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Posts Tagged ‘Low light’

Mega Gallery: Happy Halloween with the Nokia N8! Incredible Extreme Low Light performance for Nights Out!

October 31, 2010 19 comments

Happy Halloween folks! If you’re out and about tonight, perhaps in costume, you’ll certainly be wanting to save those memories. A phone won’t do right – you’ll have to bring your camera too.

Well…

One of the reasons the Nokia N82 has triumphed for so long is it’s undisputed performance in EXTREME low light – which is absolutely perfect for nights out. The last thing you want to worry about when you’ve had a few is your phone AND a camera (as well as your wallet/keys/cards/cash). Having one less thing to worry about is essential.

How does the new blood fare?Well whether in a pub, club (or in a London Film Premiere :p) the N8 does a bang up job and takes up the N82’s challenge successfully.

Here’s

The Awesome:

  • Passes extreme low light tests with flying colours. Literally. Amply lights up people in the dark with the xenon flash without washing them out (too much). Colours do look better on N8 vs N82. Less washed out (w’ell, we’ll upload the comparisons we did a while back

  • Freezes any action. Your LED enabled camera phone may be able to light up a scene half as good as xenon, but it will inevitably suffer from movement blur. That’s not good because people – they are prone to moving. What also really helps is the very fast autofocus and very fast shutter upon pressing the camera shutter button. This is often taken for granted but my Samsung WB600 would wait a second after pressing. It doesn’t matter that the flash can freeze if the action is already over.

Pillow Fight. Frozenby N8

Pillow in the Air and Nokia N8 captures it.

Moving Foreground freeze with nice background blur.

Falling on the Na'Vi


  • Great for night portraits: Note- a lot of folk are wearing facepaint, and most of the girls in general not in face paint are wearing make up/foundation which shows up a little differently under flash than bare skin – e.g. check out arm/neck. (Hence why the faces of the guys look more natural)

  • Awesome for group shots

Same 9MP 16:9 in 12MP 4:3


  • The N8 was NOT fully charged yet managed to take well over 300 photos ALL WITH FLASH, 8 mins of video, 20 mins calls, 30 mins text and somehow report only 1 bar missing from 8pm to 3am. This maybe incorrect battery life reporting, but if so the N8 would not have lasted until 7pm the next day. (It got to about 4 bars by 9am – killing all background processes severely helped – and the N8 didn’t die. Once on 1 bar it went back on charge)
  • Note: N8 was on full brightness in normal mode. You could possibly extend the N8 battery life by pressing power button once and selecting “Activate power saving”. This will push your N8 to 2G, reduce screen brightness amongst other things..
  • The 3.5″ AMOLED screen makes a perfect view finder. Excellent viewing angle means you can still see your subject even if you place the cam at awkward angles.
  • Simple enough operation for other people to use. Other folk just assume it’s a camera.
  • not N8 specific feature – but the camera strap hole/strap is positioned at the right place for right handed folk – (not so with N900). Makes it easy to protect your N8 from dropping.

The not so good.

  • In Auto mode, suffers from MAJOR red eye. Helps on Halloween but possibly not any other night. There’s red eye reduction function but seriously – due to the annoying camera UI every time you restart the camera it forgets you set it on red eye. On the upside – I’d rather have red eye than shitty, blurry, dark LED lit photos. NOTE: In a pub (or elsewhere where it’s not virtually pitch black) red eye is less of a problem.

  • The uncovered camera glass means it will suffer greatly from smudging which will make focusing difficult if there’s crap on the camera glass. It also affects flash photos. You can just wipe it, but remembering is a task. Especially if someone else is taking your photos and aren’t aware of that problem.

I think this one was combined initial focus error and camera smudge. But I kinda like the effect.

Smudge and focus problem. Focus problem due to intoxication but smudge assists in not being able to autofocus as well as it could.

Focusing again - a little better but there's still smudgey stuff on the camera which I forgot to clean for this pic

All in all STELLAR job by the Nokia N8. Fantastic low light performance that surely would make N82 users proud. Full sized pics available in the gallery

 

Low light photo and flash test: Nokia N97 versus Nokia N900 versus Nokia N82

December 12, 2009 6 comments

Here’s some low light photo conditions with the N900; testing out its flash against the N97 and the king of flash, and over 2 years old (absolutely ancient in tech), the N82.

I know I harp on about Xenon, but these set of photos demonstrate yet again why it’s just so good! Real xenon flash as opposed to LED, gives you a higher percentage of good looking photos in a wider range of lighting situations. This is especially useful if you’re taking photos of people.

Nseries in general are fantastic in ample lighting conditions, but only the N82 has ever excelled in dark conditions. The N900 would have been fantastic with Xenon. [Note, good low light isn’t all about Xenon, but it gives it a mighty helping hand]

There are excuses of space, possibility of advantages of LED for video light (though you don’t have video light option in N900) – possibly the real reason is that the N900 is only stage 4/5 on the path to Maemo greatness. (I really don’t want the N87 to be the only xenon flash enabled phone in Nokia’s 2010 lineup)

In general day to day camera use, I prefer the N900 to the N97 (but N82 above N900)

The N900, though not photo centric does have some advantages on its side:

  • Camera interface is just so much easier to use!
  • 16:9 photo option
  • N900 remembers last saved photo settings
  • N900 low light without flash is better than N97/N82
  • N900 colours/white balance usually more accurate than N97
  • N900 doesn’t have the camera glass fault that some N97s do mucking up the photos when
  • N900 video absolutely superior with initial autofocus
  • Framing subjects much nicer on N900 with large, high res screen.

1. This first set is just a colour test: Under fluorescent lighting,  no flash, distance about 20cm. Beginning always with N97, N900 then N82.

2. Pitch black, flash on.

3. Light on, no flash, distance about 1 metre. Apologies for the messiness of the shelves.

Pitch black, flash on. Distance 1m

Note here: N900 has much sharper photo than N97

Light on, flash on, distance 1m

Pitch black, flash on, distance 2-3 metres.

Now just N900 vs N82

Low light, flash on.

Low light, flash on

Low light, no flash

A bad shot below by N82’s standards (got focus point wrong), but still more vibrant colours. Check out another photo set with N97 vs N82.

Note, in some situations (like macro – not shown) N82’s xenon can be too bright. I’m not a photography buff so I don’t know how it works, but some digital cameras I’ve tried (mostly the Fuji variety, Samsungs/Panasonics I’ve tried failed) they take excellent macro with xenon

Nokia N900 Low Light Video and Live Band Fantastic Audio Quality Samples

December 1, 2009 2 comments

These are some short clips taken by the Nokia N900 to show low it’s performance in really low light and handling extremely loud audio recording (by the guys from “Platform Six“. The speakers were pretty much above the N900.

As you can hear, the audio recording is fantastic. Where most other phones (and even dedicated digicams) would have crumbled, giving inaudible, harsh noise, it’s very comfortable listening with the Nokia N900 (and in general, the Nseries range).

Video quality is pretty good too in this extreme low light. Ignore the frantic shaking that happens, the N900 is being waved about the place quite violently.

So, if you’re going to be recording your mate’s band, a high profile gig – you can trust that the N900 will give you great clips to remember.

[Note, N900 cannot use dual LED for video light yet. Not that dual LED for video helps for anything but things within macro distance)

Related post:

N900 Video Sample – Indoor, Decent Lighting

I love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

I Bet that You Look Good on the Dance Floor – Arctic Monkeys

Take me out – Franz Ferdinand

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Mix Play that Funky Music – Wild Cherry Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

Your Sex in on Fire – Kings of Leon

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Nokia N900 Low light Photo Samples

December 1, 2009 1 comment

Low Light photo, Flash off

Let’s compare the fourth photo with the N82 which sports a Xenon Flash.

This was actually not that good for N82, most other photos are solid clear – but on every occasion, the undisputed king of low light has about 99% success rate of sharp, well lit photos, frozen in time.

Related posting plans ahead:

  • Within a week, I’ll be posting another N82 vs N900 low light (on lock down this week to revise for Friday exam so may post on Sunday)
  • I’ll also be uploading the rest of the photos from London in the N900 Photo sample part 2. In case you missed it, here’s part one with a Classical group called Fandango
  • In about 90 minutes, I’ll post the video recording of the live band (I don’t recall their time) to demonstrate low light and of course the fantastic sound quality of the N900 (and Nseries) range.

Must dash off to lectures now. 🙂

Photos: Nights out with the Nokia N97 (with Nokia N82 comparison samples)

July 10, 2009 7 comments

YesteRday was my friends’ graduation. I knew that if I wanted some decent photos of the evening, I’d need to bring a proper camera (with real xenon flash) as dual LED has never cut it on previous occasions in really low light with the Nokia N97. Whilst not a dedicated point and shoot, I brought the N82 which was damn good enough to light up those moments which the N97 could not.

Unfortunately, not that many pictures from last night are going to make it on this post as I wasn’t really paying attention to making photo tests (they aren’t appropriate for a public blog – ha they’d kill me if I put some of these pictures up), but there are some from a different night. As expected in both occasions, the N82 was the downright winner – freezing every single shot, lighting up the scene in vivid bright colours, whereas the N97 just produced murky, often blurred pictures.

Note these two pictures below. (Big thanks to the random guy who took the photo – they were taken about 5 minutes in between each other as he didn’t know how to work either phones).

Nokia N97 (below) V11 firmware

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Nokia N82

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Nights out make up a significant bulk of my albums on facebook (as well as my friends’ albums). It’s the most convenient place for me to share my photos with the people that matter to me. The Nokia N82 has been a trooper in bringing back some quality pictures of the night before, to the point that I’ve rarely had to bring a separate camera (of which was brought out only when I forgot to charge the N82).

I love that I the N82’s camera with xenon flash is sufficiently good enough that I don’t have to bring out a phone AND a camera when I’m going out. It means less bulky pockets and more importantly, less of a chance that I’ll lose/drop/break, particularly as the alcohol consumption goes up and the concentration goes rapidly down. (And even so, the N82 has dealt with the drops, scrapes, scratches and even being dunked in Guiness remarkably. The only thing that’s hampered it is debranding to get the v31 firmware – a lesson I’ve learned NEVER to do again)20090709362_2

Bleak and murky, by N97

It’s annoying to think that I can’t have the same reliance for low-lit-people shots with the N97. Yeah, it’ll capture it, but never how it could have been, had Nokia included Xenon Flash.

It’s a shame particularly with the integration of facebook on the N97, and even being called the facebook phone, you’d think it’s the perfect marriage for the whole “connecting people” theme.

I know that not everyone’s pictures consist predominantly of indoor/nights out. In fact, with the summer, proportions of outdoor sunny holiday snaps are increasing (at least that’s how it’s appearning on my FB news feeds).

My perceptions maybe skewed as a (UK) student, but whenever people congregate and photos are being taken, that’s often almost always taken indoors where the lighting isn’t always the best it could be. The only N97 shot of the night out I was happy with was the macro below.

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N97 – macro – low light – flash on

These are though the harshest of lighting conditions. The N97 does perform alright when there’s sufficient lighting. Here’s an indoor shot taken earlier on in the evening during a meal at Harvester. There was still some sunlight poking through the windows.

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I was actually surprised when I checked that this had actually come from the N97 as shot by the N82 came out blurry (though this maybe a focusing error on my part and not the phone)

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N82 – focus got locked to the white shirts at the back.

Here’s a set of comparisons of the N97 (firmware V10) against the N82 when I went to see my mate’s band at Barfly. Sometimes, when the N97’s flash is turned off (and there’s already some illumination in the scene), the colours look more natural than with the N82 with the xenon flash on. But head to head, xenon always wins against dual led. Note that the N97 shot is (at least I think it is) the first of each pair.

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In terms of photos, and people in low light, and flash on, the Nokia N82 wins hands down. I haven’t tested the Nokia N86, the supposed imaging flagship by Nokia, but I’m hazarding an informed guess (based on early low light review sample) that even with the N86’s improved dual LED and better sensor, the N82 simply with xenon will still win the very low light/people test.

The only use I have for the dual LED is in the torch application (and I actually find this genuinely really useful). It doesn’t help that much in video, unless you set night mode on. This lights up the scene considerably, although frame rate is reduced and the video becomes very jerky.

Another area the N82 wins at is transferring pictures to the computer.

N82 >

  1. Gallery button >
  2. Hold “#” >
  3. press left on the dpad, quickly selecting several photos/videos at once >
  4. – send via bluetooth

N97 >

  1. Homescreen/menu >
  2. Photos >
  3. Captured>
  4. tick icon >
  5. tap tap tap …or drag finger across screen
  6. send via bluetooth

For my criteria of low light/people shots, the Nokia N97 doesn’t cut it. But is that enough reason not to get it? Unless all you’re looking to get is a clubbing phone that upgrades on the N82, the answer is NO . There are still plenty of reasons to choose the N97.

I’ve grown really attached to the homescreen and live information from my social networks and email. The keyboard, though not the best, I’ve also grown slightly accustomed to – maybe more due to the actual laptop looking/slide out form factor than actual usability of the keyboard itself.

For a lot of other users, as aforementioned, good performance in low light isn’t important at all. The camera is quite decent in better lighting conditions, and certainly performs better than most other smartphones, some of which don’t even have a flash (*cough*iPhone).

– This post is way too long now, I’m way too tired, wanted to talk about the Sony Ericsson Satio a bit, but I’m going straight to bed now.

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There were videos taken from the gig too, but I’ll upload those another time. I’m too knackered right now. Verdict was surprising on the video as on a previous initial test, the N82 won on low light video, but it wasn’t so clear cut this time. When set at the right angle, the N97 handles contrasts between low light and bright stage lights better, producing more natural colours, whereas the N82 continually provides well lit video, no matter where it’s pointed, although this does mean the videos appear bleached with light. e.g. The N97 could pick out the writing on the shirts – but the background is blacked out. On  the N82 just shows the shirts as plain white but you can still watch the background.

In sufficient lighting – the video is very good. It does seem less jerky than the N82, although the far focus is annoying when filming people.

Videos and Photos: Nokia N97 vs Nokia N82 in low light.

June 26, 2009 8 comments

[Sidenote: This test was done with pre-release early edition firmware V10.0.009, and not the “final” firmware V10.0.012]

Just before we went to see “The Hangover”, we went to the pub for a quick drink. Here were three shots I took with the N97 and the N82 in your average moderate/low lighting pub.

Preferably, for a comparison, I would have actually tested it on a proper night out in a club (like the collection here with the N82)- with much less light and a little more thought into certain making the tests fair.

Nevertheless, here’s what I managed with 5 minutes to spare – some “real world” testing of the N97 and the N82 in low lighting conditions (with flash).

N97 (and dual LED Flash)

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N82 (And Xenon Flash)

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N97

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N82

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N97

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N82

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For me – I prefer what the N82 produces. Crisp, non blurry, well lit images as opposed to the N97 under low lighting appears to be taking pictures through a murky muddy bottle.

Video

Supposedly – the LED light is meant to help, but as you can see – the N82 manages fine without it (seen in first few seconds of N82 video, thereafter “assisted” by N97). But the focus is blurry, the video is grainy and overall poor. I guess if it was pitch black then the N97 may have won slightly by having the LED light to give your face a slight gray halloween tint.

Sample from a Nokia N97

Sample from a Nokia N82

I really want to get the N97, but it kills me that for something so important to me (people photos – nights out – I am a student :p) there’s a lot I’ll have to sacrifice in terms of no longer being able to carry just one device again. Unless that is, I go and wait for the Satio. Hmm. It’s early days yet. I’ve not even had the N97 for half a day.

(Note though, it’s not all bad, the N97 performs well in optimum conditions – i.e. bright sunlight – something of a rarity in Wales)

Camera Tests: Nokia N82 vs Samsung Innov8 vs Nokia N97 vs Nokia N86

June 25, 2009 7 comments

Nokia and Carl Zeiss have bestowed upon the N86 imaging enhancements beyond just upping the resolution from 5MP to 8MP; wide angle, improved latency, large aperture, better sensor in general all resulting (at least on paper) in improved image quality.

CAM TEST 2

Check out full size photos from AAS

As you can see from Rafe’s test, the N86 is superior in all conditions, except low light, where the N82 and its Xenon flash show exactly how to freeze time in .jpeg format.

CAM TEST 1

Check out full size photos from AAS

When there’s a low light scene however, and no flash is used, the N86 is leaps and bounds beyond the other three in the tests. That’s great for:

  • low light situations where  xenon flash would not help because the subject is too far away
  • Situations where you’re not allowed to use flash (although it would really help) – e.g. in an art gallery or music/sport event.
  • when flash would produce too much gastly reflections (e.g. trying to take a photo through glass)
  • when you want to take quick successive shots in low light (xenon flash takes a second or two to charge up)
  • taking pictures of your pets/other animals [in low light] – they may not enjoy the sudden bright flash, of either xenon or dual led.
  • [insert other reason for not using flash]

As you can see when the scene was pitch black – the N82 was able to light it up and produce vivid reds of the car, the Innov8 and N97 poorly just bouncing off reflections, but the N86 – although only dual LED, with the combination of improved sensor,  illuminates the scene, though not to the standard of the N82.

However, as pointed out in the AAS podcast by Steve Litchfield, though it can light up the scene a bit more than usual dual LED, it doesn’t freeze it like Xenon, so expect some blurs if you’re taking pictures of say…erm…people…in low light situations.

nj7 sums up best what I think of the N86:
…..:( Without a Xenon flash it´s not possible to have a great all situation camera.
It’s a shame really, that with the Xenon flash, the N86 could have been the best still-photo cameraphone for all lighting conditions.
Don’t even get me started on how dreadful the low light pics of the N97 are (when you remember it’s meant to be the over all king and flagship and the price, you get more p’d off). Seems that I’ll have to start bringing a compact cam or switch back to the N82 for nights out and other occasions where I’m taking photos indoors. :(!
Oh well – tis your “Nokia thing” to upset the geeks and leave out a feature that we think is obvious to keep, justifying it with excuses of either space constraints or best option economically. Neither excuses fly in a world that’s starting to expect more from their phones.
Is Nokia playing too safe and making the wrong cuts and compromises? It may work out best business wise, but each “almost there” phone does not help Nokia’s, and particularly Nseries’ reputation amongst consumers.