Nokia 808 PureView review


It's rather ironical that Nokia, of all companies, introduces a 41 megapixel phone, because the company never wanted to participate in the ‘megapixel rat race'. They introduced a 8 megapixel phone, the N86, relatively late. That camera was rather good, by the way – but let's stick to the subject. PureView is not only a name, but a technology as well. The 41 megapixel camera is not only used to take pictures with a maximum of 41 megapixel: you will mostly take pictures in 5 or 8 megapixels. That doesn't mean that you won't make use of the other 36 megapixels. On the contrary, they are used to boost the quality of the 5 megapixel pictures. This is called ‘oversampling'. It doesn't only make the pictures really sharp, it allows to take them when there's not much daylight as well. The larger the sensor is, the more light can fall on it. This way, you can take amazingly good pictures at night and in the dark. The 1/1.2 inch sensor is even bigger than a those of a lot of Canon PowerShot's and Nikon's CoolPix series.

Pureview camera sensor
The PureSensor next to an 8 and 5 megapixel sensor

Another great advantage is that the large sensor allows you to zoom. Zooming with a phone is usually discouraged, since it's a so-called digital zoom. Pixels that actually aren't there are added, and that doesn't make the picture any sharper. In fact, you would prefer to zoom in optically by using a lens, but that technique hasn't really found its way into mobile technology. Phones who were equipped with this were very big and delivered pictures of deplorable quality. The last phones with an optic zoom appeared around 2006. Nokia comes with something entirely new. The application of a sensor that's big enough, and which has a sufficient pixel density, allows to zoom anyway. It isn't a digital zoom, nor is it optical. Exactly this feature makes the PureView a real competition of the popular point and shoot camera. It isn't surprising that it is exactly this category of products. And it's a fact that Nokia keeps all its promises with this phone. With the 808 PureView, you'll never have to take a separate camera on holiday, since the quality of the pictures and videos is just fantastic and there is no other phone who can come anywhere near.

The camera has three shooting modes: automatically, in which the camera figures out everything, scenes, in which the camera decides on the most important settings, and creative, in which you can set up everything yourself. Here, you can adjust the sensor mode (PureView or maximum resolution), the resolution (8, 5 or 2 MP), proportions, JPEG quality (normal or superfine), the color tones (normal, vivid, sepia or black and white), shooting mode (normal, bracketing mode – in which it takes a couple of pictures after another – interval or self-timer), saturation, contrast, sharpness, and preferences (a searching raster, camera sounds, video stabilization, a lamp for zooming, turning on and off the possibility of taking pictures when the phone is locked). Apart from that, you can of course adjust the Xenon flashlight, just like the ISO-value. Furthermore, the physical camera key comes in handy.

Without any exaggeration, this is the best camera we ever saw in a smart phone, and it comes without any useless additions. You can cut the pictures or adapt them in another way, for example with the app that reduces red eyes. And when you're satisfied with the pictures, you can send it through a message or Bluetooth, or you can load it unto Facebook or Flickr. In the camera app is a hotkey with which you can place the picture on your Facebook wall immediately.

The video camera, which is set up with a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixel and a continuous autofocus, delivers exceptionally well. The colors are vivid, and there is no trace of shaking or other demerits: it is perfectly credible that you can shoot a commercial with this. You can even professionally edit the clips. Apart from that, you can find different modes here: for sunlight, cloudy weather, artificial light or striplight. For that matter, these modes can be found on the regular camera as well.

Another important feature of the video camera is Rich Recording. It is one thing to shoot high quality videos, but of course you want sufficient sound quality to go with them. Usually, video cameras on phones produce a very tinny sound. The PureView records sound in CD quality, and that can be heard. Bootlegs will never sound the same again.

The pictures and video clips cannot only be looked at in the camera app, but in the gallery as well, were they are shown in nice tiles in a chronological order. Of course, we recognize this from the Nokia Lumia. All in all, we simply love this camera.