News, , , , , , , , — August 22, 2011 15:23 — 1 Comment

Nokia N8 sharpens up with ‘mega’ camera upgrade

Nokia N8

While Apple’s iPhone 4 is for many smart moviemakers the camera of choice, the Nokia N8 has gained its own fanclub, partly down to the 12mp camera and high-end technology on the N8 that makes filming quick, cheap and simple — with excellent results.

The Finnish firm has announced a ’camera mega-update‘ for the N8 based on feedback from users that no doubt will make it an even sharper alternative to the iPhone.

The Symbian Anna updates are listed in great detail on the Nokia blog, but highlights include:

* Ability to record video at closer distances
* Smoother video of moving subjects or when panning
* Faster access to scene modes, especially close-up mode
* Exposure control in video
* Viewfinder grid not effected by scene modes, camera exit/reopening
* Smoother zoom
* Settings accessed through one control point
* Red-eye reduction performance improvements

What is really interesting is the N8′s 30fps video and continuous autofocus, which will surely make it a player in the pocket-sized camera world.

Here is what Nokia says about the improvements:

Smoother video

We’ve spent a lot of time optimising the code here to make the video smooth and frame-rate stable. This allowed us to increase the video frame rate to 30fps and achieve excellent stability. Using the older code resulted in less stable frame rates. Using the Beta Labs application you’ll get 30fps in auto mode. This provides significantly smoother videos, especially during panning. There’s been a lot of online discussion around whether 30fps is really needed given movies are shot using 24fps.

With movie cameras the time interval between each frame is extremely short compared to the time the shutter is open. Whereas with electronic shutter-equipped devices such as the N8, the interval between frames can easily be greater than the time the sensor is exposed. By increasing the frame rate with such devices, the interval between frames is reduced resulting in smoother video.

Video close-up

To recap, the Nokia N8 uses an Active Hyperfocal System for video which means videos will be sharp from around 60–80cm through to infinity. We wanted to preserve the benefits of this system, but also allow people to shoot at closer distances. We haven’t got what I would call a perfect solution here yet but we’d be very interested to hear your feedback on this approach. I’ve been using it for quite a while and, generally-speaking, I’m very happy with the performance. I would encourage you to use it and learn where it works best for you. Personally, as I’ve used it more and more I’ve been able to record with greater predictability and therefore able to shoot higher quality video without the distraction of focus-hunting.

The N8 can also record audio with a stereo ambient track — and especially for movie makers Nokia have now added a viewfinder grid indicating the area for the 2.39:1 cinematic aspect ratio.

“We’d seen a number of projects where in post-production editing, the original 16:9 video had been cropped to this popular cinematic aspect ratio so I thought we could add these to make the lives of those people a little easier,” says Nokia.

Thanks!

If you are still not convinced by the capabilities of the Nokia N8 as a film-making tool, check out Splitscreen: A Love Story, by JW Griffiths.

This short won the Nokia Shorts competition at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival.

Clever and original, Splitscreen: A Love Story is a worthy winner — and a fantastic advert for the Nokia N8.

Check out more films from the Nokia shorts on Vimeo here.

More Nokia articles

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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