Full-Resolution Lumia 1020 Sample Shots (Mostly) Live Up to the Hype

Nokia has posted some sample images from its new half-camera, half-phone Lumia 1020. Since we weren't allowed to shoot and keep any photos of our own during yesterday's hands-on, for now we'll have to draw conclusions from these official samples. If they're at all reflective of real-world shooting conditions, we could be looking at something special.

It's always good to approach manufacturer sample images with a healthy dose of skepticism, so take this analysis with several heaping boulders of salt. However, the photos from Nokia's website seem to be fairly straightforward in terms of common shooting conditions. The most glaring omission are low light images, without the use of a flash. We'll have to wait until we have our very own 1020 to test those abilities.

Otherwise, let's dig in.

Full-Resolution Lumia 1020 Sample Shots (Mostly) Live Up to the Hype

Download the full-size version of this image here.

Evaluating daylight image quality, the photos look plenty gorgeous. The detail is crisp and clean, especially when viewing the full, uncropped image. Of course, all of this is relative to other smartphone cameras. Not even this beast can produce image quality that can compete with most dedicated cameras.

So, the photos look great at a glance. But where things get a bit more complicated is when you start to take into account Nokia's vision of Lumia 1020 owners cropping into that sea of pixels to re-compose and "zoom" in on details. The question is, just how much can you crop before the image starts to look like mush?

Note: These crop values are only accurate when the images are expanded to their full 1280 pixel wide width. So, click 'expand'!

Full-Resolution Lumia 1020 Sample Shots (Mostly) Live Up to the Hype

Full-Resolution Lumia 1020 Sample Shots (Mostly) Live Up to the Hype

Full-Resolution Lumia 1020 Sample Shots (Mostly) Live Up to the Hype

Full-Resolution Lumia 1020 Sample Shots (Mostly) Live Up to the Hype

Download the full-size version of this image here.

We found that cropping to around 50% of the full-size image is about how far we would want to go (this is a subjective value). A lot more than that and your pic might resemble something from a flip-phone circa 2005. No thanks. Also, remember that this exercise is working with images shot in ample light, which means low noise levels. Low-light shots will have less detail, more noise, and will look worse when cropped.

Based on just these initial images, it may have been a bit misleading for Nokia CEO Stephen Elop to zoom in to the eye of a needle in a haystack and say how great the resulting image was, because even with 41 megapixels, cropping in that much will still result in something pretty gross.

The other unique feature of the Lumia 1020 camera is that it has a nice wide angle lens with a 26mm equivalent focal length, compared to 33mm on the iPhone 5 and 31mm on the Galaxy S4. A nice wide field of view is great, but a side effect of this is that you do lose some sharpness as you veer away from the center of the frame. If you'ree cropping in too far off-center, you might notice distorted perspective as well.

Despite these caveats, based on the samples there is no denying that the Lumia 1020 is a huge step forward in smartphone camera technology that we hope pushes other companies to innovate even more. We're looking forward to putting it through the wringer ourselves soon.

Here are a few direct links to full resolution files (they are each between 10-12 megabytes):

http://press.nokia.com/wp-content/upl...

http://press.nokia.com/wp-content/upl...

http://press.nokia.com/wp-content/upl...

http://press.nokia.com/wp-content/upl...