I got yet another chance to take the Via Rail across Canada this past week. It’s one of my favourite experiences in the world. I love that it just allows you to relax and almost forget that an outside world exists for a bit. For 2 days and 3 nights, you’re jut cruising across Canada. I also love that it gives you a bit of a layover to explore Winnipeg. Last time I passed through on the train was my first time in “The Peg” and I actually really enjoyed it. Thus, I thought that even though I only had a bit over an hour to explore this time, it would be the perfect location to pull out my new Nokia 1520 Smartphone and test out the photo capabilities of the device.
The below video is shot entirely on the Nokia Lumia 1520 with the exception of the videos that I’m in the frame, since I’m holding the phone. All the photos were taken on the device as well. And well I’m planning on giving a full review of the photo and video skills of the device in the next month or so, I thought now would be a good time to give you some photo samples, in case you want a smartphone that actually lets you control your settings, unlike those dreadful iPhone bricks.
Anyways, after the video you’ll see some of the photo samples from the Nokia 1520 that I shot in Winnipeg as well as some 100% crops of the images to show you what the sharpness looks like. There’s also a little bit of information on the images in the captions of each.
The Nokia 1520 Photo Samples
All the photo samples that you’re going to see from the Nokia 1520 were edited in Lightroom quite minimally. I made a bit of a mistake when shooting that limited my editing capabilities. One of the cool features of the Lumia 1520 is that you can actually shoot RAW images. However, I forgot to turn on the setting before going out to shoot. That said, it was probably good to shoot JPEG like this as most users are likely just going to shoot the JPEG files. Anyways, here are the images.
The colours come out pretty interesting on the 1520. On this image, it had a bit of a green-ish cast that I was able to fix a bit. Shooting it RAW I would have been able to fix it perfectly. A bit of a mistake, still came out nice despite the harsh mid-day light and overcast sky.
The one thing I like about shooting a smartphone for a camera is it really makes you think about the composition. I found myself getting more “artsy” with the 1520 than with my DSLR. I found myself searching for a scene much more than usual, and that’s a good thing.
I shot this image from ground level trying to test out the sharpness once things were moving. The shutter speed is controllable, and I made sure it was quick enough to grab a sharp image.
This is the 100% crop of the image in Lightroom. As you can see, it’s as sharp as a penguin in a tuxedo. The focus is a bit too much on the back of the image rather than the bike rider, but it’s still fine. Moreover, there’s no noise at all. The image quality is fantastic.
The beauty of 20mp sensor is that you can crop quite a bit and still get a big image. I cropped this image and did some distortion work to straighten up the lines and there’s still no artifacts or technical problems.
Shooting this image wide on a street, I was expecting to see some distortion in the cars and fire hydrant, but really didn’t get much. The fire hydrant was actually leaning to the left, so that’s natural. At the edges of the image you can see a bit of distortion in the lines, but very minimal considering the wide angle.
I shot this in a dark area, hand held at 1/30 and not only is the image sharp, but when I edited it to bring out the shadows and pop the colours it didn’t introduce any noise at all. Again, that’s impressive for a smartphone. And, no, your iPhone can’t do that.
This is the 100% crop of the image above without any editing done to it. As you can see, even at 1/30 it’s really sharp and there’s absolutely no noise even though I underexposed it a bit.
Sometimes the colours get punched a bit too much with the Nokia 1520. As you can see from this image, the colour is a bit overshot. However, some might really appreciate the vibrant colours. The contrast in the building is great. The dynamic range of the sensor is quite good as well, drawing from both the highlights and shadows. Had I shot this RAW it would be even better.
I shot this image almost straight into the sun, so to get that dynamic range from the shadows to the highlights in the sky is beautiful. I did have some issues trying to bring back some of the overshot highlights in the clouds in a couple of these images. But, again, that probably comes down to me shooting in JPEG rather than the DNG raw file.
I tried to get close to some flowers to do some macro. I wish the minimum focusing distance was a little bit closer to make this possible. Still, with a bit of zoom I could have got closer that this had I wanted to.
This is the 100% crop from the photo above. As you can see, it’s sharp and there isn’t significant noise in the shadows. The highlights are a bit overshot, but that’s a result of the overhead light mid-day. It was fairly windy and the flowers were blowing around, so this type of sharpness is fairly impressive.
This is another case of the 1520 overshooting the saturation a little bit. However, the colours don’t seem to smudge the details at all, so I can’t really complain. I can always de-saturate in post-processing if it gets out of control. That said, I feel like the over-saturation is much less of an issue as it was on the 1020.
This is another image that I was impressed with as a result of the dynamic range. There were heavy shadows, but it managed to bring out the details in them as well as the highlights. Impressive.
I tried to push the black and white a bit in the edit to see how many of the details would be preserved, most of them were even with the heavy editing.
I really pushed the editing on this one, and really like how it came out.
The same image as before but in colour. You can again see those saturated colours. But, really, how can you complain at all with image quality like that from a smartphone?
First Impressions on the Nokia Lumia 1520
I’ve been a massive fan of the Nokia Lumia smartphones for the photography capabilities since I first got my hands on a Lumia 1020 last year. That 1020 was built for photography, primarily, which is why I’m so surprised by the image quality of the the Nokia 1520, which is essentially a
phablet” built for business types. For me, the photo quality is right there with the 1020. Of course, you don’t get that massive 41mp sensor, but you don’t really need it, in my opinion. The only spot that I noticed a difference was that the 1020 had a brilliant flash, and the 1520s is a bit less impressive, but still more powerful than anything on any other major smartphone.
Anyways, after I get the chance to do some out in the field shooting with the Nokia Lumia 1520 and do things like night shots, and low light images, I’ll get a full review and video on the photography and video capabilities of the phone. So stay tuned to that.
What’s Next Mr. Photographer?
I’ve got some more photography reviews coming up including a review of the trigger trap, we’ll also talk about photo storage solutions for travel photographers. Also, I’m in Alberta now, so there will be some cool on location travel photography from here in my home province. Stay glued!
Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on Google+. to learn a little bit more about me and my work.