Low light comparison: Nokia Lumia 920 vs Nokia 808 PureView vs iPhone 5 vs SGS III vs HTC OneX

| October 26, 2012 | 95 Replies

Quite an interesting post comparing the Nokia Lumia 920 against the Nokia 808 PureView, SGSIII, iPhone 5, and HTC OneX. Whilst some say it’s not fair to compare something optimised for low light (920), I totally think it is because it’s not exactly guaranteed that Nokia’s claims will work as intended or if it is better, would it be significantly better.

Against something like the SGS III, One X, iPhone 5, the 920 is a clear winner.


Check out the SGSIII below.

808 PureView is no slouch however.

Note, in these instances where the subject is much too far away, flash wouldn’t really help.

This is just a screenshot of the thumbnails.

In some instances, the only way for the competition to have a semi visible photo is to have HDR on.

I wonder how it would fare if indeed the 808 settings had been tweaked for ultimate low light (and also if 920 was put in night mode).

Just imagine OIS Floating lens pureview with a large N8 or 808 sensor at 12mp. MMMMMMMmmmmmm. Lovely low light action :D

Cheers Axel for the tip!

Category: Lumia, Nokia, Symbian

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

Comments (95)

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  1. Rinslowe says:


  2. Dazz says:

    What settings were on the 808? Auto/night/spotlight etc. Were other modes tested to see if these above were the best?

    • PinoyAko says:

      yes dude.. I totally get your point. I can shot the lightest picture with my 808 beating all of these phones with great colors. I totally don’t understand why it’s suddenly unfair with 808 nowadays.

      • Pdexter says:

        Huh, who is unfair against 808? Where have you seen that? 808 is praised everywhere by it’s camera.

        808 PureView was never amazing on poor lighting, slightly better than N8. That of course means it was the best out there, but nothing some other phone could have not beat.

        Thinking Lumia 920 everything is set towards low light pictures, i can’t see how it’s a surprise to anybody it’s doing better.

    • dss says:

      The 808 destroys everything above ISO400.. I can’t wait to get my 920 and test it out.

  3. Lasse Bodilsen says:

    Very nice photo:

    I call fake! (look at the pro-camera lensflare star) :O

    no not really, but some “expert” seems to think only a SLR camera can produce the star lensflare, that is present on the lightsource. :)

  4. ms.nokia says:

    i can’t wait to own a 920

  5. swain says:

    The 920 is the clear winner here though the 808 isn’t far behind. I would be genuinely interested in comparing low light photos of nearby objects with flash on.
    “Just imagine OIS Floating lens pureview with a large N8 or 808 sensor”…just imagined my next phone..:)

  6. Nrde says:

    And of course Lumia 920 works only on static subjects (or any other camera that just makes the exposure longer). If you need to freeze action in low light, you need to have a larger sensor.

    As mentioned 808 sensor combined with image stabilisation would be best of both worlds.

    • Mark says:


      Source please.

      You do have one, right?

      • d says:

        What OIS does for the low-light photography is to allow longer exposure by stabilizing the little shaking by the photographer. OIS only stabilizes the photographer and not the objects being photographed, therefore blurry images if the object is moving.

      • Nrde says:

        Eeh, my source is primary school Physics classes.

        Lumia 920 has mechanical stabilisation that enables longer exposure without making the subject blurry because of camera movement. As far as I understand there’s nothing else out of the ordinary with its sensor. Especially compared to for example 808 which doesn’t have stabilisation, but has a lot bigger sensor and pixel binning.

        So 920 sensor doesn’t gather any more light as any other sensor of the same size within a certain timeframe.

        So if the exposure time is longer which makes it good for capturing static subject in low light, makes it also worse for capturing moving objects in low light.

        If there was a choice of image stabilization or bigger sensor (or actually bigger pixel size) I would choose bigger pixel size every time. 808 way of using those pixels make it kind of special case though.

        • Fic fii says:

          You can’t freeze the action with the 808. Not without using the flash. It’s really horrible in low light when you have to take pictures with moving objects.

        • arts says:

          erm, the f2.0 does allow for a lower shutter speed no? The aperture is bigger on the lumia 920.

        • Mark says:

          Oh right, so you don’t have one, you just “suppose”. Gotcha.

          Oh yeah, and you should also know that all cameras are subject to motion blur dependent on the exposure time. Of course, modern digital ones use sampling to correct artefacts.

          That’s a bit beyond primary school physics so don’t feel too bad about it.

          • d says:

            What a childish comment :)

          • Nrde says:

            If there was something special about the sensor, Nokia would be stupid not to tell about such a breakthrough in camera technology I think. I mean they didn’t forgot to mention pixel binning in 808 sensor, they didn’t forgot to mention the sensor size with 808 sensor etc.

            But yes, maybe they forgot to mention something when it comes to Lumia 920 sensor.

            And yes I know every camera is dependent on exposure time, isn’t that what I wrote in my message? Maybe the hidden feature Nokia ever mentioned is just what you said, “sampling” that corrects blurry, moving subjects… Directly from CSI Miami.

            @Fic fii I think it can be made better by selecting a correct program or setting it up with manual setting. But I agree it could be better. It comes down to pixel size until the software can be made better.

            @arts yes, 920 has bigger aperture which allows more light and the lens is slightly faster also with similar effect. On the other hand, the sensor is, what 5 times bigger in 808, so in theory it gathers 5 times more light (- the effect of slower lens and smaller aperture). Let’s say that 808 sensor “sees” 2x times the light in a given timeframe when compared to the more modern sensor of 920 with faster lens and bigger aperture. It’s still 2x more.

            Also a lrger aperture is not always what is needed for a photo, depth of field etc. is a lot harder to get with big aperture for example.

  7. arts says:

    the statue looks over pureviewed.

    Is there a way to activate and deactivated the OIS feature?

    • incognito says:

      Nope, it’s spring-based so – purely mechanical. Unless they’ve managed to squeeze an actuator there to stop or restrict it in its tracks, but there was no mention of it so far.

      • Viipottaja says:

        They did talk about algorithms that go with it and modes that keep the shutter open longer, so I gather in principle they could turn those off, and have the shutter close faster, no? Of course the springs would still spring. :)

        • incognito says:

          Well, of course they can increase the shutter speed, but then you lose the low-light performance because aperture size is quite smallish – I was under the impression of arts wondering whether the OIS could be dampened which unless they have actuators cannot be done, to strike a balance where you don’t get OIS artifacts at a small expense of blur. While not as important with static images (increasing shutter speed would do the trick most of the time) such thing would be extremely beneficial in video and moving-objects applications.

          Some algorithms can improve that, tho – by measuring the accelerometer movement you can guess in which direction the OIS is lagging (as you know physical properties of it) and together with light metering and dynamic shutter control you can compensate for artificial overexposures when they are not needed. I’m quite certain they have a lot of fun exploring those options at Nokia’s R&D. Still, a full control on springiness of the OIS would be a killer feature, but I don’t think they’d be able to squeeze such a thing into such tiny package. So, we can at least hope they’ll refine the algorithms further…

          • arts says:

            hmmm i dont really understand everything, but i guess what you mean is that system is an always on kinda thing? because i saw in some youtube videos they shown that when the device is not actively recording it blury, but when it is recording it has the pureview effect.

  8. d says:

    Off-topic but breaking news:

    RIM overtakes Nokia in smartphone market share.


    Just wait until WP8 and BB10 comes out.

    • Antero says:

      I fear that BB10 might take more marketshare than WP8. That would be epic fail for MS & Nokia. HTC Might be screwed too, Samsung won’t care.

      • incognito says:

        HTC will live, WP or not. Their Q3 results based largely on Android sales are not that bad at all. Even in past quarters they were always making profit on them, just not as much as they have hoped.

    • KeiZka says:

      I’d love to see the ASP on RiM devices though.

  9. Jake says:

    I must say that the 808′s pictures in general look the most natural.

    • stylinred says:


      though the 920 produced some hot shots

    • Viipottaja says:

      I agree that some of them do look more natural and better than the 920 pics. However, the ones taken in very low light conditions (like the one with the ferry in the far distance and the statue pic) seem to come out better – or at least much “clearer/lit up” with the 920. Bit of a tie for me, personally. Fantastic that Nokia has the two clear camera kings already and probably more in the pipeline! For too many years the competition caught up and even passed Nokia in some cases. :)

  10. AreOut says:

    I’m tired of pointless comparison marketing in auto-mode…elop go away.

    • Mark says:

      Then don’t read the article.

    • Viipottaja says:

      But people are not tired of taking most of their pictures in auto mode. Highly pointless indeed…

      Not to mention: what the f*** does Elop have to do with this comparison? :D

      • AreOut says:

        1. OIS helps only with static subjects, which will be there tomorrow in a bright day anyway so you can take much better picture. Moving objects like people most probably will not.

        2. elop has ordered their marketing division to do everything to push lumia in front of 808, so we see bunch of pointless tests like “picture of a flower in a dark box without flash in auto-mode”(?!) and these stupidities

        whoever wants better picture will take a 3 second google search and find out about night mode and how to set it up properly

        so to conclude, 920 has better camera only in auto-mode and only if you picture real estate and that’s it, hardly of any use for majority of people but nonetheless they are throwing millions in marketing while 808 is not marketed anywhere

        • arts says:

          1. OIS helps only with static subjects, which will be there tomorrow in a bright day anyway so you can take much better picture. Moving objects like people most probably will not.

          you got to be joking.

          • AreOut says:

            no I don’t joke at all, 2.7s of exposition is enough time for most people to run across the street if they want

            here is one example of 920 shot where only slight movement causes excessive blur


            • arts says:

              “OIS helps only with static subjects, which will be there tomorrow in a bright day anyway so you can take much better picture”

              I cant believe somebody actually made that argument. Wow.

              • AreOut says:

                OK here is another argument if you don’t want to wait until tomorrow

                “yupp but why would you picture static objects at night anyway? 90% of the amateur night pictures are pictures of the people(parties etc.) and that’s where xenon comes in play, OIS is unusable in such situations

                for those 10% you will have all time of this world(as static objects don’t move by definition) to stabilise your hand or put it on something or someone if you don’t have a tripod with you”

                clear now?

                • arts says:

                  “why would you picture static objects at night anyway?” Seriously?????

                  “90% of the amateur night pictures are pictures of the people.” you got to be joking.

                  “10% you will have all time of this world(as static objects don’t move by definition) to stabilise your hand.” =.=

                  Let me put it this way,

                  a MAJORITY of shots taken at night are STATIC OBJECTS. you want to lump people into moving objects, sure, IF YOU ARE TAKING AN ACTION SHOT. People who pose? STATIC. They dont twitch around like they got Parkinsons, in fact the majority of the time, the motion blur is resulted by you pressing the shutter. And what solves that problem? OIS.

                  AND, if you want the atmosphere of your environment to be part of that picture (Club, bar, candlelight dinner), you wont use any kind of flash whatsoever, and rely on ambient light. So in this case? xenon useless.

                  • AreOut says:

                    yeah people are static if you are picturing funeral…then again who holds funeral at night?

                    • arts says:

                      “yeah people are static if you are picturing funeral…then again who holds funeral at night?”

                      lets see. so your friends, family and relatives when asked to pose for a photo…. instantly get seizures and parkinson like symtopms? must be a cultural thing.

                      “AND, if you want the atmosphere of your environment to be part of that picture (Club, bar, candlelight dinner), you wont use any kind of flash whatsoever, and rely on ambient light. So in this case? xenon useless.”

                      your lack of response to this have been noted. ;)

                • arts says:

                  another thing with “for those 10% you will have all time of this world(as static objects don’t move by definition) to stabilise your hand or put it on something or someone if you don’t have a tripod with you”

                  how long can you hold your handheld steady?

                  A common rule of thumb for estimating how fast the exposure needs to be for a given focal length is the one over focal length rule. This is for 35mm camera. When converted, the 808 equivalent would be 28mm.

                  In other words, the exposure time needs to be at least 1/28 seconds or 0.0357142857 seconds — otherwise blurring may be hard to avoid. Thats WAY above the 2.7 second mark of the 808.

                  and for reference, most of the shots in engadget test are around 1 second mark. And most of them sharp. Bottomline, you CAN try to keep your hand stead, but anything more than a certain figure, you are going to hit a brickwall.

                  and before others jump on my back, i freely admit my knowledge is limited; correct me if i am wrong, and i advocate a combination of xenon, ois and a large sensor.

                  • Junnior_Reis says:

                    You It Is Wrong !

                    808 PureView Pro When Converted, The 808 Equivalent It Is Of 26mm And Exposure Time It Is 1.51 Second !!!

          • flava says:

            It’s a basic photography knowledge that to capture a frozen moving object you need a fast shutter speed. Slower shutter speed means more blurry moving object, hope you understand :)

            • arts says:

              I have no issue with that. ;)
              but are you on his side on this?

              “OIS helps only with static subjects, which will be there tomorrow in a bright day anyway so you can take much better picture”

              coool. so if i want a picture of lets say, the Eiffel tower at night, i take it in the day? ;)

              • AreOut says:

                yeah he is on my side, conspiracy! :D

                if you are interested in taking quality pictures at night, find an appropriate place to lean your hand on if you don’t have a tripod, what I want to point out that you can compensate for OIS but you can’t compensate for big sensor…some simple physics&logic

                • arts says:

                  i also merely wanna point out only idiots would think that OIS only have uses in a funeral home ;) or relatives and friends who get seizures.

                  at any rate, you CAN compensate for a large sensor. Turn down the ISO, AND use the extra shutter speed gained by using OIS. its simple really. But, maybe you’ll have to stop jerking around on the spot to think about that.

                  Again, i dont sucribe to your one is naturally better than the other nonsense, which i suspect is due to some hatred of all things windows. ;) a combination of both is probably for the best.

                  • AreOut says:

                    I understand the technology behind it and how it works, just say it’s useless to anyone knowing simple photography. Such person would know how to handle the camera properly so OIS gains would be minimized. I do however accept that for dumb automode facebook users 920 will produce better night pictures on average. But then again average driver will lap the track faster in a Ford Focus than in some supersports car which is hard to drive, but that doesn’t make Focus the faster car you know ;)

                    • arts says:

                      oh sure, im sure you do understand it, but you are just bitching for the sake of bitching.

                      After all, your need to add “dumb automode facebook users” shows you your true colors, it was never about the OIS, merely a proxy to attack the 920. ;) your sad LACK OF BALLS, have been noted.

              • Nrde says:

                “coool. so if i want a picture of lets say, the Eiffel tower at night, i take it in the day?”

                OIS is helping stabilising the sensor. The same can be achieved with a tripod for example or supporting the camera some another way. OIS is just to make it easy to take photos in low light, stabilising the sensor and making the exposure longer. If you can stabilise the sensor/camera some other way and make the exposure time longer from the camera settings you can achieve the same more or less with any other camera.

                OIS is not helping with casual party pictures if you don’t want to interrupt everyone for a photo shoot.

                • arts says:

                  i have no objections to what you stated, but i would like to add that there is a limit to how long a person can keep the shutter open, especially in a handheld position. sure, one can brace on to something to take a photo, but i doubt that is always available.

                  Anyway, in this case im objecting the generalization that people who pose for photos ( i assume without moving too much as people where i am from do) automatically means the person is dead, AS implied by areout here. And also various other generalizations, which dont make sense.

  11. ggg says:

    pureview 1 worth more than pureview 2

    • Bassman says:

      How do you work that out? Different people have different needs in a camera. Let’s be grateful that Nokia is fulfilling differet segments of the market, or is your hatred clouding your judgement?

    • Mark says:

      Quite clearly in this scenario it’s not.

  12. AreOut says:

    they should call it NightView IMO

  13. incognito says:

    I’m still waiting for proper, undoctored comparisons on well lit scenes, scenes with moving objects, etc. Sure, they want to advertise the clear advantage of OIS in low-light conditions, but I’d like to see how it fares without that particular advantage. I still think that the PureView das original is more useful for day-to-day usage and will provide more quality and natural pictures than PureView rebooted will.

    Of course, marriage of the both, with added control over the stabilization layer, would be da bomb but god knows how long we’ll have to wait for it and whether Nokia will even exist by then…

    • dss says:

      No contest. The 808 will produce a better result in all conditions.. I can tell from the shots shown here.

      The 808 does an amazing job at 8Mpix PureView mode @ ISO800 .. the noise levels are very low, considering that we are talking about a smartphone.


      • incognito says:

        In all conditions, probably, but not in all hands ;) If you want high ISO without stabilization you need to have very calm hands, which, lets face it, most people don’t. OIS is not there to improve the pictures – it has nothing to do with the light throughput, sensor sensitivity and all the rest – it’s there to improve the ‘conditions’ in which the picture is taken.

        Put the 808PV and Lumia 920 on a tripod, increase ISO on 808PV’s to match the light capture of the Lumia 920, and the former will murder it in the quality department. Now put both in the hands of a person with Parkinson’s disease and the photo taken by the 808PV would be nearly useless while the Lumia 920 might give some acceptable results.

        • AreOut says:

          yupp but why would you picture static objects at night anyway? 90% of the amateur night pictures are pictures of the people(parties etc.) and that’s where xenon comes in play, OIS is unusable in such situations

          for those 10% you will have all time of this world(as static objects don’t move by definition) to stabilise your hand or put it on something or someone if you don’t have a tripod with you

        • dss says:

          True, but why let more light in when the noise ruins the whole picture anyway.

          OIS is good for video, I am not sold on stills..

  14. Junnior_Reis says:

    In “My Humble Opinion” 808 PureView PRO It Is The Best Of All Models Of Comparative (Detailing Greater And Less Noise) Fitting To Lumia 920 PureView LITE 2nd Place By Have Images With Increased Brightness But It Clear Everything That That The Costs Loss Of More Refined Detail And Big Noise !

    Apparently Nokia Lumia 920 PureView LITE Will a Performance Global Of Camera “Suchlike” To Sony Xperia T, What If Perhaps Come The If Confirm Will Something Very Disappointing !!!

  15. Tak says:

    I cannot possibly take so bad pictures with my(wifes) 808! I have a suspicion, that all the tests that include 920 are purposely wiggled to make the stabilizer look like its going to help that mini sensor take better shots than what it really does.

    • Viipottaja says:

      Your suspicion is wrong. Just be happy with the pics 808 takes, no need to have the 920 just because it has WP. ;)

    • Pdexter says:

      Some you people, like really.

      Do you honestly think the likes of The Verge and Engadget give a sh1te about Nokia when they did their comparisons?
      There are low light pictures from tens of different sources showing same results.

      Don’t get me wrong i own 808 PV and i think in general it will remain best camera phone, but i sure do think 920 will be greatly better phone to use and has all the basics more than covered.

      • dss says:

        I ma not so sure about the “basics”, but we will see soon. i can’t wait to get my hands on a yellow one and testing against THE smartphone :)

  16. manchester man says:

    Nokia should make a Camera!
    Optical zoom with a 41mp sensor (for over sampling when using optical zoom)not for lossless zoom.
    combined with ois would make a brilliant camera, Size isn’t a issue and they could even use symbian as the os and have maps etc.
    Brilliant for holiday.

    • incognito says:

      In the world of increasingly converging devices there is not much space left for dedicated P&S cameras to take with you on a holiday. Smartphones are already doing imaging of acceptable quality and once you pass the threshold of ‘acceptable’ people will mostly chose convenience/cost over quality – after all, why would you carry two devices with you when one can do most of the job of the second one.

  17. dss says:

    920 produces A LOT of noise, just like I expected it to.. can’t mask the small pixels, not even with OIS.

    • incognito says:

      True, and long exposure additionally increases the noise, but what OIS can mask is blur that would come together with the noise which is an improvement. As it stands now, they’ll need a better sensor for `PV 3`, maybe not of 808PV’s footprint if they are concerned about the width, but at least something of the N8′s quality.

      • dss says:

        The n8 shoots at 1.75 microns .. so bigger than the 1.4 used in the 920, so yes, it would be an improvement, but where the magic happens is the oversampling, its really incredible.. it pretty much solved issues with imaging that have been an issue in the industry for years, in a very elegant way.

        So, either big sensor cut into bigger pixels, or big sensor cut into small pixels, but oversampled/distilled, either way.. big sensor. No way around that one if you want quality in low light. What OIS can do, is reduce the need for an tripod in low light..

  18. jake20 says:

    yea, the 920 produces brighter images at night.. but so what? look at the quality? its not that great..

    Just compare one of the boat shots between the 808 and 920 here.
    Yea the 920 shot is brighter, but the quality sucks other than that.
    The same shot on the 808 you can actually read the writing on things int he background, while on the 920 shot is all blurry..

    • arts says:

      why create a straw man argument? I always find that fascinating by those who do so.

      it was always conceded, even by its creator, that pureview phase 1 is better in quality than pureview phase 2 in right conditions.

      Fortunately (or not) chances are people wont have all the time in the world to line up a perfect shot, or keep their hands steady at all times or have the luxury to buy and carry a tripod around. There is where pureview phase 2 comes in.

    • dss says:

      Its the noise levels.. you can’t get rid of noise when you have small pixels,unless you have A LOT of them and you can clean them up ala PureView PRO.

      So.. longer exposure would help with more light, but when you don’t have sufficient pixel quality to capture it, no point. At least I don’t see it. That is why professional DSLRs have huge pixels.. if it wasn’t necessary/essential, they would shoot at 1.0 microns and they will MUCH smaller.

      I don’t know if BSI has the potential to change that, but for now, i haven’t seen any signs.

  19. PinoyAko says:

    well, just like the old days….
    Nokia still marks arguments. So who says Nokia is dying? Reading all through out, it’s 808 and 920 battle. Hey!! Could someone defend i5 and S3? Just kidding :)

  20. Junnior_Reis says:

    More Than Never Now Know The 808 PureView PRO In Skillful Hands And Steadfast Produces Photograph Best Results To Night That The 920 PureView LITE, This Because Beyond Of Count With a Image Sensor Bigger And Better, Oversampling And Long Exposure As Good As The 920′s More Precisely We Reach The Number 1.51 Second Exposure !

    For That Not If Mistake 920 PureView LITE In No Situation Will Performance Similar To 808 PureView PRO Perhaps Best !

  21. Alan says:

    Can someone explain, as I don’t understand, why Nokia would want to promote the fact that their Lumina 920 8.7mp camera is BETTER than their 41mp camera on their own 808?
    The 808 just came out and I purchased this flagship device because of the stellar camera. Now if an average 8.7mp camera can take just as good, if not better photos, I’ve just been scammed. This article, which was tweeted to me, also tells me that the 808 must not be all that special.
    Really dumb marketing in my opinion. This may be a return to Amazon as it wasn’t a cheap purchase.

  22. Wisnu Wardhana says:

    Request for more photo comparison samples from Pureview,N8,Lumia920: Textlines on newspaper INdoor in Lowlight (not at Night) condition at Distance 1-2 mtr or more…. Are those textlines still READABLE (clearly) ??

    in my opinion if it’s readable the phone camera can make photo in good detail at any objects

    d’ya think so… d’ya have the same opinions or else?

  23. Wisnu Wardhana says:

    How Far is the maximum distance to make such photos above still READABLE ??

    Those (ful-Res)photosamples can be shown with links at Flickr,Picasa,Blogspot,Multiply,etc

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