Nokia E7 review: Open for business

GSMArena team, 02 March 2011.

8 megapixels photos but without the autofocus

The Nokia E7 is equipped with an 8 megapixel camera for a maximum image resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels and it’s accompanied by a dual-LED flash. However, this is Nokia’s 8MP fixed-focus camera module, which trails behind in the 8MP shooter race.

The user interface is far from friendly - there are only three shortcuts available in the viewfinder. Those allow you to toggle camcorder and still camera, set the flash and access the rest of the customizable settings.

Since the viewfinder fills only the central part of the screen, there are two black strips that could have been filled with easy to reach buttons, but Nokia’s engineers decided to shove most things into submenus.

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The E7 camera user interface

The remainder of shooting options is put in another menu. If you think having to go through an extra menu just to change the scene mode is bad, just you wait until you try to change the white balance, ISO or some of the other settings – you’ll have to do the tap-to-select, tap-to-activate tango like it’s 2007.

On the other hand, the basic functionality is mostly there. On the E7 you’re in charge of white balance, color tone, exposure, ISO, contrast and sharpness. You can also go for one of the preset scene modes and there is an option for creating a custom scene.

Face detection is also available on the Nokia E7. As for geo-tagging, it lets you record your current location in the EXIF information of the photos, using the built-in GPS.

Since we had an unfortunate experience with the C7 camera, which applied too much sharpening, effectively ruining all shots, with the E7 we snapped photos both with normal and lowered sharpness.

Generally, the images lack detail after the noise reduction algorithms are done taking the noise down to an acceptable level. So the next step, sharpening, tries to bring back some of the detail but it’s too strong (even on Normal), which results in artifacts.

We recommend you use the Soft setting as that introduces fewer artifacts and results are generally more pleasing. That setting gets reset every time you close the camera so you have to remember to enable it each time. Bummer!

That aside colors and exposition are good and resulting photos should be OK for the casual user, even though the camera falls short of 8MP expectations.

Our unit (a retail one) had lens issues in the right side of the image. That’s unacceptable on such an expensive device.

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Nokia E7 camera samples (Normal sharpness)

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A few more Nokia E7 camera samples (Soft)

We tried a close-up shot – a known weakness of fixed-focus cameras and we weren’t surprised at the results. Anything closer than 50 cm and you can kiss any semblance of sharpness goodbye.

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Nokia E7 is not really good at close-ups

Photo quality comparison

The Nokia E7 enters our Photo Compare Tool to join the other 8MP fixed-focus shooters. The tool’s page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.

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Nokia E7 in our Photo Compare Tool

Video recording is actually worthwhile

Still imaging is not the E7’s strong suit but the video recording helps the camera save face. The Nokia E7 shoots in 720p resolution at 25 fps and offers digital image stabilization. Clips are stored as MP4 files.

To sum it up, the videos shot with the Nokia E7 did manage to impress us just like they did on the C7. The amount of resolved detail is good, colors look nice, noise levels are kept low. Most videos stayed very closely to the 25fps mark and were very smooth. Few videos did have a choppy look though.

The price of the lower compression affects the file size – 15 seconds of video take about 20 MB.

The Nokia E7 camera uses the clever zooming technique that Nokia first used on the N8. It allows you to zoom up to 3x while shooting 720p video without loosing sharpness or detail as you normally would and generally works very well.

The video-recording capabilities of the E7 make up big time for the poor still imaging. We do miss the smart digital zoom of the N8 but that’s probably the only gripe with the E7 camcorder.

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Video recorder interface

Here’s an untouched video sample from the Nokia E7 – 720p@25fps (19.5MB). You can also check out this longer sample we uploaded to YouTube.

Video quality comparison

We entered the Nokia E7 in our Video Compare Tool database too and put it head to head with other 720p mobile camcorders.

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Nokia E7 in the Video Compare Tool

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