Lumia 920 PureView Imaging Q&A: Send Us Your Questions!

| November 23, 2012 | 71 Replies

The title says it all, the folks over at Nokia connects were kind enough to arrange a Q&A session for us with the Imaging team responsible for the amazing Lumia 920 (this seems like a good time to remind you that although Damien was a great asset at Nokia, there’s a whole team of dedicated hard workers who bring us this “magic” – so all is not lost). Just like last time with the Lumia 820, post any questions you might have to the team down below and we’ll be sure to pass them.


just make sure your questions are imaging related seeing how the interview is with the imaging team only, and not the product managers/designers, so if you want something clarified about the magic behind Optical image Stabilization, or floating lenses, or anything else just let us know!

*Note: The Q&A is on Monday morning so you have until then to submit your questions.


Category: Lumia, Nokia, PureView, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, my name's Ali- Currently a fifth (and final) year Dental Student from Chicago; studying in Jordan. I love all sorts of gadgets almost as much as I love my cookies! Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @AliQudsi and Subcribe to my Youtube for the latest videos - no pressure. Thanks.
  • Nelson Ocampo

    The Lumia 920’s camera performance in well lit scenarios has a slight fuzziness to it. Will this be able to be corrected with a software patch, or is the issue not fixed that easily?

    • dss

      I don’t think they are extracting the maximum potential out of the camera module/optics .. so yes, a software update should improve the image quality, but don’t expect anything amazing. Like I said months ago, all you can hope for is “on par” with the iPhone 5/GS3.

  • Nelson Ocampo

    Can we expect to see Nokia giving us deeper control with our picture taking through more options in the camera settings?

    • Vineet

      You mean like Shutter/Aperture priority?

      Coz HDR and Panorama etc are covered by the Camera Extras pack

  • Anders81

    When can we have 808 with wp8 ?

    • dss

      They are working on it… What’s going to be really fun to watch is how everybody is going to love the “hump” when/if the port phase 1 to Windows NT. Just like the weight.. the 808 was a brick but the 920 is a feather and the weight of it is perfectly fine.

      • Just Visiting

        How long have you worked for Nokia?

      • viipottaja

        Oh come on.

      • Dan

        how do you know they are working on 808 wp8? 808 brick 169g, 920 feather 185g? something happens on the way to heaven?

  • twig

    Will Nokia be getting into magnetic lenses for the accessories market?

  • Benz

    Does the Lumia 920 have a losless zoom with video recording, like in the N8? If it does, is it different levels on different resolutions? Does the zoom affect OIS performance?

    Or if there’s no zoom, will it be present in future firmware upgrades?

    Also, PV3 > PV1 + PV2 ? 😉

    • Mafiatounes

      The N8 does not have losless zoom, i think you mean 808. The answer is no why because the sensor is 8.7mp it can not use more for zoom like the 808.

      • dss

        Yes it does during video. The sensor is big enough to do so @ 720p. The N8 doesn’t have it for still images.

        The 808 does both .. 1080p video and still images in pureview mode.

        The 920 doesn’t have, and it won’t be coming in a software update, it simply doesn’t have the required sensor or the processing power for it.

        • Mafiatounes

          Totally correct forgot about the video part, thanks for pointing that out.

    • viipottaja

      Or perhaps PV3 =/ PV1+PV2 🙂

  • Vineet

    How much of the image quality “magic” is delivered via oversampling/OIS specifically vs just the larger sensors and bigger pixels. If Sony (or Nokia themselves) were to release a “vanilla” BSI Whitemagic (RGBW) 1/2.0″ or 1/1.5″ sensor and KEEP the pixel count at 8 (so now we have ginormous pixels relative to even the 808 with the ability to catch far more light), what would that do to the image quality and low light ability compared against oversampling+OIS implementation.

    Is it possible that the 808′s sterling reputation is more to do with the 1/1.2″ sensor rather than the oversampling. Would be even better if its Pixel count was 20?

    Note: When I say Pureview here, I mean ONLY the oversampling and OIS, NOT the whole package. So not the big sensor

    The point of this I guess is to figure out the “moat” Nokia has around Pureview and asses how long it might take competitors to catch up. I for one am afraid that a large stacked BSI RGBW Sony sensor with low MP count might be good enough in both the image quality and low light departments, which they will then subsequently supply to all and sundry.

    • incognito

      In a nutshell – larger ‘pixels’ will give you greater borderline dynamic range as there would be less light bleeding, so in situations with stark light differences on the scene it will usually have sharper image. However, due to the nature of CMOS sensors, the inevitable noise might ruin your images, especially in low-light settings. Also, the in-between mesh/grid takes less surface on a sensor with large ‘pixels’ making it able to capture more light for the same time.

      If you use 9 small ‘pixels’ to create one ‘large’ the light bleeding will inevitably reduce sharpness, but chances to have the majority of ‘pixels’ report the same noise spikes are far lower than one large giving a wrong data, so the spiked ‘pixel’ can be ignored while the rest is averaged, resulting in a low-noise pictures even at long exposures.

      There are other minor physical differences in both approaches, but you have to remember that most of today’s photography does not end with the light going through the lens and ending up on a sensor – post-processing (especially augmented by other sensors on the device) algorithms can make a world of difference, and in that department more input points (‘pixels’) mean more flexibility. That’s what makes the 808PV able to pick a fight with the big boys, and even win in some.

  • Vineet

    Also ask them why don’t they turn camera marketing on its head by taking a lead in advertising Sensor size as the definitive spec for imaging rather than megapixels. The megapixel wars are over and industry has stabilized at 8-13. So instead of allowing others to dictate marketing why aren’t cameras now advertised like so:

    Nokia 808
    Sensor Size: 1/1.2″.

    iPhone 5
    Sensor Size: 1/3.2″.

    Obviously, sensor size these days is a MUCH better gauge of image quality than Megapixels (image dimensions). Even pixel size is better than quoting megapixels.

    This is an area of competitive strength for Nokia, why wait till this advantage evaporates?

    • incognito

      Because an average consumer will mean that 1/3.2″ is better than 1/1.2″ because the first appears to have a larger number. Consumers these days care only about GeeBees and WeeFis, a sad fact of life. Once a certain technology crosses the threshold of commodity dumbing-down and number-wars are an inevitable consequence, which brings quite a bit of sadness to my tech-soul.

      • Bob

        They should refer to the size of the sensor as its area, for example 5mm squared or whatever they actually are. Then bigger would be better.

    • dss

      They should advertise the pixel sizes.. that should have been the industry standard from the get go.

      lalal 1.8 micron pixels… lalal

      • incognito

        Well even in that case with 808PV’s 41Mpix the actual ‘pixels’ are quite small. If they are to advertise ‘pixel’ sizes they would need to use ‘physical’ and ‘effective with PV turned on’ to make the distinction, making a common user even more confused.

        • dss

          Right.. but the 808 is not really the norm, its one of a kind. If more people start using larger megapixel count with real time oversampling .. it might be a problem.

  • Vineet

    As a follow up:

    For a fixed sensor size (and accounting for the constraints of mobile devices and processing power, noise reduction algorithms, constraints of optics), are more pixels on the same sensor always and definitely worse?

    So between 13 and 8 MPs crammed onto a 1/3.2″ sensor of the same generation and company, which will be better? (*cough* Exmor R/RS *cough*)

    • dss

      That depends on the technology that they use. The hope is that BSI will help balance out the smaller pixel sizes, but right now as far as I can tell is used to help the “megapixel war” go on.

      There is a technical limitation with FSI sensors, if you go smaller then 1.4 microns/pixel the light can’t reach the pixels as easily and it gets messy, and that is where BSI comes in.. because the light doesn’t have to go true any metal (no guide tubes needed) you can go down to 1.1 or smaller.

      Now, you see… if you are stuck at 1.4 micron pixels @ the standard small 1/3″ sensors that they use, you are stuck at 8Mpix .. so the megapixel war starts to loose its marketing appeal, but if you can keep making the pixels smaller and keeping the senors size the same, you can march on by saying that 13Mpix on a 1/3″ sensor is better than 8 …


  • Chris

    Question: Can the OIS be turned on and off manually? Or intelligently turned off when it’s not needed instead of being always on?

    Sorry if this is already known. I get mixed report online, and there’s no L920 in my country yet.

    Rule of thumb for photography:

    1. Shutter speed should be faster than the focal length for blur free photo. 26mm focal length on 920 should need faster than 1/26 sec shutter for crisp photo (with steady hands).

    2. If shutter speed is fast enough, OIS actually do more harm than good(soft images), and should be turned off.

    • Dave

      I’m afraid of the answer, but please tell us why OIS does more harm than good for very fast shutter speeds?

      Is it like how it’s a bad thing to use a tripod with fast shutter speeds?

      Does someone with a shaky hand make better pictures at fast shutter speeds than someone with a steady hand “built-in” OIS?

      • Chris

        I’m going to say those rules applies for DSLR cameras and the way you hold them with both hands, not too sure about phones, so those values may changed slightly.

        I’m also not sure of Lumia 920’s OIS specification, but older version of Nikon VR do shake correction 500 times a second. Let say you take a photo at 1/50sec shutter on the L920 with a 26mm focal length, you probably won’t have problem with shaky hands. However, the OIS still did 10 corrections in that 1/50 sec. If you’re lucky, it’s all fine, otherwise that 10 corrections on a picture that would have no shake in the beginning will actually make the photo looks “soft”.

        Personally I never tried fast shutter on tripod, so I can’t say what I don’t know. But VR/OIS is always off when my camera is on the tripod.

        I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on your last sentence ;P

        Don’t really feel like going on forever else it’s TL’DR, to summarize it:

        Sharp photo > soft photo > blurred photo.

        OIS can prevent blurred photo, but potentially make a sharp photo become soft. If I am able to get a sharp photo in the first place, I’d like my OIS off.

        I know this isn’t for everyone, thus I ask if it is possible to manually turn it on and off, preferably easily with a tap of a button, just like on my camera lens.

        • dss

          Thank you for info..

        • Dave

          Your description makes sense, but it sounds like an implementation issue with OIS rather than an inherent flaw. If there’s no shake, OIS should not be moving.

          Anyway, I would imagine that for fast shutter speeds photography OIS is disabled by default, since it only makes sense for longer shutter times. How much is it going to correct anyway in a 1/300th second exposure?

          I would like to have some faith in the camera people to do that right 🙂 Hope your question goes through.

          • Chris

            I’m not going to claim I know electrical stuff, maybe an electronic engineer can chip in. However, the OIS module does sort of “move” whenever it is on, at least most photographers would think so.

            Not sure what word I can use, think of it as micro-shakes. Electric passes through the OIS module/part/thingy, it will be “ON”. In fact, it will make a high pitch sound that you may or may not hear, depends on your age. I know for a fact I can’t take a picture of my cat sleeping with OIS on, otherwise it’ll wake up and look at me as if I came with a chainsaw…

            When there’s sound, there will be movement, even if it’s just a little. Imagine all your 8.7 megapixels in the 920, shake just by 0.01 pixel each, for 10 times. The photo will not look as if there’s any shake, but the details will appear soft. I know this happens for DSLR, it appears as if you’re using a cheaper lens, but only if you pay attention.

            You said the OIS will be disabled by default if the shutter speed is fast, that would be a good thing, but is it true? That’s why I ask this question, I want to know 😀

            For 1/300… you probably won’t see difference with or without OIS on the phone anyway, unless you’re using a super telephoto lens shooting wildlife…

            • Zipa

              There are two problems with OIS when there is no movement. First, the sensors that feed the movement data to the OIS system aren’t perfect, so there will be some noise present in the signal. Normally this isn’t a problem, since the actual signal itself is well above the noide floor when there is movement. The problem arises when there is no movement. Then the signal noise could trigger the OIS even though it shouldn’t do anything and thus blur the image.

              Second problem is that the system is designed to compensate for movement, i.e. the default assumption is that movement is present and the system should do something about it. I know that at least the first gen SLR lenses with IS started “inventing” movement even though there wasn’t any. You could see this by putting the camera on a sturdy tripod and activating the IS, usually by pressing the shutter halfway to activate autofocus. Initially everything was OK, but after a few seconds the IS started to wander all over the place correcting for movement that it expected to be there.

              • Chris

                I experienced the 2nd problem you stated. That’s why OIS is always off when my camera is on a tripod, or in situations when OIS will not give me any benefits.

                OIS is not magic, thus I’d like to have better control over it even if it’s on a phone.

        • viipottaja

          Interesting. Is “soft” the same as “blurred”, just less so? Or just less so?

          and like Dave sai, if there is no shaking tobegin with, would ois still make those 10 corrective moves?

          • Chris

            Soft as in less detail, but no shake. Should say it’s ‘appear soft’ if it’s caused by OIS being turned on at times when it should not be turned on.

            OIS compensates for movement by moving itself, so when you’re in a situation when you do not need OIS, you want it to not move at all, which is to turn it off, either manually or automatically done by the phone if it’s smart enough.

            If I were to use iphone 5’s photos I see on the Internet as comparison, I’d say they do have a sharper photo in good light. I’d like to know if L920’s soft photo is caused by the OIS or by other reasons (inferior lens/too much AA filtering on sensor/software).

            • dss

              I think its mostly the jpeg processing. Also, its much harder to keep the image sharp from end to end with a wider lens like the one in the 920.. most of them will have blur towards the edges. The iphone’s lens is much narrower..

    • dss

      You can’t turn it off. The fact that some shots come out overexposed can be fixed with a software update… that is the best you can hope for.

      • Chris

        Ouch. That sucks. Hopefully it can be fixed in the future.

        What a bummer, I think Nokia tried too hard to make it easy for newcomers that it actually dumbed down on the capability of their camera.

        Still getting the L920 though, after all I’m actually after video capture capability.

        • dss

          Its perfect for video… you can be at a concert and jumping around, bumping into people, and your footage will still be stable.. it does work.

  • Sameer

    sorry not directly related to lumia 920 but i hope you guys will give this a try

    1) will nokia go with even bigger sensors than 808pv in the future pureviews???

    2) also the image quality(in 808pv) is a little underwhelming at Full resolution mode…may be thats because individual pixel size remains 1.4microns in full resolution mode(it is 1.4 microns in lumia 920 also so may be apart from imaging logarithms; that could also be a factor of its bit let down performance then what we had expexted) ….so will the pixel size be increased to atleast 1.75microns(like N8) or even more if possible in upcoming pureviews?

    • dss

      Bigger hump… a lot of people are not fans of it, so I doubt that they can go much higher. Maybe 1″ ala Nikon 1…

      The sensor size in the 808 is more than enough for most of us… no matter what you do with the Toshiba HES9 sensor, its obviously a very good one.

      If you are hoping for another leap forward, I think that might come from a completely different sensor technology. Remember this?

      So.. maybe there is a way to eliminate the importance of pixels/sensor sizes, or something else.

      As far the full resolution on the 808 … even tho its still shooting at only 1.4µm , the optics is much better than anything else on the market so you still get tons of resolved detail in good conditions. Still better than the iPhone 5, gs3, lumia 920.. only the N8 might perform a little better, but the optics in the N8 are not as good.

      Take a look at this, its sharp from end to end.. this is really hard to achieve with such small wide angle lense. Carl Zeiss did an amazing job, they really did:

      • Sameer

        man that was sharp….but that was in the ideal lightening situations…when the conditions become a little unfriendly and mind you i am not talking about night but general evening or overcast situations..noise seems to show its ugly phase a bit too much and sharpness is reduced.
        it is true that the quality is still better than other competing phones & pureview 5mp mode is a great boon…but still it would be great if the full resolution does not deteriorate that much.

        i thought may be Nokia threw the idea of graphene sensors in cold bag just like they do with most things which look promising initially….if it is still on & hopefully entered into a product development stage then that would be a great news.

        i hope they blow our minds once again at mwc next year like what they this year with 808pv & to some extent ois in lumia920

        • dss

          There is no way.. you can’t really do more than that with 1.4 micron pixels. Well.. you can, that is what happens in PV mode, but we are talking strictly about full resolution 🙂

          This is a really cool graph showing the different sizes in the different modes.. I am pretty sure that the performance of the pixels is not equivalent to physical 3.0+ micron pixels, but they definitely do not behave like 1.4 micron pixels in PV mode.

          • Sameer

            i already know about that graph and that the comparative pixel size increases in pureview mode depending upon the amount of oversampling and most of the people are more than satisfied with the performance in pv modes

            but i was asking for a little better quality in full resolution mode and one possible way of doing that is if nokia chooses to use little bigger pixels in future devices since there is no oversampling to benefit in full resolution mode and also when we use full zoom in pv modes….and also choosing bigger pixels will also benefit the various pv modes as the resulting oversampled pixels will also be bigger

  • Tom

    Is that a lumia 920 on the picture? Because I thort it’s ‘ceramic’ finish was scratch resistant! And that backplate looks really bad…horrible!

  • StefanP

    I would like to understand the technology behind OIS better. Sometimes it’s said the sensor is mounted on springs and sometimes I read it’s floating in liquid (if I remember correctly). Is there any good drawing of the construction available? Shouldn’t be a secret. It’s patented and all competitors have certainly dissected the phone as much as possible.
    I mean if it’s on springs, I imagine it would swing.
    Is it purely mechanically, or is there any electric control like magnets / servo or ultrasound for the stabilization?

  • raaar

    Please ask who will replace damian dinning?

  • Pökö

    Question: Any possibilities to have ability to adjust lighting in dark environment. Now there are too much light so every picture taken in dark looks Like its taken with flash.

  • dss

    Went out dancing and had both phones with me.. the iphone 5 is pathetic when it comes to low light flash photography.

    iphone 5


    and just look how much wider the 808’s lens is..

    • Chris

      Wonder how would the 920 do… I imagine a clean image with little to no noise, but motion blur of people moving about…

      From experience, OIS never works on shooting people at night unless they pose for you…

      • dss

        Ya.. maybe a bit better than the iphone 5, but way off the 808. Which holds true for every smartphone currently on sale.

  • WhiteAdy

    +1 I’d also like to know more about the mechanism inside. So far I’ve only got info that the whole camera system is involved in the stabilisation (which is quite innovating knowing that most OISed cameras come with just the lens or optics being mounted on springs)

  • Arumugam

    I read in a article that nokia working graphene based technology for high potetial miniature camera when we expect slim phone with higher resolution wp8 phones

  • JackWeed

    Did Damian actually invent anything in Nokia, does he hold patents for technology that Nokia use?

    • viipottaja

      Individual employees don’t hold patents. 🙂

  • Torgrim


    Will there be a fix/software update for the fuzziness/diffuse photos taken with the Lumia 920 in daylight? I have been waiting to buy Lumia 920 but the reviews of the camerea in daylight was so dissapointing that I have decided to wait for the next camera phone out there. But a fix would turn me over to Lumia 920 again! (low light + video is a buy, but 80% of my photos are in daylight…).

    Have a nice day! 🙂

  • Mutumba

    Will the 902 have a nokia made Camera App similar to the symbian one. Am suggesting it should

  • Keith

    What is the imaging team looking at for the next PureView technology? Is it some sort of a mix of PV1 and PV2? Or are there other aspects of photography that they might implement to make next PV phone even better?

    Also, how close are we to seeing graphene sensors in Nokia phones?

  • Junnior_Reis

    My questions revolve around the 2 phones pureview launched today !

    1º What is the bit depth the Nokia 808 PureView Pro ?

    2º What is the bit depth the Nokia Lumia 920 PureView LITE ?

    3º What is the greatest “exposure time” that can be achieved with the Lumia 920 PureView LITE ?

    4º Because the daylight images of 920 PureView LITE has the same sharpness and detail of nighttime images ? There is some planning for a software update that can fix this problem ?

    5º Because even with three microphones, the audio of the video recording of the 920 PureView LITE is mono ? There is planning a software update that corrects this limitation ?

    6º The possibility exists that a software update to improve the image quality of 808 PureView PRO in full resolution ?

    Thank you in advance for your time and space !

  • Junnior_Reis

    My questions revolve around the 2 phones pureview launched today !

    1º What is the bits per pixel the Nokia 808 PureView Pro ?

    2º What is the bits per pixel the Nokia Lumia 920 PureView LITE ?

    3º What is the greatest “exposure time” that can be achieved with the Lumia 920 PureView LITE ?

    4º Because the daylight images of 920 PureView LITE has the same sharpness and detail of nighttime images ? There is some planning for a software update that can fix this problem ?

    5º Because even with three microphones, the audio of the video recording of the 920 PureView LITE is mono ? There is planning a software update that corrects this limitation ?

    6º The possibility exists that a software update to improve the image quality of 808 PureView PRO in full resolution ?

    Thank you in advance for your time and space !

  • Doug

    Will we ever see a xenon flash again? What about coupled with an LED flash for video recording?

    Will we ever have a custom scenes setting that we can save an easily access when we want to like we had on the N8 and other Symbian phones?

    While, night shots on the 920 without flash look good when taken with a steady hand, why are daylight shots still such an issue?

  • virobloc

    Question about reliability: Has the floating module any problem with vibrations? I mean, if you go jogging or mountain biking with the 920 in your pocket, can the continuous shaking break or spoil something?
    Thank you guys! 🙂