I was at Hampi for a day trip this weekend. For anybody with even the slightest interest in history and in ancient south-indian architecture, it is a treasure trove. There are a lot of ruins in quite good condition and maintained quite well by the Archaeological Survey of India. On the one hand I was happy that there were so few tourists and people visiting, but its also a bit sad that such a rich heritage has so few people taking interest in it. I hope things get better and exposure of this World Heritage Site increases over the years. Anyways, I digress.
I had only my Lumia with me for a camera, so thought it would be interesting to see how well it would perform in different kinds of scenarios and act as my own little shout-out for Hampi. I came out pretty impressed with the camera overall, but couldn’t help feel that there were shots that came out a lot softer than the rest for unknown reasons. When the conditions were right and stars aligned correctly, the pic came out stunning beautiful; at other times, very ordinary. The latter happened about 15-20% of the time, which isn’t too worrying yet. However, the white balance was off on several occasions – correcting it also is quite difficult since Lightroom doesnt let me alter the temperature for jpegs. Hope there is firmware update coming out from Nokia to correct this in the near future.
In good light, with the sun not too high yet, the snaps came out really well.
(I digress yet again, but see those ridges on the stone in the pic above? Thats how the ancients managed to cut such large chunks of granite into manageable blocks – read this to see how).
In the auto-mode sometimes the Lumia refused to focus on nearby objects, while at other times it worked like a charm. In the first pic, for instance, I just couldnt get it to focus on the flower. The second one is perfect, with very good blur in the background.
It handled a few tricky shots very well. Take a look at the first two where I’m shooting from bright sunlight into less than well lit rooms. The third one is of a ruin with the sun behind it, normally the kind of view which would force you to squint. Its noisy, but stil shows good detail. The last one shows pretty good detail in both the shade and in the sun, impressive dynamic range.
In low-light, a lot has already been said about the Lumias Optical Image Stabilization camera. It rocks! While I never had to shoot in pitch black darkness, some of the low-lighting I encountered is the kind which would result in blurry and noisy pics on most other phone cameras. The second pic below, of the horsemen of the apocalypse, shows great detail too.
Its in the landscape shots and others in good sunlight that the Lumia behaves fickle. The two below are a bit soft and lack punch. The first one also has an unnatural warmth to it which I couldnt remove in Lightroom.
These next two of some ruins in good lighting conditions(the sun behind me and I was in the shade) has come out very soft. The edges along the sky don’t look right either. Click on them for the original version to see what I mean.
While we are still a long way away from the day that camera phones will replace good pocket cameras or DSLRs(with the notable exception of the Pureview 808 which is in a league of its own), its impressive how good phone cameras have gotten already.