A little while ago here on Nokia Conversations, I wrote that the death of the compact camera was in sight. The launch of the Nokia 808 Pureview and its stunning camera meant the need to carry a compact camera as well as a phone had just about disappeared. (One less thing to pack for your holiday). Well, with the launch of the Nokia Lumia 1020, that death certificate has finally been signed.
And it’s not just the point and shoot brigade that will love the Lumia 1020; with it’s huge amount of manual control, everyone will find a reason to stick one of these on their Christmas list.
As a photographer, one thing I need from a camera is predictability. Much of what a photographer does is getting into the right place at the right time. Sometimes this is without doubt helped by a lavish dollop of luck, but as ones career/hobby goes along one usually finds oneself in the right place more and more. The reason is obvious; the more you practice, the more you see situations unfold before they actually happen. So as a photographer you’re increasing there, ready and waiting, to get the shot.
In the real world….
Once you’re there though, you’re depending on your camera to do what it’s told. The problem with a lot of cameras is that they want to do so much automatically. This meant that from one shot to the next, (perhaps just seconds apart), the camera will re-adjust its aperture and the exposure and often even the white balance and ISO too. The result of these changes is totally different pictures. So although you got yourself in the right place, your camera could rapidly mess up all your hard work.
The most common thing for a camera to change is the shutter speed. You might be photographing a moving subject against a constantly changing background or perhaps an area of dark shadow and bright sun; the automatic settings on most compacts and even DSLRs would try to find a middle ground to give the best average values. The result? A decidedly average (read boring) photograph. However, once you are in control of the functions, and capable of stopping the camera from changing its readings, you are capable of getting exceptional photographs.
What’s so special …?
Until now all camera phones have suffered the same problem as most compact cameras; massive unpredictability. But let me say that again; until now…
The Nokia 808 Pureview had capabilities that could help to over-ride the cameras automatic settings in the form of exposure compensation. This is a great tool and one that reduces missed shots whilst improving the average auto setting the camera is trying to make. For your average holiday snap, the 808 Pureview still negates the need to carry a compact camera as well.
But Nokia have now leapt further forward – and it is a leap to be reckoned with, because this extra amount of control means that this phone will not only satisfy holiday snappers, but those with a more serious involvement in photography. The Lumia 1020 has shutter control, just like a fully manual camera. This means you can set the shutter speed and the ISO manually which means you know what the shot will look like. Time and time again. This is an enormous help with moving subjects, street photography, studio shots and for making dramatic chiaroscuro effects. For the first time, you are genuinely in total control.
And here’s what that means….
Here are two photographs taken in identical lighting conditions. It’s quickly obvious that the automatic setting has balanced the readings out to give an acceptable overall picture. But with the manual settings, where the light reading is taken from the brightest spot, the rest of the image is deliberately left to fade to black.
The creative potential is huge. Question is, how to maximize that potential? We’ll be trying to answer that question in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.