Mega Gallery: Happy Halloween with the Nokia N8! Incredible Extreme Low Light performance for Nights Out!
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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
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)
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
This is nothing of major significance. I just like to have some record of start up times (to see in firmware upgrades down the line if it’s improving or not).
To make things fair, time starts from “pressing on” until I see the screen (easier to make comparable results this way)
- the N97 does around 34 seconds on its latest V12 firmware.
- Older S60 devices like my N93 could manage around 18 seconds.
- From other manufacturers, an old video by CNET showed the Palm Pre at 1 minute 46 seconds
- iPhone 3G at 48 seconds and
- iPhone 3GS at 19 seconds.
If any of those phones have improved in firmware, note now that the N900 isn’t even in final firmware.
How does the N900 NOT on final firmware fare? (Also check out the start up “Nokia Hands” animation in widescreen)
33 seconds (via this method of time keeping, though for actual bootup when you can press stuff is about 43
Now I know it’s not all about startup time . That’s not an excuse for the N900(against the 3GS). My N97 is relatively quick for a smartphone for startup but I’d gladly trade in some startup speed if it was much more faster at the rest of the smartphone tasks and much more stable so I wouldn’t have to keep shutting it down and restarting again! Not sure about the N900 (but my N800 is very stable)
(Low Light) Video Samples from the Nokia N900. Note, the N900 is not yet at final production software. Also, if you’re watching this within the first few hours of me posting, YouTube may not yet have converted it properly yet.
Update: If the video playback appears choppy, it does NOT look like that in the original file. In the YouTube video, I noticed it was choppy until I pressed HQ. After that, even normal quality looked fine.
ok, Wait, here’s the same first video in vimeo (It’s also converting so bear with me :):
Video recording is 848:480 at 25FPS. The original file is 1:30 seconds long and 36.6MB in size. As a reference, N900 performs better than the Nokia N97 in low light. In conditions where you actually have decent amount of lighting (i.e. not in a cinema) it’s fantastic. Another thing worth noting is that Video in N900 has closer focus than N900. Check out Neil’s (the closest guy) face.
Sorry these are the only two samples – I didn’t capture/transfer any except these because we thought we’d have more time with the N900s. Unfortunately, Jussi had to take them back to Helsinki. 😦 I’ll try and get some more today. Same for photo samples. BTW full screen viewer for 16:9 photos is awesome.
Earlier in July, the All About Symbian crew discovered a rather brilliant feature in the N86 that was never spoken about by Nokia. Real, usable digital zoom that preserved much more detail than previous/standard methods.
James Burland from Nokia Creative, using the Steve’s same N86 shows us again exactly how good that zoom is in this video (at a bird sanctuary?)
Just check out the obvious detail there. At times, I forget it’s zoomed in as on every other mobile device, digital zoom produces blocky pixels that make you regret using the digital zoom afterwards. With the N86 is a practical feature (well for video anyway)
This isn’t exactly how it works but when capturing a VGA video, but basically instead of zooming in on the 640×480 pixels, thus loosing detail and producing blocky artifacts, the N86 instead uses the entire 3264×2448 and (depending on zoom level) crops a portion of it to VGA, maintaining more of the detail than usual.
It’s not optical zoom, but it’s a very useful alternative and very effective up to 4x/5x zoom.
Via Nokia Creative
Here are some more video examples from N86 user ChampionJohnny
In this first video, look how at first the text is unreadable. But with the N86’s quality digital zoom, you can read even the smaller print.
In the second and third video, note again how much detail is maintained up to 4x digital zoom
Note: viewing on fullscreen on a desktop may make the videos appear more blurry – but that’s because they’re only VGA resolution. They would probably be even more impressive when Nokia ups the ante to HD ( 720p and maybe even bring back optical zoom)
The Nokia N97 and the HTC Touch Pro2 are two similar looking devices with very similar array of features. I was very impressed with the spec sheet of the Touch Pro2, and back in April felt that it’s what the N97 should have been, at least in terms of being having a better QWERTY keyboard, higher resolution screen, and winning at the numbers game in terms of CPU and RAM.
Tekno Review have put together an excellent video comparing 12 aspects of both devices.
- Design – Apples and oranges – personal preference issue. It’s a draw at 8 a piece. For me though, he black N97 wins by miles. If it was a continuous glossy piano black, smooth edge/rim gun metal it would have been almost aesthetically perfect.
- Build Quality – Robust mechanism on the N97 edges out the Pro2, 9 to 8
- Slide out keyboard – The HTC device is setting a standard for how QWERTY keyboards should be on tiny mobile devices. The N97’s keyboard is great once you get used to it, but the HTC Pro2’s keyboard is fantastic. N97 looses out, 7 to 9
- Screen – higher resolution and better contrast on the Pro2 means the N97 looses again, 7 to 8
- Touch Screen sensitivity – N97 isn’t Nokia’s second touch screen device btw. Although both devices use resistive touch screens, the Pro2 requires a little less pressure – so the N97 looses out again – 6 to 8
- User Interface – I was cringing here for S60. There were some surprising good points, such as the widget homescreen and Ovi, but the overall experience for tekno review means it looses to the Pro2 7 to 9. 9 though for Pro2? Maybe S60 is so bad it makes everything else look so good?
- Browser – it’s another draw here – if the N97 had slightly beefier hardware, though the browser is slightly dated, it would have beaten the Pro2.
- Camera- Here’s where the N97 gains back some ground – “Refined” 5MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens beats the Pro2’S simple 3MP camera, 9 to 6
- Video Playback – I cannot believe we still do not have DivX player/playback for S60 5th Edition. DivX for 3rd edition works, (and dvd clips look stunning on the N97) but unfortunately is choppy.The Pro2 also needs a third party app, Core Player so the N97 looses, 6 to 9. A bit harsh imo since out of the box neither would play such files. But I understand the frustration. Thank God for BBC iPlayer to fill my N97 up with movies/tv shows.
- Music Playback – The N97 has inferior speakers to the Touch Pro2. It’s a shame really, as big as it is. Even the ancient N95 has better/louder sound. The best stereo speakers on a Nokia device to date still rests on the N800. Fortunately though, this test also takes into account the 3.5mm audio/visual jack, which the Touch Pro2 lacks, and so the N97 wins here 8 to 7.
- Battery life – identical capacity batteries – not necessarily identical battery life but a draw here. 7 all. I’m still charging my N97 daily – but I am using it an awful lot.
- Price and Value – The slightly more expensive N97 does have a whopping 32GB memory (expandable with microSD) and a better camera – so it’s a draw here at 7 all.
Final Score – Nokia N97 with 86 points, the HTC Touch Pro2 with 94.
It’s not bad for the N97 – 8 point difference.
Could have and should have…
It frustrates me to know Nokia could have and should have done so much more with the N97. These flagships are more than just something to make money with – they bring confidence to the brand. The latter has repercussions on other products, which by the sheer amount of compromises (perceivably to cut costs), brings down the N97 from what could have been a force to be reckoned with to just another higher end smartphone.
Compromising on features to save money is good if we see those price cuts trickle down to the consumer. E.G. the Nokia 5800 – great features, though lots of room for improvement was bang on for the price and was extremely awesome value for money.
However, when you’re setting an opening price of £500, you set an extremely high bar of expectations. Something as simple as providing sufficient RAM so handle heavy multi tasking? That was not worth the price cut. It’s like having a 2 carat diamond ring set in plated silver. In for a penny in for a pound.
In the meantime, consumers are voting with their wallet and opting for devices which are delivering what Nokia could have and should have.
Having vented out those frustrations, I have to say that I do love the N97 . The N97 is a marvellous phone outright.
Being a fan of Nokia and S60 devices for a long time, watching the growth from the 7650, it’s kinda like pushy parent syndrome. Even when they achieve something that’s really good by most standards, when you know they are capable of getting 100% but got 90% , you need to voice your disappointment and push for continuous improvement.
However, there are several bug fixes in this firmware which hopefully means we won’t be needing to restart too frequently. The improvements are definitely worth the firmware upgrade (not always the case)
The full change log (and annoyances encountered on V10) can be seen >>here<<
– The keyboard is much more responsive, I don’t experience the delay in text appearing on screen anymore.
-Punctuation is improved. Before, the N97 had troubles with apostrophes when in predictive text mode. Now it correctly displays I’m, you’re, I’ve etc.
– I still have no voice dialling, but I think I just have faulty hardware (hopefully that isn’t affecting other findings)
-Rotation between landscape and portrait, without transition effect is pretty much instant.
-Speed has improved for theme effects. However, transitions still have the same fade out/fade in animation instead of a nicer
Ideally (well for me anyway), in terms of transitions, we’ll get the balance of speed and a visually pleasing animation as we have seen in the Nokia Photo Browser (see below)
There are still issues that need fixing (e.g. no long press for numbers) – and who knows, there maybe additional bugs/annoyances introduced into this new firmware.