Testing out Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Camera with OIS (Video)

Thanks to Nokia Singapore for the invite, I am able to personally test out the PureView camera on Nokia Lumia 920. We were even taken on a short sightseeing trip around town to witness the “power” of this 8.7 MegaPixel PureView camera.

In this post, I will not dwell on those that you already know, e.g. like the Qi Wireless Charging, the NFC and etc. I will jump straight to the Nokia Lumia 920 PureView camera. BTW, this phone is not as heavy as I thought.

PureView camera as a camera in low light condition

Lets start with PureView camera when used as a standard camera. With its F/2.0 Carl Zeiss lens and the OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer), I can safely say that it outperforms most, if not all, the mobile phone cameras in the market.

We were in Harry’s Bar in Millenia Walk. It is very dark inside. It is almost impossible to take a shot on a camera phone without flash. Most compact cameras will fail too, if without flash. However, I am able to take some shots with Nokia Lumia 920. They are NOT fantastic shots but they are remarkable for the fact that they are taken with a mobile phone. Here are some of them (resized to fit the post).

If you ask me, “Does it always take good shots at low light conditions?”. The answer is a straight “NO”. You will need a stable hand. The OIS can help you a little but don’t depend on it for those super low light conditions.

Here is something to share with all of you. When you compose the picture via the screen, it will look dark. However, when you press the shutter, you will see that the picture “lights” up like magic.

It is NOT magic, of course. What it did is to slow down the shutter speed a little and with the help of OIS, it captures the image by letting more light into it and using the OIS to stabilize the lens. So, if you have a stable hand, you will get a good picture in a dark place. Success rate will be higher with Nokia Lumia 920.

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If you have looked at most videos on Youtube or review sites, you might have notice some light flashes before the pictures are taken. This is the Assist Light feature. It lets the camera focus properly before taking a shot. They are not flash for the pictures.

For those who are interested, these are the EXIF of the first and second picture above. As you can see, it will be impossible to shoot at with 1/6  or 1/4 second shutter speed without “magic” (OIS).

Here are some shots just outside the bar and during the trip to Orchard road.

I got a lot of bad shots on the bus as it was moving. Most of them were  shot when the bus was stationary, FYI.

This shot below is taken at 1/7s shutter speed when the bus is moving.

And back in the bar, I took some more shots.

This picture of the Nokia Lumia 820 was taken at ISO800 at 1/3s shutter speed. It is impossible (at least for me) to take a decent picture at 1/15s usually.

So, I think I have shown you enough pictures from the PureView camera with OIS. Conclusion of my testing. Super nice OIS for low light condition but don’t expect that it will perform magic at such extreme condition. Most cameras will fail. The OIS will provide a better “survival” rate (based on the EXIF data that I extracted).

PureView camera as a Video Camera in low light condition

Now, lets see how good the PureView camera is when it is used as a video camera in challenging conditions. Here is a video taken on the bus along Orchard road in Singapore. It was drizzling that night.

The video was filmed on 720p (instead of the 1080p) as I did not realized that the default setting is 720p. All the videos are unedited and compressed by YouTube after uploading. Do view it on 720p quality to see the (almost) HD quality.

There are two things in the video that you might notice. They are: the bright video quality and the stability of the video. Trust me, the bus is NOT that stable. It is a little bumpy but I don’t think you will feel it in the video.

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Next, I want to share with you a video on the camera performance from bright light (in a shopping mall) to a low light condition (in the bus).

From the video, you can see that even with OIS on, you can feel me walking (the up and down movement). It will be worse if it is without OIS (based on my experience). (Tip: To do a nice smooth video, you will need bend your knees a little and walk slowly and carefully).

Have you notice one more thing? The audio is super nice although it would be better if it is in stereo.

Finally, the third video is a test conducted in the bar. Two phones are secured on a jig with springs. An object was placed in front of two phone cameras. While the phones were recording the front object, the testers would try to shake the jig. In the video,you will be able to see the OIS doing its work on Lumia 920.

I would like to apologize for the video. Actually, I wanted the same footage from the same test but I set my personal phone wrongly and it did not turn out as what I expected (angle was wrong). So, I decided to use the footage on Lumia 820 to compare with Lumia 920.

I have to say Nokia Lumia 820 did quite well but not as good as Nokia Lumia 920. Do note that the video has different lighting condition. One of the features that Nokia wanted us to see is that even when the video was taken when it is shaking, we still can read the words from it.


Overall, the test results are very convincing. I love the fact that OIS is working and evident in all the videos and pictures that I have taken. If you ask me if Nokia Lumia 920 will replace my compact camera, I will have to say NO. One of the reasons is because it does not have optical zoom (which I need for many occasions).

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I might change my mind later as I did not spend enough time with the device. And for those who are thinking of replacing their Android or iPhone with Nokia Lumia 920 (Windows Phone 8), here are my thoughts: –

  • Check all the apps that you need or have on your current phone. Does Windows Phone 8 have?
  • Compare the apps on the Windows Phone 8 with your current phone, are they on par in terms of quality and user experience?
  • Do you like tiles because Windows Phone 8 has many, many of them.
  • Are you prepared to give up your current phone apps that you have invested to go to a new Windows Phone 8 platform?
  • Do you really need this super solid camera for your photo taking?

These are what I have been thinking too. There are apps that I feel Windows Phone 8 can do better in terms of quality. There are apps that are “missing” from the Microsoft Store (many of them, in fact). There is this feeling that you will be alone if you “jump” to Windows Phone 8 and you might be missing out on the latest games or apps from other OSes in future.

I am not discouraging you but to tell you to think properly first. That is it. Thanks for reading.