Nokia took the wraps off of its Lumia 1020 smartphone yesterday and undoubtedly, the big talk is all about its new camera. While Nokia had introduced the 41 megapixel camera with the PureView 808, the 1020’s camera is a second-generation version of that. In addition, it gets a powerful camera app that gives a lot of control to the user. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the Lumia 1020’s camera.

The 41 megapixel BSI sensor on the Lumia 1020 is the largest of its kind on a smartphone, according to Nokia. However, it’s not truly 41 megapixels. Nokia is taking data from up to seven pixels to create each pixel of the final 5 megapixel image; so essentially, each image is either 34 megapixels (in 16:9 aspect ratio) or 38 megapixels (in 4:3) in size. Naturally, even the most avid photographer might not find the need to have such large images with them on their smartphones. So Nokia has made it such that only the reduced 5 megapixel image is available for viewing on the phone and sharing with your peers. The larger size image is only accessible when the phone is connected to a PC.

The bump on the back is quite prominent

The bump on the back is quite prominent

The basic specs of the camera should be enough to please most photography enthusiasts, but the Lumia 1020 also boasts of Nokia’s second-generation optical image stabilisation (OIS) engine. This is also an improved version of the OIS found on the Nokia Lumia 920, which, as we have seen, takes stellar videos, eliminating shakes and jerks. This OIS is capable of taking blur-free low-light photos and can compensate for up to 500 movements a second. Nokia’s engineers made this possible by the using ball bearings to mount the whole camera module to compensate for any hand movement.

Just like many of Nokia’s best camera-phones in the past, the Lumia 1020 boasts of Zeiss optics. This, as we have seen in the past, delivers good images and will undoubtedly be helped by some serious backend image processing chips. The Zeiss lens is a six-elements lens, which technically means greater detail is captured in every shot. The xenon flash on the Lumia 1020 is geared for taking the best pictures in all modes in low-light conditions. There's an additional LED flash for AF assist. The xenon flash can illuminate shots for 1/16,000 of a second, which is the time it takes for the Lumia 1020 to take a picture at the minimum shutter speed.

In the video department, the camera can shoot full HD videos at 30 fps with impressive numbers for lossless zoom. This is also done by the same oversampling techniques used for still images. The zoom is 4x in 1080p mode, 6x in 720p mode. The camera captures stereo sound thanks to Nokia’s proprietary Rich Recording technology that’s said to be capable of handling sound pressure levels six times louder than conventional smartphone mics. The LED flash ensures lighting in dark settings when shooting video, but we don't expect wonders from this.

On the software side of things, Nokia Pro Camera app takes over as the default app on the Windows Phone 8 Lumia 1020. This has swipe-able dials for granular control over different aspects like exposure level, manual focus (macro to infinity), white balance, shutter speed and ISO (till 4000). Shutter speed can be dialled down to as low as four seconds for effects like light trails and intentional blur. Users can reframe and re-zoom images to produce separate images from a single shot. Some examples given by Nokia include straightening the horizon on a sunset shot, or using individual portraits from a bigger group photo.

Camera Grip has an extra battery as well as a tripod mount

Camera Grip has an extra battery as well as a tripod mount

While the Nokia PureView 808 came with a tripod mount accessory, Nokia has preferred to give an entire leather case for the 1020, which should ideally give it better grip and make it feel like a proper camera. In addition, it also has extra battery power, a two-step shutter and a universal tripod mount.

The Lumia 1020's camera module is shaping up to be one of the best cameras on a smartphone and has a powerful app to go along with it. On paper, it looks like Nokia has taken the smartphone photography experience to the next level. We’ll have to wait and shoot some pictures with the Lumia 1020 to find out if the dream is true. Impressed by what you see in the Lumia 1020? Let us know.

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