Will Nokia dilute its PureView brand with an 8MP Lumia 920?

Daniel Bader

September 4, 2012 5:38pm

“As said many times before it’s NOT about the number of pixels but what you do with them.”

Damian Dinning is a very smart guy. As the head of imaging for Nokia, arguably the company who cares most about its smartphone cameras, he has a lot of responsibilities. When the PureView 808 was released in its 41MP glory, he was adamant that it was the best camera experience on a smartphone, period. But with a huge 1/1.2″ sensor, the module was prohibitively large to fit in all but the most niche high-end smartphones.

In the run-up to tomorrow’s Nokia announcement, several pieces of information have leaked about the purported high-end Lumia 920, the flagship follow-up to the Lumia 900 and Nokia’s new Windows Phone 8 hotness. When we saw the leaked press photos, there was no pronounced camera bump, nor any indication PureView was going to play a part. But we’d heard, time and time again, that PureView technology would be built into the next generation of Windows Phones.

From the information we’ve gathered, the Lumia 920 will have an 8MP camera sensor — this would eliminate any possibility of achieving super-sharp photos from oversampling, the gathering “too much” information and consolidating it into a 5.8MP finished product. Dinning tweeted a few times earlier today, perhaps attempting to assuage our disappointment, by saying “PureView is NOT a single specific feature or specification. [It] is about blending optics, pixels and image processing in new and different ways to allow you to do things you otherwise cannot. The future of photography will be about how you use pixels, optics and image processing together.”

While that’s well and good, a larger sensor means more light captured, which means more “information” to work with. The typical 8MP smartphone sensor, such as in the Lumia 900, iPhone 4S and Galaxy S III, is too small to equivocate that of a full-sized camera. Nokia understands that most consumers don’t want a device with a 14mm camera module bulge, so it is limited by the current state of technology. Sony is releasing a number of 13MP Exmor R sensors for use in other smartphones later this year, but the Lumia 920 likely has something else up its sleeve. By optimizing the captured light and processing it in a particular way, Nokia could bring some of its PureView magic to the Lumia line. But until the size of the sensor increases — not just the megapixels, Dinning is correct in that assertion — nothing in the industry is going to dramatically change.

We’ll be in New York tomorrow covering all the exciting announcements — and regardless of what happens, it will be exciting — and you’ll know more the second we do.

Source: Damian Dinning (Twitter)

  • Hub

    They had a brand to dilute? If there is a brand that is diluted, it is the Nokia brand.

  • Hilman

    Dam that is a nasty looking phone, the back is as putrid as the front (metro UI/live tiles), barf.

    • Pata

      Except that phone, the 808 PureView, is a Symbian device and not Windows Phone.

  • R.Dot

    Who the hell needs 41 megapixels?

    • S2556

      I don’t know about you but I like taking my billboard advertising photos from my smartphone

    • Pata

      Not many people, but regardless, the 808 doesn’t output 41MP images, but 5MP; the camera takes 7 pixels and combines them into 1 during output. This creates a picture with reduced noise at low light levels and increased image details. It also allows you to zoom in without having to deal with a digital zoom.

    • Keith

      @R. Dot,

      Check out some of the amazing Nokia 808 PureView galleries and you see who needs phones with 41 MB sensors. Thought it is not about taking pictures at 41 MB although the PureView can take pictures at 38 MBs but that is not the intention of Pureview. PureView is far more about its lossless zooming and low light wizardly, etc.

    • EvanKr

      If you know anything about photography, you know that the megapixel race is a marketing scheme. Unless you’ll be posting your images onto a billboard size print, 5 megapixels is totally sufficient for 99% of the population. In fact, Nikon’s basic, cheap, entry level $400 DSLR, the D3200, has 24 megapixels. Their top end $6000 flagship camera, the D4, has 16 megapixels.

      What’s more important is the size of the sensor (something that Nokia has nailed in comparison to the competition), the quality of the lens (there’s no use having a hi-res sensor if you have a crappy lens!), and other factors like the colour reproduction, dynamic range, etc.

    • GrapeApe

      “If you know anything about photography… ….5 megapixels is totally sufficient for 99% of the population.”

      @ EvanKr , if you knew anything about photography you’d know that statement is as innacurate as the marketing ploys for more megapixels. Not all pixels are the same, and a better argument against this would’ve been for low-light sensitivity of the small sensor elements of an 41MP small sensor being horrible comapared to a larger sensor element for the final resolved image. The main advantage to more megapixels is for croping and image manipulation, and essentially that’s what this camera does in boiling down that 41 -> 5 and the ability to zoom in on a subject without interpolated zoom.

      It’s a an ok image capture device with interesting features, but not really one of the principal reasons most people look to buy a Phone anymore now that they’ve gotten past the low res sensors of old.

  • zzZZzz

    I was hoping for a 13MP camera, but hey, make it an excellent 8MP and it’s all good.

    As for diluting, most people never heard of the pureview 41MP demo line, so I don’t think there’s much damage there.

  • Matt

    Is this BB10?

    • rairai

      Yes, yes it is.

  • BS

    Goes to show what you know Hilman. This phone doesn’t run Windows Phone. It runs Symbian.

  • Keith

    PureView would never get anywhere on Symbian and far from diluting the PureView brand Windows Phone will bring it to the forefront. PureView is about a lot more than the sensor and just like Lexus having many models to pick from, Windows Phone PureView phones will too. My first WP PureView phone may only have 8MB but assumming Nokia executes as I believe my 2nd WP PureView will be considerably larger.

  • Darth Paton

    Rumour was that the 920 was going to have a 21 mp sensor. After all, that is the maximum number of pixels that the snapdragon S4 can handle. Also, Nokia has been dropping hints like a 21 second video shot with a camera phone

    • freestaterocker

      Also there’s the codename for what is now believed to be the 920: “phi” is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. This would be utilizing 4x oversampling to bring the image down to 5mp, for only slightly lower image quality than the 7x oversampling the 808 uses, but still far better than the current smartphone camera kings like the iPhone 4s.

    • Darth Paton

      Right! I forgot about that one thanks!

  • Boromir

    One does not simply use 41 megapixels to take a picture…

  • Braumin

    As for whether or not the brand will be diluted, that depends entirely on the quality of the camera. If it takes photos better than the upcoming iPhone 5, then it is obviously diluting nothing.

    I’ve (along with many people I am sure) discovered that the camera on my phone is one of the most important things. My LG has a terrible camera, my wife’s Nokia Lumia 800 is just OK. I need something great, because great is available from the competition.

  • sak500

    here’s an idea since you (nokia) are going downhill in cellphones just go and start making cameras. We dont need your half baked products.

    Burned N900 user.

  • Elop the flop

    Somehow, the Microsoft marketing machine (deliberately?) misinterprets Damian Dinning’s words.

    “It’s NOT about the number of pixels but what you do with them.”

    All the 41MP in the PureView 808 are important and useful for OVERSAMPLING without an optical zoom. The result is exceptional image quality. The 41MP is not an overkill, but the fruition of engineering brilliance.

    The Microsoft marketing machine simply insists that megapixels are not important (just like back in the day when AMD insisted that CPU clock speed wasn’t important), adds some camera postprocessing effects to a regular 8MP camera sensor found in other products, then slaps on the PureView brand.

    I hope none of you are daft enough to fall for this bait-and-switch.

    P.S: Nokia’s share price just plunged 10% after the announcement. That should speak volumes more than marketing fluff or astroturfing.

  • Muhammad Waqas

    Wao 0:0-)