HMD is Bringing ZEISS Imaging Back to Nokia

Posted on July 6, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 12 Comments

HMD is Bringing ZEISS Imaging Back to Nokia

The availability of ZEISS imaging technology was among the many advantages of Nokia’s Windows phone handsets. And it’s making a comeback soon in HMD’s new Android-based Nokia handsets.

“Collaborating with ZEISS is an important part of our commitment to always deliver the very best experience for our customers,” HMD CEO Arto Nummela says in a prepared statement. “Our fans want more than a great smartphone camera, they want a complete imaging experience that doesn’t just set the standard but redefines it. Our fans expect it and, together with ZEISS, we’re delivering it, co-developed imaging excellence for all.”

This kind of attention to history and the needs of its fans speaks well of HMD’s intentions in reviving the Nokia brand. And given the times, where camera capabilities have become one of the most important considerations in any smartphone purchase, it makes smart business sense as well.

I assume most readers are aware of the impact of ZEISS imaging technology in Nokia’s high-end Windows phone handsets, most notably the 41 MP Lumia 1020, but also the Lumia 1520, 930/Icon, and others. This was one of several major differentiators for Nokia at the time, and it helped to (temporarily, at least) cement the company’s position as a leader in camera imaging.

Those days are long over, and most high-end smartphones, including newer Apple iPhones, the Samsung Galaxy S7/S8, the Google Nexus 6P/5X and Pixel, and others now feature excellent cameras that easily surpass the performance and imaging capabilities of those now-dead Nokia devices.

According to the announcement, the partnership is exclusive and long-term, and it will result in the firms “setting new imaging standards,” “advancing the quality of the total imaging experience,” and other meaningless phrases. So we’ll see what HMD is able to accomplish with ZEISS. I suspect it will be early next year before the first results are known. Mobile World Congress 2018 perhaps?

 

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Comments (12)

12 responses to “HMD is Bringing ZEISS Imaging Back to Nokia”

  1. CompSciGuy31415

    Nexus 6Z with a 41MP camera (Z is for Zeiss). That would be kind of awesome

  2. Bats

    I am just amazed at Nokia's comeback. If I were Microsoft, I would feel stabbed in the back. Nokia's phone were always good, but not overly great. Then again, Nokia phones were operating on that highly inferior operating system. The only reason they survived as long as they did was because of the company brand. Let's face it, when people bought a Nokia Lumia they didn't buy it because it was operating Windows Phone, they bought it because it was the phone said "Nokia." When they found out that their phone wasn't actually "Nokia" they bailed.

    I remember all the commercials aired by Microsoft and their 41 megapixel phones. Yet, hardly anyone bought them because people realized that a 41 megapixel camera is no differnt than a 12 megapixel. Sure, "camera people" like Paul showed us the pixel differences, but they had to zoom in on the pixels to show us. However, in the real world and with the human eye, there was actually no difference.

    Under Android, I am expecting the picture quality of their camera phones to raise the game even more with the Android partners. I don't know if Nokia will actually make the 41 megapixel mean anything, but I am sure their technological experts will make Samsung's, Google's, Motorola's...their experts much better. 

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Bats: "If I were Microsoft, I would feel stabbed in the back." Seriously? You think MS is the victim here? Nokia was doing everything possible to make WP a viable brand. MS bought them and flushed them. It's like they were scared of success.
      The 41 megapixel phones were absolutely different than anything else out there. Those devices still take excellent and competitive pictures, though slowly. What most don't understand is the amazing ability to quit worrying about framing for normal life photography. If what you were trying to capture was in the frame, you could zoom and crop, losing almost no detail. The clarity of close-up photography was also amazing. If you only look at your pictures on your phone, yea, 41 megapixels makes no difference. If you do something with those shots though, the Nokia hardware and software was impressive, and industry leading.
      Back in the day, the forums were awash with Android users that pined for a Lumia 1020 with Android. I think if that is where HMD is going, they'll have something compelling. Not industry earth shattering, but desirable. If they have the Nokia guys that did their imaging, they could pull it off.


    • RonH

      In reply to Bats:

      This is not really NOKIA. Isn't it just someone licensing the name?

      • SvenJ

        In reply to RonH: Kind of. I understand it's across the street and a lot of the old Nokia guys are there, or 'advising.'


      • NazmusLabs

        In reply to RonH:

        No. It IS Nokia. It's made up of the SAME people who built the Nokia phones, including your precious Lumia phones. So yes, it is, and not come crappy licensing milking off the Nokia name. They are also working with the Nokia Corp to make all this happen. Please, I ask people do help spread the word that HMD is not another "poloroid".

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Bats:

      Gotta say, MS aren't the ones who should feel stabbed in the back. MS essentially tore Nokia apart and left a dead shell of a company who only now, years afterwards, are legally allowed to sell their own branded handsets again. MS are the ones who should feel completely ashamed of what they did to this once great company.

      Ex Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was Microsoft's lapdog in that 'deal', where he, for short time at least until it all went sour, secured a nice position high up in MS, and a large pay cheque as well I assume.

      One things for sure, hell will freeze over before Nokia sell a Windows Mobile handset again.

      • WellThen

        In reply to ghostrider:

        "MS essentially tore Nokia apart and left a dead shell of a company who only now, years afterwards, are legally allowed to sell their own branded handsets again."


        Nokia willingly sold its phone business to Microsoft. In the end, it was better off because of it. The "dead shell" that was left is actually a successful telecom network service provider.


        The fact that Nokia could have put together a new team of phone designers, but didn't, is telling. They are content to let HMD to do the heavy lifting, rake in the licensing fees, and focus on their core business.

  3. MacLiam

    I like the symbolism here, but even back in the day a Nokia phone like the N80 transformer with Zeiss optics and a 2MP sensor could still take some really mediocre pictures. I think I might be more impressed if one of the many excellent modern small cell-phone lens units could be mated to a larger sensor and could push out pics processed by Canon or Nikon firmware. I doubt we will ever again see a 41 MP monstercam in a phone, but a really good 20MP phone camera should probably deliver the goods. Actually, it already does. My retired 950XL and my even older 930 still beat a lot of more recent competitors all hollow, and my only slightly less impressive HP x3 produces pics that are good enough. When I want to do the kind of photography or video capture where really impressive results are mandatory, I'll put the phones down and go to a DSLR. (I happen to be a Canon guy out of long habit, but I recognize that superior images can be produced on other top end platforms as well.)


    Anyway, I was once a big Nokia booster and owned a lot of their phones in preference to anything else. I wish the resurgent product line success. I hope they get around to offering a high-end device running Windows 10, but I will completely understand if they don't.


    EDITED TO ADD: Jeez, what's wrong with the wraparound text interpreter?

  4. mikiem

    Just a quick reminder, the ZEISS reputation was built on glass, as in optics/lenses. For marketing purposes the alliance is great -- many [most?] people see the name ZEISS & think [often wrongly] highest end, highest quality cameras. BUT, there's a LOT more to designing and manufacturing the multi-element lens for say a DSLR than there is to the lens on a phone, and so much less of an opportunity for ZEISS to better their competition.

  5. SDreamer

    It'll be interesting, but I think this will just be in name and maybe in glass. Speculating of having a PureView camera on Android, I think at this point is not feasible because doesn't Microsoft owns the patents for that type of tech? HMD will have to figure out another way to make photo quality something else. Don't think Zeiss has the patents or that technology, just for lenses.

  6. Darmok N Jalad

    I dunno, that old 41MP Pureview camera did some amazing work that I haven't seen answered just yet. I remember being at a family event and took shots of some activities that were farther away. When I used "Reframe," I was able to zoom on the subjects I wanted in 1/4 of the original photo and still ended up with some very good results. I kinda miss those days of taking a bunch of shots and then reframing them later. I managed to find quite a few diamonds in the rough.

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