Review: Can the Lumia 1020 turn you into a pro photographer?

January 21, 2014
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The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a camera with phone features, so I have been told a few times when people see the 41-megapixel camera smart phone. You can’t help but notice the camera on the 1020 especially with a bright yellow casing, which also comes in black and white. The camera on the matte finish back stands out, quite literally. It protrudes from the device that it never lays flat on its back.

Nokia made sure the camera is the major appeal and selling point of the 1020. The large camera module packs a Xenon flash, LED light and camera lens. I am not much of a camera enthusiast, but the 41-megapixel camera can match some DSLR cameras and can turn a very amateur photographer like me into a respectable one. I have been accused (unfairly) of taking poor quality photos so I set to find out if it’s the device or the user. You can skip down to the photos if you are too eager to see my results.

But first, let’s look at the features. If you are among the few but growing Windows Phone fans, the 1020 will be a familiar experience. There are no new additions or changes in terms of user experience except for the improved performance and the bigger size compared to other Lumia’s save for the 920. With a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, the 1020 can effortlessly handle any heavy application. The downside is that it has no expandable memory and it may heat up especially when using the camera.

Nokia-Lumia-1020-front

Standing at 5.1 inches tall by 2.8 inches wide, the 1020 is slightly bigger than the S4, making it more masculine. Smaller hands will find it hard to reach the upper-left functionalities on the screen without moving the palm. However, Nokia has managed to fit in the massive camera on the device without significantly adding to its weight of 158 grams.

The Gorilla Glass 3 protects the screen from scratches though I am not so sure about nasty face-first falls on concrete. The 4.5-inch display features a 1,280×768 pixel resolution AMOLED screen making photos clear and crisp. Using the phone against the sunlight should be a breeze and viewing HD videos can waste your day. But watch out for the battery and although you can go through an average day without recharging, the camera and additional applications will strain the battery if you shoot for extended hours.

Other features are standard for the Lumia; the volume rocker, power/standby button and camera button are on the right side. At the top, you find the micro-sim slot and a 3.5mm headset jack. The device has a micro-USB charging port and speaker/microphone on the bottom-side.

You can get all the popular apps including Instagram on the Windows platform. The Nokia HERE Drive and Map should get more credit than it gets. The fact that you can use the map offline and get accurate voice directions fascinates me. I forgot to switch off the navigation mode when I walked into a mall only to hear the navigation voice, “after 100 metres turn left to Kingara road”. The pronunciation could be better but you get the locations.

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Now back to the Camera, which really is the focus of the 1020. If you are a pro photographer, you will fall in love with the specs and what you can do especially factoring in the mobility. But if you have no interest in images or videos, you might be missing half the capability of the device considering you might spend Sh79,000 for this Lumia. We may not cover the full specs of the camera, but this is what you need to know;

wp_ss_20140120_0002When you take a photo, it saves two versions; a 5-megapixel picture image you can easily share and use for social media and a 34-megapixle high resolution image which is only accessible when you connect your device to a computer.

Lumia 1020 has two main default camera apps or lenses. The Nokia Pro Cam allows pros to use the manual settings to alter specs like white balance, focus, ISO, shutter speed and brightness. The pro Cam has smart features includes face detection, best shot, action shot and motion shot. The auto Nokia smart allows users to switch to the 1.2 megapixel front facing and automatically adjust scenes; sports, close-up, night or backlight.

What might be confusing for the average user is the image ratio. You either have landscape images or narrow (portrait) photos. You can download the many photo apps to take proportional images or edit using an editor.

There is no optical zoom though it’s not necessary on a phone. The zoom capacity is a bit limited but you can focus on more detail in post-production without losing clarity.

Photos taken with Nokia Lumia 1020. Be the judge.

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