Photowalk with the Nokia Lumia 1020

By Marvin R. Velasco - on 31 Oct 2013, 10:43am

We've all been told repeatedly that megapixels aren't the definitive basis of camera quality. This holds true on most counts, with DSLRs of the past still beating the so-called megapixel behemoth phones of today. So it didn't come as a surprise that the Nokia 808 PureView and its 41-megapixel sensor felt like a marketing ploy to reel in newbies into thinking that more equals better. It then came as a surprise to photographers and tech junkies when it did in fact produce the best photos of its generation. Sadly, the 808 PureView ran on a dying operating system and wasn't poised to battle the smartphones of tomorrow. Roll out the red carpet for the Windows Phone- and PureView-powered Nokia Lumia 1020.

We already detailed all the technical mumbo jumbo in our full review of the Lumia 1020, so we won't bother feeding you with specs and benchmarks this time around. Instead, we'll just post our experience with the Lumia 1020's camera while on a stroll around Manila. All the photos here are unedited, uncropped, and at the natively oversampled size of 5 megapixels. Click on the photos for the full-resolution size.


Trip Down Manila Lane

 We love a sensor with a great dynamic range, and it's evident in the photos the Lumia 1020 produces. Here's proof of that at the widest zoom angle.

And here's the same scene but with the full zoom in effect. Notice how the digital zoom truly is lossless and maintains all the details.

Again, the colors are strong and punchy from the midtones to the highlights, while still maintaining deep shadows.

We particularly loved how the PureView camera reproduced the blueness of the sky. White balance accuracy is definitely one of the Lumia 1020's strong points.

We can finally see a crack in the Lumia 1020's polycarbonate armor. Like other smartphones, chromatic aberrations are present in difficult lighting situations, though the Lumia 1020 does a good job of hiding it by keeping the rest of the photo noise-free.

The Lumia 1020 does a great job at getting the exposure right when focusing on a subject. In this case, we focused on the unfinished painting, and it balanced the lighting well with the sun rays from the window.

Now for a panorama. Shooting one on the Lumia 1020 can be difficult at times, unfortunately. You have to be very precise while moving from left to right. The results though are spectacular when done right.

Another letdown is the waiting period between taking shots, which can get quite long. In this photo, we tried to capture birds flying across the scene, but several misses occurred since the Nokia Pro Cam app took too long to buffer.

 While on the topic of speed, the Lumia 1020's autofocus system is quite accurate, albeit a bit slow at times. Switching between subjects in this scene took some time, but once locked on, the result was outstanding.

A major highlight of the PureView camers is the optical image stabilization. In this case, unwanted camera shake was prevented and sharpness was preserved.

This is another perfect example of the image sensor's wide dynamic range. Notice how all the details in the shadows are maintained while the sky gets to keep its highlights.

The Nokia Pro Cam allows you to manually adjust exposure settings. Here we toyed around with the manual focus for a slight blur. Strangely enough, there's no f-stop adjustment in the app's options.

No filters were needed for this spectacular Lumia 1020 shot.

Thanks to all the camera's strengths, low-light shooting is a painless affair. If you have the Nokia Camera Grip equipped, then you can even attach a tripod or monopod to further steady your shots.

After spending a weekend with the Nokia Lumia 1020, we can wholeheartedly recommend it as both a capable smartphone and camera. Any drawback we dealt with was minor and heavily overshadowed by the camera's capabilities. Unlike the 808 PureView, the Lumia 1020 successfully managed to put the camera first while still maintaining its fully functional smartphone side.

Fortunately for potential Lumia 1020 buyers, Nokia is bundling the Nokia Camera Grip with its flagship smartphone. It basically adds an extended grip to the camera, a more comfortable shutter button, a tripod mount, and a secondary battery. This further sweetens the deal and makes the Lumia 1020 a true compact camera replacement.

Marvin R. Velasco

Marvin R. Velasco / Editor - Print

Marvin is the Editor of HWM Philippines. He enjoys playing with cameras, watching MMA, and eating bananacue.