- smartphone review are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, & image quality.

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Despite Nokia’s brutal drubbing in recent years at the hands of Apple & the android posse, one thing has never been in doubt: the company is serious about the cameras in its phones. Back when táo upended the điện thoại market with the original blurrycam-equipped iPhone, nokia was already fielding devices with Carl Zeiss-branded optics và xenon flashes that were in their own photographic class.

Enter the Lumia 920, Nokia’s newest flagship & the second phone graced with “PureView” branding. But wait: this is not the same PureView that hãng nokia unveiled earlier this year in the 808, a phone (unfortunately saddled with a legacy operating system) wielding an unparalleled camera unit that is inarguably the best available today (see Connect"s full review of the nokia 808). No, nokia has decreed that PureView doesn’t refer lớn any particular giải pháp công nghệ or feature, but rather an attitude of photographic seriousness.

So the 920 doesn’t inherit the 808’s incredible 41-megapixel titan of a sensor. The 920’s 1/3-inch sensor is par for the course in a contemporary phone; we can’t expect any miracles in the noise department. However, nokia is positioning the 920 as a low-light champ. It claims it earns its PureView badge with a fast F2.0 lens và optical image stabilization that keeps the camera unit steady at low shutter speeds, soaking up light while avoiding blur from shaky hands. And like the 808, the 920 has true multi-aspect-ratio support. It looks pretty good on paper. We put the phone through its paces lớn see how it does in the real world.

Update: We"ve added the DxOMark sản phẩm điện thoại Report to this review.

Key Photographic/Video Specifications

8.7 megapixel 16:9 backside-illuminated 1/3” sensor8 megapixel đầu ra in 4:3 ratio, 7.1 megapixel in 16:9 F2.0 lens, 26mm in 16:9, 28mm in 4:3 (35mm equivalents)Optical image stabilizationDual LED flashTwo stage (half-press, full-press) dedicated shutter button1080p đoạn phim capture4.5-inch 1280x768 332ppi display

Pushing the button

You can jump directly lớn the camera function with a long press of the 920’s dedicated shutter button. The tiện ích snaps mở cửa reasonably quickly, but there is a brief wait while the phone decides whether you really mean that button press. A lock screen activation might be a bit quicker, but the advantage here is that you can jump khổng lồ the camera with the phone held in shooting position & your finger already on the shutter release.

Just lượt thích on a “real” camera, pushing the 920’s shutter button halfway down locks focus on the center of the frame, and pressing all the way takes a picture. This lets you use the famous “focus và recompose” method when your main subject isn’t smack dab in the middle of the frame.

However, the 920 doesn’t lock exposure on the half-press, making it unlike the huge majority of digital cameras, though it’s not the only phone that makes this thiết kế choice. Say you point the camera at an off-center subject, half-press, and recompose (putting the subject on the side, with the background now centered). The 920 recalculates exposure without privileging the in-focus subject. It’s not impossible that that’s the behavior you want, but it’s less than likely.

Now, you’re ready khổng lồ take the shot. Squeeze. & squeeze a little harder. The second stage of the shutter takes a fair amount of oomph, probably khổng lồ avoid the camera being activated in your pocket. This may offset some of the advantage of having a camera button in the first place: avoiding camera-movement-induced blur cause by poking at the cảm biến screen.

Focus speed is competitive, but annoyingly, if you press the shutter button too soon after taking a picture, the phone ignores you (AKA “early shutter penalty”). You’ll need lớn release và try again.Shot to shot speed, at around a second, is fine if you don’t jump the gun.There"s no continuous or burst shooting option, which is something of an oversight as high-speed drive modes make their way onto more phones.

You can also take a picture by touching the screen. Ironically, this might actually be steadier than using the button, because the phone then focuses on wherever you touched before taking the shot. The pause while focus locks is usually enough time lớn get the phone steady.

But now you may encounter another quirk of the 920’s camera app. Yes, touching the screen lets you lock focus wherever you want -- but exposure doesn’t follow. Typically, cameras bias exposure towards the selected focus point, assuming that’s what you really care about in the composition. But the 920 remains steadfastly big-picture. It’s a strange choice.

Camera features

Take a quick đoạn phim tour of the nokia 920’s camera:

The 920’s basic camera experience is simple enough: jump to lớn the camera, take a picture. Along the right or bottom side of the frame are buttons lớn toggle video clip and photo mode, front và rear camera, flash mode (auto, on, off), và to switch “lenses.”


The 920’s main camera screen is straightforward. You can toggle between video and stills, select flash mode và choose a “lens” with the buttons on the right. The Windows Phone “triple-dot” icon takes you to more advanced options, và the arrow on the left jumps to lớn the gallery.

These lenses have nothing to vì chưng with the toy camera special effects you might imagine; they’re more like different functions the camera can perform. The nifty Bing Vision is installed by default. It scans bar codes to look up products (with Bing search, of course) and can read and translate text. This would be a separate phầm mềm on other platforms, but we lượt thích the idea of tying it to the camera.

There is a range of other lenses available including a panorama function, Nokia"s Cinemagraph which creates stills/video "hybrid images" and Smart Shoot which takes five images in rapid succession & then lets you combine the best elements - very useful for group portraits where the likelihood of at least subject having their eyes closed is high. These three lenses are không tính phí to download and install & given most users will find them useful it"s not quite clear why they are not installed by default.


The 920 gets ready to lớn Bing itself with the Bing Vision “lens,” an in-camera phầm mềm that reads barcodes.
Bing Vision can also recognize text and copy or translate it. Here, it struggles with Gabriel García Márquez, as would any translator.

There’s also a Windows Phone triple-dot icon on the main camera screen that calls up more advanced configuration options. You get a selection of scene modes (Auto, Close Up, Night, Night Portrait, Sports và Backlight). Tự động pretty much does the trick, though the Night mode enables lower shutter speeds for really low-light situations.

You can manually select ISOs from 100 khổng lồ 800. This is less useful than it’d be if you could preview shutter speeds when composing a shot và in practice the 920 does a pretty good job of choosing an appropriate ISO on its own, but it’s nice to lớn have the option here.

You can adjust the exposure compensation if the camera can’t nail the metering (and since there’s no exposure lock, this is in the only way khổng lồ modify it if you don’t lượt thích the mặc định choice).

There are four manual white balance settings (cloudy, daylight, fluorescent và incandescent) which is definitely good lớn have, though the phone usually does fine in tự động hóa mode.

Finally, you can change the aspect ratio & prevent the flash from operating as a focus assist light if you’re trying to keep a low profile.

This is a reasonably full mix of parameters for a mặc định camera app, but we have a bone khổng lồ pick with the way the configuration menu is set up. First off, after you hit that triple-dot icon khổng lồ get to your options, you first have khổng lồ decide whether you want to lớn change photo or video settings (more on clip later). Why not just pull up the photo options when in still camera mode, & the clip options when in clip mode?

When you finally get your options, you find a scrollable menu of dropdown menus. There’s no reason why most if not all of these items couldn’t fit on the 920’s spacious screen at once, và two-position functions lượt thích aspect ratio should be toggles, not dropdowns. Plus, making a selection doesn’t kick you back to the main screen -- you still have to lớn hit “save,” press the camera button (full press!), or poke the part of the screen beyond the menu. It’s all laid out like a generic program, not a mix of camera controls, missing the chance khổng lồ feel smooth & flexible instead of fiddly.

There are also two things missing from the camera ứng dụng that you’ll find on most recent Apple & Android devices. There’s no high dynamic range (HDR) mode, which combines multiple shots with different exposures to capture details in both the highlights và the shadows & no face detection, which is a great hassle-free way to lớn get sharp và properly exposed portraits. The latter is available in the Smart Shoot lens mentioned above but you have no control over shooting parameters in that mode, so it would be nice to have Face Detection available as a focus mode in the standard camera app. Presumably these features will come along one day, but for now they’re missed.

Hitting the arrow icon in the đứng đầu right corner of the camera tiện ích takes you to lớn the 920’s gallery function. Besides browsing your photos (only in a single row, which can mean a lot of flick-scrolling), the gallery provides basic rotating, cropping & a one-touch optimizer that does the trick for tweaking exposure before sharing a casual snapshot. Sharing is also nicely integrated in the gallery app.



There’s also convenient social sharing integration, along with ties to Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service.

Image ratio

There seems lớn be a general drift towards wider-angle lenses in phones, with 28mm equivalents no longer surprising anyone. The 920 goes even wider: in 16:9 mode using the full width of the sensor it’s a positively expansive 26mm equivalent. At 4:3, it’s a merely normal wide 28mm.

That extra reach in 16:9 mode is thanks to lớn the 920’s multi-aspect ratio sensor. Most digital cameras that offer the 16:9 ratio simply crop the top and bottom off of the image: you could vì the same in post processing. The 920 actually uses fewer vertical và more horizontal pixels than in 4:3 mode, giving you a genuinely wider field of view.

You’ll feel the extra width when shooting a landscape or encompassing a street scene, but if you’re used lớn a longer focal length (like the iPhone 4S’s 37mm equivalent), you’ll need khổng lồ get closer to people than you normally would lớn fill the frame.



Pinching the screen zooms in digitally, with the usual blocky results. None of the 808’s lossless zooming here.

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Image quality

With its fast F2.0 lens và optical image stabilization, nokia is pitching the 920 as a master of the night, but how does the 920 fare with plenty of light to work with? Well, it’s OK, but no better. Hãng nokia recently pushed out an update for the 920 aimed at addressing complaints that photos taken under ideal conditions of bright light look strangely smeary, & we used the phone both before & after the update.


The above image was taken with the 920’s original firmware, the image at right with the update.
The updated firmware delivers a sharper photo, but noise is also more visible and it’s not obvious that there’s much more detail.

The post-update photos vị look sharper. They’re also noisier, as seen above in the even tones of the sky and in the shadows. We vì chưng prefer the update’s results, but it’s not a panacea.

The 920’s màu sắc rendition is generally pleasant, perhaps tending towards warmth in the sunshine và heavy saturation. When it comes lớn balancing highlights & shadows, it does as well as can be expected given the limitations of a small sensor. You’ll often see clipping in at least one channel under high-contrast conditions.



In strong light with contrasty subjects it’s hard lớn avoid clipping in the shadows & highlights with any phone, but the 920 handles it relatively gracefully.

The lack of face recognition can hurt the 920 when shooting portraits. Light-skinned subjects wearing dark clothes can easily be over exposed. Tapping the subject’s face on-screen doesn’t help, since the 920 doesn’t liên kết exposure lớn the focus point: you’re left having to manually dial in negative exposure compensation.


But when the lights go down, the 920 does come into its own. It’s the first phone with an optically stabilized (OIS) camera, and this is the big low-light news. Note that a number of phones claim “image stabilization” as a feature, but this is not stratospheric ISO abuse and/or waiting for a relatively steady moment to lớn release the shutter. Dedicated cameras counteract camera movement at low shutter speeds (which leads to blurry pictures) by mechanically moving either the sensor or a lens element. The 920 goes one better & moves the entire camera assembly: your shaky hand zigs right, the whole camera unit zags left. Hãng nokia says this happens 500 times per second và results in a three-stop advantage in hand-holdability, which is on par with claims from dedicated camera makers. In other words, if you can normally hold the phone steady enough for a clear shot with a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, Nokia’s OIS should keep you virtually steady down to lớn 1/4 second. Another way to look at it: a low-light shot that would normally require ISO 800 (and all the noise that implies) could be shot at a more reasonable ISO 100 without shake-induced blurring.

Does it deliver? Nokia’s three-stop claim is largely borne out, with the 920 routinely delivering sharp images at 1/3rd of a second shutter speeds. You can see the OIS in kích hoạt before you take a picture: the system kicks in when you half-press the shutter, & the preview image immediately snaps into a spooky steadiness, floating ghostly and immune to the usual micro-movements of your muscles.

The urge when given OIS is lớn push it khổng lồ the extreme, & we did. The system hugely increases the number of sharp shots you’ll get at very slow, sub-1/10th of a second shutter speeds. That means you can afford to lower ISO for cleaner images, or in very low light, just get photographs that would be otherwise impossible lớn capture.


Here we’ve phối ISO to lớn 200, forcing the 920 to lớn use a slow shutter speed of 1/3rd of a second. The result is as tack sharp as sensor noise allows. The 920’s image stabilization massively increases the number of useable shots you can get at such slow shutter speeds.

Here the 920 manages khổng lồ keep things sharp at 1/9th of a second, though focus is racked lớn the foreground.

Of course, OIS keeps the camera steady, not your subjects. This can be used artistically -- cars passing at night become light streaks -- but when shooting fidgety people you risk your subject blurring themselves out of the photograph.



Here’s the pitfall of OIS: at a shutter tốc độ of 1/10th of a second, the stabilization keeps things steady but can’t vì anything against subject movement.

The 920’s F2.0 lens gives you about a half-stop advantage over most of the competition. So for example, with lighting and shutter tốc độ being equal, the 920 could use an ISO setting of 200, while a competitor might need 280 or more. It’s not a big difference, but it’s an advantage.

If you really want khổng lồ work in the dark, selecting the “Night” scene mode lets the camera drop to lớn exposures of half a second. This is really outside of the OIS’s performance envelope for a normal shooting position, though you may luck out if your brace up just right.


This shot looks brighter than the actual scene did khổng lồ the naked eye. The “Night” scene mode was used, allowing the 920 khổng lồ select a glacial shutter speed of half a second. Missed focus probably accounts for at least some of the fuzziness.

You might need that extra exposure time because the 920’s ISO range tops out at 800. No tiny sensor delivers pretty results at higher ISOs, but there is utility in having more reach for situations where the alternative is no photo at all. Given the 920’s noise levels at base ISO, though, it’s easy lớn understand Nokia’s decision on a triple-digit cap.

The 920’s flash is capable enough for casual portraits, though even two LEDs won’t compete with a traditional xenon flash. The LEDs vì chưng double duty as focus assist & red-eye reduction lamps. They then pulse once, brightly, khổng lồ provide flash illumination. The brief pulse helps freeze the subject more than continuous illumination would.



The 920 shoots full high definition 1080p video, though the default is 720p. Video quality is good, and the 920’s optical image stabilization provides an unusually steady image that’s familiar in dedicated cameras but a novel luxury on a phone.

Movement is smooth và detail is good in this bright scene, with the sky slightly more electric than it was khổng lồ the eye:

In this lower-light close-up shot at 720p, the 920 manages to lớn shift focus without hunting. Shooting video with the OIS"s Steadicam effect is a treat:

Non-camera considerations

The Lumia 920 is more than just a camera, of course: it’s a phone you’ll carry with you every day. So we’d be remiss in not mentioning its weight. At 185 grams (6.5 ounces), the 920 is heavier than the great majority of phones in its class. Whether you find it chunky or just solid is a matter of personal taste. We weren’t particularly bothered by the heft, & it actually makes it that much easier to hold the phone steady on camera duty, but you should know this thing has some mass.

If you’re coming from ios or Android, also note that Microsoft’s revamped phone OS is a relative newcomer to lớn the game, so the app selection lags more established environments. This is likely to lớn change as the platform gains traction, but you usually buy phones for what they do today, not what they should vì tomorrow. If a particular phầm mềm is essential lớn your mobile mojo, make sure there’s an equivalent for Windows Phone.

On the plus side, the 920 has a gorgeous screen, with a px density that exceeds even Apple’s Retina displays. It remains usable in bright light.


The hãng nokia Lumia 920 sports a very capable camera. Thanks to lớn its optical image stabilization, it can capture clear images at low shutter speeds that would elude any other phone on the market. This makes it an ace at low-light photography of stationary objects, & partially addresses the Achilles heel of every phone camera on the market except Nokia’s own 808: poor low light performance. OIS also helps with borderline shutter speeds that non-stabilized phones routinely use anyway. While they simply hope for the best, the 920 stands an excellent chance of delivering a sharp image.

The multi-aspect-ratio sensor combined with a wide angle lens also gives the 920 a uniquely broad view of the world that will tickle anyone who feels stymied by their phone’s boxy, narrow outlook.

Unfortunately, the 920’s daylight performance is only OK. There’s at least as much noise as much of the competition, if not more. So much engineering has clearly gone into the 920’s camera unit that we’d hope for class-leading sensor performance, but it seems to lớn be middle of the pack. The good news is that with 7 or 8 megapixels to lớn play with, a lot of the sins visible at 100% disappear at more realistic magnifications.

The 920 is a solid offering, especially at $99 on contract from AT&T in the U.S. Nokia’s innovation around the camera takes di động photography into new levels of darkness, but don’t expect miracles from the phone’s typically-performing sensor.

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What we like:

Optical image stabilization enables blur-free slow shutter speedsDedicated two-stage shutter buttonWide field of viewFlexible choice of aspect ratioOIS steadies đoạn phim shootingGreat screenSolid build

What we don’t like

Ho-hum pixel-level image chất lượng even at base ISOSome clunkiness in camera app interface

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Peter M. Ferencziis a freelance writer và avid photographer. He lives in Paris.