Nokia Lumia 1020. An honest opinion.

Through the kind introduction by Volker Weber, Microsoft (or Nokia) was kind enough to send me Nokia Lumia 1020. Including the very useful Camera Grip Cover and a Manfrotto KLYP tripod. A lot has been said about the Lumia 1020 and its massive 41 Megapixel Camera. And if you belive the hype it is the “Jesuscameraphone” we all have been waiting for. As far as I can remember all (or most) reviews and posts said that it was the best phone camera on the market, only rivaled by the iPhone 5 and 5s, but still superior to the Cupertino challengers.

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On paper if kicks some serious ass with its 41 Megapixels, the ability to handle photos in JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PNG and even DNG, full manual controls right out of the box. What a great thing to be able to control your ISO, exposure and all right in the regular photo app itself, which is a feature a lot of people miss in for example the iPhone. The low light performance is very nice, but in my experience mostly when you control exposure manually compared to letting the phone decide the settings in really dark surroundings. The overall builtquality is just very nice and the phone feels absolutely great eventhough I am not a huge fan of phones as wide as the Lumia 1020. Compared to the Samsung Ativ I had a few month ago my hands do not try to drop the phone all the time though. Last but not least the Screen is just a very joyful part of the phone. It’s large, bright and sharp and the touchscreen just feels quick and responsive. In addition the camera grip cover ads more stability and ease of use to the Lumia as a camera. Plus the killer feature of the grip, a built in battery for longer photowalks or even surfing the web or watching movies, as also ads a tripod mount and more stability standing up.

I have used the camera now for a few weeks and also on my two week work trip to Brazil and a few others. I have to admit, I really fell in love with the phone, but not neccessarily the camera. First things first. I had a windows phone before and had the same “problems” as I had this time. It is an appealing mobile OS, but coming from iOS it does feel a bit more basic. Which doesn’t have to be a bad thing for most people, but for me it feels that way. I also do not want to discard the fact of being very used to iOS and the whole Apple Ecosystem, but I am not totally blind and fanboyish about it for sure. Not having all the little helpers and Apps you are used to and also paid quite some oney for it over time.

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Let me get started with my biggest problem with the Lumia 1020 as a camera phone… its startup time. I have absolutely no idea why it takes so long to get the camera app up and running, but it certainly has cost me a good ammount of nice photos and snapshots I could have gotten if it didn’t take about six seconds from pressing the camera button, to get right into the app, to actually being able to shoot. It is ok if want to shoot a nice flower as you are walking by or a the Eifeltower as you stroll through Paris, but you will often miss the funny thing your dog does in the garden when chasing bees or litterally the first steps you kid takes if it really comes to it. It really is not horrible, but long enough. Having that quirky little Corgi running around in my friends garden got me one shot after I called him over and got him to stand still… these others where me trying to get him having some fun.

My second biggest problem with the camera is the massive rolling shutter you get in video and photo!!! I cannot put in words how much I was shocked about this. We were driving from Porto Seguro to Santo Andre and passing by some nice and interesting scenes and as I often do when I am on the road and on the passenger seat I just pointed the camera out of the window and started shooting. forward, backward sideways. Not once have I seen anything like this on my iPhones… sure a little here and there, but like this?! And on Video you have the same… not even low end DSLRs have a rolling shutter problem like this. I am really sorry, as I don’t want to come over as a jerk for clinging onto one problem, but in my opinion it is a pretty huge one.

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The third not so nice point that is kind of annyoing is the rate of fire… no matter if you “only” shoot the 5MP JPEG, 5MP + 34MP JPEG or the 5MP JPEG + 34MP DNG it just takes a few seconds before you can shoot another photo. That is not a thing you are used to from the iPhone camera app, which basically lets you shoot instantly after fireing and with the iPhone 5s even just shoot bursts by holding the shutterrelease, but forget the burst feature. Sometimes you just want to fire a few shots and this really takes you out of the whole thing.

I do understand that these points might not be a problem for you and as a matter of fact I do know quite a a lot of people that are very much in love with their Lumia 1020 and its camera. For me though, it would be more the backup of a backup camera like a Fuji X100s or Canon G16. And if I was more able to use the Windows OS on the phone I might actually be quite happy. For me though the overall package does not work and thats a shame. I am looking forward though to future releases of the Lumia Phones and the Windows Phone OS.

Its funny how I can cope so much better with using Windows on a Desktop than on a phone…

So please judge yourself I think I have a nice selection of everyday photos for you to go through (all unedited btw). And I certainly would recommend the phone to a lot of people, but not all…

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