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Nokia Lumia 1020 as a camera: 5 things to love and hate



November 30, 2013, 2:forty four IST

Swapnil Mathur

Nokia Lumia 1020 as a camera: 5 things to love and hate

This particular writer has been using the Nokia Lumia 1020 for over a month now, and not just as a camera, but we committed to using this phone as our primary device to see just how seamlessly it would blend in with our daily routine. Over the last month, we’ve found quite a few things to like about the phone and some that we just didn’t enjoy. Here they are, for anyone looking to buy the phone, or if you’re someone who’s looking to get into an argument about why the phone is terrible.

Like: The 41 Megapixel Sensor with OIS
Let’s face it, the sensor and the optical stabilization have set the Nokia Lumia 1020 apart from every other camera phone in the market, at least in terms of pure specs. We found out in the last month that it’s not just in paper, but also in real world performance that the Lumia 1020 leaves all its competitors eating dust. The level of detail captured by the sensor is astounding and the f/2.2 lens coupled with optical stabilization really help augment photos shot in low light. The OIS is ESPECIALLY helpful when shooting videos in moving vehicles.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 is the thoughtful photographer’s perfect companion

Not Like: The Need for Space
The space used. Every time we shot a full resolution image, we ended up committing roughly 25MB of space to it. Now if you’re a photographer like us, who loves documenting EVERYTHING, then you’ll be running out of space really quick as the Nokia Lumia 1020 has a cap of 32GB on storage. There is no possibility of expanding storage as there is no MicroSD slot, so we were left at the mercy of having to copy the images to our computer in order to make space on the phone. God forbid if you like listening to music on your phone!

The photos on the Nokia Lumia 1020 gobble up all the space!

Like: Built like a Tank, for your Pockets
The Lumia 1020 is a full polycarbonate body built with some really impressive precision. It is impressively slim and light, along with sporting Corning’s Gorilla Glass2. It slides into pretty much any pocket you’d want it to get comfortable it, without making its presence obvious. However, at the same time, it is built with heft, giving us the assurance that it can withstand a war with coins and keys that might be raging in our pockets.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 with the iPhone 4 on top

Not Like: Slow and Steady Misses the Race
The camera, which is the star of the show, is incredibly slow. When you press the physical shutter button to wake the camera up, it’s going to be at least two seconds before the camera is ready to fire the shutter. That’s two seconds too late, and this is regardless of what app you are using. Then once it has take the first shot, it must write the contents to memory, during which time, the camera becomes unusable. The Lumia 1020 is definitely not for the action oriented photographer, but for those who exercise patience and prefer to take their time with shooting.

Like: The Camera Grip
No camera is ever complete with a grip that makes it easy to use. Nokia felt that to be true and thus created a case that doubles up as a camera grip with a proper shutter button and then triples up as a secondary battery. It makes shooting extremely comfortable, seeing that the camera is a whole lot easier to hold because of the grip and it also adds stability to the camera, allowing us to go even lower with the shutter speeds.

The Camera grip makes the Lumia 1020 incredibly comfortable to use as a camera

Not Like: Oh No! You Got FAT!
Unfortunately, the camera grip for the Lumia 1020 is bulky and if you snap this puppy on, you’re going to have to dedicate an entire pocket just to the phone. Not just that, but the phone also gains some serious weight because the grip has its own additional weight, most of which is at one end. We didn’t quite enjoy this, and feel that there may be many more who would feel the same.

Like: Look Maa! No Apps Needed!
No, this isn’t what you’re thinking. We loved the fact that in order to leverage the full potential of the camera in the Lumia 1020, all we had to do was use the built in Nokia Camera app. No need for any third party camera apps of any kind. And its not just leveraging the sensor, but also the fact that the app is designed keeping both amateurs and pros in mind. It puts every single control right at the shooter’s fingertips and if you want to go all auto on it, you can do that too!

The Nokia Camera app is incredibly versatile, offering every kind of control you would need

Not Like: The Battery
No clever puns here. The battery feels like the weakest link in the Lumia 1020’s build. A built in 2000 mAh battery to drive this massive phone is clearly not enough and even with the additional juice provided by the grip, the phone barely lasted us a day. This is of course keeping in mind that our daily usage is quite extensive, shooting about 50 photos, a few random videos here and there, two hours’ worth of calling and LOTS of internet (whatsapp, Facebook etc). If you’re a conservative user, you might get more out of the battery, but we, for one, were left wanting more (juice).

Like: Insta What?
Everyone keeps complaining about how there is no “Instagram” on Windows Phone. Well, this officially changed a few days ago with the Instagram client finally making its debut on the Redmond owned operating system, but truth is, there have been several really amazing Instagram Clients available on WP8 for ages. Clients like 6Tag and Instance, which comply with the official Instagram requirements have been around for a while and in fact offer more features than the actual Instagram client. We for one have not bothered using Instagram after we compared with it 6Tag.

6Tag, an official Instagram client for Windows Phone is far more feature packed than the original app

Not Like: Costs a Kidney, Wont Replace One
After a month of using the Lumia 1020, and realizing just how powerful the camera is when compared to other phones, we find ourselves still turning to actual, proper cameras in the even we need something shot right, even if it’s during a casual stroll in the park. Yea its great for the occasional snap or two, or as a camera when you see something breathtaking, but don’t have your DSLR on you. It won’t disappoint, but you can get much better quality from cameras that have large sensors like the Ricoh GR, which costs just Rs. 2000 more than the Lumia 1020. The real pincher comes when you realize that the Lumia 1020 is running on the same hardware as the Lumia 920 (save for the 2GB of RAM) and you realize that its really old hardware. Nokia could have put a better processor in the Lumia 1020 to make the camera performance faster, somewhat justifying the enormous price tag, but this happens to not be the case.

The Bottomline
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a great phone to rock. It’s got a camera that will in almost all conditions, not let you down. The battery life is a little problematic, but if you get the additional grip along with the camera, it should tide you over for at least a day. IT is expensive, but if Nokia’s tradition is anything to go by, the price should come down soon. If you’re looking for a camera that offers the absolute best in imaging, then this camera is for you, but you’re going to have to adjust to the size, the weight and even the speed at which it functions.

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