Nokia 808 PureView / Samsung Galaxy Camera

Guess I'm not your typical blogger with a black/white fanpage. No doubt in anyone's mind this site is about Nokia's PureView, and hence, about Symbian and Windows Phone 8. So, this site is definitely not about Samsung or Android...

And still, here's a post about the Samsung Galaxy Camera. I once wrote I wasn't going to spend too much time on it, but it's available now and people are asking me how it compares to the King of Camphones: the Nokia 808 PureView. Well: time to test! :-)

It's remarkable how Samsung managed to get the attention from all smartphone blogs with... a compact camera. Because whatever way you look at it, the Galaxy Camera is not a smartphone. It will hold a micro-sim card, but you can't make any phonecalls with it, not even with a headset, not even using Skype.

But other than that it's a very converged device, a true "smartcam", offering not only a compact camera on the latest Android (Jelly Bean), but also connecting it to the internet with the use of a sim card even - the reason I was so surprised it will not allow you to make any kind of calls with it.

Now I suspect you'd expect me to put it down, find all the flaws, discover in which way it more or less or even totally sucks. I'm not going to. I'm a positive person and moreover, I'm not in the bashing business.

I'll take this camera serious as a converged device as the Nokia 808 PureView is, although it is clear that the 808 has many advantages over the Galaxy Camera. I would never consider the Galaxy Camera to be an "alternative". But Samsung claimed " no smartphone will surpass the Galaxy Camera" - and that's exactly how they got the attention of many bloggers.

I have the chance to work with the Galaxy Camera for a while, and I'm sharing the results so far here. So far, because I haven't done testing yet, but I'm sure this post will be long enough as it is. On my Dutch site I will write an even longer review - here at the PureViewClub, I'm sure you'll just want to know if Samsung's claim is true. That is what this post is about. Nothing more, nothing less.

You'll see several shots I made during the past days with the Nokia 808 PureView and the Samsung Galaxy Camera, in different circumstances. I made these product shots of the Galaxy Camera with the 808 PureView, of course.

In most cases, I chose the 4:3 aspect ratio, giving the Galaxy Cam the most of it's 16MP sensor. Also, I tried to make similar shots with the Nokia 808 in full resolution and in 8MP PureView.  You'll find ALL originals on Flickr. More, much more after the break


Now, we'll look at the originals - from the Nokia 808 PureView, you'll only see the resized versions of the 8MP originals. I'll give you some comments as we go along.

Hall - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
First of all, one of the most important differences: you will get more in your picture with the Galaxy Camera than on the Nokia 808, especially in 4:3 aspect ratio. So there's more to crop. At the end of this post you will see that that's not where the advantage is, but getting more in the picture it's quite practical in itself.

Sports hall - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
Again, you only need to count the lights at the ceiling to see the Galaxy Camera shows more in the picture.

Landscape - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
It's a bit hard to comment on colors and light, since I'm the only one to have seen this. It's obvious the Nokia 808 PureView has a bit more modest view on things: not as bright, even though the color settings are on "vivid" here (they are standard in my phone).

And although it seems a bit more realistic, it doesn't show the abundance of the morning sun. The Galaxy might be overdoing it a bit, and yes, the grass was rarely green as this - I appreciate what it's doing. And I'll point at the tree (left) and the house (right) to show once more the Galaxy Camera gives you a wider view.

Mouse - Nokia 808 PureView (4:3) and Samsung Galaxy Camera (16:9)
This is a bit of an intermezzo. I zoomed in as close as I could with the Nokia 808 PureView in 8MP (and "close up" mode).

Now we all know you could get a lot closer when choosing for a 5MP resolution for instance. Know what? I simply didn't think about it at the time, since this mouse was going to be eaten :-)

Still I think the close-up of the Galaxy Camera is impressive as well. Didn't have time to change the aspect ratio even, so this close-up is in 16:9. Sorry 'bout that. It shows you the optical zoom gets you real close - don't forget to check the fullsize original.

A White House - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
Apart from the fact that you'll see more information in the shot from the Galaxy Camera, again the Nokia 808 PureView seems to give a more realistic shot.

The sky is not as blue, the grass not as green. Still, there is nothing wrong with the result you get with the Galaxy Camera.

Shopping mall - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
An "inside" shot, but with a glass ceiling. Really makes for an interesting comparison I think. Both shots are in 16:9, again it's interesting to compare how much more the Galaxy captures - and to be honest I think the lighthing is much better in this case.

A miniature isle - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
This is a difficult shot with everything on "auto" - the morning sun is shining almost directly in the lens. Still I think both cams did a great job.

Cat - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
This cat didn't really want to be cooperative... I chose the shots that were most similar. In this case it proved to be the 38MP shot from the Nokia 808 PureView that looked the most like the one from the Galaxy Camera. So when you look at the details in 100%, you will miss the oversampling PureView effect in the first shot. These are inside shots, not the best lighting for both.

And I definitely had more luck with this shot... - the only time the cat was kind enough to actually look in the lens.

Tree - Nokia 808 PureView and Samsung Galaxy Camera
In the next shot you'll see a huge treetop against a clouded sky in the beginning of a winter evening. I'm describing it like this so you'll know there is not much blue in fact. Once again, the Galaxy proves to be a bit optimistic in its coloring. Both shots are zoomed by the way.

To conclude this section here is a short video I made out of these shots, to give you another possibility to compare them (preferably in full size on your computer screen - choose Full HD if your connection is fast enough).


Okay, so far I've shown you, you get more in your shot with the Samsung Galaxy Camera than with the Nokia 808 PureView. I've also shown that coloring and brightness are more realistic with the Nokia 808 PureView, although the difference is not immense and the 808 kind of realism might be less appealing to some users.

Now, let me crop a few of the original shots to a similiar 640 x 480 size. Of course, from a 38MP shot you get a very detailed crop. I'm sharing them anyway, because it's nice to compare.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 38MP
First, a crop from the shot in the hall. Choosing a 640 x 480 pixel crop from a 38 MP original, you won't get much more than this. And yes, it's noisy, since there is no oversampling in full resolution. But the details are still great.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 8MP
Here is a 640 x 480 crop from the 8MP "PureView" original - less noise!

Crop Samsung Galaxy Camera 640 x 480
In this crop, 640 x 480 from a 16MP original, I think you'll see it shows more noise than the crop from the 8MP "PureView" shot.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 38MP
From the sports hall pictures, there's not much more you can get from a 38MP shot when you choose 640 x 480 pixels.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 8MP

Crop Samsung Galaxy Camera 640 x 480 - 16MP
In this shot, the colors seem to be a lot cooler than we are used to with the Samsung Galaxy Camera. Again, you'll see more noise as in the previous shot, with PureView technology at work.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 38MP
Here's a crop from the "white house" shot - you get very close when you choose 640 x 480 pixels from the 38MP original, but you can't see the bricks in detail.

The white is in fact washed out on all three shots, but you can still make out the darker bricks in the middle of the wall.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 8MP
This is 640 x 480 from the 8MP shot. Also in this case, the house looks plastered. I think this happened on all shots because of the bright reflection of the sun on the house, against the dark background of the clouds.

Crop Samsung Galaxy Camera 640 x 480 - 16MP
And this is 640 x 480 from the 16MP shot from the Samsung Galaxy Camera. Although still very effective, it simply is not as sharp... You'll see a much better result from the Galaxy Camera later on in this post though.

Crop Nokia 808 PureView 640 x 480 - 8MP
Last detailed shots, from the big tree top. Both shots are a bit messy in fact, but I think they're fine, though arguably lthe Nokia 80 Pureview offers more detail. It's a pretty close call in this case though, I'd say.

Crop Samsung Galaxy Camera 640 x 480 - 8MP

So much for the photography I can compare on both devices. But I'm not done yet :-)


There are a few other things to be said in favor of the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It has an 21x optical zoom, makes great close-ups and has a very effective in-built HDR function (and several other smart settings by the way). I'll give you just a few examples of the zoom capacity and the effect of HDR.

First another shot from another white house, taken on a sunny morning that was not as bright as in the previous examples, so the details aren't burnt as much.

From this shot I made a 640 x 480 crop, and you'll see much more detail as well, although the house is not as far away in this example.

See? Much better than in the previous comparison in fact. Now, I'll show you what you can do when you zoom in 21 times. This is the resized version of course, again: originals are on Flickr.

Of course, nothing beats a 21x optical zoom, but you will need to carry the hardware for it as well.

To conclude, here is an HDR version of the shot I took in the shopping mall. I'll show you the other shot directly under it  once more so it´s easier to compare. You'll see using HDR can really pay off - you'll get rid of the darker places in your shot.


Of course, the Galaxy Camera is big and heavy compared to the Nokia 808 Pureview. But there are some other advantages that should not be overlooked - and that has to do with the fact that it is a "connected" device.

It will back-up all your shots and vids directly to DropBox, just like the Nokia Lumia 920 does to SkyDrive (when you have a WiFi connection). You can use an almost limitless amount of ways to share your shots since it's on Android 4, and of course there are tons of other apps available to fool around with. Heck, it even has Instagram, which is extremely important to many people.

And of course, it has a giant 4.8 inch screen and the possibility to expand the memory with a micro-SD (which you should, since internal storage is 4GB).

So that's all pretty cool. But. It's not a smartphone. It's a connected compact camera on one of the most popular platforms in the world. But still, going on a trip or on vacation, you are not going to actually speak to someone with the Galaxy Camera, not with a headset, not even on Skype. You can be reached by e-mail and whatsapp of course, but if you're on a foreign network that's not really an option either.

Now the claim that no smartphone's camera could beat the one on the Samsung Galaxy Camera has gotten everyone's  attention, and after more than a week testing it I know that it isn't completely accurate. In some ways it has definitely more to offer than the Nokia 808 PureView - like 21x optical zoom, HDR possibilities on a platform millions of people love. But in general, picture quality appears to be not as good as with the Nokia 808 PureView - I think the crops I've shown made that clear.

I'm not done testing yet. It has several other interesting settings and "smart modes", like a night mode, so I'm looking forward to compare those results with the Nokia Lumia 920 for instance. It has a professional setting in which you can adjust just about anything, and you will immediately see the effect in the screen when you change the settings.

People have already suggested I should compare it with other compact cameras even, like the Sony RX100 with a 20MP sensor. I'm not going there, there are other sites that do that a lot better than I ever could and this is not the site for it: it all has to be related to PureView technology.

Do I like the Samsung Galaxy Camera? Yes, to my surprise I like it a lot even. If I would have to choose, would I prefer it over my Nokia 808 PureView. No, nor over the Lumia 920. However connected it is, it's something extra to carry around when you are going somewhere. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer the all in one solution.

What if the Galaxy Camera would offer the possibility to make calls? I'd still prefer the PureView - the shots are simply better. But luckily, I don't have to make a choice and can enjoy using both. For the last time: all original shots are on Flickr.

I will keep you posted on some future comparisons, and hope you found this helpful so far!

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