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A Camera Phone Without Compromises: Nokia, Carl Zeiss Talk About Nokia N8



Carl Zeiss and Nokia explains why the Nokia N8 is simply the best camera phone, highlighting the materials, build quality, and technologies that go into the handset to enable a superb 12-megapixel Symbian^3 smartphone.

I will admit that although I’ve never been a Symbian fan in the past–I’ve forayed into the platform with the stunning Nokia E71 but I wasn’t as captivated–but the Nokia N8’s excellent camera now makes it the phone that I grab when I am going out.

And the brilliant camera is enabled in part due to a mechanical shutter, glass lens with Carl Zeiss optics, dual Xenon flash, a large image sensor, and smooth 720p HD video recording capabilities. Since I’ve owned an N8, I haven’t used a standalone digital camera, which is a rarity for me as I always carry around a separate camera.

The video below highlights the differences in image quality for photos taken with an iPhone 4 and the Nokia N8 and the winner was the Nokia N8:

I know a lot of pro-phone users are put off by Symbian–there are enough rumors going against Symbian with its aged OS that’s been continuously re-t0oled to keep apace with Android and iOS, a late foray and lack of experience with touchscreen UIs, slow processor, and lack of apps. In reality, Symbian doesn’t need a fast processor as the N8’s CPU is capable of handling most tasks suitably; the OS is optimized such that it doesn’t require as much as newer OSes. It has push email, stellar phone and audio quality thanks to Dolby support, advanced features like USB on the go support, and despite its age, is a very capable OS. Most of the basic apps and a lot of popular games–Angry Birds included–can be found on the Nokia Store (formerly of Ovi fame). With free locally stored maps for turn-by-turn voice guidance and custom voice, the Nokia N8–and Symbian–has a lot going for it. After using a plethora of smartphone devices ranging from Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry, it’s still the Nokia N8 that I grab and turn to when I leave the house.

In an age of self-promotion through Twitter and hyper-connectivity and sharing via Facebook, the Nokia N8’s camera is the highlight of the experience. And even though the phone has a large image sensor, 12-megapixel photos are nicely compressed in size so that it doesn’t take a lot of storage space while still at the same time retaining all the fine details. Images taken with the N8’s 12-megapixel camera were a third smaller than my standalone 10-megapixel camera in file storage while showing more details than shots taken on that dedicated camera.

There are still a few flaws with the Nokia N8, however, that I hope Nokia will address as it migrates towards Windows Phone 7. For an awesome camera, the glaring omission of a tripod mount mechanism seems like a flaw than an oversight just because Nokia could have played up the camera even more on this smartphone. Additionally, via the Nokia client to connect to Facebook and Twitter, images that upload were lower resolution than should be, and don’t highlight the camera’s true potential. Additionally, native panoramic mode, like on some of Samsung’s Android phones, would be welcomed as would be an option for tap-to-focus like on Apple’s iPhone.

At the end of the day though, I think the thing that draws me most to the Nokia N8 is that it’s one of the few iconic smartphone devices in recent memory. Aside from the iPhone 4, original Motorola Droid, and the Droid X, I think the Nokia N8’s unique industrial design is subtle, yet refined. And unlike the colder minimalism that Motorola’s Android devices sport or the simple clean lines of the iPhone 4, the Nokia N8’s curvatures make it not only ergonomic and easy to hold, but warmer to behold. Glass and metal parts help to lend a feeling of a high-end handset that is almost befitting of Nokia’s premium Vertu brand. The choice of bright colors help make it feel more warm and friendly than other smartphones despite the fact that the N8 is ensconced in cold glass and metal construction.

The capabilities of the N8 doesn’t just end with photos. It’s 720p HD video recording renders smooth videos. In fact, the above video made by Nokia and Carl Zeiss was shot on the Nokia N8. You can see the Dragonfly Love feature that was mentioned in the video as well, below, as that short film was also shot on the Nokia N8.

Dragonfly Love video mentioned in the film:

Director Thomas Hilland was asked to test drive the Nokia N8, and make a film that made the most of the smartphone’s impressive HD camera. The film features music by Kap Bambino, remote-controlled dragonflies, a stunning Norwegian landscape, and some men in colourful costume. See how they did it in the ‘making of’ film below.

The making of Dragonfly Love:



  1. Gojira

    06/15/2011 at 12:23 pm

    It would be really really really nice if Nokia would strike a deal w/ AT&T & maybe Tmobile to subsidize this phone.  Then more people would know about it … I have been eyeing one for a while but the $400 price tag is a big drawback …

  2. Jlscott

    06/15/2011 at 4:00 pm

    I agree completely, I love the N8’s camera system, in my opinion nothing compares with a Carl Zeiss system.  I still have my Contax RTS 35mm system with Carl Zeiss lenses and it is more valuable today then it was when I bought it over 25 years ago. 

  3. Ronsoers

    06/18/2011 at 4:43 pm

    I had a nokia n97, then I got me a dell streak mini but I am going totaly back to nokia. It will be an n8. It has simply everything I want. Android is fun to play with. Symbian is fantasyic to work with.

  4. Tarita k

    08/04/2011 at 11:56 am

    N8 is still the best camera phone. Usually the sensor size is 1/6 time small than typical camera and in Nokia N8 the sensor is just 1/1.83 of the typical camera sensor which makes it the best camera phone till date. To buy this phone visit

  5. gimmy a

    02/07/2012 at 9:29 am

    I like a good camara phone. I have a Nokia N9 and it takes good pictures, but the touchscreen is slow, not so responsive and malfunction twice within six weeks after I bought a new N9. The N9 is a problem phone. Will never buy a Nokia again.

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