New York Times reviews the Nokia Lumia 1020

Thanks to a post over at My Nokia Blog, I learned about an interesting review in the New York Times of the Nokia Lumia 1020. Interesting for a number of reasons: it's very positive, funny at times and wrong on a few occasions.

Now I'm just the PureViewClub so I'm not going to bash the New York Times, but I do like to quote a few lines - be sure to read the complete article for yourself as well though (link above). Beware: it's been a while, but this post has no pictures in it :-)

First, David Pogue writes about the fact that the amount of pixels doesn't mean a thing in itself: "There have been 2-megapixel cameras that took wonderful photos, and 20-megapixel cameras that took terrible ones. A high megapixel count is primarily a marketing gimmick." Now I've never seen a good 2MP shot in fact, and every owner of the Nokia 808 PureView knows that this high count is far from a gimmick or "a lot of hot air".

The author raves about the sensor: "You’ve never seen, or even contemplated, photos this good from a phone. They really are spectacular (...) Most of the time, the photos are just as good as what you’d get from a $300 pocket camera. Often, they’re better. The low-light shots seem like they came from some kind of “Mission: Impossible” spy gear. And if the subject is close to the lens, the background melts into a delicious blurriness, just as in professional portraits."

And later, he also raves about the video quality: "The 1020 also has a superb image stabilizer that comes in handy for videos. This phone’s videos really are something: stable, bright, 1080p high definition with crisp stereo sound."

That's all great to read, but it's only fair to say that a small minority on the planet has actually already seen photos and videos with great sound quality this good from a phone - and according to many readers here even better. So it's good that later in his review, David adds "Unless, of course, you’re familiar with the Nokia PureView 808, a predecessor with a similarly great camera but on a now mostly defunct operating system called Symbian."

But he is not only positive about the picture quality of the Lumia 1020: "Sometimes, though, the photos are worse. Shutter lag (a delay after you press the shutter button) is a problem. There can be distortion at the outer edges of the frame. Some photos are a little “soft.” 

"Furthermore, even this cameraphone doesn’t have a true zoom; a three-inch telescoping lens would probably be uncomfortable in your palm when you’re on a call. Instead, it has a 3X digital zoom: slide your finger up the screen to magnify the scene. You’re not really zooming at all, of course — just cropping into a smaller area — but it works well enough."

As we all know at the club, in fact you are zooming, although in another, "PureView" way. It's not your classical optical zoom, but it's not the artificial digital zoom either.

According to David, you pay three prices  "for having such photographic excellence on your phone":

First: "this thing is huge (...) It accommodates a big, bright 4.5-inch screen, but still. You feel as if you’re holding a DVD box up to your ear." Well, maybe if your used to holding an iPhone there for way too long. The size of the Lumia 1020 is of course nowhere near that of a DVD box. So bringing this up this way is kind of childish I'd say: it doesn't really help anyone.

Second: complexity. Nokia has, in its inscrutable Finnish wisdom, decided to break up the camera app into three pieces. The main app is called Nokia Pro Cam. (...) A second app, Nokia Smart Cam, performs editing stunts (...). You need a third, Creative Studio, to degrade your shot with color filters.

In a way he has a point there. Being used to the several lenses, I know which one to choose in which situation. But if you are new to this kind of thing - let alone several other camera applications and lenses like Cinemagraph and Panorama -  it will probably be a bit confusing. On the other hand: this is all very easy to understand and learn, so I wouldn't call it "a price to pay".

The third "and biggest price to pay": Windows Phone 8. David writes: "Don’t misunderstand: Microsoft’s phone operating system is gorgeous, logical, fluid and satisfying (and he adds a lot of examples why it is, including Nokia's contributions).

But then he continues: "Unfortunately, probably because Microsoft was so late to the app-phone party, Windows Phones are still considered oddballs. Windows Phone owners are generally very enthusiastic; unfortunately, you could probably hold the event in a church basement". Well, I know they have enormous churches in New York - but this big? :-)

His main objection against Windows Phone is there are still quite a few applications missing - like Google Maps (which I do definitely never  miss on my Lumia thanks to Nokia Maps and Drive...)

David Pogue concludes: "the Nokia Lumia 1020 is a remarkable experiment. Its size and silhouette may make it a little too weird for most people, and Windows Phone’s still struggling app catalog may turn off another swath of buyers. But if you want good photographs from a phone — man, has this one got your number. When you use the 1020, people don’t say, “That’s a great picture! You know, for a cellphone.

All in all, that's lots of quotes from the NY Times review - of course it has more, so be sure to check it out for yourself here - and tell me what you think of  it below if you feel like it.

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