Our day with the Nokia 808 Pureview. Not only did we get whisked around the Carl Zeiss head office in Oberkochen near Stuttgart, Germany but we also got enough hands-on time with the phone itself to do a quick camera comparison with it and an HTC One X and Nokia N8. Four shots outdoors and one shot in, while we didn't get a chance to really test the Pureview's low light performance or the power of its Xenon flash, the comparison will give you an idea as to how the detail of a 41 megapixel sensor holds out, and the tangible difference between it and two of the best camera phones on the market.
HTC One X VS Nokia N8 VS Nokia 808 Pureview: The Rolling hills of Oberkochen
This is a funny one. We showed this grid to a couple of people in the office and they immediately complemented the HTC One X for its saturated yellows and vibrancy. They liked the bouncy greens and the contrast level makes details look more pronounced. Naturally however, this bounce, pop and polish is unnatural. It's arguably how many of us would like to see the world but in line with our previous camera comparisons, isn't what the world actually looks like.
The Nokia N8 however does in contrast look ever so slightly subdued. Considerably better than the HTC One X, the N8 shot displays deeper greens and a fraction of the yellow. Colours are realistic, detail is strong and this 2009 camera phone really does champion Nokia's imaging legacy.
Fast forward to the present day and we have something rather special in the Nokia 808 Pureview's picture - a balance. It's as if someone took the oversaturated One X shot, overlaid it with the slightly dull N8 shot and made a supershot. Bouncy, saturated, it's kept detail in the sky as the N8 did but retained much of the pop of the HTC One X coupled with truer greens and better detailing.
HTC One X VS Nokia N8 VS Nokia 808 Pureview: Bokeh s'il vous plaît
And now for the art of mobile bokeh. For anyone unaware, bokeh is the term used to describe that blur in the background when you have a sharp foreground. It's achieved in a number of ways - low aperture, large sensor, distance between the lense and the sensor, macro shooting. All these phones are capable of grabbing some and and as you can no doubt see in the image above, they do a great job.
The HTC One X has an EDoF lense. This means it gets more in focus, thus minimising bokeh slightly, however as you can see, we've still got some good amounts of blur in the background. The N8 too delivers fantastic background blur, more so than the HTC One X however the winning bokeh is clearly the Nokia 808 Pureview. Where this can be most acutely seen is in the houses in the background. Notice how they start to turn into balls of intangible light rather than just blurry houses.
HTC One X VS Nokia N8 VS Nokia 808 Pureview: Barking mad dynamic range
In this shot we didn't give the HTC One X the fairest chance as we got some of the sky in. This is believe it or not enough to throw the exposure off and in turn deliver less accurate results. That said, it doesn't mean we can't draw something from this comparison, the first thing being how well these cameras capture detail even in dark areas of the tree trunk. While the HTC One X has been forced to lighten up the scene thanks to the sky, there's no denying in the darkest area of the bark it has captured an impressive amount of detail with the exposure upped but no visible noise.
The Nokia N8 once again delivers more accurate colours, definitely being the most realistic of the three. It looks slightly dull once again though, and would benefit from a smidgen more contrast. The Pureview strikes a great balance of dark and light. With the darkest overall shot of the bunch, the range is such that there's detail even in the blacks. The buttercups don't have halos and the lines are cleanest thanks to the stronger levels of contrast.
HTC One X VS Nokia N8 VS Nokia 808 Pureview: The devil's in the dandelion
This time we're looking at detail and can expect the HTC One X to produce the softest photo with its 8-megapixel sensor, the Nokia N8 to come second thanks to its 12-megapixel sensor and the Pureview to top the table with the full 41-megapixel whack. The results are exactly as expected. The Nokia N8 took the most attempts to focus, having had to be forced into macro mode and then battled with. A bit of a pain, however, once it got it boy did its picture blow us away. The HTC One X looks good and is printable, but cropping in softens it up considerably. It was subject to the windiest shot, but it coped well and focused quickly.
The Pureview blew our minds on the spot. Forced into macro, it focused very quickly and took the shot. We made a point to shoot at full-res and when we zoomed in, we realised the power of the camera. Mind boggling detail, incredible ease of use and impressive colour accuracy and range - enough said.
HTC One X VS Nokia N8 VS Nokia 808 Pureview: Model movement
Indoors and in the company of a beautiful lady, we got to test out how these cameras coped with a moving subject - and boy did she move. "Change, change, change" every few seconds this lovely lady struck a new pose and our snappers were forced to keep up with the feather collar and smising eyes. The Nokia N8 was the slowest to shoot and got the blurriest picture of the bunch, though still performed extremely well delivering a final shot with great atmosphere and strong colouration.
The HTC One X was a quick-fire demon and we didn't even activate the continuous 5fps shooting mode. Detail was strong even as the model moved, perhaps thanks to the f/2 lens however the colours made the look and feel of the image feel more like she was outdoors than spotlit against a blue screen. Finally however, the Nokia 808 Pureview once again took the best bits of each of the other phones and turned the shot into a supershot with stunning detail (look at that lip) and an atmospheric eye popping background complete with gradient nuances and dynamism.
HTC One X VS Nokia N8 VS Nokia 808 Pureview: Conclusion
Each of these cameras have their strengths. The HTC One X has the fastest lens and most intuitive UI of the bunch. It takes pictures quickly and packs a huge array of filters and shooting modes, sprucing up shots nicely. The Nokia N8 manages to deliver much more accurate colours and stronger range, though the UI made us want to smash our heads against the wall on occasion with no touch to focus and a convoluted menu / focus system. That said, as if it wasn't obvious, the Nokia 808 Pureview takes the biscuit. Its colour accurate while still being extremely vibrant, detail is jaw-dropping and the UI is thumb friendly. Having used it beyond the comparison, we can go so far as to suggest anyone into photography watches this space, there's a lot more to the Pureview than covered in this comparison.
A review sample should be in over the next couple of weeks which will naturally result in a more in-depth look at just what the Nokia 808 Pureview can do with photo, video and even how it performs as a phone, however with certainty, we can say that in the Pureview Nokia have the best camera phone on the market all over again.