Microsoft this week finally expounded publicly on the unique new capabilities coming in the camera that is common to both the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. He notes that the two handsets include the most advanced imaging hardware and software that has ever appeared in a Lumia handset, bolstering the claims I heard last week.
“We have been working hard on the devices’ image processing software—in areas such as pixel, color and exposure algorithms—to produce the most beautiful photos possible,” Microsoft’s Director of cameras for phones Juha Alakarhu explains in a new post to the Microsoft Devices blog. “What this really means is that you can take all types of images—from an impromptu family snapshot, to an extreme close-up of an insect or flower, to your friend’s high-speed skateboard aerials. And the quality is going to be great!”
The camera specs are well understood: a rear-facing PureView camera with a 20 megapixel advanced BSI (backside illumination) sensor, F1.9 Zeiss optics, triple-LED natural flash, fifth-generation Lumia OIS (optical image stabilization), ISO12800, 4K video, and a 5 megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera. But specs are just specs, and some handsets with high-end camera specs aren’t all that impressive. So Alakarhu provides some stunning examples of Lumia 950/950 XL photography to make his point.
So in addition to that SLR-quality stunner at the top of the article, we see the following fully automatic shot in direct sunlight, where “the red color is really deep and saturated, but the skin looks perfectly natural … You won’t see any noise or artifacts.”
“The photo of the woman has been taken using external reflector and lighting,” he writes. “Everything just looks perfect–the details, colors, contrast, and noise. It’s SLR quality, in my opinion.”
Continuing the trend of previous high-end Lumias, the camera in the Lumia 950/950 XL also excels in low-light, in this case because of “its super high sensitivity sensor, 5th generation OIS, and large aperture.” Here, you can see an image from a competitor’s phone (read: iPhone) on the left and the Lumia 950 XL on the right:
Finally, the flash. “The natural three LED (red, green, blue) flash automatically matches the colors of the ambient light,” Alakarhu explains. “This means that if you’re taking a photo outside at twilight, the flash will produce a blue light to complement the bluish color of the scene, and if you’re taking a photo of a candlelit dinner, the flash will adjust to expose candlelight. Due to the natural colors, it also works very well in daytime as a fill-in flash.”
I cannot wait to test these handsets.