Nokia Lumia 920

The Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone's Pureview Camera turned a lot of heads this week with it's very impressive low light and stabilizing features. The demo video and still images gave hope that a "knock your socks off" camera was heading to the Lumia Windows Phone line. But the video and still images have been dissected more than a High School science project with accusations that Nokia faked it all and the camera isn't as grand as Nokia would like us to think. But is this a case of bad advertising or a bad camera?

We think it's two separate issues and too many nay sayes are trying to mesh them together to make the Lumia 920 look bad. We believe this because the specs on paper lead credence to the camera's touted performance and most importantly because we've seen the camera perform up close and personal.

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We believe the Pureview Camera will be a solid performer based on two things, specification and personal observations. On paper the Lumia 920's Pureview Camera has a 8.7mp camera that is fitted with a 28mm f2.0 lens. The sensor is a BSI sensor that has the wiring behind the receptors to allow for more light to hit the sensor. The optical housing is stabilized by a series of springs that allows for more stable operation when using slower shutter speeds. Having used similar technology on other devices and based on my experience as a photographer, all these elements combined gives the Pureview Camera the potential to be a better low light performer than other smartphone cameras.

There is always a chance that what is on paper doesn't translate as successful in real life. There is always a possibility that the Pureview Camera could fall flat on it's front element but we've seen it up close and personal in action and the performance quality is there.

Lumia 920 compared to other smartphones

New image samples from the Verge shows the 920 still out-performing the competition

To further bolster the low light performance of the Lumia 920, an old friend who used to haunt these parts was given the opportunity to take the Lumia 920 out for a nighttime test drive. Dieter Bohn from over at The Verge compared the Lumia 920 to the Samsung Galaxy S III, Apple iPhone 4S, the HTC One X and the Lumia 900. Dieter's conclusion,

"The Lumia 920 takes very good low-light images, the OIS compensates for enough hand shake to take in light to create a photo in situations where you'd expect none are possible. In near darkness, we will say that it took a relatively steady hand to get a shot without camera shake — but that's a very small complaint. While we were getting blur on the 920, we were getting vastly darker and grainier images on the rest."

I had to raise an eyebrow when Nokia apologized and admitted the footage was a simulation of what the Pureview Camera could do. Based on all that I know, I discounted the critics and felt the videos and stills were legitimate. The performance and quality results made sense. Then I remembered that most advertisements are simulations to grab your attention and it's not that uncommon.

From "Bounty being the quicker picker upper" to car ads that show mini-vans conducting high speed maneuvers. They are all simulations of performance with one exception. Most of these ads will have fine print disclaimers letting everyone know what they are watching is a simulation. Not having such clarification doesn't help Nokia and the footage and photos should never have been shown without such a disclaimer.

But that omission should reflect poorly on the ad agency, not the camera. Due to our competitive nature we try to associate one poor decision as an indictment on the whole.

Consider this, this isn't Nokia's first ad blunder. Remember the Beta Test ad campaign? Where Nokia boasted that they had finally gotten the smartphone right? Then a few days later the data connectivity issues surfaced on the Lumia 900 and it was obvious that Nokia didn't get it right. Nokia jumped on the issue, fixed the problem and while the ad campaign didn't make Nokia look good, the Lumia 900 is still a quality Windows Phone. We think the same will hold true on the Pureview Camera.

With the Lumia 920's Pureview Camera we know that it has the potential based on the specifications and we have a two reliable sources who have witnessed it's performance. That's enough for me to cut Nokia some slack for a bad ad decision and still believe that we'll see a fantastic camera on the Lumia 920.


Video footage and photo sample via The Verge