MNB RG: Nokia Lumia 920 dark box comparison with Lumia 900/808 PureView

| November 27, 2012 | 47 Replies

Janne’s back to share an interesting camera comparison set up by Nokia in a sales booth at a Helsinki department store. It’s already been reported that the Nokia Lumia 920 is the highest demanded for any Nokia in 10 years for DNA Finland, quite a feat given the huge popularity of Nokia in the early part of those 10 years. We need Nokia to SHOW why the Nokia Lumia 920 is awesome, and it’s things like this that do that. Not their gut wrenchingly terrible ads that have been made by an art student to confuse you.

The booth has two dark boxes where you can compare your phone and Lumia 920 low-light photography capabilities. The attached pictures were taken in 8 MP 4:3 auto modes, handheld and without flash with Lumia 900, 808 PureView and Lumia 920, and then scaled to 1024 width.

The dark box with the Christmas tree was lighted a little more from an outside spotlight, so those pictures were better in all the phones because there was more ambient light. The other box with the globe was very dark, pretty much the only one showing anything on its mobile screen was the Lumia 920.

The last two JPGs (the ones that say brightness +100% in the corner) contain the same pictures with +100% brightness to show what kind of detail or noise there was in the pictures.


Cheers Janne for the tip!


Category: Nokia

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  • Muerte

    Nice post, thanks!

    One question: When you are taking low-light photos with your 920, do you need to use the “night mode”, as in this article it says “were taken in auto modes”

    I’m asking, because I was testing 920 at my friend’s place, and I didn’t get impressing (different to 808) results on automatic mode, I needed to use the night mode in 920.

    • Janne

      All these were in the default auto mode, not in any kind of night mode. I set the options to as default as possible (with the exception of putting 808 to 8 MP instead of 5 MP for comparable resolution). Flash was off, but the metering lights used to focus were on.

      As for comparisons at your friends, perhaps that was due to more ambient light? These boxes were very dark, especially the one with the globe, so that might explain the difference to a room that still has more light normally.

      • Muerte

        OK, thanks for the feedback. It was quite a dark room where I did those tests, but maybe I need to try it once more.

        Would the results in these box-tests be even better for 920, if the Night-mode would have been in use?

        • Janne

          Maybe? I didn’t test.

        • hulkkii

          If there is really dark, night mode could be good, but you will need steadier hands than in auto mode. Night mode increases the exposure time to max 1 second (in auto mode exposure time is max 1/3 s), and OIS need to compensate your hand moves during that whole exposure time..

      • orangpelupa

        hmm, now im very CURIOUS in seeing Lumia 920 vs PureView 808 in low light but in MANUAL mode.

        does 808 gets better when manually increase the ISO?
        how the noise in 808 high ISO vs 920?

    • stylinred

      i have the same issue with my fathers 920 i have to force it into night mode to be of any use in low light/no light situations

  • Stefan

    If this is emphasized too much, one could get the impression the L920 is ONLY good in the dark… 😉 And there seem to be sacrifices to normal light condition photos. Hopefully this can be corrected AND this upcoming correction will be communicated soon.

  • Janne

    Thanks, Jay. For any Finns or people visiting Finland, this is at the basement of Stockmann, Helsinki. Also the Nokia flagship store at Aleksanterinkatu has a similar (smaller) setup.

    As I commented on the DNA thread, the demand is very strong for Lumia in Finland:

    You can literally feel it when visiting these shops and looking at people on the street. But then, small Finland is not where this global fight is fought or won. (But a small winning battle for Nokia nevertheless.)

  • Pingback: Usporedni test kamera Lumije 900, Nokije 808 i Lumije 920 u tamnoj komori | NokiaMob()


    • Muerte

      That may happen when Microsoft releases the Apollo Plus – update. If not, I’m surprised, as this is a well reported request.

  • the pics looks great. the 808 would have taken a better picture if it put in auto mode?

    • Janne

      Not sure what you mean – 808 was in auto mode. The idea was to compare the regular “point and shoot” performance.

      But of course, adding longer exposure and using support like tripod would allow 808 to get the best results of the bunch – no doubt.

      • AreOut

        The idea is very bad. It’s like car manufacturer advertising their car to do the fastest U-Turn than all the competition. Interesting but very rarely used. The same goes for picturing things in dark boxes in automode without flash.

        • Sonny

          Thats exactly what im thinking, no doubt the 920 is an awesome phone but why would someone take a picture in such bad light without a flash? Unless if dark pictures taken with the 920 with its flash also on produces much better pics then the comp

          • mirco

            Both of you, AreOut and Sonny, are not so much into photography, are you? Never had a proper dedicated camera with an OIS? The benefits of OIS become relevant much sooner than the examples show. It helps already with pretty much any indoor shot in medium light conditions. The chances to get shaky pictures are much much less.

            And as Dave pointed out: The small integrated flash of any camera might help to get a bright picture but often kills the mood of the scene. To take some pictures of your drunken dudes, that works fine. But no flash will help you to take a picture of a landscape, a house or anything else which is further away than a few meters.

            Before I’ve bought my N8, I had already a Lumix LX3 (with OIS) and I was really used to take shake free pictures in almost all light conditions. The lacking OIS of the N8 really annoyed me. The noise conditions in dim and low light-conditions were still acceptable but most of the pictures came out shaky. When they announced the 808 I was really excited about the possibilities of the large sensor in combination with pixel binning. But at the same time I knew that you would often need a tripod to take advantage of its low light capabilites.

            OIS might not be as impressive as the huge sensor of the 808 but there are more situations where one will benefit from the OIS than from the oversampling. In bright light conditions the 920 might be just a little bit better than its competitors but this isn’t bad since average is already quite good here. In low light it is simply big steps ahead.

            • Sonny

              does the 920 have a nd filter by the way?

            • OIS is good for stabilizing camera shake, but without a fast enough flash like Xenon flash OIS is useless for moving subjects.

              • mirco

                Sure, nobody denies that. At the same time a tiny Xenon flash is useless for distant objects.

        • Dave

          Yeah, rarely used. All my subjects are always 3-5 ft away from me. I never want to have the background looking like it really looks, I prefer the deer-in-the-headlights red-eyed bright face with a pitch black background that you get with a xenon located 1 cm from the lens. All those beautiful outdoor evening shots taken with the L920 on flickr, I would never want to be able to take such a shot handheld. Tripod or go home!

          “Very rarely used” my ass.

          • burningIdea

            My my, someone sure is touchy… Admittedly, 920 is good in low light, no one has any doubts about that. However, I don’t know about everyone else, but 90% of my pics are taken in sufficient to good lighting conditions, and out of that 10% of low light photos, less than 5% are pictures where I wish I had the benefits of 920’s OIS. So yea, it’s good to have but “rarely” would be the word for it. I’m using an N8 btw.

            • MF

              I had an N8 too, and I wouldn’t use it to take pictures in the dark. Wait til you have the 808 or 920, you will find yourself enjoying night photography a lot more 😉

        • Viipottaja

          I would guess most people do not and certainly do not WANT to fiddle with any settings at all. So to me such auto mode tests are quite interesting as that’s the “mass market test”.

        • JLy

          One of the key benefits of OIS (and one of the biggest issues I have had with phone cameras) is the video recording! Especially when I try to film a concert it comes out terrible and shaking. But with the OIS you get nice beautiful stable footage, and I really dislike Nokia marketing for not going all hallelujah about Nokia Rich Recording technology(HAAC) found in the 920 (as well as the 808 PureView)! Because it is one of the biggest advances in mobile life recording I have ever witnessed! HAAC IS REVOLUTIONARY AND AMAZING! So OIS is REALLY useful for video stabilization, and with the rich distortion free audio recording up to 140 dB (140 dB=Jet-plane taking off, 120 dB=Air raid siren, a rock concert=much less) it is quite the package!

          Source/more info about HAAC:

      • how about doing an test by putting them in night mode?, then i think the comparison will be fair..

        • Janne

          I don’t think there is any doubt that in night mode, with a steady tripod or hand 808 PureView would beat the heck out of Lumia 920. I doubt we need tests for that. 🙂 But it does demand a steadier hand than the Lumia 920, I don’t doubt that.

          If anyone (me included) gets the chance to try the night mode out, please do post. I didn’t take such images because I usually feel night mode doesn’t work without something to place the phone on. There was also limited time, there was a queue to the box! I just took my snaps and moved on.

          However, I am confident 808 PureView is much better if held steady. No doubt in my mind.

          • okay, thanks for cleainng my doubt.. i own an 808 pureview.. 🙂

            • Janne

              The big thing in 920 is the optical image stabilization which means one can more often succeed with handheld longer exposure shots than on other phones. But of course 808 is otherwise a hugely superior camera, that when held steady on a tripod or something will surely beat the 920.

              Without a tripod or support? 920 may win in some cases and especially with video.

    • stylinred

      pureviewclub did the test you were speaking of

      the 808 is certainly better, and if you have a photo editing program you can make the 808s auto/night mode look far better than the 920 pureview because the 808s image wont be blurry whereas even with the ois in the 920 there is still a slight blur

      • mirco

        Well, this is true IF you carry a tripod with you. And if you are already carrying a tripod with you why don’t you take a more sophisticated camera with an even better lens, an even bigger sensor and an OIS with you? Do you see my point?

        • Zipa

          Well, you don’t need a 7 foot carbon fibre tripod for stabilizing a cellphone. A small Gorillapod or some other pocketable tripod will do just fine, so it doesn’t really add much bulk. Sure, it’s still not something that you would carry with you everywhere you go.

  • Reonhato

    It would be nice to see how the L900 ang PV808 do in night mode. The L920 seems to automatically select night mode on a dark environment.

    • i think the 920 selects the night mode automatically , better to compare 920 with 808 by putting them in night mode

      • rustyknight17

        Yes it does ! The 920 has night mode in auto mmode plus a veryyyyy powerful LED flash , these give ot an enormous and unfair advantage in comparisons like these ; e.g. no flash , low light , handheld , auto mode . Nokia`s trying to make the 920 into something it`s not , which is unnecessaryb ; the 920 can stand on its own ! What Nokia needs to do is get the 10 series Lumias out !

    • stylinred

      pureviewclub did that test a little while ago you can go check it out; jay even made a post in here about it

  • twig

    Walmart is sending out notices to 920 buyers that say demand for the Nokia 920 is so great there is a wait but as supplies come in daily, they will fit orders in the order taken.

  • d12south

    “Not their gut wrenchingly terrible ads that have been made by an art student to confuse you.”

    I dont think the ads your talking about are made to confuse people. They are part of what Nokia is a brand.. I agree that there must be some other type of ads thats show the unique benefits over other competitor products.. But I also think that Nokia should remain true to their “art-style” ads communications and graphic look & feel.

  • sinple

    what about dark box with flash? will the 920 end up over exposing compared to 808?

  • Spede oli aliarvostettu

    Here is an image taken from the same setup with an iPhone 4S. It was taken with the NightCap app downloaded from the App Store. The booth was not used to stabilize the phone. The app stabilizes the image by waiting for a moment when it’s not shaking. In this case it took less than a second to do that.

    Exposure time was 1/4 sec.

    The picture taken with 920 is clearly the better one. However it’s apparent that you can get really good results without 920’s PureView if you are using the right software. The difference between the images is not that big.

  • rustyknight17

    Stylinred , Mahesh , with youse ! Here we go again …
    The trouble with these comparisons ( e.g. handheld , low light , auto mode, no flash ) is that the 920 has an enormous , and unfair , advantage that , so far , no other smartphone has, kinda deceptive … As the man himself , Damian Dinning , put it on twitter , in auto mode , in low light , handheld and no flash , the 920 does better due to OIS and ” brighter pictues ” . So what did Dinning mean by brighter pictures ?
    Partly , it`s that the 920 is programmed in auto mode to take longer exposures , which any smartphone cam does in night mode , thus giving the the 920 a de facto night mode in auto mode , an enormous advantage in these comparisons .
    Partly also it`s the focusing light , a fancy way of saying that the 920 and 808 use their LED flashes to focus in low light . The issue here is that the 920`s LED flash is MUCH more powerful than the 808`s . Between the 2 , of course the 920 is much better , at least in low light ..
    Nor does it help that the people doing these comparisons rarely , if ever , point these issues out !
    And as for OIS , it`s great , but TBH , it`s making up for the 8.7 mp camera , pretty much minimum for high end phones these days .
    Don`t get me wrong , the 920 is a good phone and deserves its popularity . Not quite what I need but close . But in several cases it`s either barely ahead of it`s rivals , maybe equal to some others , and , of course , inferior to the 808 , N9 , and perhaps the N8 … Cheers !

    • Viipottaja

      Inferior to the N9? Really?

      And how is the advantage unfair? I am a little confused. Remember, end user ease of use and experience and quality of the result is what matters for most users. 🙂

  • rustyknight17

    correction , low light in auto mode and no flash

  • rustyknight17

    Yes really . In terms of the whole experience , the N9 is indeed superior to the 920 .
    As for ur third question , did u not read my post ? I was pretty clear , but for the sake of clarity , I`ll explain one more time .
    In these comparisons , low light in auto mode handheld with no flash , the 920 has an enormous and unfair advantage for 2 reasons . First the 920 is programmed in auto mode for longer exposures , which is essentially night mode . None of its rivals , not even the 808 r so programmed .
    Second is the focusing light , e.g. a smartphone using its LED flash to focus . The 920`s` LED flash is MUCH more powerful than it`s rivals , even the 808 , and the 808~ LED flash is no slouch on brightness .
    These 2 things together comprise an enormous and unfair advantage . What`s need for fairness is allowing flash in the other phones since the 920~s flash is so much more powerful . Of course , were that to happen , the 920`s low light prowess in auto mode would be much reduced ! and isn`t it curious that low light comparisons to the 920 r almost never done in night mode ?

  • rustyknight17

    Viipotaja , u r right ! Ease of use and the quality of the results r indeed what matters to most customers , me included!
    And here the 808 dwarfs the 920. Not that the 920 isn`t a good phone , but I contend the 808 is a better choice ! Awesome camera ( superior to the 920 in most all use cases ) , powerful and useful OS , removable battery and microSD card ! And it`s not like u have to tinker with the cam`s settings , autio mode on the 808 is great ! And why wouldn`t u put ur smartphone~ cam in night mode at , well , night ?

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