Friday fun: the Nokia Lumia 1020 is still king for concert videos

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands Rise Against. Not only did I have tickets, but also, I splurged for the pricey balcony seats to have an excellent view. For this show, I wanted to watch them unobstructed and just take it in, as opposed to the floor (you will see why).

Which phone to take to the show? Although the Lumia 1520 is still my top phone now, the Lumia 1020's 41 MP camera cannot be denied, especially for video. You see, with the PureView cameras, not only can you record excellent video, but also with your finger on the display, you can zoom in and out like a real video camera. Try that on the iPhone.

Curious as to the result? Here is a sample video.


From my experience, a device like the Lumia 1020 does very well for shooting video at a concert. Sure, the image quality when zoomed gets pixelated (the low-light does not help), but it is still impressive for a phone. Skip to around 1:40 in the video and you can see the camera zoomed in on the lead singer Tim McIlrath, capturing what is a pretty amazing moment for many fans of Rise Against.

Same with the decent sound, which on the Lumia 1020 is due to the three high-amplitude audio capture (HAAC) microphones. Those microphones are why despite how loud it was at the Boston House of Blues you could still make out the audio without any distortion. You can read about Nokia's HAAC microphone technology here in their PDF whitepaper.

Speaking of audio, the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930/ Icon are even better. The reasons are two-fold. For one, both phones have four HAAC microphones (instead of three) with better placement (some are on the back so that they directly face your subject). The other is the optional ability to record in Dolby Digital 5.1. You can see an example of the Lumia 1520's recording from an Offspring concert earlier this year. Indeed, from my experience, the Lumia 1520/Lumia 930 get superior sounds from the concert.

What about photos? Unfortunately, unless you are shooting the subject right under a stage light, the slowness of the Lumia Camera app makes getting a good picture at a concert a difficult task. In fact, I had much better luck using the iPhone 6, with its super-fast camera for grabbing some excellent photos.

See 'Comparing the iPhone 6 to the top Windows Phones, including Lumia 1020, HTC One and Lumia 1520'

However, if you can get a good photo with a Lumia 1020 or Lumia 1520 you can do more with it since there are many more megapixels, so it could be a tradeoff. Regardless, Microsoft needs to make these cameras faster and easier to use if they want mass adoption by the general public, something that Lumia Denim may finally address this fall.

What has been your experience with your Lumia at a concert? Any tips to share?

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.