W. You think it is a word, most of us think it is a class type, hence RAW. :)
  • But it is a word.  It is a reference to a file that is uncompressed and untouched, hence raw.  It is a raw file that hasn't been changed or encoded in any way.  Hence, it is just a word.  Not an acronym. No need for caps or anything else. Simply, raw.
  • What about WAV? That's always spelt in capitals...that isn't an acronym is it???
  • WAV is short for Waveform Audio File Format.  But WAV is referencing a file extenion.  Like .WAV.  Raw is a very specific fil extension, which we're not getting.  We're getting .DNG with Nokia.  So RAW is incorrect.  Bam!
  • Who the f*** cares?! Stop being a snob about it. What matters is we are gaining a great feature.
  • Wow! :)
  • MKV?
  • Raw support will bring MKV support with it! Raw supports MKV beautifully. /s
  • Good point GTbuzz. We need MS to keep Nokia the same. Just own it. Lol.
  • This might be enough for me to continue using WP8
  • As opposed to what smartphone that captures RAW?
  • And snobs like you made me decide the iPhone for my next.
  • Snob? How did you come to that from my comment?
  • Any news about 92x models ?
  • Wow. Not having 64gb is really gonna be a downer now. My 24MP raw images are on avg 37mb in size.
  • I wonder how big a RAW 38mp image is.  NOT a good thing on something without SD card support.  
    P.S.  No love for the 520? =(
  • Almost 50 MB.
  • You can choose to switch RAW off.
  • Wow, I can't believe they're finally doing this.  This will solve a lot of problems at once as long as they don't screw it up.  But I have to wonder...
    "This is one of the most exciting announcements of the week for me personally"
    What the hell else is he announcing this week?
  • How about RAW on the 928?
  • Nokia, please add 92X RAW SUPPORT!
    I don't want to upgrade my 920 to 1020, I'm waiting next. My L920 just 1 year old. 
  • ...+920 Please Nokia, make this happen. You're awesome! ;)
  • For all the heaps of praise hoisted on Nokia, they show that they actually are a business! It makes no sense for them to spend the development time/money on the 920/925/928. New customers that want to post-process their images are going to go 929/1020/1520, there's absolutely no business case to back port it further than the 1020.
  • It makes obvious sense if you look beyond immediate sales. Long term loyalty is derived from support. The 9xx series are still being sold/produced, so there is still an immediate sales effect. Not only that, an army of happy users, using this sort of technology translates into real world exposure (forgive the pun). Real work exposure by me has lead to at least a dozen switchers...that I'm directly aware of. Hyperbole is rarely accurate.
  • Well, it will probably be posible to install camera app with raw suport via some proxy like now is posible to install Nokia Camera on all phones. 
    I dont think that storage will be problem, u will shot few images, and transfer them to pc, RAW images on phone will be usseles :) .
    Sory for my English . 
  • Actually, I think storage will be a problem. Each picture will take 2.5-3x (???) more space. Space will run out quicker. On a DSLR, you can swap memory cards, on the 1020 you can't. I might not have a PC with me on vacation; when I'm shooting dozens and dozens of pictures.
  • Man there are a lot of ignorant comments here.
    RAW is a software function, an image that is saved prior to any image processing. It saves ALL of the information, so you can later decide how to process the data. You need specialized applications to work with RAW images, like apeture, lightroom or even Photoshop.
    EVERY digital Camera shoot RAW images by defenition, but most of them immediately process the image unless you tell it to save the raw files.
  • Very true my D50 6MP also shoots RAW MP's are not the limitation.
    Many DSLR users dont even use it . Its for people who like alot editing after the shot.
    It gives some edge but doesnt help when a shot is fkd up anyway.
  • Yes and no. This isn't saving the "raw" data off the hardware sensor, its converting it into the Digital Negative format, which is a standard "raw" image format. There is some translation that has to happen from the "raw" data to the standard DNG. I would imagine that requires a certain amount of development for each sensor/chip.
  • Also, with dedicated processors for imaging, you may need a new software stack to get the RAW data to the CPU in the first place; I wouldn't be shocked if the RAW just goes to the image processor and then only a jpeg goes to CPU for storage and display in every other phone being made today.
  • Sorry if this is a stupid question (I don't have a 1020/1520... yet) will the re-zoom feature be available when RAW enabled?
  • No.
  • Really...kind of gutted now! So if I choose the raw, I'm stuck with the 5mpx version exactly as shot? That kind of sucks in a way. Yeah, my phone won't replace my PC for editing, but using the phone to do it is such a pleasure. Reframing is like my fav option!!!
  • I'd be shocked if it disables it. The only difference is that you would have to reprocess the .RAW into a jpeg again, but overall it's a pretty simple operation.
  • Good question.
  • No. 
    Lumia 920 has too small of a sensor. The whole re-zooming is there because of the 5-20 or 5-41MP oversampling and the play with those sizes. 
  • Not following your comment. Who mentioned the 920?
  • When available and enabled on the 1020, my expectation is that you'll be able to continue to re-zoom/crop from the original image using the Nokia Camera app.
  • Maybe Nokia has to come up with a RAW processing software of its own. Not everybody has Lightroom or Photoshop.
  • If you don't have LR or PS, you probably won't be much interested in raw. Even on my Canon, I don't shoot raw unless it's a paid gig...too much work.
  • do you know why 92x phones wont get this feature ? To me, its the same reason why 520,620,720 did not get double tap. It's all about marketing. 
  • Not knowing much about photography, since the image is captured and then not processed, will this allow for faster capture rate. Or possibly reduce the delay between snaps?
  • Good question...
  • I'd say that the opposite is more likely...
    The problem with shooting RAW is that you have to move all that data and store it.
    So it kinda depends on the speed and size of the buffer that's taking sensor information out, and then transfer, and then the speed of storage.
    This is why not many cameras and smartphones of the past had raw as options. We'll have to see how those smartphones will handle it.
    But probably not too bad.. Nokia wouldn't be releasing this if it was a completely useless function I guess.
  • So does this mean we will see a high end Photoshop app on the Lumia Tablet?
  • i was wondering about this as well.  I'd like for Nokia/Microsoft to produce an app for that would give the same functionality as the Nokia Pro camera app on Win Rt....  i dont particulary like reframing /editing dozens of pictures on my L1020 and would be better in my opinion to do it on a tablet.
  • You mean like the already existing Adobe Photoshop Express? It likely doesn't support DNG yet because there was no reason to, but hopefully that will change.
  • This is some awesome news.
  • I'm very excited by this. I really hope Refocus will use that DNG image to allow "fixing" blurry photos.
  • Nokia nokia nokia... still the best... Nokia + MS is the perfect couple... i cant wait for moreeeeeeee...
  • Speaking of the 1020, if any of you guys on WPC could read this and help me out, there could be a 520 winging its way to one lucky person!
  • Raw (yes upper and lower case) was not invented by Adobe. DNG is an intelligent wrapper (based on TIFF-EP) around a Raw file which emcompasses metadata edits (and many other things besides).
    Lots of software supports DNG - it is a pretty open standard. Microsoft has a codec for it too.
    It is great that Nokia are doing this. Why have a 41Mpx phone and nt be able to extract the max? 
  • FYI, you can view the DNG file in windows if you download the codec pack from Adobe.
  • RAW should use the whole sensor (41MP) not just 38MP, if it really is raw data from the sensor, not cropped.
  • It'll be pretty interesting to see how much "damage" jpeg compression is doing... and then how powerful those sensors really are.
    Not that I'm disappointed with my 1020 of course. But with a sensor that size, it just seems that we should be able to pull even better photos out of low light situations. Sometimes the noise looks pretty bad, though I'm admitedly shooting it most in auto, so it's probably the camera ramping up the ISO. I have to do some tests with fixed ISO... just waiting for my battery cover to arrive.
    I'm hoping to get a better dynamic range out of this.
    Plus if all the great stuff that's coming from Nokia is any indication, we'll soon have all sorts of customizations.
  • I'm sure JPEG compression does a lot of damage 8MP pics from 920 weight just 2-3MB (7 years old K800i delivered 3MP pics at 1-2MB) . Plus, Nokia Image Processing just sucks... WB is always off, color reproduction is not accurate, Noise reduction is very aggresive Not talking just about 920, but 925, 1020...  As a photographer myself, I recommend using ISO100-200 (400 for extreme cases) In this case is not much about total sensor size, but individual pixel size. OIS and big apperture can help us to get a decent shutter speed. 
  • RAW...ReFocus....a million likes....i can see my DSLR ( Canon 5D MK2 ) stay put longer in the bag...keep em coming Nokia...! :)
    One more ..if only they add manual Aperture to the Nokia Camera... I will be in bliss ! Yeah...if only our needs cease to exist... !!!
  • -920
    RAW for 920 a well please!!! :((
  • Funny.... not a single soul here has mentioned the main and sole advantage of working with RAW images.
    First of all, like mentioned before: sensor size, lenses etc have nothing to do with this. Every sensor already catures in RAW, which is then processed into a JPEG. And THAT is where you normally kill the image: JPEG is a compression method which limits the image to a maximum of 8 bit image data per channel. Whilst modern day sensors usually are able to capture 14bit or up. Imagine the image data you throw in the bin when compressing!!! :)
    Having said that: although sensor size is unrelated to RAW in any way, the dynamic range of light capture in each single pixel gets narrower when pixel pitch shrinks. So a bigger sensor will benefit more from RAW than a smaller one: there's simply more to gain. :)
  • Great the 1520 is getting RAW format. Crappy as hell that att is cripling the storage to 16gb.
  • There is one cellphone in this world that's actually comparable with DSLR's and that has to wait. Typical for microsoft, totaly random crap. Why does 1020 has to wait for RAW since 1520 isn't even designed for being a camera phone? What use would you have for 1520 for RAW images ince it has only half, or not even that from 1020 capabilities.  Speaking of microsoft random crap decisions, why giving 1520 (20mp camera) a 3400 mAh battery and 1020 (41 mp Camera) only has 2000 mAh? Looks like microsoft is using people as lab testing rats.  ... starting RAW with 1520 instead of 1020, which is actually bit more ... in need of RAW format.... again ... lab testing rats