Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nokia's Camera Phone: Lumia 1020

Nokia announced a 41 megapixel camera phone that uses a pretty nifty technique to get a 8.2 megapixel image onto a 4:3 ratio canvas. Using a technique called Pixel Binning, this technique can help to improve picture quality and dynamic range. Sensor megapixels alone has contributed to the demise of many professional photographers as amateurs crop their way to beautiful images. Face it, if you actually had that much megapixels, you could take a badly composed picture, crop it till it looks good and still have plenty more megapixels to print a huge poster size image. But that's not the case with this Nokia Camera Phone. 

Some might ask if they are getting a 41 Megapixel image that will print in A2 poster size, well, that's not the goal really rather, Nokia aims to give better dynamic range than a larger image for printing. What Pixel Binning essentially does is to cram the information derived from a high density sensor into a 8 megapixel image thereby giving you better quality. 

If you refer to the above image, you'd see that the end transfer pixel (pixel info) to the output node is made up by an array of 4X4 pixel squares. What this gives you is better dynamic range—meaning the highlight and shadow details can be captured more accurately.

I know many of you haven't the faintest idea on what that means so let's get on to the practical aspects of the technology. 

The more pixels you have, the finer the detail, and though a 2.5x zoom only yields a 5 megapixel image on the Nokia Lumia, it is nonetheless one very fine image, with lots of detail in the shadow and highlights. How this stacks up to the new slew of DSLRs from Nikon and Canon remains to be seen but there is a very good chance that the Nokia Lumia 1020 will be picked up by serious photographers if the claims are proven true. 

Pixel binning generally improves the quality of the image, hence the Dynamic Range will be better than those on a normal BI sensor 8 megapixel shooter. I would love to get my hands on one to see how it holds up. Frankly, I think pixel binning is the way forward for digital camera phones. The idea that you should have a 13 megapixel to produce high quality images is outdated. The larger the picture, the more storage you will require on your phone. This does not bode well if you are using your phone to shoot pictures regularly. 


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