1. Lightrain's Avatar
    Hi guys, let me skip the introduction.

    Have you ever wonder how your "Pureview" Lumia stands in comparison with the new iPhone 5S (in term of photography), or what exactly is the Ultrapixel technology of the HTC One, or how your Lumia 1020 performs comparing with the legendary Pureview 808, or more, how smartphones today compete against each others and against compacts and DSLRs?

    Well, here you won't see a shootout competition, instead we're going a little bit into technical details. Hope you're interested.

    Camera specifications:

    1. Aperture
    Aperture is the hole within a lens, through which light travels into the camera. It's expressed like this: f/X (for example Lumia 1020 has f/2.2, Lumia 920 has f/2.0). The number represent the hole diameter. The smaller the X number, the higher the ability to collect light. So you'll want the X number to be as small as possible.
    All the smartphone have fixed aperture, with a few exception (for example, the S4 Zoom has different apertures at different zoom levels)
    Comparing the aperture: f/2.0 is larger than f/2.2 by (2.2/2.0)2=1.21. It means f/2.0 let 21% more light in than f/2.2.

    An image from wiki:




    2. Sensor size
    It's arguably the value representing the capability of a camera, and a lot more important than the "number of megapixels".
    After the light gets through the aperture, it reaches the sensor. So the bigger the sensor, the more light can be gathered.
    Most smartphones has very small sensors, of course with a few exceptions.
    Sensor size comparison on Wikipedia

    An image from Internet. You can see why 808 and 1020 rule smartphone photography world.


    Another image to show the comparison with DSLRs.



    3. Pixel count (the number of megapixels) (sensor resolution)
    The sensor is divided into pixels. For example, we have 41 millions spots (pixels) on the sensor of 1020.
    More MP doesn't mean better image quality (bigger sensor does). It just mean the images size will be larger, good for big prints. More MP also allows (digital) zooming and cropping.
    Think of it like this:
    - You have a very big image, you crop a part of it, and still have a big enough image. If you have less MP, you'll have a smaller image. If you crop a part of it, it might be too small, so you have to enlarge the image, thus reduce image quality.
    - When you want to take 5MP image on a 41MP sensor, you can zoom in further than when you want to take 5MP image on a 20MP sensor.


    4. Pixel size
    The 808 has a bigger sensor than the 1020, but both have the same 41 millions pixels. So it means the pixel size of 808 should be bigger than 1020's.
    The HTC One boasts its Ultrapixel technology, basically saying: "I don't need a lot of MP, I have big pixels", going in the opposite direction of the 1020.

    Well, the benefit of having big pixel is:
    Higher signal-to-noise ratio: The bigger the pixel, the more light photons it can captured. The more the photons captured, the higher the signal-to-noise ratio.
    This is important in low light photography, where the light (basically the number of photon) is limited. For example, in low light situation, a small pixel captures very few number of photons, so signal-to-noise ratio is 1:1, while a bigger pixel can capture more photons, thus higher signal to noise ratio.
    Bigger pixel also means high ISO used will produce less noise than smaller pixel (same concept as above).
    But the bigger the pixel, the less pixels you can have (on the same sensor size). So there should be a balance between pixel size and pixel count.

    To sum it up:
    - Big aperture is good.
    - Sensor size is the most important factor, because the bigger the sensor is, the more pixels and the bigger the pixel you can have (as sensor contains pixels).
    - A lot of MP with too small pixels is not good: the 1020 trying to pack the same 41MP in a smaller sensor, pixel size is therefore reduced => More noise than the 808.
    - Big pixels on a small, low resolution sensor is also not good: HTC One has only 4MP sensor, so no zoom, no crop, as images crack when zooming in and images size (dimensions) is small.

    An overview:

    camera.png
    Last edited by Lightrain; 11-15-2013 at 04:28 PM.
    11-15-2013 04:14 PM
  2. Lightrain's Avatar
    Handling Nokia Pro Cam/Nokia Camera for manual shots.

    The parameters:

    1.Flash
    Sometime I use flash when I'm alone. When there are people, I rarely use flash because I don't want everyone to know I'm taking photos.
    Well of course it depends on the situation and personal preferences. If you use flash, remember also to enable focus assist light.
    Most of the time you can manage your shot without flash.

    2. White balance
    From warmer to cooler: Cloudy-Sunny-Flourescent-Tungsten.
    If your images have somewhat a yellow tint, try choosing a cooler WB like Flourescent or Tungsten, or try disabling Flash.
    Manually adjusting WB can improve your image quality, as the camera can be very sensitive to lighting changes, and might choose a bad WB for your shot.

    3. Manual focus
    Most of the time, tap to focus is more than enough, but sometime you'll want to use manual focus.
    To do a "bokeh" shot, I usually set the manual focus to minimum, then get as close to the subject as possible.

    4. Exposure
    Exposure is the lighting of a photo, and is the combination of 3 factors: aperture, ISO and shutter speed.
    On phones, aperture is fixed.

    ISO is the light sensitivity of the sensor. Of course the more it's sensitive to light, the more it is sensitive to noise.
    High ISO: image is brighter but has more noise.
    Low ISO: image is clean but darker.

    Shutter speed controls how long light enters the lens and hits the image sensor.
    Fast shutter speed: image darker but allows freezing movement.
    Slow shutter speed: image brighter but will be blurry if either camera or subject moves.

    Brightness is the setting that controls ISO and shutter speed. For example if you increase brightness, it'll automatically adjust to use a high ISO and a slow shutter speed to get more light. So when you already manually set both ISO and shutter speed values, brightness setting will be greyed out.

    Some tips to take good quality images:
    - Static subject, with tripod: Set to use lowest ISO (100) for the least noise.
    - Static subject, handheld: Find the slowest shutter speed you can manage without shaking. You can start at 1/100s, try slowering shutter speed to see if you have blurry images. You will know your shutter speed limit. When taking photos, start at lowest ISO and see if shutter speed is faster than your limit. If not, increase ISO an increment, and repeat the process if necessary. The idea is to use the lowest ISO possible but without hand shaking.
    - Moving subject: Know what shutter speed you need. Some examples (not mine):
    Stop race cars or pro-athletes: 1/2000 - 1/4000 sec.
    Stop a bird in flight: 1/1000 - 1/2000 sec.
    Stop action: 1/800 - 1/1500 sec.
    Still life or portraits: 1/125 - 1/250 sec.
    Landscapes: 1/20 - 1/100 sec.
    Waterfall: 1/2 - 1/30 sec.
    City lights at night: 4 sec or more.
    - When pressing shutter key, you might make camera shake. It's better to add a timer so you have time to prepare your camera steady enough.
    - Consider using burst mode to take multiple images and choose the best one. Sadly Pro Cam doesn't have burst mode. You can try Smart Cam or other 3rd party apps (Proshot,..)

    To sum it up:
    - Use lowest ISO possible.
    - Know your shutter speed limit when taking shots handheld. Know what shutter speed to use.
    - Avoid camera shaking with tripod, timer, burst shooting. Lean the camera against a book, a can, a wall, or whatever available.
    Last edited by Lightrain; 11-15-2013 at 10:51 PM.
    stalemate1, benrp and AndrewL920 like this.
    11-15-2013 04:14 PM
  3. Muessig's Avatar
    Really interesting read thanks! You can find something similar here: http://forums.windowscentral.com/gui...Bguide%5D.html
    11-15-2013 04:18 PM
  4. stalemate1's Avatar
    Handling Nokia Pro Cam/Nokia Camera for manual shots.

    The parameters:

    1.Flash
    Sometime I use flash when I'm alone. When there are people, I rarely use flash because I don't want everyone to know I'm taking photos.
    Well of course it depends on the situation and personal preferences. If you use flash, remember also to enable focus assist light.
    Most of the time you can manage your shot without flash.

    2. White balance
    From warmer to cooler: Cloudy-Sunny-Flourescent-Tungsten.
    If your images have somewhat a yellow tint, try choosing a cooler WB like Flourescent or Tungsten, or try disabling Flash.
    Manually adjusting WB can improve your image quality, as the camera can be very sensitive to lighting changes, and might choose a bad WB for your shot.

    3. Manual focus
    Most of the time, tap to focus is more than enough, but sometime you'll want to use manual focus.
    To do a "bokeh" shot, I usually set the manual focus to minimum, then get as close to the subject as possible.

    4. Exposure
    Exposure is the lighting of a photo, and is the combination of 3 factors: aperture, ISO and shutter speed.
    On phones, aperture is fixed.

    ISO is the light sensitivity of the sensor. Of course the more it's sensitive to light, the more it is sensitive to noise.
    High ISO: image is brighter but has more noise.
    Low ISO: image is clean but darker.

    Shutter speed controls how long light enters the lens and hits the image sensor.
    Fast shutter speed: image darker but allows freezing movement.
    Slow shutter speed: image brighter but will be blurry if either camera or subject moves.

    Brightness is the setting that controls ISO and shutter speed. For example if you increase brightness, it'll automatically adjust to use a high ISO and a slow shutter speed to get more light. So when you already manually set both ISO and shutter speed values, brightness setting will be greyed out.

    Some tips to take good quality images:
    - Static subject, with tripod: Set to use lowest ISO (100) for the least noise.
    - Static subject, handheld: Find the slowest shutter speed you can manage without shaking. You can start at 1/100s, try slowering shutter speed to see if you have blurry images. You will know your shutter speed limit. When taking photos, start at lowest ISO and see if shutter speed is faster than your limit. If not, increase ISO an increment, and repeat the process if necessary. The idea is to use the lowest ISO possible but without hand shaking.
    - Moving subject: Know what shutter speed you need. Some examples (not mine):
    Stop race cars or pro-athletes: 1/2000 - 1/4000 sec.
    Stop a bird in flight: 1/1000 - 1/2000 sec.
    Stop action: 1/800 - 1/1500 sec.
    Still life or portraits: 1/125 - 1/250 sec.
    Landscapes: 1/20 - 1/100 sec.
    Waterfall: 1/2 - 1/30 sec.
    City lights at night: 4 sec or more.
    - When pressing shutter key, you might make camera shake. It's better to add a timer so you have time to prepare your camera steady enough.
    - Consider using burst mode to take multiple images and choose the best one. Sadly Pro Cam doesn't have burst mode. You can try Smart Cam or other 3rd party apps (Proshot,..)

    To sum it up:
    - Use lowest ISO possible.
    - Know your shutter speed limit when taking shots handheld. Know what shutter speed to use.
    - Avoid camera shaking with tripod, timer, burst shooting. Lean the camera against a book, a can, a wall, or whatever available.
    Would you buy any chance know how to deal with over and under exposure ?

    I know you must always have the sun behind you. (this mostly gives you the best results with exposure when shooting outside)
    11-16-2013 02:42 AM
  5. Lightrain's Avatar
    Overexposure: You'll want to reduce the amount of light. This can be achieved by either using lower ISO (100) or faster shutter speed (<1/1000), or better, both. Try changing shutter speed till you get the exposure wanted.
    The same for underexposure. To increase the amount of light, use higher ISO and slower (longer) shutter speed. Beware that at high ISO, the image will has noise, and at slow shutter speed, the image will be blurry. You should use a tripod. If you take photos handheld, and your phone has OIS, you might be good up to 1s shutter speed.
    stalemate1 likes this.
    11-16-2013 03:39 AM
  6. stalemate1's Avatar
    Overexposure: You'll want to reduce the amount of light. This can be achieved by either using lower ISO (100) or faster shutter speed (<1/1000), or better, both. Try changing shutter speed till you get the exposure wanted.
    The same for underexposure. To increase the amount of light, use higher ISO and slower (longer) shutter speed. Beware that at high ISO, the image will has noise, and at slow shutter speed, the image will be blurry. You should use a tripod. If you take photos handheld, and your phone has OIS, you might be good up to 1s shutter speed.
    Thanks, say...what would you recommend for getting the most detail/clarity in a photo ? (eg: photo of righting/text/wording in an advertisement poster. With Good lighting)
    11-16-2013 12:38 PM
  7. Lightrain's Avatar
    Really interesting read thanks! You can find something similar here: http://forums.windowscentral.com/gui...Bguide%5D.html
    I read your guide long ago, very informative and I learn a lot. Inspired me to write something more precise and dedicated to WP photography.

    A little bit more about exposure: sometime you may find a part of your image underexposured while another part overexposured. In situation like this, you can not simply increase or decrease lighting to fix it. It might be better to consider HDR, as it takes photos at different exposures and combine them for an image with overall good exposure. This is a good HDR app HDR Photo Camera | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States).

    With good lighting, the Auto mode of Nokia Camera will almost always set ISO to 100 (or you could set it manually just to be safe). Just leave shutter speed on Auto. Avoid direct lights. Walk closer to the subject instead of zooming in, as zoom decrease image quality. Adjust brightness if you find your image too bright or too dark and your shutter speed will be adjusted automatically.
    11-16-2013 09:25 PM
  8. yarvelling's Avatar
    A point to be mindful of, based on experience! When shooting outdoors on a bright day, remember that the image you are seeing through the screen, and the image just photographed, will appear darker than it really is! I'm fairly new to a Lumia 925, and was out this last Sunday, on a nice, mild, and bright winters day, taking a few photos at a local ruined abbey. The sky was mostly bright and sunny, but large banks of thin cloud would come across too. I was thinking my photos were all going to look dark, so I went and changed from the auto setting, and started fiddling with ISO, etc and got better looking pictures - while I was out! When back home, and checking them on my PC, i found that the shots taken under the 'auto' setting were almost perfect!! My adjusted shots were over-exposed and more grainy!!
    So bare that in mind - shield your screen on a bright day! :)
    01-20-2014 02:54 PM

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