The Nokia N86 Camera in Close Up Mode, An Experiment and Comparison

The Nokia N86 in close up mode, Objects at 4 in / 10 cm away The Nokia N86 in close up mode, Objects at 3 in / 7.6 cm away The Nokia N95 in close up mode, Objects at 3 in / 7.6 cm away The Nokia N86 in close up mode, Objects at 2.5 in / 6.3 cm away The Nokia N95 in close up mode, Objects at 2.5 in / 6.3 cm away The Nokia N95 in close up mode, Objects at 2 in / 5 cm away The Nokia N86 in close up mode, top of Flower at 3 in / 7.6 cm away The Nokia N95 in close up mode, top of Flower at 3 in / 7.6 cm away
These photos were taken by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N86 and her Nokia N95.

Tues 10.13.09 – This afternoon I decided to conduct a test with the trial Nokia N86 camera phone that is about to go back to the folks at WOM World and my trusty & slightly rusty Nokia N95 camera phone. Originally, I had hoped to conduct the experiment using the Nokia N86 versus itself, by conducting the experiment with the Nokia N86 with the version 11 firmware with the upcoming version 20 firmware, which is rumored to have camera improvements, but alas and alack, the new firmware has not been released yet. Thus, the N86 v. the N95 in close up mode.
I wanted to test the close up / macro mode of the camera as I have noticed that the N86 for all of its 8 megapixel wonder and Carl Zeiss wide angle lens does not get very close or very sharp close ups. It may be in part to the wide angle lens and it may be in part due to the image processing software/algorithms. One of the problems that I have experienced is due to the wide angle lens, if I want to fill the photo with the subject I have to get closer and then the image goes out of focus or you keep the image in focus and it does not fill the frame (see the difference between the non-wide angle lens N95 hibiscus flower photo above and the N86 flower photo).

According to Nokia’s technical specifications, the Nokia N86 should have the following camera focal range: 10 cm to infinity, with the Macro focus of 10-50 cm (these are the same listed focal range specs for the N95). I wanted to push this and see really how close could the N86 focus and with how much clarity in comparison to my trusty old school Nokia N95, because I perceive the N95 to take better close up photos.
To test this I conducted a two part experiment:
Part I – I lined up two small objects next to a ruler and put the Nokia N86 and N95’s online with the 0 mark and then moved the objects up and down the ruler while both camera’s were set to close up mode. The Nokia N86 could only focus well when the objects were 3 inches / 7.62 cm away and when the objects were 2.5 inches / 6.35 cm away the N86 could not focus on them. In contrast, the Nokia N95 could focus clearly at 3 inches, pretty darned well at 2.5 inches, and crapped out at 2 inches.
Part II – I took both camera phones outside in the wind with the ruler and went to shoot a local hibiscus flower that was waving in the wind. I used the rule to approximate 3 inches from the top of the pistol/stamen of the hibiscus and shot with both cameras to see how each would handle a moving subject at 3 inches away. Once again the N95 performed better and was able to snap the end of the pistol/stamen and the N86 focused about 1 cm farther down the flower.
Please note that this experiment was conducted with the Nokia N86’s firmware at the version 11 (v. 20 is to be released soon with camera software fixes) and the N95’s software is version 31 (a more mature firmware with quite a few camera updates).
I am looking forward to the Nokia N86 upcoming firmware update.
I documented the experiment’s methodology with the following video:

This video was captured by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N86.

The most ironic part of this video is that the Nokia N86’s video capture does not have a close up mode and it did not focus even at a 8 to 12 inches away but, as you can see, the video focused best about 1.5 feet or farther away.

5 thoughts on “The Nokia N86 Camera in Close Up Mode, An Experiment and Comparison

  1. In my hurry to update to v20, I missed the opportunity of comparing same shots between v11 & v20. According to this comparison, the N95 definitely gave better results.
    But according to what I have noticed, v20 has improved the close up mode focus for the N86.
    For video recording, I have found that Zooming in gives better results than bringing the camera closer to the objects. You can watch the video on youtube –

  2. Hi Alsiladka,
    I had hoped to be able to compare the N86’s v. 11 with v. 20 for this review, but maybe in a couple of weeks, as I can reproduce the experiment.
    I really am the ‘accidental video-ist’, it would have never occurred to me to use the digital zoom. Thanks for the tip!
    smiles, jen ;o)

  3. hi, i find that when using the macro mode i have better results if i move the camera several inches away from the subject, use the digital zoom to zoom all the way in, use the autofocus, and take the pic without a flash in a well lit environment while using the macro mode. it doesnt always work, but for the goofing around that i have done i have had better results using this technique. i have a n86 nam and i first notices this when i had a n97.

  4. Even I am not a video-ish person. But I remember reading a post on Sym-Guru about the improved zoom performance with the N86. Wanted to see for myself, hence the video.
    Will have to try the same for photos as suggested by George.

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