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Nokia Lumia 1020 overview: Has the best got better?

By Kevin Carter - Friday October 11 2013

Mobile Overview
Overview | Lumia 1020 scores highly for low- ambient light, but color and video need perfecting
DxOMark Mobile
74

Overview

Although there have been other ‘Pureview’ models from the firm the 41-Mpix Nokia Lumia 1020 is the successor to rightly popular Nokia 808 Pureview, a high-end smartphone that sits in first place in our mobile rankings with a score of 77 points. The firm may have dropped the Symbian OS and Pureview moniker from the Lumia 1020, but expectations are high.

The down-sampling of such large files from the 41-Mpix sensor worked well with the Nokia 808 Pureview resulting in detailed images with low noise, and that same strategy has been applied to the Lumia 1020. At first sight though, with an overall DxOMark Mobile score of 74 points, the Windows powered smartphone doesn’t appear to perform quite as well as its predecessor.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 comes fourth overall, behind the rival Samsung Galaxy S4 and Apple iPhone 5S but a closer look at the scores reveals the Lumia, in fact, ranks in second place for stills with a score of 79 points (just two points behind its sibling). What is somewhat disappointing is the camera sits in a lowly 12th place for video, which obviously pulls the Lumia 1020 down in the overall rankings.

Underneath the sleek-looking shell, the camera actually retains the ‘Pureview’ technology, including a 25mm equivalent f/2.2 lens with optical image stabilization along with the crucial down-sampling of output from the 41-Mpix BSI CMOS sensor. This is used for both the 2.7x digital zoom, while also limiting the image output to around 5-Mpix with the advantage of reducing noise and keeping file sizes reasonably compact for sharing.

In summary then, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is one of the best camera phones for stills, but its video performance could be improved which lowers the overall ranking to fourth place.

In fact, under low light conditions the Lumia 1020 outperforms rivals, producing still images with low noise and detail preservation that are simply the best we’ve ever seen from a smartphone.

Compared with the more recent Apple iPhone 5S, we can see that while Apple is getting the most from its existing technology but they appear closer to their technical limit than Nokia is with their Lumia 1020.

Photo

DxOMark Mobile Photo
79
Exposure and contrast
80
Color
56
Autofocus
84
Texture
88
Noise
91
Artifacts
70
Flash
79

Pros

  • Excellent detail preservation both in low and bright light conditions.
  • Very low noise level with no chroma component.
  • Accurate exposure in extreme low light conditions (where other camera phones fail).
  • Pleasing photo rendering with flash: good exposure, color, white balance, texture and noise.
  • Fast and precise autofocus.

Cons

  • Strong color shading with indoor lighting and occasionally outdoors.
  • In low light conditions, overly long exposure times lead to motion blur.
  • Slightly tendency to underexposure outdoors.
  • Occasional white balance inaccuracies outdoors or with fluorescent lightings.
  • Substantial flare noticeable in presence of a strong light source.

Video

DxOMark Mobile Video
64
Exposure and contrast
91
Color
73
Autofocus
45
Texture
73
Noise
53
Artifacts
61
Stabilization
49

Pros

  •  Good texture preservation in bright lighting conditions.

Cons

  • Strong row noise evident
  • Visible blocking artifacts
  • Walking movements remain uncorrected by the video stabilization
  • Autofocus oscillations are visible during refocusing.
  • Over-correction of video stabilization when steadied (on a tripod).