First up let me say that after my disappointment with the N9′s camera, I am not expecting too much this time. Afterall the Lumia 800 uses the same camera module as the N9. So I have lowered my expectations somewhat. Right, one thing I should point out from the start is the Lumia’s Camera focus mode is set to “Macro” by default.
So what you need to do is alter the camera settings and save them to your liking before you start taking any pictures. How do you do that? Well lets take a quick run through so you can see what you need to do, and when I say “see” I mean it metaphorically as I can’t take screen grabs to show you. So what settings are there to play with?
Here is a rundown. I will point out however that some of the settings I have absolutely no clue about as I have never come across them before, namely all those settings in “Scenes”. Such as “Beach”, really you need a setting for a beach? I guess you do, not sure why. “Save settings” – self-explanatory really, use this to save your default settings once you have the camera set the way you like it.
“Restore default settings” – again self-explanatory, use this to remove any changes you have made
“Scenes” – most are self-explanatory and I will be honest I am not sure they are needed!
Auto – probably the easiest and best option for most people, also save the hassle of changing for different conditions/subjects
Backlight – Presumably for a backlit subject
Beach – LOL, I guess you need a beach setting, use this when on holiday. (or just use Auto!)
Candlelight – Having a romantic dinner, we have a setting for that, or just use in soft, low light conditions
Now using Candlelight setting, change white balance to Incandescent, Metering to Centre Spot and Focus to Macro
Macro – This one you will use, for all your close-up needs. (be warned, using this does NOT change the focus mode to Macro!)
Landscape – I tend to use this a lot, I like my landscape shots. I will say however I am finding it hard to get good shot in terms of colours produced by the device.
Night – Need I say it, Yes? Ok use this at night
Portrait – Hmm, I wonder! Yes use this to take a portrait shot of someone, or yourself
Snow – Surprised to see this as I have never needed it with my N8, I guess its to tone down glare from the snow
Sports – For fast-moving targets
Sunset – Presumably to cut down on the glare from the sun when doing a sunset, probably useful for sunrise too.
“White Balance” Options are: Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Daylight, Cloudy and Shade To be honest I never change the white balance when taking photos, I always leave it on auto.
“Exposure Value” Settings can be changed from -3 to +3 at 0,5 increments. Typical normal value is 0. This is useful if you with to do HDR as at present there are no HDR apps in the Marketplace. You will however need a tripod to make this work.
“ISO” In simple terms this is the sensitivity setting for the camera, if you want a complicated answer then I would take a look at Wikipedia and prepare to have your brain scrambled.
“Metering Mode” (Now I am no camera expert so I will have to make assumptions here)
Centre Weighted – The camera will make assumptions based on the central area of the image about what exposure to use
Frame Average – The camera will make assumptions based on the entire frame as to what exposure to use. I would try this out for landscape images
Centre Spot – Similar to centre weighted except it takes the point right at the centre to base the exposure on.
“Effects” There are several to choose from, Black & White, Sepia, Negative and Solarise. They pretty much speak for themselves.
“Contrast” In simple terms the higher the contrast the sharper details will look and “pop” in the image, technically its the brightness differential between light and dark elements in the image. There are 5 settings available, minimum, low, normal, high and maximum.
“Saturation”Technically this is refers to the amount of grey in a colour, realistically the higher the saturation the more vivid the colours appear. I am not a fan of over saturated images unless it’s a HDR and deliberate. However in some circumstances more saturation can be a good thing, in particular sunrises and sunsets. Once again there are 5 settings available, minimum (producing almost Black & White images), low, normal, high and maximum.
“Focus Mode” Two options, Normal, use for everything except close up shots and Macro for your close-ups. Remember when you set scenes to Macro you will also need to set the Focus Mode to macro, one does not automatically set the other.
“Resolution” There are 4 options available: 8MP 4:3, 7MP 16:9, 3MP 4:3 and 2MP 16:9. What you choose is up to you, personally I like the 7MP 16:9 for landscapes and use the 8MP 4:3 for people and close ups
So what do I think of the camera, well if you leave everything in auto mode and take photos, well then you might be disappointed, if you put in a little effort then I think its pretty good. This however could be its failing, most mobile camera produce ok results nearly all the time in auto mode, I know for certain that the majority of Symbian devices do.
One thing this review has shown me, Microsoft really do need Nokia’s expertise on the camera back-end. If they can get WP up to Symbian’s level for Camera back-end software (Not talking UI here, this is the stuff we don’t see) then WP will be a killer OS.
I have to say one thing, the amount of settings available is daunting and will put off most people, even me! For example Metering mode, REALLY! I get it’s needed in high-end DSLRs but in a point and shoot camera on a phone it is most definitely not, once again this is where Nokia needs to sort out the software. The same applies to Focus Mode, why is that needed. It should not be there, it should be automatic depending upon the Scene mode I select. Please Nokia sort this out, WP has so much potential and the camera is one area it is certainly lacking.
Here are a few more sample shots for you. I have to say in general (if you get the settings are right or if auto mode works for that particular place and time) then the camera is good, by 8Mp standards that is.
This image is a good example of Centre Weighted Average Metering Mode, because the building is dark the image will be exposed more and hence the sky is overexposed.
Conclusion: All in all it is a decent camera, but can on occasion cause despair when you can’t get the settings just right. Macro images come out pretty good, but I would suggest you use use touch to focus and not the camera key for Macro images. Would I recommend the device? Absolutely, after all it is not just a camera. I love mine.