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Mon 04.05.10 – The above photo essay is the mobile photography comparison that I have been wanting to do for months, ever since the Nokia N86 8MP camera phone was announced, but the lack of having a Nokia N82 and an N86 in hand at the same time stymied my great plans. Today, while leaving for lunch with my Mom, I realized that I could do a photo comparison today before the Nokia N86 went back to WOMWorld/Nokia as my Mom had her Nokia N82 on her.
I had my Mom hand her N82 mobile phone over to me when she did not need it for calls today and took photos here and there to compare the quality of photos, light, clarity, sharpness, low light handling, and flash between the Nokia N82 and the N86.
The Nokia N8x series is the Nseries line that is optimized for mobile photography. The N80, the N82, and the N86 have been boundary pushing mobile camera phones both at the time of release and for at least a year or two (or more in the case of the N82) after wards. The N81 and N85 were not enough of an iteration in terms of mobile camera phone photography to be noted here.
The Nokia N82 has been especially beloved worldwide for its kickass photo taking prowess, its Xenon flash, its 5 megapixel goodness, and the ability to capture photos that surprise everyone, “What?!? How can that be a camera phone?” For many camera phone junkies, the N82 was the be all and end all of mobile photography. Some flirted with the various Samsung & Sony 8 and 12 megapixel cameras, only to later repent and state that no other camera phone could match the smartphone + amazing camera & flash of the N82. Nokia dashed many hopes with the lackluster N85 and the lack of pushing the camera phone boundaries with the N97, but in the summer of 2009, Nokia released a possible contender to the best camera phone – the Nokia N86.
In late 2009, the Nokia N86 8MP was considered by many to be the best all around camera smartphone available worldwide, beating out a few other 8 megapixel camera phones and one 12 megapixel cameraphone. After the Nokia N85, I was a bit skeptical. I tried the N86 out in June during the Carl Zeiss lens factory tour and found the firmware not quite there yet as it had a hard time focusing close-up and the flash was glare-y, I tried it again in October 2009 and started to get impressed.
This time around in the last 2 or so weeks, the version 21.0 firmware for the Nokia N86 has arrived and all of my previous reservations with the close up/macro photography, low light, and flash are now gone with the version 21 of the firmware as it and previous upgrades have solved many of the camera software issues that were holding me back from calling it the best camera phone out right now. Close up is now clear and working at 2 inches away, see above, the low light photos are good, and the dual LED is no longer over glare-y. And after my for fun comparison between the Nikon D70s and the Nokia N86 the other day, consider me very impressed with the Nokia N86.
As of this last week’s worth of photos and video, I am now ready to purchase a Nokia N86 for me and one to replace my Mom’s age-ing N82. Today’s photo comparison proved the N86 to be a worthy successor to the N82 and was equal to or surpassed it in quite a few of the photos and performance issues, even though I would prefer that the N86 had the Xenon flash of the N82, but the N86’s dual LED is not as annoying in low light as the Nokia N97’s LED flash.
The Tech Spec Caveats: The above photos where taken with all the same settings on both the N82 and the N86, if one was set to Auto, then the other was too. If one had the flash turned off, then also the other. Etc. The only changes I have made to the photos is to resize them to 640 by 480. The N86 is running software version 21.006 and it is the RM-484, it has a Carl Zeiss Tessar 2.4-4.8/4.6 Wide-Angle Zens 8MP/AF with Dual LED flash. The N82 is running software version 31.016 and is RM-313, it has a Carl Zeiss Tessar 2.8/5.6 5MP/AF with a Xenon flash.