Nokia’s wild new Lumia 1020 is a gamble, representing something of a sea-change for the beloved Finnish company. Equal parts smartphone and camera, the 1020 raises the bar for all competition with its new 41-megapixel sensor. Current smartphones have done well enough to replace the need for a point and shoot. But Nokia’s new device basically is one with the added benefit of a smartphone being attached, creating this wonderful combination that, as we learned while shooting with it over a two-day period, is a dream to use.
We’ve gone over why the 1020’s new sensor and software enhancements are so important, so we’ll refrain from repeating ourselves here. When talking about a camera like this—part smartphone, part point and shoot—it’s important to focus on the experience. How easy is it to use? Can anyone just take pictures with it? Will camera buffs like all the new features Nokia introduced in its Pro camera app? That ultimately decides who this device is for.
If you want to catch our full review of the device, you can do so here. In this post, we’re not going to review the 41-megapixel sensor in terms of quality, or give our opinion on how it performed in low-light conditions; you can make that determination yourself by looking at the examples throughout this post. Let me just say that the 1020 produces some great images in a lot of instances, but it doesn’t always reach the heights Nokia promises.
To differentiate from our typical comparison posts, we wanted to get a more thorough look at results produced by the Lumia 1020 while out and about, and get a feel for how it compares to other competing devices. So, naturally, we went to Disneyland (and the Orange County Fair) with the 1020 in tow, documenting what we did along the way. What we found is that Nokia’s technology is dead simple to use, and should (hopefully) push others to raise their game going forward.
While shooting with the device, we didn’t focus so much on toying around with manual settings to get that perfect shot. Instead, we wielded it as any normal consumer would, shooting pictures on auto when the opportunity arose; of buildings, indoors, etc. The device’s Pro camera app does afford plenty of flexibility, which is part of the 1020‘s charm, but I didn’t want to fuss around with that while walking around the Happiest Place on Earth.
There is a ton of color at Disneyland with a lot of great detail—likewise for the fair, though the day we went was nasty—so both locations are great for shooting. At Disneyland in particular, we got a pretty good feel for how Nokia’s tech performs in different lighting situations, especially with so much commotion going on. Going in and out of buildings, waiting in lines, people walking around; all of that makes for scenes that are perfect to test the capabilities of Nokia’s tech—the results follow below.
Nokia’s Lumia lineup has always been solid, and the 1020 is easily the company’s best effort. Stuffing a 41-megapixel camera into the (relatively) small device will bring a lot of attention to the company—that’s a good thing. For the most part, the 1020’s camera produces the best results we’ve seen from a mobile device. Depth of field is the best we’ve seen, and the sheer power is something to recognize. Of course, devices like the S4, iPhone 5 and HTC One all produce some very good results, too, so it’s tough to say whether the 1020 is worth it.
Chances are, if you’re that serious about photography, you already have a dedicated camera, essentially making the 1020’s best feature moot. Still, Nokia has raised the bar going forward, hopefully pushing the progress among the industry as a whole.