Nokia N86 8MP camera

February 17, 2010

There are two ways to look at the Nokia N86 8MP:

1) It’s Nokia’s flagship non-touch media-centric smartphone, the successor to the mighty Nokia N95/N95-3/N95-4, and a proper substitute for the disappointing Nokia N85.

2) It’s Nokia’s flagship cameraphone, the rightful successor to the awesome Nokia N82, now packing an 8 megapixel sensor and a wide angle, variable aperture Carl Zeiss lens.

Maybe it’s a little bit of both?

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Samsung T929 (Memoir) camera

July 20, 2009

It’s been almost 6 months since I picked up the Samsung T929 (Memoir), the first subsidized 8 megapixel cameraphone in the US, and I’m overdue for a review :)

Over the years, I have tested a plethora of 5 megapixel devices – the i-mobile 902, the Nokia N95/N95-3/N95-4, the Sony Ericsson K850i, the Nokia N82, the Motorola ZN5 (ZINE), the Nokia N96, the Nokia N85, the Nokia N79, and more recently the Nokia N97

There are now several 8 megapixel cameraphones available from Samsung (Pixon, Memoir, INNOV8, Omnia HD), LG (Renoir, Viewty Smart), Sony Ericsson (C905, W995), and Nokia (N86 8MP) – not to mention upcoming 12 megapixel units.

I’m getting a Nokia N86 8MP review unit soon, but so far I’ve only played with the Samsung i8510 (INNOV8), the Samsung i8910 (Omnia HD), and of course the Memoir.

For over 4 months I used it as my primary imaging device, and 1000+ pictures later, I have to say that the Memoir features the best camera I have ever enjoyed on any phone – and by a wide margin!

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HTC Touch Pro/Fuze review

May 10, 2009

Soon after reaching out to the HTC folks at CTIA, I received an HTC Fuze to review. The HTC Fuze is AT&T’s locked and branded version of the HTC Touch Pro. This is my first review unit from HTC, and hopefully the first of many. Within about an hour of getting the phone, I unlocked and unbranded it into an HTC Touch Pro (sans front-facing camera).

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Pictures taken with the Nokia N85

March 7, 2009

In 3 months of ownership, I snapped nearly 1000 pictures with my Nokia N85, US version, including some truly great ones! That covers most of the pictures taken during my holiday road trip to New Orleans.

Right about now, you probably expect me to write a glowing review of the N85 camera, but I can’t – it’s pretty nice, but it’s not good enough.

Despite almost identical specs, it falls short of the cream of the 5 megapixel crop: the Nokia N82, the Nokia N95, the Motorola ZN5, the Sony Ericsson K850i, and the i-mobile 902

The culprit? Noise, noise, and more noise – just like its sibling the Nokia N79, the Nokia N96, and the 3 megapixel 5800/E71/E66. Do you see a trend here?

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Nokia N96 – a worthy flagship?

January 28, 2009

I really want to like the Nokia N96 – I really do! After all, it is Nokia’s flagship device, and based on its groundbreaking predecessors, it was supposed to be something special. And therein lies the rub – as much as the original N95 was revolutionary, the N96 is just evolutionary.

Take the N95 8 GB, add another 8 GB of built-in flash storage for a total of 16 GB, add a micro-SDHC card slot for external storage, add hi-speed USB support, add a DVB-H digital TV tuner, replace the single LED flash with a dual LED flash, upgrade the OS to Symbian S60v3 Feature Pack 2, and make it a bit thinner, using Nokia’s tasty new Nseries design language… That’s the N96.

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Nokia N96 camera

January 24, 2009

The Nokia N96 camera has a lot to live up to. It follows in the footsteps of Nokia’s amazing N95 and fantastic N82 cameras and it bears the expectations of excellence bestowed upon a flagship device!

It has the same impressive features as its predecessors: 5 megapixel sensor, Carl Zeiss lens, auto-focus with macro and VGA video recording. It also incorporates a dual LED flash, which improves upon the N95’s single LED flash, but falls short of the N82’s xenon flash. Like some versions of the N95, the N96 is missing a lens cover.

Overall, the N96 camera takes very nice pictures, but it’s not good enough for a flagship phone. Noise is a problem – perhaps Nokia is using a smaller sensor to make the phone thinner, or perhaps the firmware is lacking, but low-light performance is noticeably worse than the N95 and the N82

Colors and exposure appear well balanced in most cases, but bright spots (like neon) tend to be smeared in low light. The shutter button on the N96 is almost flush with the body, making it more difficult to use.

Ultimately, I can’t recommend the N96 camera when other devices like the N95 8 GB perform better and offer almost the same features at a lower cost – but that’s just my $0.02 :)


Pictures taken with the Motorola ZN5

December 12, 2008

In the past 2 years I’ve used quite a few 5 megapixel camera phones: the i-mobile 902, the Nokia N95/N95-3/N95-4, the Sony Ericsson K850i, the Nokia N82, and now the Motorola ZN5 (ZINE)

Without mincing words, the Motorola ZN5 (ZINE) is a mediocre phone that takes stunning pictures!

Spec-wise, the ZN5 is similar to the K850i. The 5 megapixel (Kodak branded) camera features auto-focus, macro, a xenon flash, and an active lens cover.

Exposure and light metering are excellent. Colors are rich and well balanced. Low-light performance is pretty good for a CMOS sensor, but the i-mobile 902 is still better thanks to its CCD sensor.

The ZN5 beats the speedy N82 with an even faster startup time and faster (LED-assisted) auto-focus – it’s almost as quick as a point-and-shoot digital camera!

The macro is somewhat disappointing because it’s unable to focus on objects as closely as the other devices. This is not a deal breaker, however.

When the time comes to upload pictures there’s no 3G. No accelerometer means no auto-rotation, just like the i-mobile 902. No GPS means no geo-tagging – then again, it’s also missing from the K850i.

Unfortunately, video recording with the ZN5 is limited demoted to QCIF (176×144 pixels at 15 fps), vs. QVGA (320×240 pixels at 30 fps) with the K850i, and VGA (640×480 pixels at 30 fps) with the other devices…

The verdict? As a camera, the ZN5 is one of the best 5 megapixel devices on the market today – it’s up there with the fabulous N82. As a phone (or a video recorder), it’s a different story.


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