Fan Test: Nokia Lumia 920 vs Nokia 808 PureView, LED vs Xenon

| November 15, 2012 | 34 Replies

This is far from being a scientific test but it just demonstrates the power of Xenon I guess.

The desk fan is on, spinning as it goes and we take a quick picture. The 808 shot makes it look like it’s not on at all but trust me, it is.

The 920 shot you can still see movement. I guess it is designed for longer shutter times. Whether this affects real life people movement sufficiently will be a test I might be able to try on Friday night.

The 920 shot does not overpower the screen at the back

Xenon completely kills the light from the screen as it is a very bright source of light.


I’ll be interested to find out how it fares when we have subjects in the foreground, whether we want to see the background lit up too.


The 808 is a bit further back as the AF would not lock when too close.


BTW, interesting coincidental tweet from Burland. Litchfield might have something to say on this matter.

I think Xenon is even more amazing when you can control the direction (e.g. DSLR) to bounce the light and such.

I’ll try to perform these tests over the weekend (I’ll make time, haha).



Category: Lumia, Nokia, PureView

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  • Madratz

    lol..!! As the ceiling fan in my room is always on, the wife periodically make me shoot the ceiling fan with my xenon equipped 8|0|8 to prove that its time for me to clean the ceiling fan.

  • swain

    The shutter in 920 remain open for longer period to intake more amount of light. That’s the reason behind the 2 snaps in this post.
    Jay, can you please set the iso in 50-100 range and take another snap using 920.

    • Pica pica

      No, not really. The reason is the flash type and LED flash lasting so much longer. If it had Xenon flash, Xenon’s very short light flash would stop the movement regardless of the slower shutter speed. You can easily notice this with a DSLR taking a photo with flash and slower shutter speed (1/50 s for example) than what 920 has here.

      • Zipa

        Yep. LED “flash” isn’t really a flash at all, it’s more like turning on the lights, snapping a photo and then turning the lights off again. A xenon flash OTOH is a proper flash with illumination times measured in milliseconds (or even nanoseconds for some really fancy units) which enables it to “freeze” even very fast moving objects.

        • swain

          If Damian is to be believed, the LED used in 920 is more powerful than previous generation LEDs.
          Flash is used to light up the area. It has very less impact on the objects moving at a fast pace.
          You just go and check any photography site/blog to get an understanding on shutter speed and how it affects the photography of fast moving objects.

  • Pica pica

    Xenon is the only proper way to go with flash. LED is just a poor substitute.

    • Doug

      Now we just have to convince Nokia to loosen it’s grip on the designs of its phones so much so they’ll combine the proper flash with LED, a big sensor, and OIS, giving us the ultimate.

      • Shallow Ocean Shoal

        The point is NO flash, not which kind of flash.

        • AreOut

          you can’t freeze the subject without flash, but maybe some chains would help…

  • Doug

    You will never be able to convince me that LED is better than xenon for photography. It’s not just about shots like this, although this proves how xenon can truly capture the moment. The difference between an LED shot at a bar of 5 people from 4-6 ft. away and xenon is night and day. Although I know what the result would be, I am interested to see how 920 would fare.

    You can argue the flashlight issue, except with the 808, and you can argue about it adding bulk to the phone, but when it all comes down to it, it’s all worth it in the end for those of us who see how much of a difference it can make in your photos.

    I’ve been using my N8 for 2 years now and I still to this day can’t even comprehend the thought of using something else to take photos when you need the flash on.

    Until LED technology is so advanced that it can literally take the place of a xenon flash, it’s always going to take a back seat when it comes to photo quality.

    • dss

      Maybe one day.. but so far LED tech doesn’t even come close to Xenon tech, which is.. well represented by only one phone really. The N8’s flash is almost 2x weaker than the 808, but still beats all LED phones.

      Here is a cool shootout between Canon Ixus something, GS3, iphone something, htc one x, N8.. and 808.!2494

      As you can see in the flash test, the 808 excels. With the 808 is not just the falsh tho.. you still have all the oversampling magic happening at the same time to help out with the noise.. its a very elegant solution.

      • leo

        wow… iPhone 4S really sucks!
        Led flash is horrible… I dont know who is James Burland, but xenon flash is far far away the best option

    • Shallow Ocean Shoal

      Nobody in a dim bar likes a bright flash in their face, whether it’s LED or Xenon or Halogen or Rubidium.

      There should not even be a bright and annoying visible auto-focus light. It should be infra-red.

      The device should be able to take a good picture with nothing but ambient light. That is the future.

      • Banderpop

        A Xenon flash may be slightly less annoying in a dark bar because it shines for a much shorter amount of time, but you are still right. It’s almost never flattering either. We don’t have lights shining out of our foreheads, so we never see people or even ourselves with red-eye, highlights on the tip of the nose and cheeks, and no shadows in real life. Hence why barely anyone is happy with their passport photos.

        Professional photographers obviously go out of their way to avoid using a flash direct from the camera, by arranging their own lighting. But nobody takes a bag of lighting equipment to a bar. About two weeks ago I was in a dark bar for Halloween, and someone was having trouble taking a good photo with some other phone. So I put my 808 into torch mode to help out with some lighting from the side! Alas I didn’t get help the other way around, so my own photos were a bit rubbish.

        I noticed that the 808’s focus assist light can be responsible for messing up photos of people though, flash on or off, as they mistake it for the flash and then end up blinking or starting to talk when the photo is taken. You either have to spend some time explaining it in advance (nobody wants to hear this in a bar), leave it off and hope the phone can find something in the dark to focus on, or do what I do and put the 808 in hyperfocal mode, accepting that the shot may not be that sharp. Hyperfocal does allow for photos to be taken more quickly also.

  • Reonhato

    I still remember the debates with LED vs Xenon when the N86 came out. ;p

    • Reonhato

      To add, I haven’t seen an N808 shot in night mode (low light) of a same scene compared to the L920. Anyone have a link?

  • Louis

    First, I would like to say cameras are not designed to capture a monitor or screen they are designed to capture scenery. so a xenon flash is better than a led flash.
    secondly, if 808 can capture a still photo, that makes it better, because it can capture a clearer photo compared to L920.

    • Mapantz

      Love that!

    • Muerte

      Hi, I would like to know what settings you have used, to get that shot? Many times I struggle to get enough light in low light situations with my 808, if I’m not using night mode and a tripod…


        Please feel free to download or take a peek at online EXIF viewer. It is the similar settings for light streaks, with the exception that I used Full Resolution instead of 2/3MP PureView Pro Mode. 🙂

  • Mapantz

    I took a picture back in the summer to prove the benefit of having a xenon flash, and the shot was taken in bright sunlight too! Although i binned the picture without the use of flash, it looked pretty bad to be honest, the black fur on my cat looked faded and horrible, the grass actually looked white .. it was definitely not the colours i was seeing as i was taking the picture. As soon as i saw the picture taken with the flash on, i knew it looked right. BVlack is blakc, green is green etc ..

    LED flashes would not be able to do this.

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  • tommy

    Not sure the point of this article.

    There is a reason why all dedicated cameras come with XENON flash, and NOT an LED flash.

    When dedicated cameras start coming equipped with a LED lights instead of XENON, then maybe you can make a case for LED being better..

    Until then, its a stupid comparison

  • Tetlee

    “The 920 shot does not overpower the screen at the back”

    “Xenon completely kills the light from the screen as it is a very bright source of light.”

    No surprise to see a negative slant somehow found for the 808 as usual on here.

    Must say I’m surprised with Burlands tweet re. always disliking Xenon. I always looked on in envy at N8 owners, owning LED flash camera phones prior to my 808, and now I just struggle to think how I could go back.

  • tommy

    anyone who even tries to make a case that LED flash is better to have on their phone than a true xenon flash is just jealous they do not have xenon.

    Led flash is a f’in joke.. and I am surprised that Jay actually put out this ridiculous comparison.

    VERY amateur…

    • Well, self righteous tommy, the point was to show just how excellent real flash/xenon is. That’s the whole point of the comparison because unless you see it in action, it might be hard for others to appreciate. There are definitely some benefits of led, but perhaps o ly with pv2 OIS. Ive always been harpong on about xenon.

      your comment is very amateur.

  • ken

    Anyone tested the N8 vs Lumia 920 in night photos? Any links?

  • no doubt! Xenon clearly wins.

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