With the Mobile World Congress in full swing one phone has everyone talking, a Symbian phone of all things. Nokia has managed to capture everyone’s attention with the release of the PureView 808 camera phone. The phone itself isn’t the headline maker but instead the camera that this phone houses. Nokia’s new PureView 808 is the first phone to contain Nokia’s PureView camera, a 41 megapixel shooting revelation.
Mobile phone photography has come along way in recent years, with many creative photographers switching entirely to their mobile phone as their photography tool of choice. The iPhone community is a perfect example, with amazing results evident all over the web. In no small way this must remind us that the brain behind the lens is the most important factor of all.
Nokia’s vision, their big picture seems to embrace this trend, They have long been a leader in camera phone technology and the 808’s ultra-high resolution technology continues this trend. While some Technorati have taken it upon themselves to deride the phone itself there is a lot more at stake here than a single models success. This may be one of the final nails in the coffin of the compact cameras.
The PureView technology combines hardware and software to increase clarity and flexibility of digital images. The oversampling process used gathers more information than a normal CCD, allowing for the extra clarity. While the extra resolution that is a result of the process allows for incredible digital zooming, Blade Runner style. This isn’t just a slight of hand magic trick that can be replicated using software, Nokia uses the CCD slightly differently than the standard camera. The oversampling process that Nokia drives with the CCD is a very clever way of combining multiple samples at the pixel level – not technically multiple shots – together in such a way that the CCD can gather information for the extra pixels. There is no way to do this after the shot has been taken, at that point the moment has passed and collecting extra information is purely for the psychic’s amongst us.
Technically the CCD used is only an 8 megapixel sensor but in oversampling mode it is able to produce 41 megapixel photos. Nokia has in a sense invented a Turbo button for CCDs that they can apply to each generation of CCD. This isn’t a static technology, more it is an automatic advantage. As each new generation of CCD is released this technology can be applied over the top. The next generation Smartphone CCDs will be in the 12 to 16 megapixel range, which would yield 60 to 80 megapixel images using the PureView technology.
A number of Technorati may be jumping up and down saying megapixels numbers are meaningless they should probably pull their heads out of their butts or find a new job. Megapixels are an important part of a devices ability to take good photo’s, along with light sensitivity, speed to shoot, all of the things that add up to a useful tool.
The PureView 808 is a fully function phone ready for release, although Nokia is only intending the 808 for European release. The rest of the world has to think of it as a technological demonstration until Nokia integrates the technology into its other lines of phones, the Lumia for example. Expect this technology to appear in all top end Nokia phones shortly.
Like all good Smartphone camera’s Nokia has paid careful attention to the lens, in this case including a Carl Zeiss lens for clarity. No optical zoom is included, all zooming is done digitally thanks to the PureView technology.
Aside from the obvious photographic talents the 808 is able to shoot crystal clear video at 1080p full high-definition, 30 frames per second with 4 times digital zoom.
The 808 also includes all of the required Smartphone technologies, Near Field Communications- NFC – for quick payments, GPS and all of the standard communications protocols, HSDPA, HSUPA, Bluetooth 2.1 and 3.0 along with Wi-Fi. The 808’s internals includes 512MB of system memory, 16GB of storage Flash, a 4 inch 640×360 AMOLED display from Samsung, the 41 megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss lens and Xenon Flash for lighting, Probably one of the most requested and denied options is also included, FM Radio. It is always a surprise the number of people that request FM Radio while almost all phone manufacturers believe it is unnecessary, superseded technology, it’s not.
The much derided Symbian Belle operating system is the platform / operating system for the 808. Nokia has been working on this technology for five years, when they began the development the world was a very different place, Microsoft hadn’t discovered Metro yet an the iPhone had only just been revealed to the world. Developing for Symbian must have seemed like a good idea at the time. The technology has obviously been perfected now, allowing Nokia to spread it across all models now.
The compact camera’s as we know it may be a dinosaur waiting for the asteroid to strike but camera companies aren’t standing still. The new generation of compact body, mirror-less four thirds cameras have many advantages over existing compact cameras and camera phones, they are technology power-houses in a compact size. But alas the battle over what we keep in our pockets may already be over, no more will we be able to say “is that a camera in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”, the answer will always be “no it’s a camera phone! and yes I am happy to see you”
One of the other advantages to using a camera phone to take quick and convenient snaps is the incredible array of photography apps available on mobile phones. This ability to upgrade your cameras photographic functionality with a 99 cent application is the final nail in the coffin of compact cameras.
As a technology demonstration the Nokia PureView 808 is very impressive, A mobile phone company taking a technological leap past compact camera manufacturers makes this a pleasantly surprising twist. The battle between compact camera’s and mobile phones just got a little more interesting. Not only has Nokia been able to generate a considerable buzz with the new 41 megapixel camera, they have fired another salvo in the continuing battle between camera phones and compact cameras.