Nokia Lumia 800 Review

January 25, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | Accessory Reviews | |


The death of the entry-level compact camera has been rumoured for the past few years now, with smartphones like the ever-popular Apple iPhone becoming the defacto daily choice for many people, even for some photographers. So we've taken a look at the new Nokia Lumia 800, a Windows phone that has an 8 megapixel image sensor and an f/2.2 Carl Zeiss-branded lens with a focal length of 28mm and a dual Xenon flash, to find out if a modern smartphone can really replace the compact camera.

Ease of Use

The Nokia Lumia 800 has an 8 megapixel sensor that produces a largest still file size of 3264 x 2448 pixels in the JPEG format and 720p HD movies at 1280x720 pixels at 30fps. The 28mm fixed Carl Zeiss lens has a fast aperture of f/2.2 and a minimum focal distance of 10cm in the Macro Focus mode, plus there's a Dual LED flash just above the lens to help out in low-lit environments (although don't expect miracles). There's even a respectable enough ISO range, from 100-800, with Auto choosing the best setting for you.

Nokia Lumia 800The front of the Lumia 800 with the Carl Zeiss lens and built-in flash

Nokia Lumia 800Turned on, displaying the default apps

Unlike some other smartphones on the market, it's actually very easy to take a picture with the Nokia Lumia 800. Once the device is turned on, you can interrup whatever it is you're doing and go into photo-taking mode by pressing the slim shutter button on the side. Other than the flash and the lens, this is the only physical control for operating the Lumia 800's camera. There is a digital zoom, but that's operated via on-screen soft buttons rather than the perhpas more logical volume buttons. You can also toggle between stills and movies and access the camera settings via two small onscreen icons above and below the zoom buttons.

Nokia Lumia 800Camera mode

One of the most impressive photo features of the Nokia Lumia 800 is touch-capture. Similar to the system found on some Panasonic Lumix cameras, you simply touch the subject on the large LCD screen to to focus on it, and then the picture is automatically taken as soon as the focus has been achieved. What's more, the Lumia 800 also locks the exposure at the point of of focus, so you can also use this feature as a rather rudimentary but still welcome means of locking the exposure, something that you can't achieve by using the shutter release button. This feature proved so useful that it became my default way of taking a picture with the Nokia Lumia 800.

Nokia Lumia 800Touch-capture

There aren't too many other camera options on offer - 11 scene modes, 5 white balance settings, exposure compensation (-3EV to +3EV), 3 metering modes (centre weighted, frame average and centre spot), 5 effects (normal, black and white, sepia, negative, solarise), contrast, saturation, focus mode and resolution.

Nokia Lumia 800Camera settings

Reviewing your photos is a remarkably intuitive affair thanks to the clever touchscreen interface. We especially like the way that you can instantly move from image taking to playback by simply swiping your finger from left to right across the screen, with the live image available as the last frame in the sequence. Pinching your fingers together brings up a thumbnail display for easier navigation, while moving them apart zooms into the selected image.

Nokia Lumia 800Image playback

3 small dots at the bottom of the screen opens the Playback menu, with options for sharing your photos, using the current image as wallpaper, deleting, adding to favourites and an auto-fix option that does a decent job of rescuing certain images. As you'd expect of a modern smartphone, every image is automatically geotagged too. The one thing that we didn't really enjoy was having to install and use the intrusive and confusing Microsoft Zune software just to copy photos from the Lumia 800 to a PC - why can't you just drag and drop in Windows Explorer?

Nokia Lumia 800Image playback settings

Entry Tags

review, photos, test, photo, 28mm, smartphone, photography, flash, phone, iphone, mobile, nokia, lumia, 8 megapixel, 800, nokia lumia 800

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Your Comments

16 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Nick Solares

Nice to see a Windows Phone reviewed here, I have been a fan of the OS since launch and am looking forward to getting my hands on the Lumia 900 when it hits the States. A couple of points regarding the review:

You hinted at this but it wasn’t mentioned explicitly:Pressing and holding the camera button even when locked will open the camera app. By-passing the unlock screen mode makes accessing the camera incredibly fast.

It’s true that the Zune software is clunky (but no more so than iTunes imo) for downloading pictures from the phone directly (and to be fair you weren’t reviewing the OS as a whole) but most users of WP7 will also use the Skydrive cloud storage option. This automatically ( and instantly assuming a data connection) uploads pictures taken from the camera. They are instantly accessible from a desktop making it a much quicker option than syncing directly.

7:16 pm - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#2 Drewman247

This is a great idea, to review the cameras on phones! I hope you keep doing them! Thanks!

4:25 am - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#3 jo

the camera is worse than the one on the nokia n9.

5:51 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#4 Matty

It does not have dual xenon flash! It has dual LED flash… The camera is not worse than the one on the N9 it is exactly the same. However it is worse than the camera on the Nokia N8.

6:12 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#5 Nobend

I heard it was better than the camera on the N8 by loads but worse than the N95

7:57 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#6 Matty

That is completely untrue. The Lumia 800 has a 8 megapixel camera with dual led flash. The N8 has a 12 megapixel camera with xenon flash and a bigger sensor making it a lot better than the Lumia 800’s camera.

8:59 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#7 Matty

That is completely untrue. The Lumia 800 has a 8 megapixel camera with dual led flash. In comparison the N8 has a 12 megapixel camera with xenon flash and a bigger sensor making it a lot better.

9:02 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#8 jo

go to the n9 and look check quality of the camear

lumia 800 will show up, n9 got more realistic colors and less Jpeg noise

4:13 am - Friday, January 27, 2012

#9 joseph

go to the n9 and look check quality of the camerA
lumia 800 will show up, n9 got more realistic colors and less Jpeg noise

4:15 am - Friday, January 27, 2012

#10 Matty

The camera module is still exactly the same and actually the Lumia 800 has an advantage, it has a camera button.

The differences are because of the fact that at the time the Lumia 800 was a test device that got sent to GSM Arena and not all of the settings were fully tweaked or configured.

4:14 pm - Friday, January 27, 2012

#11 JDunn

In other words, anyone buying a £100 compact will take better pictures than the Lumia - that’s hardly a great endorsement for a phone that costs £500 off-contract.

Jack off all trades I reckon…

12:39 pm - Saturday, January 28, 2012

#12 Matty

I don’t think that that is the case. The Lumia 800 takes good photos, that’s obviously why they decided to review it. Thanks to its Carl Zeiss lens and f2.2 aperture it can take great 8 megapixel shots. In fact it has one of the best cameras on a phone.

A compact camera may cost £100 but comparing that to a device that can do so much more (a smartphone) is ridiculous. The Lumia 800 can also browse the internet, check emails, update social network sites, be a satnav, be an entertainment device and all the other functions such as calculator etc. as well as being a phone! Besides off contract the Lumia is £400 not £500

11:01 pm - Saturday, January 28, 2012

#13 animation services

phone looks so… much cost for this phone in india

10:44 am - Monday, January 30, 2012

#14 Anil

Nokia Lumia 800 ... It is a really great phone at this price point. If you are social freindly and use facebook/Twitter very Much this is the Phone for You.It’s marketplace is really good has most of the popular apps and are increasing day by day.It’s camera quality is very Good.Music quality is awesome.Must buy at this price point. do u want more details of all nokia mobiles the best place for all nokia mobiles and nokia mobile price must visit

2:12 am - Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#15 alan

when recording video on the N8 you can zoom,but not on the Lumia;why?

12:47 pm - Monday, September 24, 2012

#16 Diana

The Nokia Lumia is a really awesome phone, but don’t take my word for it. Amazon has the best reviews from people who actually bought the phone. Here’s a list of the best reviews and discounts for the Nokia Lumia and it’s accessories: Done all the research for you. Hope this helps.

5:00 pm - Wednesday, July 3, 2013