Camera News
by Brad Soo on February 28 2012

Nokia PureView 808 smartphone

If you haven’t already heard about it, Nokia launched a new smartphone yesterday with a mindblowing 41 megapixels on a 1/1.2 inch image sensor, which is quite a bit larger than those 1/1.7 and 1/2.5 inch sensors found in your average compact camera nowadays. Not surprisingly, image quality will not be very usable out-of-the-box (even the recently announced Nikon D800 has “only” 36 megapixels on a significantly larger full-frame image sensor).

Instead, the Nokia PureView 808 works by taking that super-high 41 megapixel output from the image sensor and downsizing images to your choice of 3, 5 or 8 megapixels. By doing this, Nokia promises better image quality and a 2.8X virtual cropping zoom range at 5 megapixels. The Nokia PureView 808 has a fixed 28 mm lens, but allows images to be “crop zoomed” to 78 mm at that 5 megapixel setting. Though you will never see those full 41 megapixels untouched by the phone (unless someone comes up with a modification or hack to allow the phone to take RAW images), Nokia does offer a 38 megapixel setting for ‘creative’ shooting; just don’t expect awesome image quality when using that mode.

Minimum focusing distance of the lens is 15 cm (around 6 inches) which means that macro enthusiasts and people who love taking close-up photos of small things won’t be too impressed. In contrast, minimum focusing distance ratings of typical standalone digital cameras are usually within the 3 to 5 cm range (1 to 2 inches). The Nokia PureView 808 can also take 1080p Full HD movies.

Of course, having a sensor this large on a phone means you’ll have to bear with the slight compromise: the area occupied by the Nokia PureView 808’s camera protrudes quite a bit from the phone’s otherwise slimline profile. Here’s a rundown of the specifications of the Nokia PureView 808:

  • 41 megapixel image sensor with actual photos downsized to 3, 5 or 8 megapixels
  • 38 megapixel ‘creative mode’ setting available
  • 28 mm Carl Zeiss branded f2.4 lens; no optical image stabilizer or optical zoom
  • 2.8X crop zoom at 5 megapixel setting extends reach to 78 mm
  • Closest focusing distance to the lens: 15 cm

The Nokia PureView 808 is said to be an actual smartphone (not just a prototype or proof of concept) that will be on sale to the public soon, though Nokia has yet to unveil its exact launch date and price.

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