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Nokia Lumia 925 - Camera Performance, Image Quality

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

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Nokia Lumia 925 – Camera

One of the most important features of the Nokia Lumia 925 is its camera, based on the technology used in the Lumia 920. It has been slapped with the PureView branding, introduced with the Nokia 808 PureView back in 2012.

PureView doesn’t relate to a specific type of camera technology, but rather of being ‘cutting edge’ in the field.

The Nokia Lumia 925 has an 8.7-megapixel main sensor, which is well below the 13-megapixel sensors of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4. But pure sensor resolution is only one part of the camera equation.

Nokia Lumia 925 14

Other important factors include sensor size, lens aperture, lens construction and image stabilisation. As the camera is so important here, we’ll look at the lot.

The Lumia 925’s sensor is slightly larger than the iPhone 5’s, at 1/3” instead of 1/3.2” – not a huge amount more when the original 808 PureView had a huge (for a phone) 1/1.2” sensor. Its sensor pixels are 1.4microns in size, significantly smaller the 2-micron pixels of the HTC One.

Sensor size and sensor resolution aren’t what makes the Lumia 925’s camera special.

Its lens, too, is good rather than stunning. It’s an f/2.0 lens with 26mm focal length and a six-part construction. This is one stride better than the Samsung Galaxy S4, which has an F/2.2 lens. Wider aperture lets the Lumia 925’s lens take in that bit more light within the same exposure window.

What sets the Nokia Lumia 925 apart more significantly is its use of optical image stabilisation (OIS), rather than the ‘software’ stabilisation used in other top-end phones.

OIS uses the phone’s gyroscope to detect when the phone is moved. A lens element then moves in the opposite direction, eliminating the ‘camera shake’ effect. Nokia claims its system can move up to 500 times a second.

This allows the Nokia Lumia 925 to indulge in slightly longer exposures than the average phone, letting the phone once again take in more light for each shot. Nokia claims the average phone can’t go beyond a 1/30 second shutter speed before killing image sharpness, which is raised to 1/4 a second with OIS. Again, according to Nokia. This should result in far better low-light performance than the average phone.

Let’s see how the Lumia 925 actually fares out in the field.

Nokia Lumia 925 – Photo Detail

For an 8-megapixel phone camera, basic detail retrieval during daytime is impressive. A shot of the London skyline shows that the Lumia 925 produces shots with significantly less noise than an iPhone 5. Nokia Lumia 925 camera 7

The Samsung Galaxy S4 captures that bit more detail in these conditions thanks to its higher-resolution sensor. But note how well the Lumia 925 has dealt with bringing out the tricky shadow detail in-between the scaffolding atop the Gherkin building.

Nokia Lumia 925 camera 2

Nokia Lumia 925 – Macro

Choosing a close-up subject, the Lumia 925 performs well too. Nokia claims the phone can focus on objects just 8cm away. In practice, we found that it needed a little more in most lighting conditions, with shots otherwise ending up completely out of focus – the autofocus giving up just before the shutter fires.

Macro detail is respectable, and focusing time is impressively quick. This isn’t a superstar macro performer, though, with fine details looking a little soft compared to the best out there. Nokia Lumia 925 camera

Althoug the shot is in focus, the stamen remains a little soft.

Nokia Lumia 925 camera 5

Nokia Lumia 925 – Low Light and Flash

Where the Nokia Lumia 925 camera really separates itself is low-light performance. This is where the OIS feature kicks in.

Low-light shots are far less noisy and far more detailed than almost any other top-end phone of the moment. The one clear rival is the HTC One, which uses larger sensor pixels rather than hardware image stabilisation to achieve better-than-average low-light performance. As we found in our Lumia vs HTC One comparison, though, the HTC One tends to produce glummer colours than those seen here.

Nokia Lumia 925 camera 4

Limbo at the London Udderbelly

Nokia Lumia 925 camera 3

Gold Panda performing at Brixton Electric

The close-ups here may look a little noisy, but these shots were - naturally - taken without any flash assistance, and performance with a non-OIS would be far worse.

In particular, the Lumia 925's vivid rendering of colour is particularly impressive. It's rich and reasonably accurate, where a non-OIS's shades would devolve into a mush of nearby shades that would look thoroughly unconvincing up-close.

Nokia Lumia 925 camera 1

The Lumia 925 has a dual-LED flash rated for use with objects up to 3m away. Its spread isn't as even as a Xenon flash like the 808 PureView's, but it's more powerful than average and comes in extremely handy when used as an AF assist in dark conditions - not just as a flash.

The non-flash shot above shows the Lumia 925's OIS feature working in overdrive - although the room was almost completely dark, it doesn't look hugely darker than the flash picture. With a lesser phone camera, the edges of objects would be far less clear, and the scene a lot darker.

A lack of fine detail in the pixel crop of this shot shows you quite how far removed this is from a 'proper' compact system camera or DSLR, though - there's much more in the flash-enabled shot.

Nokia's Lumia 925's PureView camera is not a magic revelation - optical image stabilisation is common outside of the phones - but it does make the phone camera far more versatile in dusk and night conditions. And it means you won't have to turn the flash on anywhere near as often.

The phone also has a good-quality user-facing camera with a 1.3-megapixel sensor and f/2.4 lens.

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Nezumi

May 14, 2013, 12:47 pm

No removable battery and no expandable storage = no sale. The screen is also too small (IMHO)... And it looks like they want over £500.00 for it unlocked. Maybe the shareholders should tell Elop to stop trying to sell under-spec, overpriced phones. Damn shame. I'm going to want to replace my ATIV S soon. Am I going to be *forced* back to Android???

toboev

May 14, 2013, 3:38 pm

1280x768 (not 720)
And why are we still seeing 720p anyway, was there ever a 720i phone display? Can you even interlace an AMOLED display?

korogyi

May 14, 2013, 9:39 pm

I can't think of a situation where a 4,5" screen is not enough. Same goes for the 32 gb storage.

stfu

May 15, 2013, 5:06 am

non-removable batteries shouldn't really be an issue. i was worried about it too when i bought my e7, but i've never had power issues. i could last two days with light to moderate use and go for over 4 hours in a call or browse the internet in the same time period without the battery getting halved. charging is consistent (2 hours) and after one year of use, i never found a difference between it and other phones with removable batteries.

same thing with non-expandable storage. my phone has an internal memory of 16gb and it's more than enough to use apps, store music and film-length videos, etc.

although i understand that symbian =/= windows so power consumption should be a lot different. still, i'm not making the non-removable battery and non-expandable storage as the reason for not purchasing the lumia 925.

i do agree though that nokia phones are mostly under-spec'ed and overpriced, and this is my main reason against them.

Drunken Max

May 15, 2013, 12:34 pm

I have the 920 and love it. I did not however have to buy a special case for wireless charging, just the pad. Only the 820 required the add-on case. A step back to make it lighter maybe?

Harry_Wild

May 25, 2013, 2:46 am

It do to the current display limitations on WP8. The next release should make it possible for 1080p. And the winter release to match those of QXGA! Microsoft just trying to do catch up on this. But will have it done by beginning of 2014!

robchan

June 15, 2013, 1:25 am

how was the sound recording? You know, rich recording.

NITSUK

June 16, 2013, 1:50 am

iSwitched to Nokia Lumia 925 and I liked it...

We have upgraded all handsets from iPhones to Nokia Lumia 925 and though the initial couple of days we had to try everything and get to know the features; overall is been a fantastic experience, must say that this is big credit to Nokia and Microsoft as it is very premium quality and feel as well as experience, yes there is room for improvement and yes it is a different ecosystem therefore it requires users to adjust and learn new things however this is good thing as finally Microsoft is investing in developers and motivating them to contribute.

We also have the free offline navigation from Nokia as well as a fantastic camera also
X-Box music which we’ve gone for the Music Pass also therefore completed all quirements however do hope that Microsoft allows multiple playback and streaming with the Music Pass in near future.

Now looking forward to the big WP update to 8.1 “Blue”

f4810

June 16, 2013, 10:06 am

Camera Quality: Nokia - 8 vs iPhone 5 - 9 - ???!?!?!?!?!Design: Nokia - 8 vs iPhone 5 - 9 - ???!?!?!?!?!
Screen Quality: Nokia - 8 vs iPhone 5 - 9 - ???!?!?!?!?!
Usability: Nokia - 8 vs iPhone 5 - 9 - ???!?!?!?!?!

I am sorry but to rate ALL these lower than the iPhone is just a joke. This site is always biased toward Apple and you need to fix it and start to give us some OBJECTIVE ratings.
The camera is better overall. Design is personal opinion but I don't see how the iPhone is any better. The screen is arguable the same. As for usability... my mum tried the iPhone and Windows 8 and found windows 8 much easier to use and more intuitive.

Rishabh Sethi

June 21, 2013, 12:04 am

hey do you get wireless charging with the phone .. in box

Katanegama

September 6, 2013, 8:50 am

I love mine too! The Amber phone update has made in love with 920 again!

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