Mobile Photography — Going Windows Phone With the Nokia Lumia 830

Microsoft makes many right moves currently. The announcement of the smart Band for instance is right down my alley. It will smoothly interact with the first (and probably last) Nokia phone I got in a long time, the Nokia Lumia 830. I didn’t only leave the iOS ship for the Lumia’s stellar 10MP Zeiss camera that shines in low light. If you haven’t paid attention to Windows Phone 8.1 recent advancements, well this might be the time.

Nokia Lumia 830 -- great power in an "affordable flagship" smartphone with excellent Zeiss PureView imaging technology.
Nokia Lumia 830 — great power in an “affordable flagship” smartphone with excellent Zeiss PureView imaging technology.
The Lumia 830, probably the last Nokia phone that carries the name Nokia, is not only a thing of beauty (I’m talking about the black version), Microsoft calls it an “affordable flagship” smartphone. Well said. You may lament the low (extendable) storage of 16GB, the relatively low camera pixel count and the not latest Snapdragon 400 processor. But boy this phone delivers, for half the iPhone’s price. And, most importantly, it’s a true camera phone as sleek and clean as its OS.

So maybe I bought the last Nokia smartphone ever produced. Announced in September, a long history of quality hardware will soon end. Everyone seemed to have owned at least one Nokia phone at one time. Then came Apple and changed the game. Microsoft acquired Nokia in April 2014, and with it the excellent PureView imaging technology.

Microsoft will drop the brand name and unveil a first Microsoft Lumia device soon. I trust it will be a great device, yet I just wanted to make sure to get a last Nokia, because Nokia always meant great hardware and serious quality. And what’s also nice? Nokia doesn’t plaster its logo all over the phone like Samsung does. The Apple minimalism. Like it.

I’ll talk about the camera further below, but just that you know, the 830 is not even Microsoft’s current flagship phone. Even though the 830 has a lower specd screen than the earlier announced, “faster” Nokia Lumia 930 flagship, I did an extensive side-to-side comparison and must say: the cheaper eats the more expensive phone.

No fuss, just point and shoot: auto settings with the Lumia 830's inherent 16:9 ratio. This photo is taken in a moving train and unedited, OIS seems to work...
No fuss, just point and shoot: auto settings with the Lumia 830’s inherent 16:9 ratio. This photo is taken in a moving train and unedited, OIS seems to work…
Not Amoled, yet still with the same fortified Gorilla glass, the 830’s IPC LCD with ClearBlack technology looks brighter, crisper with deep blacks and more natural colors than the 930. And the 830 is no slouch. The screen and apps are about as responsive as the 930’s, and the camera with half the 930’s 20MP pixels is right what I need. Yes I did side-by-side comparisons, the 930’s image quality regarding noise and detail is above the 830’s, but a smartphone doesn’t replace a good camera, for those instances when quality matters my Nikon Df will do.

Fast, snappy, a pleasure to hold and look at, leaving the iPhone has never been made easier. The Lumia 830 costs about half of what Apple asks for the iPhone 6, and once you get the hang of Windows Phone 8.1 you’re easily sold. At least me. For now. This operating system is much more personal and “individual” than iOS which basically is a playground with strict rules and regulations. Windows Phone integrates the user, it’s a more interactive experience.

Nevertheless, Windows Phone 8.1 is still a bit rough around the edges with minor teething issues, such as you can’t set a default alarm, but a lot of thinking has gone into details and just that the live tiles of the start screen are a very good reason to give this OS a good look. Apps “live,” they’re updated in real time, offering a very pleasing sight in combination with your image of choice as a background. To get a feel for it, you can give Lumia Phone a try.

If these free, versatile and good quality photo editing softwares don't do it for you, I don't know what will.
If these free, versatile and good quality photo editing softwares don’t do it for you, I don’t know what will.
And give Cortana a try, your virtual personal assistant. She smokes Siri. It’s all programmed, I know, but nice human voice with hints of humor, sounding and feeling peculiarly more “real life.”

Moving over from iOS is a piece of cake. Integration leaves nothing to be desired. The phone synchronizes iCloud, Google Mail or whatever you’re using. Right, it’s said that apps are the system’s weak spot. This is certainly valid if you’re looking for localized apps. Every entrepreneur first develops an iOS and Android app, and only then maybe something for Windows Phone. Yet, the standard apps available are top of the line in terms of functionality, design and ease of use — and actually an often ignored strength of Windows Phone. What Microsoft and Nokia do, they do right.

Take the new iPhone 6’s heavily marketed 240 fps slow motion video. Doesn’t come in-camera with the Lumia 830, but a nifty free app called Slow Camera does exactly the same. And not happy with the phone’s burst rate? The Lumia offers Smart Sequence. Or get the free Microsoft app Blink, delivering more burst power than you’ll need in a phone…

Nokia’s in-house Nokia Camera app gives all the manual controls you need, and this in a smooth, intuitive way, certainly something Apple might have been aware of. Look at the iOS 8 camera. An Nokia’s Lumia Selfie app? Let me say that much: it’s quick, easy and fun. Ever fine-tuned facial details with a few clicks and strokes?

Another plus: great for macro with a minimum focus distance of a few centimeters. The only fly in the ointment so far: can’t control the bright F2.2 aperture. There should be a way to at least electronically stop down the lens to better play with background isolation and depth of field.

Use auto mode or switch to full manual control for the perfect composition.
Use Nokia Camera’s auto mode or switch to full manual control for the perfect composition.
I will post some pictures as they come in. And no, this is no sponsored post. I paid for this device. Am not promoting something I would not consider using myself. Nokia and Microsoft have clearly done their homework. The time could be ripe for iOS and Android users to switch horses. Or at least consider the option. Will be interesting to see what design concept the Microsoft Lumia devices will follow. I can only say that much: regularly updated Windows Phone 8.1 is stable, a pleasure to use and it delivers — making the “affordable flagship” Lumia 830 a surprisingly versatile, beautifully crafted smartphone built around an excellent camera. What more could you want.

+++ You can order the Lumia 830 from Amazon and eBay.

Nice detail or not? Nokia Lumia 830 @ 1/20 F2.2 ISO 640
Nice detail or not? Straight our of smartphone in very dim light — Nokia Lumia 830 @ 1/20 F2.2 ISO 640

  • Brad

    I am currently using a Lumia 1020 with the 41mp sensor but I will confess that I still also carry an iphone 5. I agree the integration of cloud services beats the iPhone by a mile. The Camera with sthbilized Zeiss lens and zenon flash beats the iPhone camera hands down. the 5mp jpg images are usable at ISO3200 and I also have the option of 38mp DNG raw files to play with in ACR. The the iphone 6 cant match the features and the iphone 6+ is still only just getting close to catching up with this last generation phone.

    The 4.5inch 720p screen is slightly shorter on teh long dimension but very usable in a body that closely matches the Iphone 6 in all dimensions except the thickness. Maybe a 1080p screen may top it but at the phones screen size, i have strong doubts that the differences will be overly noticable. The 1020s only weakness is the dual core processor is not exactly state of the art and as a result, the performance at time, can be a little sluggish running 8.1.

  • Thanks Brad for mentioning the optically stabilized lens, and not electronically; goes without saying comes with the 830 as well…

    And as I say so often here on THEME, don’t buy gear based on specs only. A good tool is mostly about a good user experience.

  • Brad

    Lumia 1020 as a sports shooter. ISO 4000 shots