Astonishing night scenes from Amsterdam, shot with the Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia 808

This evening I went to have dinner with Peter (yes, the PureViewClub's webmaster) in Amsterdam, near the Central Station. It was dry, so I had a few chances to make some shots with the Nokia Lumia 920 (I don't like using my smartphone in the rain, unless I'm in a car :-).

I didn't bring all smartphones I'm running the comparison tests with this evening, but I made some astonishing shots I love to share directly. I also have a few shots to compare the results with, even one of the Galaxy SIII Peter brought with him.

First a scene that completely blew us away - the only one I have three different shots from. It was very dark. The only light came from the Chinese restaurant about a 100 meters away, and from the other side of the water. In fact, it was hard to focus the camera in the exact same way for three times.

The first is just to show what you can expect from the Galaxy S3 in a situation like this. It's trying to capture the  boat in the harbour. You can barely see it, but showing the picture serves a purpose.

Next up, the Nokia 808 PureView. Again, no flash, everything on "auto" - yes, I know, of course, you can get much better results when you play with the settings, this is just for comparison, like a snapshot if you don't have enough time on your hands. As could be expected, the result is already a lot better.

The next one was shot with the Nokia Lumia 920, and was a genuine jawdropper for both of us. Again: no flash, all settings on auto.

We actually didn't know where the Lumia 920 got all the light from. The sky was much darker than this, hell - everything was much darker than this. I'd like to stress this shot was only resized, I didn't change anything else (except putting the name of the source in).

I have two more comparisons for you. First, a shot of a boardwalk. This is the (great) result with the Nokia 808 PureView.

Now with everything on auto and no flash, this is quite a good shot I think. But it's interesting to see what the Lumia 920 achieves with as little light as this. Once more, like in the previous test, it's almost as if it captures a bit too much light even.

I had a similar experience in the next shot, near the Central Station once more. First the Nokia 808 PureView, to show how that handles a scene like this.

Once more, a fine, although a bit too yellow shot, with a great atmosphere. The Nokia Lumia 920 captures much more of the available light with all settings on auto:

It looks like the place is exploding with light! Since this proved to be a bit too much, I changed the settings of the Lumia 920 to capture a bit less light - putting the exposure value on -1. Than you already get a much better result - and more true to reality, not as "yellowish" as in the first attempt with the Nokia 808.

Those are the comparisons I can show, to conclude I'll share a few shots I made earlier in the evening. Like this one, a small restaurant in a boat. All settings of the Lumia 920 are on auto again in this shot. I think you'll trust me now when I say it was really dark out there.

Next a dynamic nightscene near the central station with a bus passing by. Exposure value is on -1.

And in the next two shots the exposure value was on -2 - as low as it will go. It made for the best light I found. In the first you will see some pink light coming from the bar in the (Chinese) restaurant. Only by lowering the exposure value could I achieve that color: the neonlight was simply too bright and the Lumia 920 made it white when on auto.

The next one is a shot from science center Nemo. The design (by the Italian architect Renzo Piano) looks like a ship, but in fact mirrors the tunnel it is built upon. Once again, I had to put the exposure value on -2 to achieve this result because of the bright spots on the building:

I hope you liked these shots - they most certainly surprised me and Peter tonight! It appears that the sensor of the Nokia Lumia 920 is very sensitive - a bit too sensitive maybe for quite a few occasions.

Maybe the software update will fix that, we don't know yet. Untill that time it's very well possible to lower the input by changing the settings, as I hope to have shown above.

To conclude, here's the wonderful boat again, now shot in portrait mode (all settings on auto, but the EXIF data tell me the Lumia 920 decided to choose ISO 800 by itself...)

You can find all originals - no surprise here - on the PureViewClub Photostream on Flickr.

Update: please read this post on night shots as well.

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