Damian Dinning reacts on the CNet Soap

Two days ago, over at CNet Asia they presented a somewhat surprising comparison between the camera quality of the Nokia 808 PureView and... the iPhone 4S. No, not the previous N8, not even Sony's Xperia S, but the iPhone 4S... I noticed it in this blog and didn't pay much attention to it anymore, since it was a bit well, let's say funny in the first place.

Meanwhile the posting at CNet has been covered in comments, none of them positive - on the contrary needless to add. But the most interesting reaction for the PureViewClub was an extensive one from Daming Dinning. I'm going to quote it in full here since it has some interesting background information on the development of PureView technology. Not much pictures this time: just content.

Damian Dinning writes:

"Hi, just wanted to take the opportunity to add some additional points to your comparison.Nokia conduct regular blind comparison tests using multiple devices including high end DSLR cameras, competitor smartphones and compact digital cameras and have done for many years. Through this we have gained a huge amount of experience and understanding in subjective personal preferences.

In the case of the N8, widely regarded as the benchmark before the introduction of the 808 PureView, we deliberately departed from the saturated colours 'norm' and optimised for a more natural look. The response to this was met with so much appreciation we wanted to use this as the basis of further development in the case of the 808. We also recognise that for some, images with more 'punch' may be preferred, a point you could argue is represented in your own commentaries. However, we remain convinced that for a large user group we expect to use the 808 we wanted to maintain the natural colour reproduction.

So for the first time we created two different colour optimisations. In full auto and scenes modes colour is reproduced with enhanced colour but not overly so. Whilst in creative we have followed the more natural colour optimisations we are passionate about preserving.Nokia recommend for the best all round experience use the 808 in its default 5mp setting. This will provide enhanced zoom capability, smaller file sizes for faster and easier sharing, greater levels of pixel oversampling and yet we believe based on our tests, still provide greater levels of details than any other smartphone. No doubt to create a level playing field I understand your choice in setting 8mp.

However, this requires the use of the creative mode to gain access to the resolution setting. In doing so the natural colour optimisations a used as opposed to what would seem may have been preferred in your personal subjective view, the more colour enhanced setting provided by the auto or scenes mode options. In creative mode users are free to adjust the colour saturation and contrast settings as well as exposure compensation, should individual personal preferences differ from the default optimisations which were the results of capturing literally tens of thousands of test images across a wide variety of scenes.

Regarding close-up: The 808 uses the widest angle optics of any smartphone when used in it's default fully optimised 16:9 aspect ratio. This does create something of a trade-off in close-ups. However, this is easily compensated for by use of the lossless zoom which of course is completely unique to the 808, a point I was surprised you made no reference to. Full zoom probably providing an end result with greater magnification than 'broadly comparable' smartphones.Minimum focus is 15cm and this is achieved at all zoom settings unlike typical optical zooms.

This shooting distance can be achieved through a variety of methods; close-up scene mode as a full time option, touch AF in any mode or close-up focus mode in creative accessed via a long touch of the viewfinder screen. Furthermore, as a result of the larger sensor, depth of field is reduced producing enhanced bokeh in close-ups, a further unique benefit many favour for separating the subject from the background."

Damian Dinning - Nokia