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Nokia Lumia 1020 vs the iPhone 5: Camera Showdown


I have shared my thoughts on the Nokia Lumia 1020, both in a full review, and in an explanation of why I will be returning mine. However, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few sample photos to demonstrate the capabilities of the 1020, as well as the differences between it and the iPhone 5.


Outdoors at Dusk


iPhone 5 Automatic Mode Photo- I did not use HDR or set the exposure on the darker area. The resulting photo is noisy and underexposed in the darker areas.


Lumia 1020 5 Megapixel Photo- The same shot, also in full auto. It is a little better, but still quite underexposed.


This is from the Nokia 1020 using manual settings. I set a slow shutter speed of 1/8, and the OIS allowed me to take the photo without a tripod without blur. It is overexposed, but it does show off the low light potential of the Lumia. However, it does take working with the manual settings to unlock that potential. You can’t depend on the auto in low light.


Outdoors in Cloudy Daylight


iPhone 5 Auto Mode photo.


iPhone 5 HDR Photo- This is one of the few advantages that the iPhone 5 has over the 1020. You can see the difference in detail between the bright areas in these 2 photos. The HDR version is correctly exposed.


Lumia 1020 5 Megapixel Photo- This is very similar to the iPhone 5 non-HDR version. In adequate outdoor light, the cameras produce similar results. Unfortunately, unless Nokia adds and HDR mode, users will have to rely on the Exposure Braketing feature in Pro Cam, and roll their own enhanced photos with editing software, such as Photoshop.


Flower Bed


iPhone 5 Auto Mode Photo


Lumia 1020 5 Megapixel Photo


Flower Close Up


iPhone 5 in Auto Mode Photo- The iPhone 5 is a very good outdoor macro camera. You can get very close to the subject and still get good focus.


Nokia 1020 5 Megapixel Reframe- The Lumia 1020 doesn’t do true macro pictures without a lot of messing with the manual focus. Even then, you still can’t get as close to the subject for the original shot. On the other hand, because the high resolution image captures so much detail, you can usually take a normal photo and reframe it close in to get the same results.




iPhone 5 Auto Mode Photo- As you can see, the detail is good, but the color processing is a little on the cool side, making the yard look a little dull.


Nokia 1020 5 Megapixel Photo- This picture is more detailed than the iPhone 5’s, but suffers from the opposite issue. The color here is actually a little too saturated. The color of the yard is actually somewhere in between these two photos.


Grass- Zoomed In


iPhone 5 Auto Mode Photo with Digital Zoom- This photo isn’t too bad for having used digital zoom. There is actually a descent amount of detail preserved. However, the results often aren’t this good. Digital zoom should always be avoided, if possible.


Nokia 1020 5 Megapixel Reframe- Here is the biggest strength of the 1020 on display. This is a 3X zoom reframe of the grass photo above. Just look at how much detail is visible here. No other smartphone can do this. Honestly, there are plenty of low-end point and shoot camera that couldn’t pull this off, even with optical zoom.




iPhone 5 in Panorama Mode


Lumia 1020 with Panorama Lens- Because this photo isn’t taken with the Pro Cam app, there is no high resolution version of the photo to start with. To be brutally honest, the iPhone does a better job on this one. The color range is better, and the sky has much more detail. It’s an example of how this camera quickly becomes more ordinary when you step out of the Pro Cam app.


Indoors- Low Light


iPhone 5 Auto Mode Photo- The noise level isn’t too bad, and some detail is visible. However, this is obviously not the iPhone’s strength. The dark areas are definitely underexposed.


Lumia 1020 5 Megapixel Photo in Auto- The dark areas of the photo are more visible and detailed here. There is noise present, but you can always use the high resolution photo to edit some of that out in a desktop editor. Unfortunately, the bright area of the photo is overexposed, which is one of the few issues with the 1020.


Indoors- Low Light with Flash


iPhone 5 Auto Mode with Flash- Well, I’ve seen worse results from the iPhone 5. The lighting isn’t too bad, but there is a lot of noise here. The bright area also ends up overexposed. Apple really needs to upgrade this flash in the 5S.


Lumia 1020 5 Megapixel Photo with Flash- The 1020 has a large Xenon flash, and you can see the results here. The photo is evenly lit, the bright area has better exposure, and the noise is under control. However, there is one weakness. Pictures taken with the flash tend to end up a little too warm, but that is easy to fix with a good photo editor.



iPhone 5 Video- The iPhone 5 wins on exposure and color saturation.

Lumia 1020 Video- What the 1020 lack in color balance, it makes up for in crisp detail. It also has the capability to zoom while shooting, which is a big plus. The only problem is that you are limited to 2-finger zooming, and it is difficult to do smoothly. (Correction: Ron in the comments below was kind enough to point out that 1-finger zoom is actually available in Pro Cam on the 1020)  It is also with mentioning that the sound recording on the 1020 is in a different class than other smartphones.

At the end of the day, the Nokia Lumia 1020 clearly outperforms the iPhone 5. But that really shouldn’t come as any surprise. The 1020 has vastly superior specs, and it is technically a generation ahead of the 5. However, I wouldn’t expect the coming 5S to be a massive leap forward, so this is still a valid comparison.

The iPhone 5 actually holds its own in daylight shots taken in ideal conditions, and outperforms the 1020 in panoramas, as well as general color saturation. The inclusion of an HDR mode also helps the 5 out in situations with difficult exposures. The iPhone is also capable of shooting photos in faster succession than the 1020, which can actually be quite slow when producing high-res images. It can also shoot pictures while taking video, which the 1020 currently can’t.

However, the 1020 is still the superior camera in every other respect. Because of the 35 or 38 megapixel high resolution photos that the Pro Cam app produces, the 1020 is capable of virtually lossless 3X zoom. It can also zoom while shooting video (4X in 1080p, 6X on 720p). Also, the flash and focus lamp on the 1020 give it the ability to take usable photos indoors, and the manual adjustments available in Pro Cam make other low light and specialty shots that would be impossible for other smartphone camera possible. The 2-stage dedicated camera button, true optical image stabilization, and optional Camera Grip just add icing to the cake.

So, while the iPhone 5 does have a few advantages, as well as a wealth of third-party camera and photo and video editors, the Lumia 1020 is still the winner of this camera showdown any way you slice it. Have you tried the 1020 yourself? Have you also had a chance to compare it with the iPhone 5? I would love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @jhrogersii, or on Google+.


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  • hhvdblom

    To much Credit For the iphone, must Be a iphone lover. Bad picture samples, May Be made on purpose linke that

    • James Rogers

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong. As much as I like the iPhone, the 1020 bests it (and it should) in all of the areas tested except those specifically mentioned. However, as good as the 1020 is, it is NOT perfect. Not by a long shot. Pictures taken with apps other than Pro Cam app are ordinary. There are no preset shooting modes for novice users or custom save modes for those who would use them in the Pro Cam app. There is no HDR, which is a big oversight because the 1020 tends to overexpose bright areas in high contrast pictures. No pictures during video. Slow save times when shooting high res. The phone gets hot and kills the battery during extended shooting because the processor is taxed. Pictures taken with the flash are artificially warm.

      Feel free to disagree with me, but I am not the only reviewer with these complaints. I have tested this camera extensively for 13 days now, and as good as it is, these are real drawbacks, especially considering the $299 price tag. Fortunately for Nokia, many of them are software related, and can be fixed with updates. I just hope they will do it. At the end of the day, I freely say in my previous iSource article on why I’m taking the 1020 back today, that I would use the 1020 as a camera over the iPhone 5 and my Sony point and shoot camera. However, it doesn’t even compare to my other cameras, making the $659 true price tag outrageous.

      Since you have questions, here’s full disclosure on what I did. I needed to take matching pictures with both phones, so I went outside my office and got all but the outdoor low light and interior pics. I used the interior hallway of my office building for the indoor low light shots. The outdoor low light was taken outside my house several days before, in preparation for my full review of the 1020 for WinSource. I just happened to think to take a matching shot of that particular scene with my iPhone. All of the shots were chosen to highlight different common situations, such as difficult exposures outside and inside, macro shots, zoom, video, etc.

      All of the photos for this comparison were done in full auto except where noted. They were NOT done to give an advantage to either. They were done the way a typical user would pick up the phone and snap a quick picture. That was the intent. I didn’t set up manual shots with the 1020. I didn’t use separate exposure and focus and any filters in ProCamera or Camera+ with the iPhone. Just plain photos with as little adornment as possible. The 1020 still came out on top, so I can really do without your fanboy dramatics. Oh, and the next time you want to question a reviewer’s integrity, try checking the grammar and spelling of your post. It adds a little weight to your argument.

      • hhvdblom

        Sorry this is a iphone site, so you magnified the minor points of the 1020 and blew them out of porportions For your iphone readers. Hey mat Miller of zdnet is very happy with the 1020 he wrote in his article. By the way thats How jou write An article.

        • James Rogers

          1. I’ve made it very clear over several articles that I really like the Lumia 1020, and think it is currently the best smartphone camera on the market. In fact, I will be surprised if any competitors pass it up in the next generation. I am returning mine today because I can’t afford to keep it on subsidy as just a camera. I will probably buy again later, when the price comes down. I haven’t hidden that, either. Since I like fiddling with manual settings, I would personally use it to take pictures over the iPhone. But that’s me. The vast majority of smartphone owners, especially iPhone users who are used to an easy, pick up – shoot quick – get a better than average photo experience, are not going to touch ANY of that stuff. This was about how the 1020 performs in this auto camera role. It’s the iPhone’s home turf, and the 1020 still wins handily, and I did nothing to hide that fact. However, the 1020 does lose some of its luster when you don’t use the manual features. Even though it wins, this role doesn’t play to its strengths. However, if that’s how most smartphone users will shoot pictures with it, then its a worthwhile comparison.

          2. Minor points should be magnified when you’re talking about a $650 device that is amazing as a camera, but doesn’t yet have a competitive ecosystem on the phone side. I would love to see a review from a general tech writer that doesn’t point this out. I’ve read most of them, and they range from “Windows Phone is ok,” to downright scathing. I was more generous than many of them in my full review. The fact is that, as good as the 1020 is, it still can’t match many of the best point and shoot cameras. However, it costs more outright. In many cases, a GREAT DEAL more. It also can’t match the ecosystems that Apple and Google have on the phone side.That leaves the 1020 in a very interesting spot. The best cameraphone by far, but is it a good enough value with all of the tradeoffs that come with it? For the vast majority of iOS and Android users, that answer is going to be no for now.

          3. If a full-time, professional writer from ZDnet can’t do a better job than me, then they probably need to find another line of work. But thanks for your self-appointed journalistic expertise.

        • 35fd3et3f34t3r

          The 1020 also has true offline GPS/Drive capabilities. So when you have no data coverage or want to avoid data roaming, it will save you money. I don’t think the i5 has that capability.

          Also, the 1020 can be used with Winter gloves, as it uses a special screen. i5 cant do that.

          the 1020 also has OIS (bearnings) for smoother photo/video taking. The i5 lags in that area.

          the 1020 (with 32GB) is $299, the same price of an i5 (32GB). So the pricing thing is mute.

          the camera grip is used with the 1020 has a built in battery, thus extending the battery life of the phone. It also acts as a heat shield for when you take lots of photos. Trust me, you will take lots of photos.

        • Will McClenaghan

          It also has NFC and optional Wireless charging, as well as a bigger screen with higher resolution and a standard non proprietary micro usb port. Oh and a barometer !
          Another handy Nokia feature is that you can download language packs and use Microsoft’s translation app without any data service. This complements the ability to use maps offline when you are travelling overseas and don’t want to have to sell your house when you get back to pay for the data charges.
          Finally, being totally honest which one do you really think is more likely to survive being dropped without a case ? I have personal experience from dropping my iphone 4 and my Lumia 920 … guess which one broke?

      • Tom

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, yes BUT – there’s always a but- in a review one should be more neutral..

        At the end you could tell us which is your favourite and why.. but when you’re doing the review you’re too much pro iphone (i’m an iphone-lover aswell tho I did not like this review)

        • James Rogers

          Feel free to count the number of times that I said that the 1020 was clearly the better camera. Because, outside of a few small issues that Nokia will hopefully address with software, it IS better. If that is somehow being pro-iPhone, then I really don’t know what to tell you.

          Also, this is not a review. I wrote a very positive review of the 1020 for our sister site, WinSource. It was not a comparison with other platforms except where necessary. It was not written from the perspective of an iPhone user. This photo comparison Is different. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but it is on an iOS site. That said, did the iPhone somehow “win” because of it? No. But the fact remains. Nokia needs to finish their job. There are common features missing, and the camera is average outside of Pro Cam. If they do, no other smartphone in this or probably the next gen will compare in any respect. But that isn’t the case today.

      • Johannespreekt

        One of the big problems with the Nokia phones is that you need to do some custom settings to get a great result! Because the Nokia devices have so much power under the hoot but you have to use it.
        For the low light photos, the reason that the 1020 didn’t blow your mind of was because their was light at the back of the photo, so you needed to set the scene to backlight, you didn’t so the Nokia didn’t do that much different then the iPhone.
        I know people want to test the default settings but Nokia needs manual settings! So nice to know by default the differences aren’t that great, but when you buy such a device you will do some manual settings because you are a fan and then nothing comes close to the photos you can make with it. Same goes for all 920 reviews!

        Conclusion nice review but it doesn’t tell you anything about the device!

        • James Rogers

          Thanks. I do agree that the manual settings are the key to getting the most out of this camera. I really enjoyed using them, but I like fooling around with cameras. That’s why I ended up doing the 1020 review. But, here’s the issue for Nokia. Selling to camera enthusiasts only doesn’t make money. It doesn’t gain significant marketshare. They need some streamlining to help accomplish that.

          Case in point. While I was testing the 1020, I handed it to my wife and showed off the features and some pics. I showed her the mode with all of the manual setting arcs displayed and gave it to her. She looked at it, and then asked me how to get the stuff out of the way so she could take a picture. She wasn’t interested. And my wife isn’t a novice smartphone user, either. She just isn’t one to fiddle around with them like I am. Like it or not, Nokia needs to be selling to people like my wife to become more successful. Automating Pro Cam some more would be a big help.

      • Will McClenaghan

        I’m not a great fan of HDR … it never helped me with my iphone 4 shots much, but there are HDR lenses for Windows Phone 8, including HDR Photo Camera which I have on my Lumia 920. I don’t use it much though because I have ProShot which is effectively what the Nokia ProCam app is. It was available long before the 1020 and has allowed me to take some shots I am really pleased with.
        Using auto mode for both seems like you are being fair, but lets face it you have so much more control over any Windows Phone Camera with its “lenses” feature than an iphone that it obviously advantages the iphone to a large degree. I can’t see why you would carry a 1020 and not learn how to get the best out of its fantastic hardware.
        On a positive note I liked the way you showed the comparative photos. Very helpful.

        • James Rogers

          I understand your point. I could have gone the opposite direction, and both dug into lenses and Pro Cam’s manual settings beyond the little bit that I did here, and then gone through several of the better iOS third party camera apps, as well. However, I didn’t see the point. The 1020 is already better in this current comparison, and I’ve already done a full review and photo collection at WinSource, where I pushed the camera to get better shots.

          I actually like the lens concept. There are a lot of really good iOS camera apps out there, but it is a disjointed experience moving from one to the next. I like the organization that MS brought with the lens system. They should really get more credit for the idea.

          As for the HDR lenses, I’m still not a fan. Like using the Panorama lens, your photos are a lot more limited having to start out at 5 megapixels instead of 35 or 38. That’s why I want Nokia to add the feature to Pro Cam.

        • Will McClenaghan

          I believe that Nokia released an SDK for the camera on the 1020 so I imagine that within a few months there will be all sorts of new full resolution Lenses for the 1020 like panorama and HDR. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all!
          I admit that a full resolution Panorama would be incredible, you’d be able to zoom in after the fact for fantastic detail. File sizes would be pretty monstrous though!

  • Grant Butler

    The 1020 is over saturated, the iPhone 5 looks far more natural and that’s what I’m seeing from my old 808 vs the 1020, the colours are spot on with the 808 but look like a cartoon on the 1020.

    Nokia love over saturation, they did the same on the 920 and I doubt it’ll ever be fixed with the 1020. A shame because the 808 has a dedicated chip for pureview, it’s 300DPI where as the 1020 is only 72DPI and so the camera doesn’t need software to process the image, the result is the 808 is faster at taking pictures and they’re true to life.

    A shame Nokia made a worse camera phone than the 808, I was really hoping they’d up their game. Sadly no ND filter doesn’t help in daylight pictures either and not being able to set the sharpness is another downfall, if you want you can manually make it too sharp on the 808, sadly the 1020 you have no option.

    Then you compare pixel pitch of 1.4 and sensor size of 1/1.2 of the 808 vs 1.1 and 1/1.5 you can see why the 808 allows more light in. When you look at the automatic ISO settings, the 808 will take pictures at ISO 64 on average and the 1020 will have to take it at 200 to match… that much ISO just means more noise. You can even set the iso to 50 on the 808 and you cannot on the 1020, probably because it would be too dark.

    The mics on the 1020 aren’t as good as the 808 either I’ve seen lots of comparisons and the 808 sounds miles better, it’s like the 1020 is only recording in mono or something, I bet Microsoft have yet to patch that their end.

    It’s a failed camera all around, you expect the 1020 to outclass the iPhone 5 here and in fact it doesn’t.

    • jdpatl

      Help me out here.

      DPI (dots per inch) is an OUTPUT resolution – like how are you going to display or print. It has nothing to do with the collection of an image.

      The only output a phone has direct control over is its display screen; the 1020 has 332PPI (pixels per inch). Where do you get this 72DPI thing?

      • Grant Butler

        Check the image properties.

        You can also see the 1020 vs the 808, the 1020 has to take pictures at an ISO of 200 to match the light levels of an 808 at an ISO of 64.

        • James Rogers

          I’m pretty sure the Auto mode can go below 100 in certain situations, even though the manual mode is limited to 100. When I was snapping photos for my review, there were instances where I switched over to manual ISO and shutter speeds to get better detail in well lit shots. At least Nokia made that easy to do.

          The biggest oversight you mentioned is the missing filter. That plus the lack of an HDR mode is a killer in high contrast outdoor shots. That was the biggest issue that I had in my testing.

          As for the image processor, the 808 HAD to have it because of its slow single core processor. MS won’t let Nokia do that with a WP. Hopefully, quad core processors that are coming soon to WP will help with this.

        • hary536

          I think not using image processor may not be related to MS restrictions but to battery life and other issues. HTC has dedicated image processor in 8x, If I am not mistaken.
          My guess is that Nokia had to make other trade-offs in terms of battery-life, weight of the phone,etc.

        • jdpatl

          DPI refers to the physical dot density of an image when it is reproduced as a real physical entity, for example printed onto paper, or displayed on a monitor. A digitally stored image has no inherent physical dimensions, measured in inches or centimeters. Some digital file formats record a DPI value, or more commonly a PPI (pixels per inch) value, which is to be used when printing the image. This number lets the printer or software know the intended size of the image, or in the case of scanned images, the size of the original scanned object.

  • Lalit Joshi

    Ethics are really important be it be running a business or writing an article. It seems this write gave up ethics before writing this article. I totally agree with hhvdblom, this article is biased towards iphone. Why loose your credibility by writing such article? the readers of this article must have read other such comparisons as well and knows the truth.

    • James Rogers

      1. I have not “loosed” my ethics. Or lost them. Or anything else that might be grammatically correct.

      2. This is an iOS site. If you want to find a fanboy article drooling over the 1020 and telling you that it has no flaws, I’m sure there are plenty of Windows sites that will overlook the issues that it has and do that for you.

      3. True objectivity does not exist, except maybe from a computer. And even a computer is subject to the predisposition of the programmer. I don’t claim to have absolutely no bias. However, I can tell you that, as an iOS fan, I really liked the 1020, and it is the best smartphone camera on the market. But I’m biased and have loosed my ethics, right?

      However, despite all its features, the 1020 still needs fine tuning. The iPhone 5, a device from the previous generation, still beats it in a few situations due to software. Nokia needs to fix this. End of story.

      • asdfsadfsadf3323

        lol, the fact that you have to defend yourself proves that you’re an incompetent writer.

      • Ron

        “The only problem is that you are limited to 2-finger zooming”
        You can zoom with one finger.

        • James Rogers

          You got me there. I missed it. I’m used to the slider that pops up on the iPhone and others, and I haven’t used the other Lumias other than in brief tests at the store. Most of my zooming was reframing after the shot in Pro Cam, but I still should have figured it out. Especially since I gave the 1020 a small knock for it.

          I will add a correction and credit you with pointing it out.

        • Ron

          No problem James but the others Lumias will not help you because they can not do it (920/925/928 will be able do it after the next update).

          P.S. You have some small inaccuracies about the zoom but other then that good work.

        • James Rogers

          Thanks, Ron. I appreciate you sharing your insight. I hate to make a mistake, but I would hate to leave one in a review even more, so I appreciate you pointing it out. I will make the fix when I get home.

          I am curious what you mean about the zoom? Are you referring to reframing photos? I can tell you know your stuff, so I’m interested to hear what you think is inaccurate. I want this article to be factually correct. If it isn’t, then I definitely want to fix it.

          Thanks, again.

        • Ron

          For a 5MP image you can zoom up to 3X, 1080p video
          is up to 4X and for 720p video is up to 6X to get lossless zoom.

    • Renkman

      We hold our writers to the highest ethical standards on iSource. We are members of O.A.T.S. and take fair and impartial reviews very seriously. Please feel free to express your opinions and engage in a meaningful productive discussion without the use of profanity or inappropriate comments moving forward.

    • Ron

      How do you say he “this article is biased towards iphone” If it says about the 1020
      “Just look at how much detail is visible here. No other smartphone can do this. Honestly, there are plenty of low-end point and shoot camera that couldn’t pull this off, even with optical zoom.”
      James Rogers

  • Iya Garcia

    LOL….. BTW….
    Iphone 5 cannot even match Lumia 925 in camera quality…..

    • Ron

      Yes, Lumia 925 take a beautiful pictures.

    • ner9y

      Lumia 920 takes better pictures. It has OIS, dual LED and a two-stage shutter button.

      • Ron

        Just like the 925 .

        • Sugadevan

          925 has an extra lens 🙂

        • Ron


  • asdfsadfsadf3323

    this article is like…
    “iphone takes better pictures than the 1020”
    “1020 looks better than the iphone one, but the color is off”

    wt.. fuck?

    • Renkman

      Please feel free to express your opinions and engage in a meaningful productive discussion without the use of profanity or inappropriate comments moving forward.

  • jasontiong

    going to dump my iphone 5 for this camera beast!
    struggling with iphone’s camera quality since iphone 3gs
    Nokia Lumia 1020 will be my next phone, take my money, Nokia!

    • James Rogers

      If you are looking purely at camera performance, then it is the one to get, without question. The only issue you might run into is with sharing to certain photo services, but hopefully those software gaps (other than Google+, since Google refuses to play ball with MS), will be filled in soon.

      • Jude Andre Legendre

        What photo services can you NOT share to?
        What software gaps?

        • James Rogers

          I personally use Google+, which is an obvious gap thanks to Google’s little war with MS. I know that there are several older Picasa apps, but they range from completely broken to just a huge pain in the backside. None of them worked well enough to be usable to upload large numbers of photos. I use Google+ as my offline photo backup, so that was a problem for me.

          The Flikr app is at least official, but the fact that it is far out of date and is missing features is well documented.

          I realize that there a number of 3rd party apps, like the ones for Picasa. As for them, the Verge had a good article on that recently. I would agree with the author that it is buyer beware when it comes to those. You never know when Instagtam just rolling out an update will break every app, which we all saw recently.

          I like Windows Phone, and was open to switching my phone platform when I tried the 1020. I am hoping that having such a top quality camera in the WP ecosystem will spur development of more official apps for photo services. The platform deserved more attention than it gets. If better solutions than what I was able to find this time around appear, that decision will get a lot easier next time.


        • jasontiong

          this phone is perfect for me! I only need to post photos to facebook, twitter and instagram. And skydrive is able to backup my photo in real time. Heard from my brother that most official apps on wp have better quality than iOS and Android. I’m disappointed with apple’s product after steve job die. going for new and fresh windows phone

        • James Rogers

          Cool. Hipstamatic is a solid app from the little bit I played with it, and after the recent upload issue made tech news, I’m sure Instagram will take care not to cut off third party apps with future updates. That, and I’m sure they will have a native client before long. Sounds like the rest of what you need is already covered.

          It’s strange that Instagram is still dragging their feet. I’m really hoping that it’s because they are working with Nokia on a special version. An app that gets direct access to Pro Cam’s high res photos instead of being limited to the 5 megapixel images would be a coup for Nokia, and a real selling point.

  • ner9y

    there is simply no other phone out yet to make a camera comparison to the nokia 1020. Its in it own class. Making a comparison doesn’t get the iphone anywhere near this nokia.

    • James Rogers

      Doing a comparison doesn’t imply that the other device is equal. I made it clear several times that the iPhone isn’t. Comparisons are done to privide a reference point.

      In hardware, it only rival is Nokia’s own 808 PureView. They actually pared the specs of the 1020 back a bit to make it more affordable, and to fit with the Windows Phone specs.

      In software, Nokia just needs to plug the three gaps I’ve mentioned. Taking pictures during video and panorama are specialty situations, but every other phone on the market has these features now, so their absence is puzzling. The bigger one is HDR, because it addresses a common weakness that affects not only smartphones, but also a lot of point and shoot cameras.

  • inyourbase

    HDR – you can get an HDR app for Windows Phone (not sure about iOS), so you don’t need to manually layer shots on the 1020 in Photoshop.

    • James Rogers

      This is true, but I didn’t mention it for two reasons. First, with articles like this aimed at a mainstream audience, I try to think of whether my Dad or wife would do it. Both of them are technically capable people, but neither has the desire to seek out complexity.

      The main reason that I think Nokia has to address this omission is that, when you use a 3rd party app on the phone, you are stuck working with 5 megapixel images, not the 35 or 38 megapixel high res versions. Because JPEG is a lossy file format, saving the file again introduces more compression and loss of quality. That’s why I recommend the external editing option. The high res images have a lot more detail to work with.

      If Nokia adds this directly to the Pro Cam app, then the problem goes away. Users will be able to do HDR processing directly on the high res images. That’s why I keep bring it up. Thankfully, since they already have bracketing, adding high quality HDR post processing should be a snap.

  • With respect to video, you may also want to note that the 1020 is also able to capture at 24, 25, and 30 fps. As a videographer who often shoots 24 fps, this is a big deal for me as I can mix personal family videos taken with the phone with some of the high end stuff I do for my own children. I’m uncertain of any other smartphones that allow for multiple frame rates..

    • James Rogers

      Thanks. That’s a really good point. There are iOS and Android apps that will do this, but the 1020 is the only one I am aware of that does it natively. This comparison is about native performance, so this feature is definitely worth mentioning. It’s a very handy feature for saving space when you are shooting for YouTube and such.

      • An an unrelated note, for those who have come down on you for your “bias” in reviewing, they really should consider the context of your larger audience. If I were still an iOS user full time, I’d want to know how the phone stacks to mine and where my device still had strengths. Reading your full review on your sister site more than proves that you are capable of writing a balanced review. I appreciate your work.

        • James Rogers

          Thank you! I appreciate you looking at the 2 articles in context.

  • oldjovian

    I’d like to buy that man a beer . . .

  • macphoto

    FYI, The Lumia 1020 with the Pro Cam App has HDR. The feature is called “Bracketing” as it has been called in the photography community for many decades. A given amount of exposers (default 3) are assembled into a single image for high dynamic range. Being a photographer I have very much lost respect for many reviews like this because lack of knowledge of photo technology. Please fix your review as the information you provided is not accurate. Good luck to you in your future reviews of products. I recommend a photography class at your local College if offered to better understand these new digital devices. I do not wish to offend, just want to point out something that is becoming more frequent in the reviewing community. I purchases a Lumia 1020 after testing it at the store. I found the bracketing option in a few seconds when I checked the menu. it is the third option down. I immediately though about this article and asked the store representative if this feature was added post launch. They told me the display phone I was using has received no updates. This seems to me as you missed something. This phone crushes my iPhone 5 and has been fun to customize. The app store is better then I thought it would be but still needs to get some of the less popular apps.

    • Ron

      @James Rogers
      “Unfortunately, unless Nokia adds and HDR mode, users will have to rely on the Exposure Braketing feature in Pro Cam, and roll their own enhanced photos with editing software, such as Photoshop.”

    • James Rogers

      I was about to post my quote, but Ron beat me to it. Try reading all of the review next time.

      I do know what bracketing is, and I am very aware of the fact that it is a superior way to do HDR. However, that won’t do people like me wife, Mom, Dad, or Sister any good. Average users aren’t going to go into setting, turn on bracketing, set preferences, take the shots, plug into a computer, export the high-res images, and then doctor them in Photoshop. I could, but I rarely have the time. I only would for a special shot.

      Bottom line. Nokia needs to add HDR to Pro Cam. Bracketing is a good stop gap for enthusiasts, but they need the automation for average users.

      Also, from some other early reviews I read, bracketing was NOT there in the first version of the app. I think that was pre-release though. I got mine on launch day, and it had bracketing out of the box.

  • Shirish

    After reading all comments, what struck me was the use of technical terms – not technically, but in general parlance.
    Creates needless confusion.
    Then there was the use of software features in one camera that the other lacked, and using those images while making comparisons. Not apples to apples.

    What one could do, for a popular but non-tech and non-scientific comparison (nothing wrong, just that its not rigorous), is to put both on generic auto mode, mount both on the same fixture, and shoot the same scene at the same time. Easy enough. Dont invoke manual mode, HDR, whatever.
    Just point and shoot, point and shoot, like most casual users would.
    Then compare.

    That would eliminate many of the comments about ‘bias’, ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’, ‘a Hassleblad could not do it better’ and that sort of thing.

    Sooner or later, the software will be developed to take the base image and do interesting things with it. In the meantime, if one is do a fair assessment, and one wants ones work to be viewed as credible, one should not only be scrupulous in doing it right; one has to make sure one comes across as credible,
    Having said that, not everyone is a trained lab jockey with instruments galore. Nor are all readers pro photographers.

    So say it like it is. Stay off provocative technical terms, and say – look here, I took these shots with these two phones mounted on two ends of a stick and shot off pictures as i walked around. In situation 1, phone A produced a nicer photo because the grass color is more true to life, the sky is the right shade of blue, whatever. In situation 2, phone B has the better photo because you can see more details in the darker areas. And so on.

    Using technical terms will always raise some photographer’s hackles because while you might say ‘overexposure’, what you are really referring to is the sensor’s limited dynamic range – neither of which the man on the street cares about.

    Just saying.

  • Steven Villalobos

    Worst review I’ve read. Please hire better writters.