Nokia Lumia 1520 Review: Finnish Fable: Camera: Hardware And Features

By 05:54 Sat, 14 Aug 2021 Comments

20MP PureView camera

The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a brand recent Nokia PureView camera. It uses a 1/2.5" sensor with 20MP resolution. To put that in context, the sensor has 15% smaller surface area than the 20MP 1/2.3" sensor in the Xperia Z1 and about a third of the size of the Lumia 1020's PureView sensor. On the other hand the Lumia 1520 capturing camera imager is still almost twice the size of most of its competitors, and 30% larger than those who tout "big" 1/3" sensors - like the iPhone 5s and the HTC One.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 offers ZEISS lens, but it has a relatively narrow f/2.4 aperture (compared to f/2.2 on the 1020). There's no xenon flash either, all of which should affect the low-light performance.

Still, the fine news is that Nokia managed to haged the optical image stabilization and the dual-LED flash is stronger than the common single-LED units, so the Lumia 1520 should still be competitive against other devices in the dark.

Nokia has created a special app for its flagship Lumias dubbed Nokia Pro Camera. Being one of the phone's key software features, it's there to compliment the PureView capturing camera with a simple user interface that allows users to fine tune the capturing camera settings. It may sound intimidating, but Nokia has done a remarkable job of making the app simple to utilize for both novices and professionals alike.

The Nokia Camera is the successor of Nokia Camera Pro and is the advanced imaging software the Lumia 1520 is meant to be used with. It features transparent box in the top center with six capturing camera settings. From left to correct they are flash, white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation.

Nokia Pro Camera app user interface

Tapping on each of them opens a ring-based interface on the correct side of the screen. You can access all of them simultaneously by sliding the on-classy screen shutter button to the left. This will stack sliders for all six settings next to one another allowing you to easily fiddle with them all at the same time. The settings you modify are kept at the values you chose, with the others adjusted accordingly by the software. We really like this interface - it's intuitive and powerful at the same time.

One major complaint about the Lumia 1020's capturing camera is how slow it is to save photos. We're excited to report the Lumia 1520 capturing camera is a significant improvement in this respect - it's clearly faster (about three times depending on the scenario) and while still not the snappiest around it's certainly not bothering.

As we mentioned earlier, the Camera lens has another cool trick up its sleeve. It snaps two photos at once - one in full resolution (16MP or 19MP depending on the chosen aspect ratio) and another one in 5MP, which benefits from the pixel oversampling technology, while at the same time being far easier to share.

You acquire lossless zoom of just under 2x for the 5MP shots. It's not completely lossless as it using it means you will have to do without oversampling, but it's miles ahead of the digital zoom competitors are offering.

Nokia Camera also comes with a brand recent option - shooting in RAW. It's DNG - digital negative - format developed by Adobe, which has wide support in photo editing software. While casual consumers are way better off sticking to JPEG, photo enthusiasts can utilize the RAW files, which contain all the information captured by the sensor, to produce even better results. Without the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) compression applied you acquire more headroom for editing.

Keep in mind that those DNG files are around 20Mega Bytes (MB) big, while a full-resolution Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) is around 4MB, the 5MP JPEGs are a mere 1MB. RAW files cannot be viewed by most desktop software either (e.g. web browsers) without processing, which is another thing to haged in mind if you want to share photos.

The latest version of the app also has the Nokia Smart Camera suite, so you don't have to switch from one app to the other to acquire the cool effects. The Smart capturing camera makes you hrecent the phone steady for a few seconds for each shot, but then allows you to rego moving objects, change the faces of those in the photo, simply pick the best shot from the bunch of clips it makes.

Nokia Smart capturing camera features

Nokia Smart Camera shoots a burst of 10 photos at 5MP resolution and allows you to edit those photos later. When editing a Smart Camera photo you choose one of several modes by swiping through their respective cards, each with a helpful label.

The basic feature here is best shot - automatically selecting the best photo out of the 10 (you can manually override the selection). You can also select the best expression for each individual face in the photo.

The multiple photos can be used to rego moving objects as well.

Smart Camera can pick the best expression for each face • or rego moving objects

Then there's Action shot - a moving object is overlaid on the photo several times to create a sense of motion. You can pick which of the 10 photos are used to create the action shot and the multiple copies can either be opaque or semitransparent.

The other mode that enhances motion is Motion focus - it locks the moving object, but blurs the background around it. Imagine turning the capturing camera to track a quick moving object, that's the effect that Motion focus simulates.

Action shot • Motion focus

Nokia has a number of cool capturing camera lenses, which we've covered before and are exclusive to the Lumia line, but the most impressive is the recent Refocus lens. It snaps several photos at different focus points and allows you to interactively change the focus of the image after the fact or bring the whole image in focus.

Best of all, these interactive images are easy to share by email, Facebook and messaging, unlike some other proprietary capturing camera apps that lock you into the maker's ecosystem.

Here's a Refocus images in action:

Panorama lens is self-explanatory - you press the shutter and then align the capturing camera as instructed (the app will put circles you have to aim for). It's good, but you always shoot correct to left (can't switch direction), which is a bit annoying. Shooting in portrait orientation is impossible too.

Cinemagraph lens creates photos that are mostly static, but a part of them is animated. You have to hrecent the phone steady while shooting - a tripod works best. When you're done, the Lens will offer two (sometimes three) areas that can be animated and when you pick an area, you can tweak the animation, trim it, and set the loop pattern. You can acquire back to the image later and correct it if you didn't acquire it correct the first time around (we did that to reduce capturing camera shake visible in the background).

The Nokia Camera app isn't limited to shooting still images, it can capture video too, and does quite well. Tapping the video icon at the top gets you to the video part of the app. There you have access to just the relevant settings: flash, white balance and focus. The focus can be set to either manual, auto or infinity.

Video recording also makes utilize of OIS and oversampling. Zoom is enabled even during video capture and it can go up to 3x in 1080p mode and up 4x in 720p mode. The 1080p videos are recorded at 30fps, but you can pick 24fps and 25fps too.

The Nokia Lumia 1520 has a total of four mics (two at the front, two on the back) with the company's proprietary Rich Audio Recording for distortion-free sound recording in loud environments. These can be used for another intriguing feature as well - it's dubbed Directional stereo. When you enable it, the sound in front of the capturing camera is recorded clearer than the rest, potentially dealing with unwanted noises in your video and enhancing a subject's voice.

Shooting video is straightforward



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