The first Nokia flagship phone in forever boasts a dual-lens camera, crafted in collaboration with optics expert Carl Zeiss. We’ve gone hands-on with the Nokia 8’s Dual Sight snapper and here’s our in-depth camera preview.
Nokia flagship devices from yesteryear always put a strong emphasis on photography chops. The likes of the Lumia 1020 were pretty much cameras with bolted-on phone bits, while a long-standing relationship with Carl Zeiss certainly paid dividends.
Which is why the new Nokia 8, created under new owners HMD Global, is such a relief. This all-new flagship Android phone boasts a dual-lens ‘Dual Sight’ camera on the back, once again produced with some help from Zeiss. Specs-wise it’s serious business and we had a chance to play around with this mobile shooter ahead of the official launch, to see if this handset is strong competition for the Galaxy S8, OnePlus 5 and other top-end camera tech.
Nokia 8 camera preview: Hardware
Nokia’s ‘Dual Sight’ double-lens camera offers a monochrome as well as a colour lens, which work together to produce sharp and satisfying results. Both can shoot 13-megapixel images and then combine them, for finer detailing.
You can of course capture some bokeh-style effects as well. Like the OnePlus 5, Huawei P10 and other dual-lens shooters, the double lens setup means you get some nice depth-of-field effects, which help your subject to stand out against a blurred background. That colour lens also offers built-in Optical Image Stabilisation, to help eliminate judder and shake.
Around the front of the Nokia 8 you’ll find yet another 13-megapixel lens. Like the rear efforts, you can shoot up to 4K Ultra HD resolution video using that selfie snapper, which is quite rare to find; most handsets max out at Full HD.
Nokia 8 camera preview: UI and features
The Nokia 8 camera app offers a solid balance between features and ease of use. The main interface is simple enough not to overwhelm, while also giving quick access to plenty of handy tools and bonus modes.
On the right hand side you’ll find the fast-acting shutter button, as well as the toggle to switch to video mode. There’s also a subtle button for opening the camera tools menu. For photos, you can bring up manual controls (giving direct access to white balance and scene modes), as well as the panorama function and an obligatory beautify mode. For video, you can swap between standard, time lapse and slow motion footage.
Meanwhile along the left edge of the camera app you’ll find the usual flash toggle and a means of switching between the front and rear cameras (or using both at once; more on this in a second). You can also swap to live stream mode at any point.
If you’re into vlogging your life, the Nokia 8 will definitely be a desirable tool. You can stream your life directly to Facebook or YouTube using the rear cameras and the 13-megapixel selfie camera; either separately or using both at once, with a split-screen effect. You can also simply capture photos and videos using both sets of cameras simultaneously, which HMD is calling…the ‘bothie’. Just when you thought groufies had the game all wrapped up.
Of course, that’s a feature we’ve seen before from the likes of Samsung, although it never seemed to catch on at the time. It’ll be interesting to see if Nokia can enjoy more success.
Lastly, the dual-lens setup allows you to shoot ‘live bokeh’ images. This adds a pleasing blurriness to a photo’s background, to help your subject to stand out. This is something found on other dual-lens snappers also, including the OnePlus 5 and Huawei P10, and it’s definitely an effective way to capture someone’s portrait.
Nokia 8 camera preview: Photo capture
In our hands-on session with the Nokia 8, we got the chance to test out the Dual Sight camera and take some sample shots. So far, we’re certainly impressed. The handset’s Phase Detection Autofocus is fast enough to lock onto your subject almost instantly, and allow successive snaps to be taken without delay when pounding the shutter button.
Test photos came out well-balanced, even in the harsh midday sun. However, we’re yet to test out low light functionality. Both lenses sport an f/2.0 aperture, so chances are you’ll get more grain than from the OnePlus 5, Galaxy S8 and other camera phones boasting a higher aperture.
Nokia 8 camera preview: Video capture
You can shoot up to 4K footage with both the front and rear cameras, making the Nokia 8 one of few phones that can record Ultra HD video using the selfie snapper. There’s also an option for slow-mo and timelapse video capture, pretty standard features for modern mobiles.
When shooting video, HMD’s Ozo Audio solution offers 360-degree sound capture. That’s accomplished via multiple microphones (three in all) built into the frame, so you can capture noise from any direction (which also helps provide some noise cancellation for phone calls). This was unfortunately difficult to test out in the limited time we had, so stay tuned for our in-depth Nokia 8 camera review to find out more.
Image stabilisation so far seems good, although again we’ll be testing this in the real world to see if the Nokia 8 can rival Samsung’s Galaxy S8, the OnePlus 5 and the iPhone 7 phones for shooting your home movies.
Nokia 8 camera preview: Video hands-on
Here’s a closer look at the Nokia 8’s camera tech, in our full first-look phone review.