The Nokia 8 is one of the best Android smartphones available in the market today and no one can deny that. Both in spec and performance, it has toppled several high-end smartphones when it comes to aesthetics, durability, overall performance and user experience. But one area that I’m so eager to test with the Nokia 8 is the imaging. We are all aware that Nokia has pioneered the booming ‘cameraphone’ business and has evolved to what we are all experiencing today. And I’m interested to see if the Nokia 8 had lived up to the expectations.
Finally, I was given the chance to do so last February 11, when I tested the Nokia 8’s camera prowess in the 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
Now, before we dive deep into the article, let me clarify a few things.
The Nokia 8 that I’ve used runs on Android Nougat and I only took photos and videos using the pre-installed Nokia camera. The actual output of the images may vary depending on the OS and the camera version.
On this review, I’ll focus more on the imaging capabilities of this device with an upcoming article solely dedicated on video capture. Take note that photos shared here are raw and unedited to show you accurate results from the Nokia 8 camera.
Let’s get started then!
I have high expectations for the rear camera of the Nokia 8, as it is the first true flagship device from HMD Global, sporting Zeiss optic lens. Despite of not having PureView technology, I’m greatly impressed with the performance of the Nokia 8.
This is one of my favorites. The photo (above) has shown accurate colors when compared with the actual subject, especially under favorable lighting conditions. The images also appeared crisp and sharp – just make sure not to shoot directly against the sunlight to avoid softer photos (although this can be an advantage for creative purposes).
Using the rear camera, I did a panorama shot as well and the result was truly remarkable:
Finally, I found a smartphone with a front camera that is equally impressive as the rear, thanks to its 13MP Zeiss optics. I commend HMD for a job well done on this area. Looking back, this section really got me frustrated when I was using a Lumia device, as there was obvious lack of effort to improve the front camera.
Nokia 8’s front camera delivered more than I expected, as it performed just as impressive as the rear camera. Color representation is very realistic and gone are the days of blurry ”selfie” shots. If you love taking selfies, you will definitely get your money’s worth with this outstanding device.
Using the cameras simultaneously via Dual Sight mode (also known as “Bothie”) has helped me compare the performance of both front and rear camera powered by Zeiss. As you can see, there’s no noticeable difference in the output – side by side, images are stunningly clear and crisp. A very useful feature in capturing memories. A first for mobile phones, the exclusive Dual-Sight mode lets you use both front and back cameras simultaneously for split-screen photos and video.
As day progresses, the lighting condition changes and this gives a tougher time for any photographers. The hardest part would be taking photos early morning and dusk, when natural light is minimal. In this review, all photos taken without flash to test how its camera delivers on different situations.
On this image (above) taken at night, it shows how the camera struggles to get enough light to detail all elements. It is not as bright in comparison with older Lumia flagships but the colors are on point, well-detailed and contrast is sufficient. I also like how the saturation levels are, unlike other brands, they tend to over-saturate the output that makes photos appear unnatural.
The Nokia 8’s rear camera produced good quality photos in low light conditions, but you have to be really patient in capturing them. While the phone comes with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), it’s not as efficient compared to the ones found in Lumia handsets. As such, you might end up with blurred pictures if your hands are shaky, so we strongly suggest bringing a tripod for such events. Knowing which area of the photos should you target to focus will also help distribute the available light evenly in the photos. While most of the pictures are captured in automatic mode, knowing to use the manual mode will also help improve your shots.
Another challenge encountered with the Nokia 8 is its limitation when zooming. Zoom to its maximum extent and you’ll end up with grainy, washed out images. You might not think of this as a big disadvantage, but as I was used to getting improved digital zoom via PureView, we believe that HMD Global can still improve this aspect on its upcoming devices.
Other issues we’ve noticed with the Nokia 8 is a slight delay in response of the on-screen shutter button and touch focus ranging from 1-2 seconds, especially during low light shoots. This might be due to either the phone’s difficulty in finding the actual subject or the limitations of the unit we are using. These issues are not limited with the Nokia 8 and with Android Oreo being rolled out now, we are expecting improvements in the camera performance soon
The technology behind Nokia 8’s imaging section is a mixed bag. While it could deliver most of our expectations especially in shooting photos in broad daylight, there’s work that needs to be done to improve other areas especially low-light imaging and zooming capabilities. And with this, the reception of the general public might be divided depending on their opinion of Nokia 8’s camera.
For avid fans from way back the Lumia smartphone days, they might believe that the camera is still underdeveloped and therefore needs a lot more attention. Overall, the Nokia 8 is an exceptional choice imaging smartphone, especially when shooting selfies or should I say ‘Bothie’. I believe that the Nokia 8 is a great new start for HMD and we can see a bright future ahead. The challenge for HMD is to keep up with the challenging demands of old time Nokia fans and new prospects.Nokia 8 on Promo, click here!