Cyan Update News

Lumia Cyan now available for all of India; 525, 920 go wide

Cyan Updates!

Lumia Cyan is going global for the Lumia 920

Canadian Lumia 920 on Cyan

Lumia Cyan update coming to 920 in Canada

Photography must-have

Learn over 300 poses with this app for Windows Phone

Lumia Cyan Updates!

Lumia Cyan going out to Lumia 520, 920 and 1020 users

Lumia Cyan Updates!

Cyan update hitting Lumia 920 users in UK, Italy and Spain

Tutorial

Following these rules will dramatically improve your photos

Cyan on AT&T

Lumia 520 and 925 on AT&T finally get Cyan and 8.1

Microsoft News

Microsoft 'betrayed' Finland, says Finnish finance minister of layoffs

Rumors

Microsoft's aiming for flagship Windows Phones, killing Nokia X but selling MixRadio

Apps

New Treasure Tag app update ditches the 'Nokia' brand

Microsoft News

Rumor claims 1,000 former Nokia employees in Finland could be laid off by Microsoft

Apps

Latest Fhotoroom update brings transparent Live Tiles, HDR filter and much more

From the Forums

Who has the best Windows Phone camera app? Nokia, Microsoft or Proshot?

Apps

New Nokia MixRadio update ditches the 'Nokia' brand

Apps

Massive ProShot update is now available for Windows Phone with temporary price cut

Apps

ProShot set to receive a huge update - New user interface, front facing camera support and more

Windows Phones

Lumia 930 pre-orders begin in Norway Wednesday for July 10 launch

Windows Phones

Microsoft Store US site pulls pre-order listings for Nokia Lumia 635

Apps

Nokia Imaging SDK 1.2 released, Lumia SensorCore SDK out of private beta

< >
Lumia 920 Camera
42

Nokia Lumia 920 Photo guide: How to make the most of your camera

There's a lot of excitement in the air with the new Windows Phone 8 devices that are now on the Market. Part of that excitement centers around Windows Phone photography.  With it's Pureview Camera, the Nokia Lumia 920 has definitely sparked this interest.

While there is room for improvement, the Lumia 920's camera is capable of capturing quality photographs. With interest high, we'll walk you through the settings on the Lumia 920 to give you a feel for what each does.  While the nomenclature will be similar for HTC Windows Phone cameras, we'll take a look at the HTC 8X and get a similar guide up shortly.

The Hardware

Lumia 920

First, a quick refresher on the Lumia 920's camera.

It is fitted with a 8.7MP BSI sensor and a 26mm f2.0 camera lens. The camera housing is fitted with optical stabilization that helps keep the camera steady during slight movements. The design of the Nokia Lumia 920 camera makes it well suited for low-light photography. The BSI sensor and f2.0 lens allows more light to reach the imaging sensor and the optical stabilization allows you to use longer exposures while reducing motion blur.

The 920's camera doesn't have a shutter or aperture blades like you would find on traditional cameras. Instead it has a fixed aperture and the "shutter" function is accomplished simply by powering up the sensor. For a 1/250th shutter speed, power is supplied to the sensor for 1/250th of a second.

The fixed aperture of f2.0 helps the Lumia 920 handle low light situations better but it gives the camera somewhat shallow depth of field. Depth of field is basically how deep the camera focus reaches within the photo. Shallow depth of field has your subject in focus but what is behind them is slightly out of focus.

The Lumia 920 will focus on the center area if you press the shutter button half-way.  Once you hear the beep confirming focus, press the shutter button the rest of the way to capture the photo.  You can also activate the shutter by tapping on the screen.  Where you tap is where the center of focus will be.  Tap the screen, the Lumia 920 achieves focus and snaps the picture.  Between the shallow depth of field and selective focus, you can create some nice effects with the camera.  You can focus on the image in the foreground and a secondary subject in the background will be out of focus.  Or you can do the opposite and have the object in the background out of focus.

Selective Focus

Internal software processes the raw images captured by the Lumia 920's camera applying sharpness, saturation, contrast, and other photo processes. Nokia's secret formula in this regard is the Pureview algorithms that helps in low-light and other performances. While much of the image processing is done internally, the cameras settings will allow you to tweak things a bit. While the Lumia 920 doesn't offer you as much control as the Lumia 900, it does cover much of the basics.

The Menu

Scenes

Lumia 920 Scene Selection

The Scenes settings adjust the 920 camera's internal settings for specific situations. The default setting is on Auto which lets the camera evaluate the situation and determine the best Scene setting. However, you can override the Auto setting. On the 920 you have scene settings for:

Closeup Sample Photos
Macro Samples

Close-up: This is your macro photo setting that allows the lens to focus at closer distances (about six inches). It is great for flowers, jewelry, coins, and other small objects. This mode does limit the overall focusing distance with the furtherest focusing distance being about a foot.  If you're in Close-up Mode and want to take a picture of something far away, the 920 won't focus properly.   If you are bouncing from close-up shots to distance shots a lot, it may be best to stick with the Auto Scene mode.

Night: There is little argument that the Lumia 920 captures fantastic night photos. The Night Scene setting allows for a longer shutter speed and higher ISO level to allow enough light to hit the sensor, in turn capturing a decent image.

Lumia 920 Night Sample
Night Sample

Night Portrait: There's not much difference in the Night and Night Portrait Scenes. The Portrait scene seems to use a slightly faster shutter speed and is a smidgen sharper.

Sports: The Sports Scene strives to use a faster shutter speed to better keep up with the movements associated with sports or action pictures.

Backlight: If your subject has strong lighting behind it (the sun, a lamp, etc.) what's facing the camera will be in the shadows. The Backlight Scene is similar to the Night Scene in that the 920 will use a slower shutter speed and higher ISO to break through the backlighting.

ISO

Lumia 920 ISO Setting

We've already mentioned ISO several times with the camera scene settings. ISO is basically the light sensitivity setting for the sensor. On a bright, sunny day you won't need the sensor to be as sensitive so you would use a lower ISO setting. Darker lighting, a higher ISO would be called for.

ISO Comparison
Lumia 920 ISO Samples: ISO 100 (left) and ISO 800 (right)

The Lumia 920's default ISO setting is Auto and the camera will choose the best ISO level based on a handful of variables. However, you can override the Auto and set the ISO level manually. The ISO levels available on the 920 include 100, 200, 400, and 800.  The above photo was shot at night with the image on the left being shot at ISO 100 and the image on the right at ISO 800.

ISO Noise
ISO Noise comparison: ISO 100 (left) and ISO 800 (right)

One thing to keep in mind with using a higher ISO level you increase the digital noise or grain in the photo. Technically speaking, when we use a higher ISO, we are amplifying the signal we receive from the light photons on the sensor. As we amplify the signal, we also amplify the background electrical noise that is present in any electrical system. All of which causes the grainy appearance in some photos.

The noise is more prevalent in low light photos because the sensor struggles to capture light from the darker areas of the photo. To help combat the noise, Nokia does a really nice job of applying noise reduction to their internal image processing.  The Lumia 920 does a really nice job of handling ISO 800 and keeps the noise levels manageable.  While noise (the grainyness) is more noticeable in the ISO 800 sample, it's not that bad.

Exposure Value

Exposure Value

An image's exposure is automatically set by the 920's camera by measuring the amount of light available. The 920 meters that light and determines what shutter speed is required for proper exposure. Too slow of a shutter speed and the image is overexposed and washed out. Too fast of a shutter speed and the image is underexposed and dark.

Exposure Value
Exposure Value Comparison: Zero, +1 1/3, -1 1/3

The Exposure Value setting (otherwise known as exposure compensation) adjusts how the camera evaluates proper exposure. If images are constantly being over exposed, you can set the Exposure Value to a negative value to tell the camera to use a faster shutter speed or darken the image. If you use a positive number, the camera will use a slower shutter speed or lighten up the image.

Say you're getting a lot of glare of a subject, go into your Exposure Value and choose a negative number to darken the image a little and reduce the glare.

White Balance

White Balance

White Balance is the process of removing unrealistic color casts so colors can be rendered properly in the photograph. Imbalances can be caused by different lighting that can cause warm or cooler tones or by dominant colors within the picture itself.

White Balane
White Balance: Cloudy (upper left), Daylight (upper right), Florescent (lower left), Incandescent (lower right)

As with other settings on the Lumia 920, the default white balance setting is on auto where the camera chooses the best setting. But alas, you can take the helm and do things manually here as well. You can choose the following lighting conditions; Cloudy, Daylight, Fluorescent, and Incandescent lighting.

White Balance adjustments
White Balance adjusted in-camera: Auto (left) vs. Florescent (right)

For the most part, the Lumia 920 does a nice job of balancing the white balance.  However, we have seen it struggle indoors under artificial lighting.  In those cases you can adjust the color or white balance with post-processing software like Creative Studio or tweak the settings.  The above picture was first shot with white balance set to auto.  The blue color cast on the wood is likely caused by a combination of the lighting and gray concrete.  By switching the white balance to Florescent the blue cast is removed and the wood color is warmer, more natural.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect Ratio

Aspect Ratio is the relationship the image has to the sensor size. With the Lumia 920 you have a 1/3" sensor that has a native 4:3 ratio. By default, the 920's camera aspect ratio is set to 16:9 which stretches the image full screen.

Aspect Ratio
Lumia 920 Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (left) and 4:3 (right)

In the process, you get a little softness that can easily be compensated for through the internal processing software. But for whatever reason, Nokia's internal software still leaves a little softness which can easily be fixed through post-processing software like Creative Studio.

There is a slight softness in the 4:3 aspect ratio but it's not as noticeable.  

Focus Assist Light

Focus Assist Light

In simple terms, the focus assist light shines a little light on your subject so the camera has something to focus on. By default, this setting is on auto and in low light, if the camera can not achieve proper focus the light turns on and focus is achieved.

There is a slight risk with the focus assist light and getting proper white balance. In some low light situations, the camera will set the white balance off the light the focus assist, giving your picture a slightly warmer tone. Nothing that can't be corrected in Creative Studio and it doesn't always throw off the white balance setting. If you see this happening, go into the settings and choose daylight or incandescent to see if that is enough compensation.

Video Settings

Lumia 920 Video Settings

We would be remised if we didn't touch on the Lumia 920's settings for recording video.  Nokia has limited the video settings to three; white balance, continuous focus and video mode.  White balance is similar to what we've already discussed on the still image side of the coin.

Continuous focus is on, by default, and allow the camera to continuously focus on subjects as they move or you move.  Turned off the camera will remain focused on the original point of focus when you first press the shutter button.

Video mode is basically your resolution settings.  You have Standard Quality which is 720p and High Quality which is 1080p.  Standard Quality is the default setting.  High Quality yields better video quality but also slightly larger video files.


Cowboy Hat

The Lumia 920's camera is a very capable camera.  It may not be at the same level of a DSLR or high end point and shoot but it is still capable of capturing quality images.  Add editing applications such as Thumba or Creative Studio along with special effects apps such as Soviet Kam, Sketch Camera and your Windows Phone camera becomes a nice, mobile photo studio.

Knowing your camera's settings is half the battle in taking a good photo.  Ansel Adams is one of my photographic inspirations from his work with black and white photography to the way he describes photography. Adams said "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."  Hopefully by laying out the Lumia 920's settings will offer a little insight into taking better photos and let you concentrate on everything else, including where to stand.

Read more:

9
loading...
0
loading...
89
loading...
0
loading...

Comments

There are 42 comments. Sign in to comment

falcon304 says:

Yes! I've been waiting for this exact article. Thank you.

Lumia camera is a beast , love my Lumia 920 , just don't like att been killing my pocket lol.

Prodigy11 says:

This is a nice article, thank you for that! And as an icing on a cake, Lumia 920 will receive camera update with the WP8-update, during this month! Nice improvement for daylight performance!

http://www.engadget.com/2012/12/17/lumia-920-camera-fix/

And yes Nokia has an update for the "softness" in photos. "PR1.1"

Found this on engadget I believe and it said that Nokia is bringing an update "PR1.1" that is included in the Portico update for the 920. It addresses the softness/sharpness and other enhancements with the camera.

GSOgymrat says:

Thanks for the article. It was very helpful.
 

rbashir says:

Took some pictures yesterday with my Lumia 920. The camera on the phone is responsive and focuses quickly . I like the dynamic range it captures, one thing which bothered me  is that camera does not have on-screen settings for pictures and videos. To access them you have to go into the settings menu and then change the ISO, exposure, white balance and others. This I found a bit cumbersome when taking pictures. It may be good for people who don’t bother to change these settings but for someone who understands photography and wants to tweak the settings before taking a shot is a bit annoying. My old HTC phone has its control right on the screen which made it much easier to adjust the settings as and when required. Other than that I think the results it produced are quite impressive. I used Nokia Creative Studio for processing some of the pictures on phone. However, The following pictures are only processed with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
http://rehanbashir.com/personal/nokia-lumia-920-windows-phone-8photography

cgold1 says:

How did you get exposure compensation to work? When I change it down it has no effect. (still overexposed dark scenes even at -2 ev., no difference between -2 ev and 0 ev)

rbashir says:

cgold1, I had this problem too, until I realized that when you change the exposure settings, you have to hit the save button to make thos setting to take effect. I personally thik it should not be like that, the extra step of hitting the save button is causing confusion and it not a good UI workflow for the camera.

jubbbird says:

I had this problem - changing the exposure setting was inconsistent, even though I 'saved' every time. I spent a good hour in a club taking photos of my friends and getting essentially random results.
Seems bugged to me. The lack of control was frustrating so I'd appreciate it if others who've experienced this problem would come forward and make it official. It ought to be easier to control the shutter speed so you can balance light and blur in dynamic, low-light situations.
I found it frustratingly difficult to get a photo I'd want to keep in those conditions, even though I was able to get plenty of wonderfully bright photos with no flash.

14knickers says:

Awesome article. I was wondering how I could  improve my photo's with all these settings. 

rbashir says:

cgold1, I had this problem too, until I realized that when you change the exposure settings, you have to hit the save button to make thos setting to take effect. I personally thik it should not be like that, the extra step of hitting the save button is causing confusion and it not a good UI workflow for the camera.

hahabowen says:

The setting page doesn't take up the whole screen, so if you just tap the remaining camera screen to go back instead of hitting back button, the new settings are automatically saved.

rbashir says:

thanks, did not know about it.

proudpop1081 says:

I switched from iPhone 5 to the Lumia 920 and I cant figure this out: when I touch the screen to take a picture, it has like a 2-3 second delay. Its fine for stills, but for taking pictures of kids, it kills every picture. how do I make the camera snap the picture instantly as soon as i touch the shoot button just like it does on iphone

Abdul9 says:

Why go through all the trouble of touching the screen when you have the camera button. Just hit the camera button and you're done. You can also start the camera from standby by hitting the camera button.

mrshamoozoo says:

Just press the camera button instead. it will capture the picture super fast. if you hold down the camera button it will focus the picture and then take it, almost like when you touch the screen to take a picture

proudpop1081 says:

Seems to be faster. thanks!

Pete C says:

Don't touch the screen for taking pictures of kids. Instead, half-press the shutter key so the camera is focused and ready to go. Then, when they are still of a split second you press the key down fully and it will snap the shot. That is how I get the best results.

The delay when you tap the screen to take the picture is likely the time it takes the camera to achieve focus and then take the picture.  Even if you're taking the same picture, the 920 will cycle the focus range when you tap the screen.

Mr Manson says:

I know what you mean. When I tend to take a photo of my children, I always use Smart Shoot app (free). In fact, it is made specially for taking photos of children. With Smart Shoot, as soon as you tap the screen or press the camera button, it snaps 4 pictures in less than a second (without saving any of them), then you flip through all the 4 taken snaps and select the one that you want and that will be saved on Camera Roll folder on your phone where all the other photos are stored on.

preriz says:

Okay, what are those black patches on the Lumia in the very first pic?!?

mrshamoozoo says:

its just stains from the polycarbonate process. my cyan lumia had them too, it was weird

preriz says:

Can we get rid of them? Should it be considered defected? I have some too

ballanda says:

Damn. My Lumia is sitting under my Christmas tree right now, and this makes me want to unwrap it early!

lionmane says:

HA! Why would you go through that torture. 

mrshamoozoo says:

its normal and not defective. i do not know how to make them go away though

neogodless says:

"You can focus on the image in the foreground and a secondary subject in the background will be out of focus.  Or you can do the opposite and have the object in the background out of focus."
Or my favorite... which is to have the object in the foreground in focus!

allos autos says:

Everything I wanted to know and more. Thanks for this!

lumiaro says:

Awesome. Was waiting for something like this for my shiny red 920

Great article and great timing for holidays. Thanks George.

DrSocrat says:

I'm coming from 4s. What really bothers me with 920 camera is that when you tap the screen to focus it automatically takes the photo. In iPhone you can try different parts of the screen to find the right light and color balance before you take the photo, hence requiring less or no editing after. 
 

Ganga dar says:

Very Helpful Information.... thanks a lot

Important note to users:
16:9 = 3552 x 2000
4:3 = 3264 x 2448

This is an amazing guide.
I although need some more details on how to zoom in and zoom out when I am taking a Photo or Video using Lumia 920.

wangvnn says:

a bit worry, will have my l920 next week, i do only care about night picture.
http://www.whistleout.com.au/blog/iphone-5-vs-lumia-920-camera-test

tositem says:

To zoom in/out, just pinch the screen :)

And if you like taking pictures in macro mode (like me), i found something interesting. First, of course you change the scene to macro mode, and then touch your screen to focus, keep press it till it captures the picture. Because if you use the camera hard button, or just touch the screen just like that, the camera sometimes loses its focus we want.

Hope it helps, and thank you for this great article!

sreearavindh says:

Nothing can beat Lumia 920. Well I m looking for a feature in my 920 how do we create caps from video inlumia 920 pls pls I need support

Jacks Blacks says:

"By default, the 920's camera aspect ratio is set to 16:9 which stretches the image full screen."???
Its a true 16:9 sensor.... there is no streaching/cropping involved...

Pre2Ries says:

Thanks for the guide #new920user

PammyLZ says:

This is from the HTC 8X photo guide article, "Once you tap the screen, the camera will focus in on that spot, the metering system will figure out proper exposure and the photo is captured."
Why doesn't the Lumia have this?? I came from the HTC Titan which had this feature and the Lumia doesn't. It seems to be a huge oversight in my opinion. How can the camera not bother to meter the area it's focused on?