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Nokia N93 - 3.2 MP camera possibilities

Review GSM/UMTS-smartphone Nokia N93>>>

One of the best things about Nokia N93 is undoubtedly its camera module, which, in fact, makes the name for this handset. Its not a coincidence that the manufacturer has used Next Story in Video slogan in the advertising campaign. Though one could rightfully ask how come such inexpensive and thus available for the majority of high-tech gadget lovers phone incorporates a camera showing off not only high resolution of still images, but also TV quality video recording capabilities. The answer turns out to be rather simple: the N93 features several critical solutions, boosted the phones both image taking and video recording capabilities Firstly, this model has a new chipset by TI embedded in, namely TI2420, so that it supports a 3D accelerator with rather average specifications. Of course it appears average only against the background of several models from NVidias very own GoForce series and ATIs latest developments (stand alone 3D accelerator). But having a good team of engineers, specializing in this architecture and already familiar with TI solutions at their disposal, in conjunction with low energy consumption of the device, make these chipsets brilliant for mounting on a handset. Time for creating new applications also is not of the minor importance here. In the future this chipset is more likely to be carried by majority of newly released smartphones, so Nokia will probably put 3D accelerators above everything else on their priority list. In its turn, this means big leap for images quality and video processing capabilities.. This chipset is capable of powering even 4-5 Mpix cameras and basically one can see that on Nokia 83, which carries a 5 Mpix matrix.

Another feature, successfully materialized in the handset, is implementation of serial optics. The trend for miniaturization of digital cameras over the past years, has led to achieving quite reasonable dimensions of camera modules for bulky devices as well, such as the N93. The very fact o 5 and 6 Mpix cameras domination over the market puts into question profitability of 3-4 Mpix modules production. At the same time high demand coming from mobile market can prolong life time of these technologies and cut their price even more. On the other hand all manufacturers are vitally interested in including outdated camera modules, because their price is consequentially much lower than that on specially customized for mobile solutions ones. So weve reached the point which implies that not always tiny measurements make all the difference, as they can increase the final price dramatically price is what everything is about.

From theoretic preamble, we are moving on to reviewing its real capabilities and construction. The lens is located on the rim, which is common for a number of personal camcoders some will remember similar design found on Nokia N90. When the top half is unfolded and twisted, the camera application is automatically called up. In some ways, this method refers to video cameras, but more importantly, users are already familiar with this system and thus it wont repel.

The lens is sealed up with a firmly fastened plastic hood, so there is no way it can accidentally fall off. Should you want it, you can apply a tiny strap to the cover, so you will get rid of necessity to look for a place to put the hood on. All in all the design looks very solid and well-thought, adding to overall favorable impression.

The right rise features camera shortcut key. The trigger button, marked with a red point, is originates from usual digital cameras, as well as a ring rounding the key, which performs zooming. The navigation key with OK button placed inside is located a bit lower its used for changing camera modes and browsing through the menus, not in camera application. A special key activates the flash, though since its only LED it cant pretend to be a full-fledged one, like those found on standard digital cameras. For instance, on Sony Ericsson K800i the flash module has much more in common with digital cameras yet Nokia is planning on using pulse flash modules in the upcoming handsets.

So its obvious that the camera itself originates from the range of low-end digital cameras, and therefore should overcome them quality-wise. Nonetheless, let us familiarize you with a short spec list:

  • Carl Zeiss Optics: Vario-Tessar glass lens
  • Matrix, 4.55.5 , CMOS, 3.2 megapixel (2048x1536)
  • Shutter speed: Mechanical shutter: 1/2400~1/3 s
  • Macro focus distance 30 cm (macro @ Wide) 10 cm (macro @ Middle to Tele)
  • Focus range 10 cm ~ infinity
  • Focal length 4.5 mm (Wide) /12.4 mm (Tele) 34.25 - 94.1 mm(35mm equiv.)
  • Still image file format: JPEG/EXIF
  • Auto focus
  • White balance: automatic, sunny, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent
  • Exposure compensation: +1 ~ -1EV at 0.5 step
  • Scene: automatic, user, close-up, landscape, night, night portray
  • Color tone: normal, sepia, black & white, negative
  • Zoom (optical/digital) 3x / up to 20x

Impressive? I believe that this is maximum what mobile phones will be capable of today and in nearest future, there wont be any more settings. Before moving on to sample photos, Id like to tell you that viewfinder is displaying picture correctly, as is, without any artifacts or any disturbances caused by rapid movements. Buttons located on left side are used for accessing additional shooting settings.

Video showing how camera works (wmv, 24.1Mb)>>>

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

Optical Zoom. During shooting you can easily rotate ring around shutter, it can be easily done with your thumb. Zoom works similarly to digital cameras, you can see green line, it displays how optical zoom is used right now. Zoom itself is very good, picture remains sharp, there are no artifacts like ones you get when you are using digital zoom, this is a great advantage for this handset.

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

Macro mode. Macro mode works good, and shots quality is good too. Focusing is fine even at small details.

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

Various color modes. Considering fact that you can make similar graphic effects in any simple graphic editor, theres no big reason to use these effects right on your phone.

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

WB. Its not really correct to change it only outdoors, however here are examples:

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

Exposure Correction. One step is 0.5, this function is useful for making photos of objects that have a lot of light or green color.

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

Night Mode. Id like to point out that presence of light diode flash does not help at night, its more of a default requirement, nothing more. But due to qualitative lens, some photos made at night, including ones with moving objects (steamboat) remain good quality.

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

Comparing photos made with Nokia N93, Nokia N80, Sony Ericsson K790i

There are not that many solutions that not only provide 3mpx size of photos, but also have decent specifications. Nokia N80 was called to see changes between mass models from Nokia, this means showing why Nokia N93 is just way better. At same time Sony Ericsson K790i claims to be best photographic device in class of mobile phones. You can compare photos of these devices made at same time with minimal delay (1-2 seconds). All settings were automatic, this is standard scenario for most users (point and shoot).

  N93 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

  K790 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N80 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N93 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 K790 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N80 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N93 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 K790 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N80 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N93 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 K790 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

  N80 - (+) maximize, 2048x1536, JPEG

 

Video

Handset is capable of recording video in several quality modes, maximal one assumes 30 fps @ 640x480 (VGA) resolution. You can downgrade frame rate to 15 or decrease resolution. Format in which video is recorded mpeg4, simultaneous sound recording is supported too (two channels, AAC, 48khz). There are two mics on case, each has index (R or L, which stands for Right and Left). By default video is saved on memory card; however you can use internal memory too, but its enough only for one minute and some seconds. Maximal length is 60 minutes. During shooting you can use optical or digital zoom (x8 in this mode). Optical stabilizer is used during shooting, this allows preventing small shaking of handset. I got the impression that this feature works fine, you do not feel shaking feeling that you might get when you shoot the video for quite a while. You can disable sound in case you do not need it.

Theres also White Balance settings, as well as various color effects, just like in camera. Scene selection is limited by two: Auto and Night Mode.

Here are samples of video clips recorded with Nokia N93 in maximal resolution, they are really good for a mobile device and can be considered as best there are on todays market. There wont be any competitive device in this section for 3-4 months to say the least. This is why Nokia N93 will be extremely interesting product for those who are looking for such solution and use video recording.

Video sample 1 (mp4, 12.3 Mb)>>>

Video sample 2 (mp4, 9.55 Mb)>>>

Video sample 3 (mp4, 8.61 Mb)>>>

Video sample 4 (mp4, 11.1 Mb)>>>

Video sample 5 (mp4, 17.6 Mb)>>>

Video sample 6 (mp4, 10.9 Mb)>>>

Conclusion

Its not hard to see that Nokia N93 camera quality is a lot better than one installed in Nokia N80, and by some aspects better than in Sony Ericsson K790i. More details, brighter photos, sharpness. All this became possible with help of standard camera module, instead of mobile one. Camera in Nokia N93 overcomes any existing camera installed in mobile phone to date.

We cant really say that Nokia N93 is a mobile device, since its quite big after all. It can try being competitive with small digital cameras, but here it loses battle in terms of price and size. You should remember that this is a hybrid device and give some discount on that. Let me remind you that main idea told in first part of our review. This device is targeted for people who are in need of such features, this is not a mass product. This product is used by Nokia to test out new technologies and solutions. Used components allow creating similar phones with smaller case size which is proven by Nokia N73, Nokia N83. Raise of devices with increasing camera possibilities raises challenge for inexpensive small digital cameras, competition gets tougher and things are getting more and more interesting.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Alexandr "Lexx" Zavoloka (alexander.zavoloka@mobile-review.com), Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 23 May 2006

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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