Nokia N95 camera review: High five

David Polesný, 19 April 2007. Read the original review at
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Running for first prize

Picture quality is very good. As you'd probably expect, we are working on a comparative review between Nokia N95 and the best current photo mobile Sony Ericsson K800, which we are going to publish soon. We can guess that Nokia N95 will come out as a winner of such a competition. The images it creates maintain their sharpness throughout the entire frame. Higher resolution allow for printing on bigger formats as well as for creating crops.

There is no doubt that any direct comparison between Nokia N95 and other mobiles situates the former on the very top of the chart. Its drawbacks only become obvious in confrontation with a standard digital camera. And that is exactly what we did: we picked up a Sony DSC-H1 camera and took a number of comparative photos.

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Sony DSC-H1 digital camera

Nokia N95 on the left • Sony DSC-H1 on the right

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Apparently the most significant con of Nokia N95's pictures is their cold touch, which frequently results in a light violet shade. This drawback is best visible in pictures taken shortly before sunset. Sony software evaluated light conditions exactly and left nuances of yellowish sunlight, while the pictures taken with Nokia N95 look like they were taken in early afternoon. Nokia N95 does not feature any special white balance option to make colors look more natural. Whatsoever, its images do not look bad at all; besides, any inaccuracies could be easily eliminated with some editing program on a PC.

Nokia N95 on the left • Sony DSC-H1 on the right

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Tip: more sample images can be found in the third chapter of this article!

JPEG compression is quite strong - surface seems "patched" under closer examination, while details tend to disappear. The small size of the lens significantly contributes to blurring of details as well. A closer comparison between the images taken with Nokia N95 and those created with a digital Sony camera confirms the advantages of using a bigger lens. Anyway, the differences are not at all as drastic as one might have expected; the pictures taken with both devices would have been nearly identical, if it were not for the different color nuance.

VGA video

Nokia N95 can be also used as a video camera. You can record videos of average quality in 3GP format, suitable to go into MMS as well as high-quality videos in resolution of 640 × 480 pixels; the latter speed up to 30 shots in a second. High-quality videos are recorded in MP4 format, but they use an enormous amount of MB - half a minute of such a video "eats up" approximately 10 MB. Videos maximum length only depends on the available free memory.

Viewfinder in video recording mode

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Video camera menu and its setup options

Video function menu is somewhat poorer than the camera one. Here you will find shooting mode settings, white balance, and a number of color nuances. You can zoom in digitally while recording, but zooming is not fluent, and most of all, it worsens the overall image quality. The microphone can be silenced if you wish. Another unusual function in the menu is the so called image stabilizer, but its influence is almost invisible.

Sample videos in full resolution:

Videos look brilliant both on the phone display and on a TV screen. On a PC screen, however, they come out much too colorful, with a far too high contrast. Nevertheless, for the moment this is the best you can get from a photo mobile on the market.

Substitute for a digital camera

Nokia N95's glamorous presence along with the latest bunch of cameraphones marks the beginning of difficult times for common small compact cameras. The trend of replacing the compact camera with photo mobiles has been long spoken about and it will surely remain one of the hottest topics for some time. Yet, putting this trend in practice is going to take long time. For example, many users already perceive Sony Ericsson K800 as a full-functioning substitute for a common camera; its drawback is its resolution: 3 megapixels only. It does not mean that three megapixels are not enough for the production of a good-quality image; it is when mobile phones are confronted with standard cameras that the cameras score higher as their minimum resolution is 5 megapixels.

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Viewing images • editing options

And here comes Nokia N95 with its 5 megapixels, auto focus, and very good optics. Yet, it lacks manual exposure settings and a high-quality xenon flash.

Apart from pure shooting options Nokia N95 also offers extras like filing pictures into albums, sending pictures in MMS or emails, or even sending images to a photographic blog within Flickr or Vox services. Pictures can be modified in the phone before they are uploaded.

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