There's always been a misunderstanding that the more megapixels, the better the image quality. Although it's not true, unless you want to blow your quick snaps up to the size of a building, it gives you more flexibility when editing your photos.
One of the biggest launches at Mobile World Congress (pun intended), was Nokia's behemoth of a smartphone camera. The Nokia PureView 808 comes with a 41-megapixel camera.
The Nokia PureView 808 may not be the most attractive device announced, and it operates on Symbian, which is equally as unattractive, but it does raise an important question - how much is too much when it comes to mobile photography?
Vesa Jutila, Head of Symbian Product Marketing at Nokia says the company has been working on the camera and integration of it into a phone for a long time.
‘The Nokia N8 was a premium imaging phone. It received a great reception and it's still selling strongly globally. This is introducing the next generation, and we want to reclaim our leadership today,' he says.
The company didn't have to put such a high resolution camera into the PureView, but decided to as its top range Pro product.
So how has Nokia managed to produce such great results?
The first part is the physical sensor. The actual component is huge so it's easy to understand why is creates a bulge on the back of the PureView 808. It measures 11mm width and 8mm in height, but it's this size that means it can let in a lot of light and produce noise-free shots.
The sensor also doesn't have any moving parts, save for a filter and the autofocus. There's no optical zoom, only digital zoom, which doesn't physically zoom in.
The sensor works in two modes - 16:9 and 4:3. At 16:9, the camera shoots at 34-megepixels. At 4:3, it shoots at 38-megapixels.
Nokia's PureView technology is supported by larger pixels. Traditionally, mobile phone camera sensors have shrunk the pixel size so they're a lot smaller (around 1.4 microns) than those in compact or DSLR cameras, and therefore, the photos lack the same detail as pictures taken on standalone cameras.
Nokia has decided to buck this trend, by introducing pixels around 4.5 microns in size.
The third important aspect is pixel oversampling. Pixel oversampling involves merging multiple pixels to make one ‘super' pixel. The noise is removed, but clarity and detail remains.
The more you zoom in, the fewer pixels merge and the more they act like regular pixels.
Jutila says, ‘Oversampling allows you to take away all unnecessary detail. It gets rid of noise. Even with high-grade normal lenses, there's a little noise. Image cluster in the sensor and advanced algorithms cleans away all failures and noise from the pixels. It produces perfect detail and pure quality.'
It allows you to zoom into a specific detail in your viewfinder and take a photo of just that with crisp edges. Even if you're shooting in 5-megapixel mode, you can zoom in to capture the detail without any loss at all of quality. With video, you can zoom in four times without extra noise.
Do we need a 41-megapixel smartphone? Nokia's PureView technology we don't need a 41-megapixel camera at all. Even Nokia doesn't think it needs to have such high resolution.
However, higher numbers sound better, and who wouldn't want to take a picture that can be printed out and plastered on the size of a house? If only we had a printer big enough.
Nokia 808 PureView highlights
- Camera features
- 41 megapixel sensor with pixel oversampling
- Lossless zoom: 3x for stills, 4x for full HD 1080p
- Carl Zeiss optics
- Focal length: 8.02
- 35mm equivalent focal length: 26mm (16:9) / 28mm (4:3)
- Optical format: 1/1.2"
- Total pixels: 7728 x 5368
- Pixel size: 1.4 microns
- LED light for video capture
- Xenon flash for still images. Range 3.5 meter
- File format: JPEG
- 1080p HD video capture @30fps
- Size: 123.9 x 60.2 x 13.9mm
- Weight 169 gram
- 4-inch AMOLED touch display, 360 x 640 pixels, 16.7 million colours, ClearBlack display
- Networks: GSM/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900, UMTS 850/900/1700/-2100 1900/2100
- Micro USB
- FM transmitter
- 3.5 mm audio jack
- 16 GB internal storage. Expandable with micoSD card up to 48 GB (including internal)
- 1400 mAh battery
- Talk time: 11 hours
- Standby time: 465 hours
- Nokia Belle OS
- Nokia Maps with free car and pedestrian navigation