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Nokia leads the way for mobile cameras while the ignorant laugh at them – I

Just when we thought everything had been invented in the world of photography, Nokia came along and invented a new method of zooming in on mobile phones without having to resort to optical zoom. It involves mounting a 41 megapixel sensor on a mobile phone and zooming in on it. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

The first thing I thought when I saw him was: these Finns have gone crazy! Who would think of making a mobile with 41 megapixels? It could only be Nokia in a desperate attempt to attract attention . As the day went by and I did some research on the camera of the Nokia 808 PureView I could see for myself that we were witnessing a revolution in mobile phone cameras over the next few years .


Nokia leads the way for mobile cameras while the ignorant laugh at them – I
Nokia leads the way for mobile cameras while the ignorant laugh at them – I

One of the areas in which they have improved the mobiles by far is in their camera. The first mobile cameras were ridiculous and their quality was more than questionable . Pictures in VGA quality and only a few fit in the internal memory of the phone.

Little by little, the manufacturers got on the megapixel cart and the cameras have gone getting closer to the quality of the more spartan compacts . The last small revolution we witnessed was the camera of the iPhone 4S, which with its 8 megapixels, f2.4 lens and backlit sensor, left us all with our mouths open with its quality.

But there’s a burden that no one has yet been able to remove. Due to the reduced thickness of mobile phones, it is physically impossible to incorporate cameras with optical zoom , so these have always been fixed focus cameras.

The manufacturers’ crappy solution was to use digital zoom thanks to extrapolation – from which we advise you to always run away. With this technique the camera invents pixels and artificially enlarges the image, so the loss of quality is considerable.

Despite all this, Apple allowed itself the luxury of incorporating the zoom into its iPhone 4S with the famous finger pinch but using extrapolation as well, which leaves us just as we were.

Now comes Nokia and hits the table

It may seem silly, but no one has ever thought of it before . And if they had, they certainly hadn’t been able to make it happen.

Nokia has been able to embed a 41 megapixel, 11.2 inch sensor inside a mobile phone to give you the ability to zoom in on your photos. Many people laughed at them arguing that they had invented a mobile phone to take pictures of us that could cover the front of our building. Others even ironically said that high-end SLRs were shaking because the Finns were here to eat them all.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing Nokia has done is to take advantage of those 41 megapixels to make cuts in the image and get the ability to zoom without loss of quality . Sound about right?

How does PureView technology really work?

Galería de fotos del Nokia 808 PureView

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If we do not zoom in on the image, the oversampling mode will be activated, which will ensure that every six pixels are merged into one “super” pixel , reducing noise. You can test this technique yourself with your camera. Reduce the number of megapixels in your photos and you’ll see that they’re now seen at full size with higher quality and less noise.

As we zoom in, the oversampling will become less effective. However, Nokia tells us that this loss is made up for as we get closer to the centre of the lens, where its optical performance is optimal : there are no chromatic aberrations, distortion or vignetting.

More technically speaking (paragraph only suitable for people with knowledge of photography), the oversampling eliminates the shortcomings of the classic Bayer filter that 99% of cameras have -only Sigma uses a system similar to oversampling, using a Foveon sensor with more real megapixels than effective ones. For example, an 8MPX sensor uses only 4MPX green, 2MPX red and 2MPX blue, which are interpolated to get a final 8 megapixel image . Nokia PureView uses the same number of green, red and yellow pixels.

If we record video at 1080p, the zoom increases to 4x and if we choose 720p the figure increases to 6x. If we want to aspire to a 12x zoom we will have to lower it a little more, reaching the VGA, more than enough in many videos.

Tomorrow we will continue to expand the information in a new article.

More information