Reinventing Photography is a very big statement to headline a column with. But apart from it being a typically sneaky way of getting more people to read this column, it’s also true. Photography is a strange mix of hardware, tools, features, optics and software combined with the artistic wizardry of the person behind the camera. And any technology that can give wings to that aspect of shooting images is a true game changer. And one breakthrough has made that happen.
The NY Story: Let me start from the start. Last week found me and my brutally fractured foot hobbling its way through airports and airplanes, on my way to New York. Thanks to British Airways (no, this is not a paid endorsement, just acknowledging the great work put in by the people working there) my broken foot and the fact that I was in a cast was forgotten quite easily.
The next two days were a burst of activity that included walking in Central Park at 4am, watching the Broadway performance of Chicago and being the only one in the group that didn’t go off to sleep (all of them were severely jetlagged), experiencing the funniest stand-up comedy act I’ve seen in years (It’s called The Ride and it happens in a moving bus with sideways theatre seating. If you’re ever in NYC, you have do this), meeting more Indians in Times Square than I meet in Delhi - it was a blur that was typical of the buzz that the city of New York always manages to pull off.
The Events before the Event: Then it was time to do what I had really come for. The unveiling of a brand new Nokia Lumia phone that was to be the flagship of the series. This pre-reveal to the event turned out to be a bit of a comedy of errors. First the ‘supposed’ specs got leaked, then a video of the phone was outed by a partner for a few minutes before being pulled-off, then some photos taken on this new device were posted online – the leaks came hard and fast. And while most of the people at Nokia looked very worried and stressed, the final outcome was the exact opposite – the noise, buzz and hype behind the device escalated to incredible proportions. Would the new Lumia live up to such lofty expectations?
The Reinventer: The all new Nokia Lumia 1020 is a great smartphone with all the right specs (4.5-inch screen, 332-pixels-per-inch-display resolution, Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor, etc.) but its real prowess lies in what it does with photography on a cameraphone. Till today, photography was all about framing the right picture, making sure you got the subject perfectly lined up, zooming in to get all the details right, checking, tweaking, then rechecking some more and then pressing the shutter release button. Basically all the hard work had to be done BEFORE you took the photograph. With the Lumia 1020 you can throw all of that out of the window. The reason I call the Lumia 1020 a reinventer of photography is that with this you shoot FIRST and do all the fine tuning and tweaking later. With its 41-megapixel sensor, this phone can capture some startling details. After you take a photograph, you can zoom in to the picture and discover that what looks like a yellow dot is in fact a beautiful balloon with a grid pattern.
You can create multiple stories from within the same picture where you can find different people doing different things in a park; each can be zoomed into, twisted and turned and tweaked to your heart’s content and then each saved as a new picture without losing any detail. The fact that you don’t have to take those extra few seconds to frame the perfect picture in advance, means you end up with some incredible images and that you’ll never lose a moment because you took too long to set up. The 1020 has six lenses plus some very nifty optical image stabilisation technology that can literally make even a bumpy bus ride look smooth as silk. Also thrown in are excellent manual controls – each change is depicted in real time on the display.
If you never knew what fiddling with the exposure setting does, or what speed or aperture control was for, this cameraphone will teach you exactly what each does instantly. And because of that amazing sensor in this phone, even videos have a detail that is
impossible to replicate on any other device. Add to that the new camera grip in which you slide the phone into. This is made of the same material as the phone itself and apart from giving you extra battery life, this also gives you great balance, hold, a real standalone camera style body and shutter-release button.
Great camera, But so what?:
It’s firmly established that the Nokia Lumia 1020 takes photography on a phone to new heights and add a new dimension to creativity in image shooting. But it also brings up another important question. Will people buy this amazing camera on a phone as their next phone and will this new flagship phone turn the fortunes around for the Nokia Lumia brand? Well, that’s a tough question to answer but I will say this.
Almost anyone I know who has tried and used a Nokia Lumia phone with Windows on it seems to love it. Nokia’s problem is
getting people to reach that stage – to try the phone! The Lumia 1020 has enough of a jaw dropper halo around it to make people reach that tipping point, to get some momentum, to get the non-believer and the sceptics to go to a store to try out the photography wizardry on this device. Some of them may stay to discover that the phone and OS are great too. After all, when a company literally reinvents photography, that’s the least one can expect.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, July 21
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