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Photos: Nights out with the Nokia N97 (with Nokia N82 comparison samples)

| July 10, 2009 | Reply

YesteRday was my friends’ graduation. I knew that if I wanted some decent photos of the evening, I’d need to bring a proper camera (with real xenon flash) as dual LED has never cut it on previous occasions in really low light with the Nokia N97. Whilst not a dedicated point and shoot, I brought the N82 which was damn good enough to light up those moments which the N97 could not.

Unfortunately, not that many pictures from last night are going to make it on this post as I wasn’t really paying attention to making photo tests (they aren’t appropriate for a public blog – ha they’d kill me if I put some of these pictures up), but there are some from a different night. As expected in both occasions, the N82 was the downright winner – freezing every single shot, lighting up the scene in vivid bright colours, whereas the N97 just produced murky, often blurred pictures.

Note these two pictures below. (Big thanks to the random guy who took the photo – they were taken about 5 minutes in between each other as he didn’t know how to work either phones).

Nokia N97 (below) V11 firmware

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Nokia N82

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Nights out make up a significant bulk of my albums on facebook (as well as my friends’ albums). It’s the most convenient place for me to share my photos with the people that matter to me. The Nokia N82 has been a trooper in bringing back some quality pictures of the night before, to the point that I’ve rarely had to bring a separate camera (of which was brought out only when I forgot to charge the N82).

I love that I the N82’s camera with xenon flash is sufficiently good enough that I don’t have to bring out a phone AND a camera when I’m going out. It means less bulky pockets and more importantly, less of a chance that I’ll lose/drop/break, particularly as the alcohol consumption goes up and the concentration goes rapidly down. (And even so, the N82 has dealt with the drops, scrapes, scratches and even being dunked in Guiness remarkably. The only thing that’s hampered it is debranding to get the v31 firmware – a lesson I’ve learned NEVER to do again)20090709362_2

Bleak and murky, by N97

It’s annoying to think that I can’t have the same reliance for low-lit-people shots with the N97. Yeah, it’ll capture it, but never how it could have been, had Nokia included Xenon Flash.

It’s a shame particularly with the integration of facebook on the N97, and even being called the facebook phone, you’d think it’s the perfect marriage for the whole “connecting people” theme.

I know that not everyone’s pictures consist predominantly of indoor/nights out. In fact, with the summer, proportions of outdoor sunny holiday snaps are increasing (at least that’s how it’s appearning on my FB news feeds).

My perceptions maybe skewed as a (UK) student, but whenever people congregate and photos are being taken, that’s often almost always taken indoors where the lighting isn’t always the best it could be. The only N97 shot of the night out I was happy with was the macro below.

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N97 – macro – low light – flash on

These are though the harshest of lighting conditions. The N97 does perform alright when there’s sufficient lighting. Here’s an indoor shot taken earlier on in the evening during a meal at Harvester. There was still some sunlight poking through the windows.

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I was actually surprised when I checked that this had actually come from the N97 as shot by the N82 came out blurry (though this maybe a focusing error on my part and not the phone)

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N82 – focus got locked to the white shirts at the back.

Here’s a set of comparisons of the N97 (firmware V10) against the N82 when I went to see my mate’s band at Barfly. Sometimes, when the N97’s flash is turned off (and there’s already some illumination in the scene), the colours look more natural than with the N82 with the xenon flash on. But head to head, xenon always wins against dual led. Note that the N97 shot is (at least I think it is) the first of each pair.

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In terms of photos, and people in low light, and flash on, the Nokia N82 wins hands down. I haven’t tested the Nokia N86, the supposed imaging flagship by Nokia, but I’m hazarding an informed guess (based on early low light review sample) that even with the N86’s improved dual LED and better sensor, the N82 simply with xenon will still win the very low light/people test.

The only use I have for the dual LED is in the torch application (and I actually find this genuinely really useful). It doesn’t help that much in video, unless you set night mode on. This lights up the scene considerably, although frame rate is reduced and the video becomes very jerky.

Another area the N82 wins at is transferring pictures to the computer.

N82 >

  1. Gallery button >
  2. Hold “#” >
  3. press left on the dpad, quickly selecting several photos/videos at once >
  4. – send via bluetooth

N97 >

  1. Homescreen/menu >
  2. Photos >
  3. Captured>
  4. tick icon >
  5. tap tap tap …or drag finger across screen
  6. send via bluetooth

For my criteria of low light/people shots, the Nokia N97 doesn’t cut it. But is that enough reason not to get it? Unless all you’re looking to get is a clubbing phone that upgrades on the N82, the answer is NO . There are still plenty of reasons to choose the N97.

I’ve grown really attached to the homescreen and live information from my social networks and email. The keyboard, though not the best, I’ve also grown slightly accustomed to – maybe more due to the actual laptop looking/slide out form factor than actual usability of the keyboard itself.

For a lot of other users, as aforementioned, good performance in low light isn’t important at all. The camera is quite decent in better lighting conditions, and certainly performs better than most other smartphones, some of which don’t even have a flash (*cough*iPhone).

– This post is way too long now, I’m way too tired, wanted to talk about the Sony Ericsson Satio a bit, but I’m going straight to bed now.

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There were videos taken from the gig too, but I’ll upload those another time. I’m too knackered right now. Verdict was surprising on the video as on a previous initial test, the N82 won on low light video, but it wasn’t so clear cut this time. When set at the right angle, the N97 handles contrasts between low light and bright stage lights better, producing more natural colours, whereas the N82 continually provides well lit video, no matter where it’s pointed, although this does mean the videos appear bleached with light. e.g. The N97 could pick out the writing on the shirts – but the background is blacked out. On  the N82 just shows the shirts as plain white but you can still watch the background.

In sufficient lighting – the video is very good. It does seem less jerky than the N82, although the far focus is annoying when filming people.

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Category: 5th Edition, Nokia, Nseries, Photos, S60, Symbian, Test

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com