Nokia 6630 review: Focus on camera

Marek Lutonský, 20 November 2004. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Exposure compensation: theoretical introduction

Nokia has never been generous with the setting possibilities of its camera phones. We were criticizing that quite often. What we missed the most is the possibility of manual exposure compensation. For those who aren't photographers, here's a short introduction.

Camera phones, similarly as common digital cameras have their exposure parameters automatically preset. Digital cameras evaluate what time, aperture and ISO sensitivity should be set in order the final image to represent the original scene properly. On the contrary, automats always think that the scene is average bright and when pictures are taken in complicated conditions, they fail. For example:

  • Standing in front of a dark object, e.g. in a wood, on a green meadow etc. The camera is convinced that it's shooting an average bright scene and therefore the result comes as an overexposed picture.
  • Standing in front of a bright scene, e.g. on the snow, digital camera still thinks in average values, so the final picture is too dark.
The manual exposure compensation can solve this problem. When the photographer is in dark environment, he can reduce the exposure and the camera will not overexpose the scene (it will set shorter exposure time, larger aperture). If the taken scene is bright above the average, the photographer increases the exposure and the camera exposes correctly again (sets longer time, smaller aperture).

The exposure compensation is probably one of the most important tools, which influence the final result. When it's missing, like with all previous Nokia camera phones, you can use the slow adaptation of the camera phone to light conditions instead. You simply train on a place where the camera measures light correctly, then quickly move to the chosen place and push the release.

We have exposure compensation available, but…

With the new 6630 model it's possible to set picture brightness and contrast. However, there is only one exposure compensation available and it is quite unusual to divide it in two. You can imagine setting the brightness as adding white fog or dark smoke before shooting and the contrast as moving bright shades away from dark shades.

Testing the Nokia 6630 graphic capabilities finally proved that it's not exposure compensation at all. That's because you can apply brightness and contrast on a picture that have been already taken and it doesn't affect the time and ISO sensitivity during shooting (aperture is not changing with camera phones). That's a problem, because this way you can't do anything with e.g. the overexposed sky. You can't create 1 and 0 by magic on a place where is no information at all, only white space. You'll get white or grey space and in the worst case banding will appear. Using the exposure compensation the photographer could set the camera to release more light to the sensor and get this way nicely drawn clouds.

Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630
Various phases of setting brightness

Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630
Various phases of setting contrast

Basically, if pictures will be transferred to a PC, it doesn't matter what brightness and contrast values will be set. The same effect will be achieved using any photo editor and moreover on a bigger screen. Therefore, we can say that Nokia disappointed us a bit. Its new brightness and contrast setting functions are usable, but we expected more.

Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630
Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630
Compare: demonstration of the exposure settings with Sony Ericsson S700. In the upper row using extreme values from -2.0EV to +2.0EV. In the row beneath the exposure is adjusted more sensitively

Tip: You don't have to open the context menu to access the brightness and contrast settings. Just press "3" for brightness and then use the left and right arrows. The contrast settings appear after pressing "6".


Brightness and contrast settings in the menu • you can access them easily: by pressing "3" or "6" key

Zoom and other tricks

Nokia has improved zooming with the 6630 smartphone. Images made using this feature look perfect on a mobile phone display. Photographers will however warn you to put your hands off the zoom because it's digital and it's not suitable for taking pictures, which will be displayed on a PC screen. I don't know the 35mm equivalent focal length of the Nokia 6630 camera and I don't dare to guess. The lens is narrower than Nokia 7610 (it can't take such a wide shot). Previous Nokia models featured 2x zoom, now it's 6x and it's absolutely smooth. I couldn't count the number of steps; shifting among positions is very soft.

Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630
Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630 Click to zoom. Nokia 6630
Several phases of the digital zoom (full resolution)

Nokia 6630 offers night mode. When activated, the exposure extends up to quarter of a second. Even then pictures are distorted.

Sequential shooting allows you to take six shots in 4-5 seconds. All of them are displayed beside one another and you can easily delete the failed ones. Unlike Sony Ericsson S700, which is using small format for sequential shooting, Nokia 6630 takes pictures in full resolution.

You can set the self-timer at 10, 20 or 30 seconds. The phone is progressively ticking, speeds up the frequency for the last three seconds and then exposes.

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