iPhone 6 camera tops DxO charts

Digital Optics (DxO) have recently tested the camera in the iPhone 6 (both models) and have rated it the best IQ (image quality) of any smartphone they have tested—see the following chart.

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The 8 megapixel camera in the iPhone with its five element f2.2 lens even knocks out the 20 megapixel camera in the Sony Xperia Z3.

iPhoneLensBecause of the low-ish pixel count the iPhone 6 has far fewer issues with digital noise compared to camera-phones with higher pixel counts. Due to the lower pixel density there is less pixel bleed thereby resulting in a more vibrate and crisper outcome straight off the sensor.

Hence Apple need to do far less post-processing manipulation of the image to calm down the digital noise and can therefore put more post-processing effort into enhancing the image with less overall destruction of the original quality. Whereas smartphones with much higher megapixel counts have to do significant potentially image harming post-processing to calm down the digital noise, and then they have to try and bring back the focus (sharpening), contrast, and colour (vibrancy).

Apple are leveraging the well known digital imaging law, that, all other things being equal, a lower pixel density provides a higher image quality. This is why the relatively massive sensors in half-frame and full-frame DSLR-style cameras are able to provide the image quality that they do—they have such low (relative) pixel densities.

Also, like the top-end compact cameras and optional on most DSLRs, Apple have put phase detection focussing into the iPhone 6. This should provide faster and more accurate automatic focussing.

So based on the camera the iPhone 6 is a winner. Considering that a third of smartphone buyers in Australia apparently make their final choice based on the camera then this should go well for Apple.

However, one thing I can tell you without any fear of being wrong is that Samsung and the rest will not be happy with Apple beating them on camera phone image quality. You can bet the family pet that Samsung, Nokia/Microsoft, Sony, Motorola/Google, and others in the land of Android and Windows Phone are working 24/7 to try and put together a camera phone to beat the iPhone 6.

BarryMark

Titbit: Sold my Lumia 1020 on Gumtree

With a bit of help from my son’s girlfriend I sold my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone on Gumtree last weekend.

The Lumia 1020 was a great phone. The camera was truly amazing.

However as much as I liked it the battery life let it down badly—as regular readers would be aware. For me a smartphone with a battery life of less than a day with very little usage is not viable.

So I took some snaps and my son’s girlfriend put it up on Gumtree.

It sold within a day and I got $20 under my asking price of $530, so someone got a great bargain—as long as they are aware of the battery life they will be very happy.

BarryMark

Gave up on the Lumia 1020 smartphone

Regular readers will know that I bought a Nokia Lumia 1020 about two months ago. I liked everything about this phone except the battery life.

The 1020’s PureView 41/38MP SmartCam camera, for a smartphone camera, was truly amazing. The anti-shake system used by Nokia in this phone is extremely good. The clarity of the pictures was comparable to my Canon G15 compact camera that has a sensor over five times the physical size.

I so wanted to keep using this phone. I did everything I could to extend the battery life, including putting the phone in ‘flight mode’ overnight. This basically disables the radios in the smartphone—including the 3G/4G mobile radio so you won’t get and can’t make any phone calls.

Even so I was lucky to get about 14 hours battery life and this is without doing anything with the phone.

When I finally got my pre-order ‘free’ bonus hand grip snap-on which adds a 1,200mAh battery to the existing 2,000mAh battery in the phone, I still did not get a full day of usage from the 1020. And anyway, who would want to leave the hand grip attached? It makes what is already a large phone way too bulky to carry around as a smartphone. Anyway the main purpose of the hand grip is not to extend battery life but to upgrade the camera usage experience. It provides a tripod screw mount on the base and a two-stage shutter release button on the top (which can be seen in the following picture).

So on the 2nd of December I reverted to my Nokia Lumia 720, which manages to get three days of battery life with the greatest of ease. In periods of very low usage the battery in the 720 can make it out to five days and this is with leaving it turned on all the time—no flight mode, no turning off at night.

The following picture shows the 1020 (yellow) alongside my old faithful 720 (white).

Lumia1020and720

Anyone want to buy a very slightly used Nokia Lumia 1020 that cost me AUD$833, complete with a bonus hand grip?

No more pre-order rash purchasing for me. I have learnt my lesson.

BarryMark

Lumia 1020: Great camera, lousy battery life

At this stage I have done a few quick camera tests with the 41/38MP f2.0 camera in the Lumia 1020. Speaking as a ‘photographer’ with experience of some 34 years I am prepared to state that the camera in the Lumia 1020 is very good. Probably as good as a low-end compact camera with a sensor three times the size.

The focus is very accurate.

The anti-shake mechanism works very well.

Low-light pictures taken without flash (which is ALWAYS the best option) are very good.

The Nokia Camera Pro controls are very well done and easy to use.

Assuming I continue to use it I will post more examples of just how surprising this camera is over the next few months.

BUT . . .

The battery in the Lumia 1020 is just as surprisingly BAD!

I have now ‘exercised' the Lithium-Ion battery five times and although the battery life has improved by about 30 percent it still only just barely lasts for a full day with very limited Web surfing and no Internet tethering. Whereas I can use my Lumia 720 for Web surfing and Internet tethering for a couple of hours a day and still get three full days of battery life.

What have Nokia done to burn the battery up so fast?

I do like the 1020. I love the extremely crisp screen with its vibrant colour. The touch screen is much more responsive than the touch screen on the 720. And the Windows Phone operating system is instantaneous and silky smooth.

So now I have a difficult decision to make. Continue using the Lumia 1020 and put up with less than a full day of battery life, or revert to the Lumia 720 . . . .

BarryMark

Jenni’s Kookaburras featuring the Lumia 1020 camera

Each evening my wife puts out some food for a group of local Kookaburras. The group that turns up for this evening meal varies from three to about eight.

Here, pictured using the my new (and slightly disappointing) Lumia 1020 mobile phone, is the group that turned up today.

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Now, remembering that the camera in the Lumia 1020 is a 41/38MP camera, following is the digital zoom—taken from the above picture—of just the kookaburras.

JennisKooksZoom

How awesome is this for a mobile phone camera in really low overcast light?

And it gets better. What if I just zoom on the two Kookaburras at the front?

JennisKoosTwoFront

Don’t forget this is NOT a DSLR. It is NOT a mid-range or high-end compact. This is from a mobile phone camera, and taken on an overcast day in really bad and dim light!

Yes. There is noticeable digital noise. And yes! The focus is starting to become a little blurry  But this is from a mobile phone with a sensor about the size of two match heads.

Believe me. This is amazing.

However, as amazing as the camera might be, if the battery does not improve and give me at least two days of life then I will be putting this phone on Gumtree for sale to get some of my money back. I don’t understand how Nokia can make the Lumia 720 with a battery of about 2/3rds the capacity and it lasts for four to five days, and yet the Nokia Lumia 1020—with EVERYTHING turned off and a bigger battery—lasts only about 14 to 18 h0urs with no use of WiFi or Bluetooth or 3G/4G data!!

BarryMark

Picked up my Nokia Lumia 1020—bit worried about the battery life

I picked up my pre-ordered Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone from Harvery Norman’s yesterday. They didn’t have the ‘free’ battery grips in stock yet (that everybody got for pre-ordering) so I will have to go back and get that at some stage <insert *grumble* here>.

I got the yellow one. I keep misplacing my phone at the motel when I work away and I am hoping that a bright yellow phone might be easier to find than a white one. There is something about white and black. I seem to mentally overlook those colours when I am trying to find something.

Also, as you can see, the yellow goes well in my blue study desk mobile phone holder.

Lumia1020-Small

At this stage I have not tested out the 41/38MP camera so I can’t give you my opinions on that yet.

After using the Lumia 720 for almost eight months the 1020 initially feels a lot bigger and heavier, and it is bigger and heavier. But when you put them side-by-side the 1020 is not that much bigger than the 720.

One thing that is bothering me a bit is that after charging it to 100% yesterday at about 7:00 p.m. it was down to 29% this morning at 9:30 a.m. with very little use during that time. I realise that Lithium batteries need a little ‘exercising’ when they are new to get them up to their full capacity and that they don’t start to work well until after about five full charges. But having it run down to below 1/3rd remaining power overnight does worry me a bit.

Especially compared to the Lumia 720 which would go for five days even with about two hours Web browsing via 3G at night.

There is also the slightly bigger and significantly higher resolution screen that the battery has to drive. Whereas the 4.3” screen in the 720 is a 385K pixel screen, the 4.5” screen in the 1020 is a 983K pixel screen. That is 2.5 times the number of pixels that need to be powered when the phone is in use.

But even so, one of the claims to fame of the Windows Phone operating system is that it requires less CPU power to do things than Android or iOS.

I will wait until I have done at least five full re-charges before I get seriously sad about this, but at this stage the battery life is bugging me. The idea of having to charge my phone daily is not making me happy. Seriously, if the battery were to only last about 2/3rds of day then I would have look hard at going back to the 720.

BarryMark

Titbit: Nokia 1020 confirmed for 17th September release

The amazing Nokia 1020 smartphone with the 41/38MP camera has been confirmed for release in Australia on the 17th of September.

The undiscounted price is expected to be $899.

I have to admit, even though I only recently bought the Nokia 720—which I highly recommend—I am very tempted to go for a 1020. I will probably wait until the outright price goes down to around $699. I think that $899 is just too much to pay for a phone even if it does have a world-leading six element sensor-stabilised true-zoom 41/38M camera in it.

The one downside of the 1020 is battery life. The 720 has a ‘normal phone-only usage’ battery life of 3.5 days and I can attest that this is easily achievable. But the 1020 is only rated at 2 days. I really do like the very long life of the battery in the 720 but for that amazing camera I might be tempted to put up with the lower battery life.

For anyone who wants a Nokia 920, which was once the flagship Nokia phone, you can now pick these up for about $360 outright if you shop around.

BarryMark

Nokia 1020 pushed back to mid-September for Australia

The undisputed best camera smartphone available, the new Nokia 1020, will now not be available in Australia until mid-September.

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Smartphone review sites are unanimous that that Nokia’s 1020 41/34 megapixel smartphone is streets ahead of any other smartphone camera. But can you make the move to the Windows Phone operating system? That is the question.

For me it is easy. I am already using a Nokia 720 so I am already using Windows Phone and I love it. Depending on the price here in Australia I will be moving to upgrade to the 1020. Maybe not as soon as it is released because the initial release price is usually very high and I prefer to by my mobile phones outright and not bundled into a plan. But as soon as it drops a couple of hundred dollars after the initial release then I will probably upgrade from my 720.

The depth of field, focus, colour rendition, resolution, and exposure of the camera in the 1020 is a significant leap ahead of anything else currently available. Pictures taken with the 1020 are very close to the quality expected from a mid-range compact and this is pretty amazing considering the tiny relative physical size of the sensor.

Following are  few random examples from the Web. All taken using the 1020 which is now available in the USA.

Sadly I can only show them at 650 pixels wide which sort of dilutes the amazing quality of the full sized images. Clicking on the images will take you to the originals on the Web but beware that some of the images may take a small time to open as they can be large (the last one is massive). Oh, and it is sort of pointless opening these larger versions if you are using a tablet or smartphone to view them.

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BarryMark

Nokia 1020 due for release in the US in August

1020NokiaFollowing right on from my posting about my Nokia 720 Windows Phone, those that keep a finger on the smartphone world will be aware that the much rumoured Nokia 1020 Windows Phone is slated for release in the US in early August.

The 1020 is Nokia’s new flagship Windows Phone.

The 1020 looks much like the 920, which looks much like the 720 and the 820.

So what is different?

The 1020 is lighter than the 920. So those that complained that the 920 is too heavy then that has been fixed in the 1020.

But the biggest point of interest in the 1020 is its amazing camera. It has a 41MP camera. But … it does NOT produce 41MP pictures. It produces very high quality—for a smartphone—5MP pictures.

So, you might ask: What’s with the 41MP camera then?

To get the full details you should do your own research on the Web but there are four things I can probably jot down pretty quickly.

Sharper focus: The camera in the 1020 has an extra lens element compared to most (maybe all) existing smartphone cameras. This, combined with the 41MP sensor, allows for better accuracy of focus. On top of this the 1020 picks the best pixel out of an array of 7 and then builds the resulting 5MP output picture using the best pixels from the 41MP of picture that was taken.

Less motion blur: The 1020 camera has an improve anti-shake mechanism that is much like the anti-shake mechanism found in high-end compact and DSLR cameras.

Awesome digital zoom: Because the 1020 has 41MP of image to work with it can produce much better digital zoom images. According to reviews, the digital zoom on the 1020 produces a final picture almost as good as having optical zoom. If this is true this will be a massive improvement over all current digital zooms in every other smartphone camera.

Comes with the Windows 8 Update: Nokia are indicating that the 1020 will ship with the recently announced Windows Phone 8 update. This update will not be available for other Windows Phone 8 users until later in the year.

For those interested there is more information available at sites like Engadget and the WinSuperSite.

I have no idea when the 1020 would be available in Australia.

BarryMark

I am liking my Nokia 720 Windows Phone

I am not too sure if I blogged it at the time (or not) but a little while ago I upgraded from my Motorola Defy Android 2.3 smartphone—that I have had for about 3.5 years—to a Nokia 720 Windows 8 Phone. Although the Nokia 920 is the flagship model of Nokia Windows Phones I went for the lower model Nokia 720 for one main reason: in the world of smartphones it was reported to have superb battery life.

720BatteryI have had my Nokia 720 Windows Phone now for about two months and I would like to report that I am very happy with the battery life. I consistently get about four days battery life out of the 720 depending on how often I connect to data services and how often I tether data services to my Microsoft Surface Pro.

As you can see from the photograph at right, at the time I decided to key this posting I took a picture of the battery usage screen and the 720 has been on for 4 days 13 hours with an estimated 19 hours of battery life remaining. If you have Battery Saver turned on, then once you get down to about 20 percent of battery Windows 8 automatically goes into ‘miser’ mode and uses even less batter power in order to extend the battery life further.

This phone is left on 24 hours a day and I use it for my wake-up alarm.

Most days I would connect to data services four times and for two of those times I would be tethered to the Surface Pro. That would be when I eat breakfast and lunch at work and I am using the Surface Pro to check out various Web sites; possibly even to post up a blog posting during my lunch break (which I think I have only done twice so far).

I almost never use the 720 for taking or viewing video (from Youtube, etc.) and I know that both of these functions do tend to chew up battery life. Also I find the screen is ample bright enough on the second lowest setting so this also saves battery.

As for using a Windows 8 Phone it sort of bothered me for the first couple of weeks. However, as the advertising says, once you get used to the functionality and smoothness of Windows 8 Phone it would be very hard to go back to Andriod. I can’t comment about iOS (i.e., iPhones) as I have never used iOS, but I suspect it is the same outcome.

BarryMark