Nokia Lumia 810 review: Back in black

GSMArena team, 14 December 2012.
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Camera with many features, OK image quality

The Nokia 810 has an identical camera to the Nokia 820. It's an 8MP unit with a 26mm wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and a dual-LED flash.

It has the same multi-format sensor, which allows it to lose only a marginal amount of resolution when switching to 16:9 aspect ratio - the aspect of the phone's screen and that of most modern HDTVs.

It snaps photos at 3264 x 2448 resolution in 4:3 mode and 3552 x 2000 in 16:9 mode, only 11% less resolution. Most other cameras simply crop a 4:3 photo into a 16:9 photo and lose a quarter of the resolution.

Unfortunately, the Lumia 810 camera suffers from the same issues as that of the 820. The extra wide angle lens has a noticeable sharpness loss in the left and right border area. The effect is a bit more pronounced on the right side in our test samples and is noticeable even without pixel-peeping. Still it's hardly a big issue and the compromise is worth the benefit of the extra wide angle of view.

The other issue the camera has is that even at base ISO 100, the photos have a considerable amount of noise even in daylight. The good thing is that it's only luminance noise, and not the visually more unpleasant "chroma" noise (the dreaded color blotches).

Overall, the photo quality is above average - the photos have slightly inaccurate colors, but they are nice to look at, with decent amount of resolution. The extra resolution in 16:9 mode, the relatively bright aperture and the extra wide angle are all strong hands when compared to the competition.

The camera UI is pretty simple - you have your viewfinder and some controls on the right. From top to bottom they are the still/video camera toggle, front/back camera toggle, flash mode setting and the Lens button. On the left you have an arrow that takes you to the images taken with the camera, alternatively you can do a swipe gesture too.

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Camera app • Camera lens

The camera app on Windows Phone offers extensive settings, ranging from scenes and effects to white balance, contrast, saturation, sharpness and ISO among others. You have a dedicated Macro focus mode but no face detection. The flash can be set to auto, forced or off.

The shutter key will wake the phone up with a single press and launch the camera app. The Lumia 810 is not the fastest shooter around and it takes it a couple of seconds before a photo is taken. This is more delay than we're used to from modern phones.

Lenses is an interesting feature, enhancing the camera functionality without making a mess of third party apps each with its own UI. Lenses are accessible directly from the native camera app (they show up in the list of installed apps too if you want to pin a Lens to the start screen).

Nokia has preloaded the Smart Shoot lens, which is by far the most powerful, and you can also download the Panorama and Cinemagraph lenses.

Smart Shoot uses Scalado technology (Nokia owns the company) - it shoots multiple photos and lets you pick which one to save (a sort of burst mode). You can also pick the best face and cycle through each facial expression a person made while the camera was snapping photos. The third option is Erase, which will remove moving objects (e.g. someone walking in front of the landmark you're trying to shoot just as you press the shutter).

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Smart Shoot snaps several photos • and you can delete a moving object • or pick the best face

Panorama does what it says - you press the shutter and then align the camera as instructed (the app will put circles you have to aim for). It's good, but you always shoot right to left (can't switch direction), which is a bit annoying.

Cinemagraph create photos that are mostly static, but a part of them is animated, it really brings them to life. You have to hold the phone steady while shooting. When you're done, the Lens will offer two (sometimes three) areas that can be animated and when you pick an area, you can tweak the animation, trim it, and set the loop pattern.

You can check out some samples we shot with both lenses in our Nokia Lumia 820 review.

Here are several real-world camera samples taken with the Nokia Lumia 810 so you can judge the photo quality by yourselves.

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Nokia Lumia 810 camera samples - both 4:3 and 16:9 shots

Video camera is better

The camcorder interface is identical to the still camera's and has plenty of features too. You can change the white balance, sharpness and the video resolution among other things. The LED flash can be made to work as a video light, too.

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Camcorder interface

The Nokia Lumia 810 shoots 1080p and 720p videos (720p is the default mode). The quality of the videos is surprisingly good in terms of fine detail after what we saw with the still camera. Colors are still a bit off but the bigger problem is that the continuous autofocus is a bit too sensitive (at least it's quick and mostly unobtrusive).

The bitrate of the 1080p video was a steady 21 Mbps while the framerate hovered around the 30 fps mark. Audio is recorded in mono (99Kbps, 44.1kHz), which is rather disappointing, given that the smartphone has two microphones.

With 720p videos the bitrate fell to around 16 Mbps with the same 30 fps framerate. Audio is mono again too.

Anyway, here's a 1080p sample we uploaded to YouTube:

You can also download an untouched 1080p@30fps video sample.

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