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Nokia 8 Camera Review: Is the Dual Sight a solid smartphone shooter?

Nokia and Carl Zeiss have teamed up to create the Dual Sight camera found on the Nokia 8, complete with a double-lens layout and the new ‘bothie’ mode. Our in-depth Nokia 8 camera review fully tests out this snapper, to see how good it is for photo and video capture.

Nokia’s first Android flagship phone has raised a lot of interest, especially as it’s the first premium phone released by the brand in quite some time. Of course, one of the more enticing features of the Nokia 8 is that dual-lens camera housed on the back, another first for the brand and seemingly a strong rival to the double-snappers found on the OnePlus 5, Huawei P10 and various other handsets.

For this camera review we’ve spent a couple of days shooting loads of photos and video with the Nokia 8. Here’s our full take on the camera experience, image quality and everything else you need to know if you’re considering a purchase.

Check out our Nokia 8 hub for all of our features, including our Nokia 8 tips and tricks guide. And head over to our pick of the best smartphone cameras right now, for a run-down of our favourite snappers.

Nokia 8 camera specs

First up, here’s some of the tech specs for the Nokia 8’s camera, if you’re into your photography jargon.

Dual Sight rear camera with Zeiss optics

13-megapixel colour lens with Optical Image Stabilisation (f/2.0 aperture)

13-megapixel monochrome lens (f/2.0 aperture)

Phase Detection Autofocus

Two-tone LED flash

Up to 4K resolution video recording

Selfie camera

13-megapixel lens (f/2.0 aperture)

Phase Detection Autofocus

Display flash

Up to 4K resolution video recording

Nokia 8 camera app and features

Nokia may not have touched the Android OS, but you still get a custom camera app complete with a decent selection of bonus modes and special features.

You can call up the camera with a quick double-tap of the Nokia 8’s power button, which is handy if you want to take a spontaneous shot. From the main camera UI you can take a snap with a touch of the shutter button, or switch to video mode if you’d rather capture a home movie.

You also have a number of toggles available along the left edge. From here you can turn the flash on or off, add a timer function, and change which camera lenses are used for photo capture. For instance, by default the Nokia 8 takes shots with both the rear camera lenses. However, you can choose to use just the colour lens, just the monochrome lens (for an arty black and white finish) or swap to the front-facing 13-megapixel snapper.

Nokia has also added a ‘bothie’ mode, which activates all three cameras at once. This gives you a split-screen effect, to shoot your mates and your own mug at the same time. It’s a feature we’ve seen on other phones before, including Samsung’s handsets, and it’s a perfectly fine way of getting everyone into a single shot, without resorting to awkward selfies.

That appears to be all of the photo features, yet a subtle camera modes button that sits next to the shutter can be tapped to open up more functions. From this menu you can shoot panorama images, swap to beauty mode (which smoothens your subject’s skin) and call up the Nokia 8’s manual controls, handy if you’re a pro photographer who wants precise results.

Last but not least, you’ll also find a ‘live bokeh’ mode. This blurs the background by using both camera lenses to focus on your subject, which is a common feature found on dual-lens mobile snappers. You can choose the degree of the effect, from a subtle blurring to full-on bokeh, with instant feedback on the screen before you take your snap.

Switch to video mode and you can once again capture footage with a combination of the three cameras or all of them at once. You can also shoot timelapse or slow motion video. Good news if you like sharing your existence with the world as well, because the Nokia 8 allows you to live stream video straight to Facebook or YouTube via the camera app.

Nokia 8 camera review: Photo quality

The Nokia 8’s Phase Detection Autofocus locks onto your subject without delay, as long as the lighting conditions aren’t too troublesome. You can then take photos instantly with a tap of the shutter button. Tapping quickly takes lots of snaps in quick succession, or you can also hold your finger on the button to activate the Nokia 8 camera’s ‘burst mode’.

We did see the occasional software ‘funny’ when attempting to focus, even in decent lighting conditions. This is clearly a software issue and thankfully didn’t crop up very often. Here’s hoping that this is fixed in a future update.

Still, as you’d expect from a flagship phone, the Nokia 8’s camera does a fine job of capturing images when the conditions are good.

Detail levels are strong, with the two camera lenses combining to capture a crisp scene. The built-in HDR does a good job with high-contrast situations, avoiding ugly murky results as well as any over-saturation. That’s good news if you want a camera for shooting monuments and other touristy stuff in sunny destinations.

In seriously low light, the Nokia 8 can’t quite perform to the level of the HTC U11 or OnePlus 5. However, you’ll still get some perfectly usable shots in all but extreme darkness. Some of our night snaps taken in Central London were quite soft and occasionally grainy, although that OIS does help to eliminate any judder and blur that we probably would have otherwise seen.

The bothie mode works as you’d expect, although drastically narrows the scene that you can capture with the rear camera. We’re fans of the Live Bokeh feature however, which does a great job of blurring the background without softening the edges of your subject (often an issue with these kinds of tricks). You can adjust the degree of blur before you take the shot, which is another neat inclusion.

Swap to the front-facing 13-megapixel camera and you can expect similarly decent results. There’s a ‘screen flash’ mode for night shots, which just about lights up your face without making you look like a spectre.

Here’s an example shot taken on the Nokia 8, before and after the obligatory beauty mode was activated. Smooth!

Nokia 8 photo samples

Here are some photo samples taken on the Nokia 8, so you can see the results for yourself.

Nokia 8 camera review: Video quality

If you shoot a lot of video, the Nokia 8 will certainly appease.

Whether you shoot Full HD or 4K resolution footage, you can expect some reasonable image stabilisation. The Nokia 8 isn’t quite as strong as the OnePlus 5 (post-update) or the Xperia XZ Premium, yet does a better job than the HTC U11 of reducing shake and judder from motion. Plus, this area can always be improved, as OnePlus has shown, in an OTA fix.

The lens copes admirably with changes in lighting, capturing strong detail levels even when battling bright daylight.

Meanwhile the OZO Audio feature seems to work as promised. Voices and other sounds are picked up from all around the phone and if you watch back while wearing headphones, you’ll get the directional surround-sound effect. Of course, if it’s even slightly windy, the three mics will pick up a lot of distortion too.

You can record up to 4K resolution video with the Nokia 8’s front-facing camera, something rarely seen on a smartphone even in 2017. Great news if you’re a vlogger on the side, especially with that live stream feature.

Nokia 8 video samples

Here are a couple of sample videos shot on the Nokia 8 during testing.

Head over to our in-depth Nokia 8 review for all you need to know about this flagship Android handset.

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