While most of the attention in the smartphone market has been on iPhones and Galaxys, Nokia is making a convincing play for more engaged photographers with a suite of new high-resolution devices and sophisticated photo and video software.
The Nokia products, by specifications and review, offer the best cameras in either a smartphone (Nokia 1020), or a ‘phablet’ (Nokia 1520). The new and powerful Nokia camera app is likewise superior to any one app available for Apple or Android devices.
The three main ‘photo’ products are the 41-megapixel Lumia Nokia 1020 smartphone; the 20-megapixel Nokia Lumia 1520 6-inch ‘phablet’; and the just announced 6.7-megapixel Lumia 2520 10-inch tablet.
The Lumia 929, with the 20-megapixel system in the 1520, but with a more phone-like 5-inch screen, will be announced this week.
In addition, Nokia has combined its existing photo and video apps into one. Some of the features in the Nokia Camera App include:
– RAW shooting;
– auto shooting in standard, night and sports modes;
– optional manual operation – exposure, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focus;
– controllable autofocus area;
– in-camera re-framing of photo;
– 10-shot burst mode;
– sophisticated face recognition – if you’ve taken a photo of a group of your friends and one has his or her eyes closed, you can change faces by swapping it out for one of the other 10 photos;
– Action Shots overlaying a number of frames onto one single picture;
– Motion Focus to give more emphasis to a moving subject;
– Remove moving objects function.
A separate app, Nokia Camera Refocus, delivers Lytro-like ability to select the point of focus post-capture.
The 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 is almost universally rated as the best-performing camera on a smartphone, and the Lumia 1520 will bring similar capabilities to the phablet segment. Both are equipped with Zeiss optics.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 (around $750 unlocked) simultaneously takes a high resolution 38-megapixel image, and creates a 5 megapixel picture that is easy to share to social networks.
This is probably Nokia’s last throw of the dice. It has already announced the acquisition of the device business by Microsoft. If it fails with these new products is will become irrelevant, or bankrupt, or both. If it succeeds it will be thanks largely to the abovementioned superiority of the picture-taking systems in these new devices.
The Nokia 1020 in particular will be the smartphone of choice for anyone seeking the best camera in their smartphone. These people are likely to be they type of consumer who might seek to create photographs from their digital image files.
It’s important for retailers to keep a close eye on Nokia’s progress, as it will introduce another operating system – Windows Phone – into the mix when it comes to offering photo products from smartphones. If the Nokias take off, it’s time to start lobbying your software supplier to develop a Windows 8 version of its online printing app. In fact, given the glowing reviews of these products as picture-takers, it may already be time!