1. AndyCalling's Avatar
    I am seeing thread after thread trying to discuss photo quality on Windows Phones, most recently due to the Lumia Black changes, with a real lack of understanding as to where the 'issue' lies. Each thread often seems to think in terms bugs being the 'issue', but this is more of a conceptual problem and I'm going to try to explain some of the issues as well as I can here.

    Firstly, we are talking about phones here. Phones, in general, have very small camera sensors due to their size. There is a certain Lumia exception, but even then the sensor size is not huge, it is just bigger then most other phones' have. Small sensors show more noise in low light situations than large sensors as they capture less light. That's physics. If you provide for less pixels on a given size of sensor then the noise reduces, thus a 6meg sensor of the same size as an 8meg sensor will be less noisy. One trick (initially pushed by Fuji EXR cameras) is to 'double up' the pixels, so my 10meg EXR camera when set to 5meg will still use the full sensor to grab a low noise 5meg image (a technique called pixel binning). I never shoot full res on an EXR camera for this reason. This effect does not work on most cameras, such as my Lumia 820, as halving from 8meg to 4meg just uses a smaller area of the sensor. Note that few people can see the detail difference between an 8meg picture and a 6meg picture at A4 size, and over 8meg is completely pointless unless printing at sizes over A4 or unless you are being very technical.

    The result is that low light or high ISO (over 400 for most phone cameras) pics will be noisy. So, customers complain. The result is that companies add noise reduction before saving, which reduces sharpness and 'strategically' blurs and tweaks the colour to make the noise less obvious. This does, of course, reduce the overall sharpness and detail in the image. This is in addition to the usual loss of detail caused by jpeg compression if not saving in raw format on high level phone models. So, another set of customers complain that the image is now too blurry with lack of detail.

    The usual resultant product pattern then goes:

    1) Camera released by engineers who want to capture the best, most detailed pics they can.

    2) After complaints about noise, the company adds aggressive noise reduction. Complaints then come in about lack of detail (as in Lumia Amber). A new cludge firmware (Black) comes out that sits in the middle and doesn't suit anyone.

    The best option is to have noisy, NR free photos that can have NR added manually after being taken (many packages available to do this). Unfortunately customer moaning means we don't get this option. Oh well, you asked for it...
    01-20-2014 12:20 PM
  2. Himanshu Chowdhary's Avatar
    I am satisfied with my Lumia 920 camera, I don't care about the yellow tint/hue the aftermath is always amazing for me, I know if I want outstanding results I should upgrade my Lumia 920 to 1020 but I quiet happy with the results.
    amber and black , can not see any difference in images but again I am happy with the results.
    thank you Andy for sharing this xx
    01-20-2014 12:37 PM
  3. AndyCalling's Avatar
    Thanks, just trying to increase understanding. I've often thought it would be great to have a post processing on/off switch on cameras, or variable aggressiveness, but I've never seen such in a product. Of course, it would be best if cameras were taken down a notch in megapixels but big numbers sell. If my Lumia 820 kept the same sensor size as it has now but was made for 6meg instead of 8meg it would be much better. On my EXR camera a 5meg full sensor pic upscaled to 10meg in manual post processing is way better than a natively shot 10meg image on the same camera. Since my Lumia 820 does not do pixel binning though, simply reducing the size in the settings doesn't help. That big 41meg Lumia may well have a pixel binning function though (surely it must do at that size) so options are available for the cunning shooter on that model.
    01-20-2014 12:58 PM
  4. Himanshu Chowdhary's Avatar
    I do wish nokia add a switch to on of post processing, but alas I am happy what I have no complaints.
    Andy you have a lot of knowledge about photography,I got something new to learn today :)
    01-20-2014 01:06 PM
  5. yarvelling's Avatar
    Very happy with the low-light photos from my Lumia 925! As part of team of Ghost-Hunters, who goes out most weekends to cold, draughty churches/buildings, it's good to have a camera that can shoot well when the only light source is a hand-held flashlight. My normal digital cameras: Olympus, Panasonic, and Fuji, all come out with dim, grainy shots, however, photos taken under those same conditions with 925 are bright, well illuminated, good colour, and clean details, with a lack of noise - and that's just by using the newer Nokia Camera app and setting it to 'Night' mode.... Quite superb! I'm not quite so impressed with shots taken with flash, but natural daylight photos are quite superb, and it's one of the few cameras that accurately manages to get properly detailed skies, with properly exposed buildings/objects against it... :-) Very sharp, minimum grain, and excellent colour and contrast levels. And that's leaving it set to 'Auto'. Great camera/software.... :-)
    01-20-2014 02:23 PM
  6. AndyCalling's Avatar
    Yea, basically, Nokia compares great against other makes of camera. The same considerations hold true, however, when comparing Nokia to Nokia (or Nokia firmware revisions). Still, if any of those normal (I assume compacts?) cameras you mention have pixel binning (that Fuji an EXR model?) you may be shooting it wrong, as EXR models have excellent low light quality when shot right (p-mode can also use binning on Fuji, research your cameras well).

    Tricks like EXR are mostly unnecessary. My 10meg EXR camera would be just as good if it had none of that tech and just had the same sensor size at 5meg fixed. EXR would be useful if 10meg mode had no/low NR but as always it is way too heavy handed making full res mode never a better option than 5meg mode. Still, it allows companies to sell high megapixel counts that can still take quality shots, I suppose.

    At least Nokia try not to over gun their sensors. I still wish my L820 had 6meg, but at 8meg it's the best phone camera I've ever owned. It only pales next to other Nokias.

    Note that 'grainy' shots are good on compacts, ie. not smeared by NR. If you want them smoother use an app to smooth them later, with a good algorithm that it can take 30 seconds over. Noise free low light photos only come from large sensors on big cameras. Anything else is NR and that is never best done whilst taking photos. It is a job for afterwards.
    01-20-2014 03:13 PM
  7. yarvelling's Avatar
    No, the Fuji is a bridge camera from several years ago, the Olympus is a fairly recent 14mp compact, and the Panasonic is an FS-10 (12mp Lumix)... all decent, but nothing spectacular! Daytime shots on them are great, but no matter how the settings are changed for shutter speed, ISO, etc in the manual modes on the Fuji and Olympus, none of them have the light collecting capability of the L925.... :) If I open up the ISO then they become badly grainy, and of course, the lower shutter speeds mean quite a lot of motion blur... Much less with the 925 I've found so far. I've set up one shot with Olympus with it set to 'Night' mode and taken a photo - grainy, blurred, and dark, yet the same shot seconds later on the 925 and it's bright, sharp, and much less grain! :) Of course, I use seperate software on my PC to remove excess grain, and re-boost the sharpness... the difference is startling!
    I'm sure that a far more expensive camera set-up, in the right hands could match what I find that the Lumia gives me, but on a tighter budget, with far less technical knowledge, I'm finding that the 925 is superbly equipped for low-light/flashlight lit scenes, that don't require any set-up, but need to be taken quickly during an investigation - those fast shots can catch some very interesting phenomenon :) It's doing exactly what I need, and I'm very happy to reduce a little noise later at home, and not have to strain PaintShop to try to bring back any detail that has been lost in a dark, grainy image taken by a camera that can't cope in the dark.... :)
    01-20-2014 04:47 PM
  8. yarvelling's Avatar
    To illustrate what I mean, here's a couple of photos taken last Saturday night at a small local church that we were investigating.....
    First is from my Olympus VG-170, set to 'Night' in it's settings menu:


    This is from the Lumia 925, also set to 'Night' in the Camera app.... both illuminated by the same torch/flash-light:


    This is the difference for me, that makes the 925 a great camera for low light! :)
    Himanshu Chowdhary likes this.
    01-20-2014 04:57 PM
  9. AndrewL920's Avatar
    I wish we can turn off jpeg processing and get the picture exactly what camera took.

    If there is a camera app that has a "turn off jpeg compression" function in camera settings. I would buy it for $10-15
    Last edited by AndrewL920; 01-21-2014 at 08:08 AM.
    taymur likes this.
    01-21-2014 07:32 AM
  10. hope4wp's Avatar
    I'm happy with my l920 pics now....i mean we do edit our pics just to make it better even if they don't have the hue....so what's the problem :) long live Nokia and pureview

    Sent from my Nokia Lumia 920 using Tapatalk
    01-23-2014 08:16 PM

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