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The Clash Of The Pureviews: After Dark Edition

We have both the Lumia 920 and 808 Pureview in the house, for the specific reason of pitting one against the other to see how they compare. We are going to compare low light photography on both the devices.

 
808 and 920
I have adhered to the following rules:

  • Both cameras have been kept on Night Mode, rather than Auto. If someone wants low light shots, it is reasonable to assume they can switch modes.
  • Both shots have been taken one after the other, with the same composition.
  • Aspect Ratio has been kept the same (16:9) for all the pictures (save one).
  • All pictures are completely untouched. While I am very pro-post processing, a lot of people consider it cheating.
  • Most shots were taken handheld. Some were taken with a Gorillapod, where both phones were kept on the tripod.
  • All EXIF data like Shutter Speed, ISO etc is accessible by clicking through on each picture to its Flickr page.
  • Image comparison is very Subjective, but I have chosen which of the two pictures I find to be better. It can be either the 920, 808, both being equally good, or both being equally bad.

 

1) Lumia 920

920-11

808 Pureview
808-11

The 920 has captured the monument with more pleasing colors, but in reality the color is closer to what the 808 captured. It depends on whether you like accuracy or punch.

Equally Good
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2) Lumia 920
920-10

808 Pureview
808-10

Both shots had a harsh light shining into them. However, the 920 has handled it better, with the 808 flaring notiecably more.

920 Wins
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3) That’s a Red Moon that just rose, by the way.

Lumia 920
920-8

808 Pureview
808-8

A clear win for the 920. 

I also had a digital SLR camera me and captured the same scene from it. Have included it below, just for comparison sake.
Red Moon[divider type=””]
4) Lumia 920

920-7

808 Pureview

808-7
This is a hard one. The 808 flared up ahead of the horse a bit, but is noticably sharper than the 920

808 Wins

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5) Lumia 920

No Flash

920-5

808 Pureview

No Flash

808-5
The 920 doesn’t handle the streetlight as well as the 808 does, but the top right hand side of the picture is handled a lot better. However, since the primary subject is the Black Car, and the 808 exposes this better, we call it the winner.

808 Wins

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6) Lumia 920

Flash On
920-6

808 Pureview

Flash On

808-6

The Xenon flash of the 808 seems to have illuminated dust particles in the air. The sensor was perfectly clean. I even wiped it and retook the shot. This isn’t too hard to judge.

920 Wins

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7) Lumia 920

Night Mode
920-1

808 Pureview

Night Mode

808-1

Try as I did, I couldn’t get this shot on the 808 without a little blur. In comparison, I took the shot on the 920 with relative ease. The scene was quite dark in reality.

920 Wins

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8) Lumia 920

Auto Mode

920-2

808 Pureview

Auto Mode

808-2

I tried out Auto Mode just to see how the camera took it. As you can see, both didn’t handle it great.

Equally Bad.

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9) Lumia 920

920-3

808 Pureview

808-3

Exposure on the 920 is aeons ahead in this picture. An easy one.

920 Wins

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10) Lumia 920
920-4

808 Pureview

808-4

There is a bit of shake in the 920 image, which is human error. However, the 808 has captured a lot more detail.

808 Wins
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11) Lumia 920

920-17

808 Pureview

808-17

In this shot, the 920 has tweaked the colors a little too much for my liking. The blue light on the left hand side have an ethereal glow to them, which is not how it looked in real life. Other than that, both are really good shots for mobile cameras. Other cameras would have struggled to show this much detail and still look pleasing.

808 Wins

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12) Lumia 920
920-9

808 Pureview
808-9

In this image, the 920 has a bit of purple flare at the top, but colors are more accurate than the 808 (inexplicable, a reverse of picture number 1). However, contrast on the 808 is superior and shows more detail on the carvings around the left gate. Going to put this down to personal preference.

No Winners

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13) Lumia 920                                                                                               808 Pureview
920-12           808-12
The 808 wins this one.

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14) Lumia 920                                                                                                       808 Pureview
920-13            808-13

Another attempt at capturing the Moon and its reflection in the sea. The 920 has upped the ISO a bit too much and is showing grain. However, the 808 has downright underexposed the shot.

920 Wins

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15) Lumia 920                                                                                                808 Pureview
920-14          808-14

Aside from the starkly different White Balance on both, there really isn’t that much difference between the two. Still the 920 has a bit better exposure.

920 Wins.

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16)
Lumia 920

Auto Mode
920-15

808 Pureview

Auto Mode

808-15
Sorry for bungling up the aspect ratio. However, the 920 handles the lights better in this one. Too much flaring on the 808.

920 Wins

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17) Lumia 920

Auto Mode
920-16

808 Pureview

Auto Mode

808-16

Again, the 920 doesn’t get intimidated by the lights and is more pleasing on the eyes.

920 Wins

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I’m not going to tally the score, as it will only be an indication of which phone took better images from the shots I took. However, here are some observations:

  • If both the phones has a Self Timer mode, it would make things a lot simpler and reduced chances of camera shake by a lot. I would say the same for the lack of tripod mount. If the N93 had it, others can have it too. Will stop us from being dependent on the HH-23 and other such contraptions.
  • Both cameras performed admirably, and took images as good as, if not better, than a mid range Point and Shoot.
  • When in a dark scene with no objects close by (like the shots of the sea), the 920 was significantly faster at focusing than the 808.
  • Most of the time, colors on the 920 were punchier, but the 808 was a more accurate depiction.
  • The 808 is more susceptible to introducing Light Pollution into the image in the form of glare from light sources.
  • Whatever people say (or imply), neither can come close to replacing a dedicated DSLR. However, it is easily good enough for most folk.
  • We did not use the 808 in Creative Mode, though if we did, there would be a lot of scenes in which the 808 would perform better. However considering most people wouldn’t be doing that, we avoided so.
  • With minimal post-processing (read: five to ten seconds per image), we could resolve most, if not all, of the problems in the above images, like Overexposure of glaring. However, we abstained from doing so.

Let us know if you had any queries on the images, and remember to click through the images to see the EXIF data. If you had any doubts, feel free to ping us in the comments below.

  • Amit

    Nice write up and good sample photos

    • aatifsumar

      Thanks Amit :)

  • JoblessGuy2

    Hi, fellow Mumbaikar!

    Great read (or look?)!

    A couple of questions for you:

    1.) This has been entitled the after dark edition. Do you have another post for daylight images? I’d really appreciate a link to that one in conditions such as ours.

    2.) I’m confused between the PureView 808 and waiting for the rumoured EOS 1000, but a second-hand 808 (at about 14-16k) will nicely fit my budget along with an iPod touch (my daily driver, as it has been for two years now, coupled with a MiFi router), since I’m hesitant towards Windows Phone right now, but appreciate the build and camera quality that Nokia brings over other other phones I can get in that range. But is the camera alone enough? For a hopeful amateur photographer, is working with it easy and intuitive?

    3.) Also, are there enough apps to complement the camera on that? I mean, the iPod touch’s 5 MP camera is downright weak against that monster on the 808, but the apps for both photography and editing are beyond great on that one. Are there apps enough to create a great photo taking experience on the 808?

    4.) And what is this creative mode you speak of? Any comparative samples (against 808 and 920 on Auto) on that?

    I would honestly appreciate if you took the time out to answer there questions.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Mohammad Sarim

    hey Aatif, why are there some blurry/motion subjects in some pics, like in the first comparison, the image by 808 shows as if something was moving (bottom left)? I am wondering where did that subject vanish (you said these pics are completely untouched).

    A great comparative article though :)

    • aatifsumar

      If you click through the first picture and look at the Shutter Speed (amount of time the camera’s sensor was recording details for) you will see why. Since the shutter was open for more than one second (in comparison, most pictures have a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second or less), all the people who were walking have been blurred by the camera. By keeping the shutter open longer, the camera is able to capture so much detail even in low light.

      • Mohammad Sarim

        ohkay..a cool effect though :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/anesm Anes Mulalic

    Dust particles? lol

    • aatifsumar

      Was the only logical explanation for the phantom spots in the air on the picture. The sensor was perfectly clean.

  • johnny1

    “We did not use the 808 in Creative Mode, though if we did, there would
    be a lot of scenes in which the 808 would perform better. However
    considering most people wouldn’t be doing that, we avoided so.”

    Dude, stop being lazy like every other reviewer, and show what the best each phone can do.. that means taking the extra time to put the 808 in creative mode and take the best low light shot possible to show people what the 808 can truly do!

    So tired of all these .. “Well, most people use AUTO so i will also” reviews.. We have enough of them already!

  • th1950

    The 808 has much, much better Picture Quality.

    P.S. In the comparison with the SLR, the SLR has a 30sec exposure (!!) while the 808 pictures has 1/8sec and ISO 640!! Not fair… ;)

    • http://plus.google.com/113236044929384964461/ Aatif Sumar

      Would’ve if I could’ve. Maxes out at 2.7 seconds