Nokia takes photo challengers against the Lumia 920 PureView, crushes the iPhone, GS3

Last night during Nokia’s par-tay we managed to check out their little photo challenge area. In short, they literally had a cubby hole in a brick wall where you could mosey on up with your smartphone, snap a pic and then Nokia would do the same with the Lumia 920.

Of course the Lumia 920 is better positioned to win such a contest, after all it has everything: lens stabilization, a larger BSI sensor, F/2.0 aperture and some funky Nokia algorithms to top it all off. And indeed, challenge after challenge we saw the 920 crush any phone that attempted the feat—iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S3—all were smoked.

The Lumia 920's camera simply overpowers the Galaxy S3's

The object was a flower in a vase tucked in a little dark corner. To say it as poorly lit is an understatement. Honestly, we would never even attempt to photograph what they were doing with the 920 as you could barely see it with your own eyes. And let’s make no mistake—as far as we could tell, this was not rigged. Nokia snapped the photo each and every time and we were allowed to view the images to verify (ironically, we couldn’t challenge the Lumia 900 as Nokia probably does not want to compete against themselves too publicly).

Likewise with video stabilization as the Nokia employee held up the phone above his head and would shoot 5 to 10 seconds of video. Sure, this works on any camera but on the 920, the video was solid and didn’t budge. It did look like it was mounted on a tripod instead of being handheld.

Don’t get us wrong—we want to see the “final” product like everyone else and we’ll surely put it through its paces between George and myself. But we noticed some folks are calling this ‘vaporware’—sorry friends, but it is anything but vaporware, faked or being over-sold to you. This kind of camera can truly change the level and quality of photos you’ll be taking in 8 weeks’ time and we can’t wait to see 'em.

Watch the video above and let us know your thoughts.


Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Ha ha ha iPhone has the worst camera of all three phones.
  • Lol.
  • I don't like the iPhone, but let's be fair. We're comparing a yet-to-be-released phone (Lumia 920) with a year-old phone (iPhone 4S).
  • Let see but I don't think they can match the quality of Nokia camera.
  • there is no way the iPhone5 can beat this either.
  • Unfortunately that same iPhone 4s wins against my Lumia 900 :(
  • IPhone can suck it.
  • Lumia 920 probably saved the frames from the autofocus light and turned them into pictures. Can you take a picture without the autofocus light at all? Sometimes people don't want others to know they are taking pictures.
  • -1 I mean...I really don't think that is the case. It's not an AF lamp then, is it? (The AF lamp can be disabled, BTW). Here is what is most likely happening: HDR. It takes 3 photos rapidly: one overexposed, one underexposed and one in the middle. It then combines them into one photo with a wide dynamic range of light. Let me clear: pictures taken with a flash look VERY different than ones that are not. This image itself does not look like a photo taken with a flash.
  • This phone is going to rock my world.  
  • Incredible!
  • Oh wow!. Nokia, please release this phone already. This is impressive. 
  • The image wouldn't budge and I "jizzzed in my pants"
  • LOL +1^^^
  • +1000000 internets to you! LOL
  • the lens thingy was cool, 
    but was a bit laggy in the presentation, right ?
    makes me wonder about 3rd party apps perfomance 
  • Ya i thought the same about the lag but after watching the official hands on at nokia conversations blog all my worries are done
  • The lag comes from the video output over USB.
  • Nice... This just made shooting homemade porn in the dark much easier.
  • Hahahahahahahahaha funniest comment :)
  • +2
  • You're nasty dude, can you please thing of something else? LMAO
  • Chill dude:)
  • If that's not your thing, upskirt shots should be in better detail... :D
  • EPIC comment...LOL
  • Pics or it didn't happen.
  • +1 :)
  • Apple just crapped their pants. As well as The Verge, Endgadget, Mossberg....
  • No, not until the phone hits the streets. Til then, they'll be feeling bloated and start heading to the head before it's too late...
  • Whoa.
  • I was there and did this challenge with my titan. Amazing in person. The 920 is beautiful folks! I was hoping to see you Daniel but I'm afraid to say I dont quite know how you look lol. The little burgers there had my gf and I going back for 2nds, 3rds, 4ths.... Lol
  • This 920 will be my next phone with awsome camera. I guess no one will laugh now on Nokia's camera.
  • Were you there for the shaking demo?
    The guy shook the phone while holding it, and you could see the image on screen shaking all over as you would expect, then he hit record which turned on in the image stabilization.  It was insane, instantly, the image on the screen stopped moving.  It was like magic.  He was shaking this thing violently, like he had parkinsons , and the video was smooth as butter.
    Sold me on it instantly right there.
    Taking photos with my phone is one of the main things I do.  And usually it's at night/in dark places/holding it free hand.  This is actually revolutionary.  GOOD night photos from a phone?  Wow.
    The best thing about the party though was how everyone working there actually worked on the phones.  I took out my 710 and a guy goes "I was the project manager on that!"  The guy running the plant photo demo was a software engineer, etc.  Pretty interesting night, and those truffle tater tots were to DIE for.
  • How did the titan do?
  • Oh #WOW really just Impressive.!! I wish my Lumia 800's camera is just as good. Love the lumia phones' new colors too. :)
  • Next weeks gonna be one hell of a showdown
  • Oh yeah:)
  • I mean, the Lumia is kind of cheating. 'Cause it's still using flash to focus on the subject, which it's basically taking the picture right then, 'cause it remembers the image while it's using flash to focus, then it snaps it. Try taking the picture without a flash-auto-focus, THEN see how it comes out. ;]
  • You have a point, but look at that part in the vid that lumia shoots a 5 sec video, and it really is impressive. Also, in real world scenario, would I go like "hey, wait I'm going to change settings... Oh wait. It's gone. Face palm." Or can I just leave it default as on PureView lumia, and focus on the moment? Just my opinion.
  • That makes little sense. Why did the GS3 and iPhone not use the flash for autofocus? Oh...that's right, they don't have it. +1 Nokia for adding it? Second, this is how real cameras actually work though they often use infrared. All it does is measure the distance and the lens adjusts. Now explain to me the color rendition.... Now explain to me the longer shutter exposure with no blur...
  • man, we were looking for you guys yesterday, that Nokia demo (along with that coffee patron combo) was the best damn feature of the party (honarable mention: the city lense demo). 
 can force the camera to not use the flash to focus.  It still took in more much light.  Shamed our Venue Pro (I know), 900 and some dude's s3. 
    Funniest moment of the night: the bright red in face one of the nokia people (dressed in all red) got when we asked them about the verge article saying the demo was a fake.  She went to one of the higher ups and mentioned that there was an apology going out shortly, then pointed me in the direction of this box demo.
  • Would suck if you were a ninja, hiding in the shadows, trying to take pictures and there was no way to turn that off.
  • We don't use cameras.
  • How is this cheating? DSLRs do it. Any other manufacturer has the OPPORTUNITY to do it. THEY JUST DON'T. The flash is not taking the picture. Even if it does what you say, there is some pretty sophisticated algorithims in there to meter the flash so it doesn't LOOK like a flash photo. Basically besides the stabilizer, the camera is very similar to any other camera, it's the software and what they do with it that makes it take such great pictures and video.
  • I noticed that myself, its still cheating it appears to me. I want even Steven picture taking, same light, no trick focusing with light, just snapping a pic with no light. Show me those then I'll be impressed.
  • Lol, that's the whole damn point. The 920 did it RIGHT. Whereas the competition did it WRONG. The best photographers are the ones who are the best at using tricks of light.
  • Well most basic cameras use infrared to measure distance and lighting conditions, I think the Sony Ericsson K800 had this first, Nokia just revived the feature.
  • You want everything even? Just compare two of the same phone. This is plain ridiculous.
  • I believe camera+ for iOS on iPhone 4 and above had the feature to turn on the LED while the camera is focusing. Really, it's just about implementing the right technology for the right purpose and Nokia did a darn impressive job this time round.
    Besides that, a good picture is a good picture, there's no need for anyone to be impressed.
  • That's like asking to turn off Siri when comparing voice search in the Lumia 900 and IPhone 4S. Nokia just came up with a better way.
  • I like your name you should take more drugs so we don't have to deal with your stupidity.
  • @Procen, it's the name of a song, so really, it's your stupidity. You don't have to read/reply to my comments. So gtfo. :D
  • You clearly have no clue what you're talking about.
  • No that's not true my regular camera does that as well it will use flash to focus but doesn't use flash to take picture
  • I just got a Nikon Cooloix L810 camera and it uses the same technology but with the infrared light when the flash is off and the lighting is less than ideal. Using this on a phone is just a killer feature to me. I cannot accept the 820 now that I have seen this unless its capable of the same thing. I'm joking but seriously T-Mobile, make us proud for once.
  • Dude what are you going on about? The name says it all "flash auto focus", if uses the light to focus and that is it. It´s not in any way, shape or form, taking the picture yet... if they didnt use it it would simply be out of focus (maybe) and that is it... seriously where do you come up with this stuff : "cause it remembers the image while it´s using flash to focus" . complete nonsense
  • So what you are saying is that it is taking the picture before taking the picture! But they specifically said this wasn't what happens. Answer this: How can the camera "remember" the image if the shutter is not open? If Nokia is doing what you say, then that would be even more remarkable!
  • Not cheating at all.  Even my Samsung Focus uses the light to focus.
  • <begin rant>
    thats what i was thinking, so if the iPhone took a picture using flash it would be the same freaking thing!!!! i dont get how ppl in here are so blind to that fact! i was so excited about this phone, but after the fake video and this BS photo shoot im so disappointed. and the picture the lumia took CLEAERLY show strong light coming from the flash, so wether it autofocused with flash, used flash WHILE taking the picture you would have the same end results = the picture wounld look good without that flash, now disable flash all in all and i bet it would have the same as iPhone and S3. this is stupid. most ppl have autoflash anyways, and if they dont they will turn it on when in low light conditions... like seriously who would take a picture without flash in a extremely low light? thats why flash was invented the 1st place. Nokia really blew it, and this is total BS on there part, and the only thing they proved here is that they have a good camera, and you cant take pics in low light without flash.
    </end rant>
  • maybe you should try to disable the autoflash and try to keep the shutter open longer instead. you will notice, if you happen to know how to do this, that a picture without flash looks way better than with flash even in poor light conditions. also, a flash is good only at short distances (few meters) and when coming directly from the front also produces awfull shadows. thats why you'll never ever see a flash on a professional camera in a photo studio. there the flash comes from all directions but from the camera itself.
    the problem is that keeping the shutter open longer will blur the picture since you ever so slightly move your arm while in the process. no tripods for phones yet. thats why the lens stabilization is so important here. everybody can keep the shutter open forever and produce a picture like the 920 did in this contest. its just that the 920 pics are sharp while yours would be blurry.
    honestly, you better always disable the flash of your phone. flash is bad. can ruin the nicest scene.
  • The images would not look the same as iphone and S3 without the flash focus. To be perfectly clear NONE of the photons that came from the flash to focus ended up in the actual image, they just allowed the focal length to be set before the image capture occurs. Without the flash to focus Nokia would have had to make the focusing time longer, therefore taking the picture would take longer (in a real life situation running the risk that the moment has passed) but the resulting image would be nearly identical to how it is now. The 'shutter' would be open for the same amount of time, the resulting image would be the same brightness, etc.
    In the iphone and S3, if they had a flash to focus (which they don't, a major shortcoming in a camera) the resulting image would be just as dark because firstly they do not have the capability to leave the shutter open for 1/4 of a second (their closest shutter speeds would be about 1/30th a second) and secondly they do not have f2.0 cameras (iphone is f2.4 and I think S3 is f2.2) therefore not as much light reaches the sensor per unit time.
  • Yes... finally a worth buy phone THANK YOU SOOO MUCH NOKIA and wp8, i think iphone 5 have lost the game already 
  • That's insane. I was there. I did all that. And it's still insane. Ha! Go Nokia!
  • Is there something we're missing? If Apple were to develop this technology it would be revolutionary. There seems to be a lukewarm response from a good number in the tech world, essentially saying it's not enough. From what I see the technology is brilliant. You can essentially replace your point and shoot with a smartphone device which in most, if not all cases will take better pictures. Full res uploads to Skydrive, nice. Its what everyone was clamoring for and expecting on the 900. They gave it to us and more. I'm getting one, just not sure about the color.
  • It blows my mind that people are either overlooking this or downplaying it.
  • That just highlights what I've always known. It's not about these "innovations". It's about who comes up with them. Apple created a brand with a set of characteristics that people love and want to love. Powerful marketing at play here. I am a marketer and believe me, what Apple has with their customers is what every organization that sells consumer products would like to have. It will take a lot for people to not love Apple products. My honors thesis is going to be about how to create a successful brand, Apple might just be my main subject.
  • +1. Apple's greatest innovation has always been its marketing skill. I remember when the iPhone had the worst camera. They improved it in the 4S and BAM! Apple invents the smartphone camera! People should take note of this instead of the stupid patent garbage. Apple could sell an Eskimo snow in the middle of winter on a 2 yr contract and get then to buy at full retail in the year between, even this the snow is free.
  • that would be an interesting read....but don't forget to include how uniformed consumers are, especially when it comes to technology.  I'm just surprised in this day and age that people are so ignorant to what came first, who came up with it, what features they need or want.  I'm fine with it cause I'll have one leg up, but still, some people are just getting left in the dust with tech.
  • I concur Daniel 
  • Because they're all applebots that's why. If its not from Apple then it's not even worth considering. Only the most sophistaced technology comes from Apple. :-&
  • Red, Cyan, but i think white with gray theme will look hot
  • The biggest complaint is that people want it now, not in 8 weeks (or 8 weeks' time). When is 8 weeks not in regards to time? I digress...
  • Unfortunately, yes we will have to wait. That's MS dude. Not a lot we can do about it. At some point in the near future they'll have to put it all out there. Win 8, wp8, and the new Xbox update. They're all intertwined. I bet you as always the device will be available early Nov.
  • Fortunately it's available sooner than that :)
  • It's not that they don't know this is revolutionary for a smartphone. It's just that most of these tech blogs don't want to see Windows Phone or Nokia succeed. In some twisted fantasy of theirs, if Nokia does not succeed with Windows Phone maybe they'll then bow down to Android. But I've got news for them; that s*** ain't happening guys. Get over it!
  • When I saw the Reuters wire with the quotes from a Wells Fargo and RW Baird analysts, I about punched the screen. Wtf do these people know about tech, yet they are pouring gasoline on a fire.
  • I hope nokia goes kaboom in their faces
  • +1
  • Doubles standards... Its annoying but we have to deal with it.
  • I agree - this appears to be really significant.  But can a smart phone camera
     truly replace a point and shoot without an optical zoom?  I dunno...
  • it is definitely awesome tech, but the specs sound underwhelming after the 41 mp. Add on the fact Nokia rewrote what pureview is overnight and I see why journalists are confused. Plus they did not let anyone use the camera, lied about the footage and offered no release date... in other words, what are they doing lol
  • I love the 920 camera & imaging system, but I'm a photo geek and can appreciate it. Most people know nothing about cameras and camera quality - I once watched someone take 8th grade graduation pictures with a Motorola Razr flip phone. Unless WP8 is successful, few consumers will buy the 920 for its camera alone. They're going to have to want to leave Apple or Android for WP.
  • I'm actually one of those who will buy the 920 for the camera ;-)
  • You used the word essentially twice. So clearly the iPhone 5 will have a better camera. -regards, desperate ifans who's minds are already made up.
  • you guys crack me up how you think tech blogs are legitimately anti Nokia or anti Microsoft. They're recovering from a pretty controversial blunder with that ois video so now they've gotta win back trust. It was a stupid stupid move on their part. So stupid.
  • Well, essentially I did. I can't account for my grammer after midnight.  The iPhone 5 will have a better camera regardless of whether it's actually better or not.  I don't think iFans are the ones to go after.  It's the low hanging Android fruit that needs to be won over.   
  • Is Dan still out partying?
  • Nah, home...drinking ;)
  • I stubbornly refused to accept all the goodies about the 920 pureview camera until I got the confirmation from Dan. He literally broke my heart with his constant bashing of the 900 camera and I promised myself not buy any new Apollo phone until Wpcentral approves of it. I can heave a big sigh of relief while I wait impatiently to grab one of them bad boys. Great job Dan.
  • Just take my money already. :D
  • I'm all for windows phone but wait till the iPhone 5 comes out, the 4s is like a year old already lol
  • Nokia and Apple may just make Android phones obsolete.
  • So you expect Iphone 5 to have a comparable or better camera/technology? There is a reason MS and Nokia waited so long to show off WP8. This time Apple and Google will have to wait a near full cycle of the OS and hardware to catch up. Very unlike the announcement of WP7 giving up the ass way too soon allowing the copycats to well, copycat.
  • "giving up the ass"
  • Don't put words in my mouth. Apple has proven that they can produce innovative products, and though I assume the 920 will be better than the iPhone 5, I'll wait until all the chips are on the table before making my own judgment.
  • Well yeah. Pureview :D FTW!
  • The saddest part of it all is not 'no release dates', but as it seems that even if a Nokia device released would allow someone to travel backwards in time for the 1st time ever a lot of people would still be downplaying it. Like "hey, but will it blend?", "you're done Nokia, your stock prices are going down!", "I'm not impressed, it should be 1mm thin and light", "what, no infrared laser robber slicing system? Booo.." Some people are just blindly impossible. Period.
  • True
  • True
  • @Sam_1204. My bad, accept my apology.
  • It's ok. :)
  • A small part of me died when you said 8 weeks at the end there... So long.
  • 8 weeks... That means I can start saving now and come up with the money when it's released.
  • Good point!!
  • This is very cool
  • WP fans have 2 high-end options now from 2 competing companies. Samsung's ATIV S and Nokia's Lumia 920 PureView. HTC, it's your turn! :D
  • WOW!!! I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD FOR THIS PHONE! And iPhone always compares its BS stuff with old hardware/.software/stats to make it look nice. It's just marketing just to show how good it is... and why wouldn't they show it off? There is no point for them to wait for the iPhone 5 to be released until they can show off their phone because that sounds stupid!
  • Hahahaha! Love how that one guys in the beginning goes "Oh so you have the flash light?" buddy replies "No. Just focusing before the picture." Amazing all around Nokia and MS. Way to show the others why you're in the market and here not just to stay, but to innovate.
  • Honestly, why couldn't they have just waited to release this phone. I'm now stuck in a 2 year contract with the 900. There was no indication something of this caliber would be coming out in little a year. I can't even play a song or game and my 900 freaks out.
    Here's hoping they release some sort of incentive for the 900 crowd.
  • I listen to everything from music to audio books, and watch movies, and play games on my L900, and its never "freaked" out. Possibly you have a faulty device?
  • Same here
  • Hopefully they do the same thing for Lumia 900 owners that Apple & AT&T did for original iPhone owners when the iPhone2 came out a year later. Buy the new phone at the subsidized price in exchange for extending their contract another year.
  • Pureview tech is going to make my year. I was fairly happy with the camera on my L800 but this, this is worth bragging over and over and over. I'm going to smoke so many people with this phone its not even going to be funny, actually it will be hilarious.
  • Ugh... This is what pisses me off. The media didn't even display this in their newscast at least not in LA. But when the iPhone 5 is announced, the media will have it up at every hour. Fuck. This is discrimination lol
  • Actually I like looking at all the iSheep running to get the new iPhone every year. It makes me appreciate WP more.
  • Bias in the media.. Does not matter, it will sell..
  • I guess so. If Microsoft and Nokia make excellent ads they will be good sellers.
  • I havent tried the Lumia 920, but I haved tried several Nokias with excelent camera before (N82, N95, N90, N8) most of these had an Assisted Focus light, when you use the assisted focus light it just help the camera to properly focus; if the aperture and shutter speed suck it will be a dark image it doesnt matter if the led or light was on for a second to help asisting on focus. the 2.0 fstop aperture, the OIS, and BSI are making a hughe difference here, for those of you that have no idea of what an aperture like 2f stop can do, go to you local camera shop and try a camera in manual mode with a lens that has 1.8 or 2.0 aperture set it at 2.0 then move to 2.4 and see how less light enters the camera in a well light room it might not look like much, but as soon as the light is scarse it will show fast the difference.
  • Wow!! Amazing!
  • Video is fixed! That dude had spring loaded arms!! ;-) Any word on what res video its capable of taking? Can we do 1080p yet?
  • Accdg to the specs listed on Nokia website for lumia 920, it has video camera resolution of 1920x1080 @30fps w/ 4x video zoom. I don't know f that's what you're really asking. (I'm not that techie)
  • Yes 1080p is on the phone :-)
  • Galaxy S3 sucks. It same android great on crashes and battery earring. Also what so good looking of S3 UI it sucks same old ugly icons which stays there dead.
  • why on Earth is Nokia and MSFT so obsessed with the iPhone? Every other day there is some comparison, it is so boring. Please create the Nokia MSFT ecosystem and leave the competition and stop giving them more reasons to print about them. So sad, almost like you want to be them.
  • Of course they want to be them. Everyone want's iPhones market share. These videos aren't promoting to us, they know we will get WP8. They want to woo the people who have iPhones, becaus