Analysis of our first Lumia 1520 photo samples - next gen image processing

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You'll have seen our early review coverage of the Nokia Lumia 1520 yesterday? Included in that were a number of unprocessed camera photo samples and, while these were across a fairly limited range of subjects and conditions, these proved interesting enough for Bigley Ling to grab and analyse them over at the PureView Club. Some quotes and comments below, Suffice it to say that the results bode well for both the 1520 and the Lumia 1020 (and its camera) when it gets the 'Black' update shortly.

From the PureView Club article:

And although I can only advise you to read Rafe Blandford’s in-depth review of the Lumia 1520 in full, I was happy to find (only on this site) a few 5MP shots in their original format, and I’d like to focus on those in this post. Note that in his article he writes he’ll be looking at the Lumia 1520’s camera performance, including video capture, in more detail in a later review, but I’m already very happy with these first snaps and the fact he’s sharing the original files as well.

I took the liberty to “borrow” a few of the shots Rafe published and I asked my PureViewClub friend from the other end of the world, Bigley Ling (aka “bigs”) to share his opinion on these first results. 

Everything below is written by Bigley Ling.

I guess we can call this an example of a portrait shot. What is immediately noticeable is the sharpness of the whole image, and while the sensor is not as large as the 1020′s massive 41MP sensor, it still renders nice somewhat defocused background. Colors looks rather natural, and there is none of this over saturation, or warm color filtering we have become accustomed to with the Lumia 1020 images.

Of interest is the detail in the eyes of the Pigs in focus. It is really quite impressive with eye lashes and whiskers around that region holding an amazing amount of detail, while not looking over sharpened or noisy. There is clearly noise reduction taking place even at ISO 100, but it is just enough to preserve detail yet not look noisy at all.

This is a classic test that will push smart phone sensors to the limits when it comes to rendering fine details throughout the frame. We will ignore the horse and rider as they are far enough they are actually part of the background. The 1520 does an impressive job with this oversampled 5MP result, and most of the grass in the fore and middle ground shows exceptional detail for a 5MP image. Do note though the bottom left and right corners of the image does suffer from corner softness.

Softness at the edges and corners of frames is characteristic of shoe-horning large optics into a thin form factor - and we've seen this on the Lumia 1020 as well. It's a necessary tradeoff - most people have NO idea of how hard it is to accurately represent a scene accurately through six lenses onto a linear sensor that's only a millimetre or two behind the lens assembly. I'd argue that it's not s showstopper on the 1020 or here on the 1520 - the bit most users will be interested in will be in the central 90% and, after all, it's trivial to crop the final image a little if the extreme edges aren't to your satisfaction.

After analysing Rafe's other images, Bigley concludes:

Overall image quality is very good, and the 1520 camera quality seems to fit in nicely in between the 1020 and the non oversampling 920,925 and 928. I think the evolved image processing puts the 1520 alot closer to the 1020 than one might think for time being since the images do seem more “natural” and “real”. An added bonus is that pureview 5mp images now have a softer tone to it, and does not seem to be putting emphasis on sharpening noise like the 1020 does in pureview mode with the current firmware.

The 1520 camera is not so much an evolution in camera hardware but rather an evolution in the software imagine processor which seems rather mature. If this is what 1020 owners have to look forward to with the upcoming “Nokia Black” I think it should appease users that previously thought the 1020 images was poorly processed and excessively noisy.

All of which sounds promising. This next generation of Windows Phone PureView oversampling algorithms (requiring Nokia Black) look more advanced than those currently in the Lumia 1020 and I can't wait for the updates to hit the latter.

Nokia's aim with these devices is to match the hardware oversampling from the older Nokia 808 yet with the reframing advantages from the newew Windows Phone-based system, allied to thinner hardware.

Source / Credit: PureView Club