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The Smartphone Beta Test - Carl Zeiss Optics [Video]

The Smartphone Beta Test is the latest marketing campaign from Nokia that's to be continuously rolled out in the U.S. The videos highlight key features of the Lumia handsets, with the above commercial focusing on the Carl Zeiss optics. Nokia is set to release more firmware updates to introduce Internet sharing among other features missing from the Windows Phone experience.

It's interesting that the ad states the Lumia handsets sport better camera specifications for low-light photography, which we'd agree with. But we've said before that it would appear as though the hardware is a slight let down with regards to performance on the Lumia 900.

Source: Youtube; thanks Konstantin for the tip!

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.

77 Comments
  • I thought the lumias camera sucked?
  • I don't think it sucks. I think the auto scene detection software could use some work. I would say it's easily the best camera phone I've ever owned although that's not saying much. I really enjoy the widescreen photos that the camera can take. I can finally take photos with my phone that are useable as wallpapers!
  • I think it sucks, lol.
  • Lol I love how blunt you are..but yeah I thought it was very underwhelming.
  • I always wonder whether people comment on the lumia900 pictures viewed on the display or on a LCD, led or printed. Usually you need to print a photo to see how it actually looks, unless you have some crazy expensive photography monitor. Maybe the saturated low res display makes some photos look crap when they are in fact decent...
  • I compared pics from my Lumia that I loaded into iPhoto directly with an iPhone 4 and the difference is huge. Just about every pic I took with the 900 was terrible for one reason or another. I exchanged for a Titan 2 and that's a crazy good camera(for a phone). Lower light performace is very good as well. I might miss that sexy Cyan body, but the larger screen and superior camera are worth the switch. 
  • Lumia 900 is a Beta 2 in both camera and scratch proof for optics
  • Pull the video!  The camera is terrible especially in low light settings..
     
    They just slapped Carl Zeiss on it and it doesnt mean anything...
     
    Nokia just facepalmed themselves :(
  • Agree.
  • It's been hit or miss for me.  Either I get great shots, or I get some blue laiden mess.  It's good enough for what I use it for.
  • My only issue is putting such a high end name on the camera, and deploying a mediocre product. Works for me too, but not what I would expect from the Carl Zeiss name
  • Agreed, however Sony puts the Carl Zeiss name on their cameras as well, with similar results.  Not so impressed with my T100. 
  • Camera is fine outside, but still has some discoloration on the pictures.  You can actually see the color changing after taking the picture when what you see on your screen saves as a picture.  That is not good
     
    Not reallya hit or miss in terms of indoors or low lighting, has a ton of noise in the background and it has a blue/yellow look depending on the lighting...
     
    Autofix doesnt fix anything, it just makes it lighter so you can see teh noise even more...
  • Yes, autofix is usless.  I find that I get better results in low light situations by tapping the screen instead of using the camera button.  Anyway, it's not great but good enough. 
  • Yes, the tapping does make it a little better, but the problem is, gives more time for somethign to screw up the picture like a dog picture jacking me :o.  which has happened..This is only good for point and shoot which is more of the pictures taken anyway..
     
    But i like the ability of pressing the camera button and havingquick auto focus and snap...This gives me ability to get an ont he move picture which my focus S did very well
  • Try Nokia's free Creative Studio app. I've found it does a great job of fixing discoloration in low light photos. The auto-fix feature on WP7 only really fixes brightness and contrast in my experience.
  • Tried that and Thumba...cant remove the noise in teh background..
  • Use thumbs photo editor and use skin treatment w/ 5 radius and strength 8 smooths out the lowlight pics
  • At the moment with their WP handsets Nokia shouldnt be boasting about their cameras. If HTC can produce better quality cameras they should be embarassed to even mention they have a camera on their phone. Fix that first, then boast.
  • Somebody decipher this for me: "It's interesting that the ad states the Lumia handsets sport better camera specifications for low-light photography, which we'd agree with." I am interpreting this as the 900 camera is very good in low light settings? If so, it is absolutely atrocious in low light settings and im not the only one that thinks this, this is pretty much wide spread...It is not about the settings, a defective camera or all that...it is just bad... Somebody confirm that if i am reading this right or wrong... Conclusion: The camera is the biggest disappointment of the phone...
  • Meaning on paper the optics are designed for low-light, see higher apperature. 
     
    So on paper the camera is great, in your hand not so much. 
  • Who cares if it sucks. The average Joe is gonna believe it. Its for the average person who doesn't know what we know. I think it's a great commercial
  • Yes, scamming people is the best way for a long term gain
  • Scamming the public always worked for Apple.
  • Yes, scamming people is the best way for a long term gain
  • Apple scams people all the time,back off troll
  • No, Apple invented everything. Tablets, Smartphones, Music Players. None of that existed before Apple did it. So when they tell you their ipad 3 is revoluntionary, it's because IT IS. now just go out and buy it because they told you to and keep quiet
    heck, even computers didn't exist before Apple. Steve Jobs was a genious
     
  • Computers didn't exist before Apple?
  • I can't tell if you're joking or if you actually believe what you're saying. Please clarify.
  • +1 I also would like to know how he figures they invented all those things, because they didn't; they made them better...yes!  Invented....no!
  • They didn't make them better, they just remarketed them as something new. I have yet to see Apple invent anything.
  • what type of standards are they setting by saying one thing and the experience is something else?  Doesnt really support consumer confidence there especially for a company that needs to rebound...
     
     
  • Apple seems to get away with it all the time...
  • And there are a bunch of serial killers who were never caught.
    What's your point?
  • Are you people dumb... Or just trolling. I have it and the camera is great. Nokia just needs to improve the auto feature in the software. I have never depend on an auto feature on any device from vga camera on phones to an digital SLR.
  • I don't think anyone here is dumb or trolling.  The camera is not what it has been claimed to be.  Plain and simple.  It's good but not great IMHO.  If possible Nokia needs to work on the camera firmware.  The optics are the optics this will not change. 
  • Yeah... The Lumia cameras are unfortunately quite lackluster... I'm just wondering if it is mostly a hardware or software issue?
  • I've read on another blog that setting the ISO to 100 helps the Lumia camera. Has anyone tried this?
    Also a few weeks ago, WMPoweruser linked to some flickr shots of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia that where taken by a Lumia 800 after sundown. They were lowlight and seemed quite good. It’s confusing--I wonder if the Lumia cameras are better than first though but just not with their default settings?
  • The problem is that the auto setting takes sub par pictures. I have to tweak the settings for different situations to get decent pictures from my 800. I want a phone camera that I can just snap and share.
  • I don't understand how Nokia dropped the ball with the camera. They have the greatest camera phone ever in their lineup, so why can't they achieve better results with the Lumia? There is no way to blame the OS either as the Titan II is said to have one of the best cameras on the market now. Something must be wrong at Nokia.
  • Actually I noticed if you play with the camera settings you can get a solid photo out of the lumia 900. If you use the auto settings it can be atrociously bad. I was so disappointed because my focus s took much better photos. But after playing with the settings I managed to take some very good photos with the lumia. Tip: for close up photos use macro under af mode instead of normal. Plus pick macro under what type of photo as well. It makes a massive difference. Plus there's settings for letting more light into the lens for some pretty good low light photos. Trust me if you play with the settings you will really surprise yourselves
  • I've gone through all the tips, playing through the settings..
     
    All the tips that i followed sacrifices color for minimal picture quality. 
    There are no settings available that helps indoor or low light areas...I couldnt get a picture inside my house on a sunny day without a yellowish/bluish picture...
  • When you press the button to auto focus and then depress again to take the shot, make sure you hold the button down until the shot has clearly registered on the device. This prevents hand movement and gets sharper pictures. I used to hate my phone camera until I learned this technique. As for low light, the laws of physics are against without a proper flash. Be happy you can see anything, or get a Sony cybershot heavy duty point and shoot and 'see the light'.
  • Damian Dinning works his tail off when it comes to Symbian devices, but his work for the Lumia line, and even the N9, is just an embarrassment.
     
    There simply is no excuse for the imaging in any Nokia product with Carl Zeiss, and Damians 'know how', to be sub any WP HTC device (Titan I, not to mention Titan II).   Many have comment that WP can't handle the algorithms, but HTC begs to differ.
     
    At the end of the day, if he doesn't 'bring it' with Pureview for WP, Nokia should really consider another 'guru' to employ.
     
    Hopefully, some of the issues with the Lumia 900 imaging can be remedied with an update.
  • HTC has different implementation of hardware to offset t he software shortcoming on WP7. 
    I am guessing, Nokia are prepping for a firmware update to fix some camera issues. 
    But as others have said, till then, if you don't use auto-mode and mess with settings, you can get really good pics with L900.
  • Hopefully, a firmware update will adress the woes some are experiencing with the Lumia 900.
     
    The touting that Damian did regarding the camera tech for the N9, I just expected better.  The N9 has mixed results as well - some say the images are good, some say they are not so great.  And given that they used the same camera in the Lumia 800, I'd think that  Nokia would have used the L800 and the N9 as test beds to make the Lumia 900 camera better.
     
    I have a N8, and it is just disappointing when Nokia gets criticized for their imaging (regardless of megapixels) when they are so well known for good camera phones.
     
    Nokia just better bring it with Pure View, is all I'm sayin' :)
  • A good friend got a NL900 via pre-order and was very dismayed by the camera in low light conditions. His words: "Utterly useless in low light scenarios." Maybe Nokia should have (re?)considered including a BSI sensor like the Titan 2 did - heck, even my Titan 1 has a BSI sensor. Is that the price difference in the phone? $99 vs $199 and for the extra $100 you get a more functional camera? (although I got my T1 for a penny :) )
     
    Carl can't be too happy with his name being mis-used/marketed in vein...Nokia used his name and then neutered the functionality. That doesn't set a good precedent for their future releases...even a 41MP camera is capable of taking craptacular pix if it doesn't have the right hardware/settings.
     
    Techiedude
  • He doesn't care - he has been dead for 124 years!
    Besides I suspect the issue is not with the optics, but the sensor - which is not CZ.
  • They could easily fix the camera to at least make it above average.  I changed the settings to ISO 200 & +0.5 Exposure for indoor photos, and it made a huge difference.  Outdoor in normal light its always been pretty good as is, but indoors it would typically be way to dark; darker than the real light of the room. 
     
    I think its the auto settings, and the white balance, both of which could be fixed with an update.
     
    Hopefully they address this.
  • But this is exactly the issue - you would need a higher ISO for in-door photos and Lumias just do not cut it for ISO larger than 200.
  • The noise int he background is still there and noticable...
  • carl zeiss branding is to camera as dr dre branding is to audio
  • Beats Studio are pretty bauce...imo
  • Beats or i should say monster are alright but there are tons of better options. Its just a well known name. Marketing pure and simple. The average Joe is NEVER gonna say man I wish this thing had a bsi sensor and resort to bashing something online. That's all tech geeks do and its insufferable. For the average consumer raking pictures with their phone the 900 takes great photos. The commercial just reinforces that.
  • I'm sure if they were called beats by Coldplay or beats by deadmau5 they would get less bad comments on here
  • No. If you know anything about audio you would know that Beats are just a marketing gimmick. They are simply inferior to other quality headphones in their price range. People only buy them for the image.
  • People I know who have them love them and they are DJs, no one knows audio quality better than DJs
  • I think Bose comes way ahead of Dr Dre with regards to audio branding. Prof Bose IMO is peerless in the area
  • Lol. Bose. How many of our 4" drivers would you like in your speaker? Good lord talk about over-hyped crap.
  • I suspect that the image sensor was a sacrifice in order to get to the low price point for subsidized sales in the US. Its pretty much the only thing on the phone that seems aub-par by current standards. I suspect that the original plan involved a backlit sensor, and therefore they didn't pay enough attention to software noise reduction. This would also explain why Auto Fix is worse than useless - almost like it was tuned to work for a different sensor isn't it :-)
  • I guess coming from an HD7 which had a very mediocre camera, I find the Lumia 900 pretty decent for a cell phone camera. Not every shot looks great, but even with my DSLRs, I don't get a good shot every time. But overall, I've been very pleased with the 900. I have found, though, that some of the automatic settings (WB for example) could use some tweaking.
    I don't expect my cell phone to be a replacement for my dedicated point and shoot camera, so maybe I'm not expecting much more than I'm getting.
  • I don't know why they say lumia photos are bad, I have the 710 it doesn't have the Carl whatever but it's a really nice camera phone
  • A camera and its quality are subjective to the user, some say its a great can, other say it sucks. Nokia WILL fully support this phone with firmware updates that will improve its performance, just like they did with the 800. Software will improve, the lens is still a Carl Zeiss, so one day you'll be loving every pic you take, I love my focus s and the pics are fantastic, no matter what lighting, and no one can tell me differently. Its my opinion, and Nokia lumia owners can do the same, so kudos for the ad, its gonna sell more phones and adopt more to the windows phone cause. Blasting it online will not..so why do it?
  • Have you used a lumia 900 camera extensively?
    I am assuming not..
     
    I Had the samsung focus S since November andi agree that the camera is pretty great. 
    The lumia 900 can not do what the Focus S does when it comes to picture quality, it is not about the user in this case.  It is only subjective if you compare a good camera with a good camera in all settings.
     
    The lumia 900 camera is terrible in low light indoor settings and this is clearly the consensus about the camera. 
    I would suggest you try using a camera on the 900 and see for yourself. 
    There isn't a ton of sites forums with tips for the camera for a reason in addition to a lot of threads about how the camera is a dissapointment for no reason..
  • Consensus means 100% agreement. That is not the case. many, such as me, like its performance. From sucha small sample of lumia owners, it's not even possible to claim a majority. I'll admit a large number and possibly a majority of those posting on this forum have issues with the camera, but tens of complaints out of hundreds of thousands of owners is not a consensus.
  • didnt know the word at a % attached to like majority.  Consensus in my mine is kind of saying common knowledge. 
    pretty clear throgh all the threads, through all the articles, through all the reviews...there is an issue with low light pictures and that the camera did not meet expectations. 
  • Behold, the Lumia 900's cool, pink center:
     
    http://imgur.com/QCGtm,CklPs#1
  • "One more bad one" - that line makes the ad
  • I think it is the software/firmware. If you use the app "Sophie Cam" the auto focus works great in as little as 3 inches away.  What they need to fix on the Lumia 900 is the Camera Button actually waking the phone up from sleep everytime. 
  • Its not so much the hardware as it is the WP algorithms. Nokia has always had the best cameras using the same hardware. Look at the N9, same hardware, better result (it uses Nokia algorithms). With WP8 we will see a significant increase in performance.
  • Everyone go read this then give it another shot:
     
    http://www.wpcentral.com/understanding-your-windows-phone-camera
  • The Lumia 900 camera does not suck. Its a very good, solid camera for a phone. I do think this ad is a bit of a joke though. Low light is not where this camera really shines - its where its weakest. 
  • I moved from hd7 to lumia 800 and was initially dissapointed with camera results, until I used the touchscreen to take pics in low light as the camera/phone adjusts the exposure depending on where you touch, in doing this the pic quality has increased dramatically, so I would suggest trying this in low light conditions
  • It didn't matter if the camera is that great. Its works and it works pretty well. Its worth advertising, many users will jest think "yeah, its got a great lens, I might buy one of them", think of siri for apple, its absolutely shit in the real world, but apple will market it because ita a selling point.
  • I wish Nokia would release an update so that the video statements would be true.  But as of right now the picture quality of the Lumia 900 in low light is just "OK".   
  • I think the camera ad should be pulled.
  • Please look at this photos taken by Lumia 900 first
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thenokiagallery/sets/72157630272695414/detail/
     
    Could it be the user sux and not the camera? or the camera is not designed for amateur or dumbproof like iphone? which is which?