The Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim Film Camera

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The Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim and its virtual clone, the Superheadz Yellow Peace. Cult camera favorites of toy camera fanatics.

The Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim is 35mm point and shoot film camera made by Sunpet Industries of China and distributed by Vivitar under their own name. The camera has an almost exact clone from Superheadz in different colors and different nicknames.

The actual year of manufacture is unknown or undocumented. At least, I cannot find it in my research. I suspect it was made in the 1990s or late 1980s.

The Ultra Wide & Slim is an all plastic camera with a plastic lens and low quality build. However, the camera has achieved cult camera popularity primarily due to its 22mm f/11 “Ultra Wide” lens which is unusual for a fixed focus point and shoot, even today.

As a camera, the Vivitar “UWS” has only one aperture, f/11 and only one shutter speed, 1/125. This makes it primarily usable as a daylight camera using higher speed film.

This was and is intended to be a cheap camera. However, the camera has become very popular with the toy camera, Holga, Lomography, etc, crowd for whom lens distortion, light leaks, and imperfect photos are much desired.

If you love cameras as much as I do, you’re bound to collect some cameras that you have yet to use. This is one (or two) of them!

Actually, I did get a roll of film through the Superheadz but when I developed the film the whole roll came out black. I’m not ashamed to admit that it was probably my mistake in development. I added too much water to Ilford ID-11 which is not a developer I use often, though some say D76 (which I have used often) is the same. However, I’m can’t be 100 percent sure if it was me or the camera so I will try again.

Any camera with a 22mm lens is bound to give you some very dynamic looking photos and I don’t mind the flaws, especially for the price. If you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed.

If seeking one of these, prices used to be very cheap, but now is trending at $25-50 for the Vivitar in used condition, and from $24-60 for the Superheadz version, price dependent on the model and seller. For example, the black version called the “Slim Devil” runs near $40 from most sellers. You may find a good selection of the Superheadz version HERE.

I got my Vivitar on eBay for under $10 and paid $25 new for my “Yellow Peace” Superheadz clone. These cameras probably cost a few bucks to make, so even buying it for $25 is probably too much in principle. But since we don’t make these cameras (and no one else does) we have no choice 🙂

Don’t go too crazy with these cameras. As I said, they were intended to be cheap and fun cameras, but now some may argue that they are Camera Legends in the toy camera department. Take that out of your head, they ARE cheap cameras. Try to find one cheap! 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

One great thing about Spring, other than the weather, are all the photographic deals going on. Some great deals and savings on Nikon Lenses are going on right now. If you’re going to buy, please buy through the link and help support this site. I greatly appreciate it, thanks!

Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film, 10 Sheets x 5 packs

Olympus has a very cool Trade Up program where you can trade in virtually any used camera and get monetary value towards the purchase of new Olympus gear including the OM-D series and the awesome new Pen cameras.

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Tuesday Titans: The Contax 645

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The almighty Contax 645 and 80mm f/2 Carl Zeiss lens. I took this shot when I had to sell this dream combo. Perhaps one of the greatest camera systems ever made?

Wow, what can I say about this one?

The Contax 645 is a Medium Format autofocus film camera introduced by Kyocera in 1999. It was part of their 645 system, an ambitious foray in the (then) professional portrait and wedding world where medium format was king.

I got the Contax 645 in 2008 and had the pleasure of using it for a few years, but eventually had to sell it. I’d always say that I would only sell this camera if I had to pay the rent. Guess what? I had to pay the rent 🙂

I had actually gotten the camera initially because I had done a couple of weddings, was thinking of going down the weekend weddings path, and was thinking of adding something different and unique to my wedding portraits. Looking back now, it was just another excuse for G.A.S. but man, if you have to have an excuse for another camera, the Contax 645 is IT!!

I apologize for not having more photos of the camera. When I sold it years back, I never thought I’d be writing about it one day on a blog 🙂

This is by no means a complete review of the Contax 645, just my memory and experience with it. I do have photos made with this camera and will be updating this article, once I can rescan and put them together. I couldn’t write enough to do the camera justice.

THE CONTAX 645 BODY

The Contax 645 is a modular system with removable backs, prisms, and lenses. You can even add a nice (but expensive) accessory battery holder/vertical grip (the MP-1).

The body when fitted with AE prism and film back feels very solid and is as beautiful to look at, as it is to shoot. The viewfinder is beautifully bright and contrasty. I believe there was actually a waist-level finder for this camera.

From the shooter’s perspective, the top right of the camera contains the shutter speed (32-1/4000 in AV mode) and exposure compensation dials. The mode (B/X/M/TV/AV) dial and AE lock is also located on the top right.

The left side does not have a top “plate” so to speak, but it contains the dial for drive (single or continuous at 1.6 fps). The camera runs on one 2CR5 battery, but can run on four AA batteries with the optional MP-1 grip.

The Contax 645 is still popular with wedding and portrait photographers today due to its ability to use compatible digital backs and if you’ve got this setup, this would be the ultimate digital portrait system in my view.

PERFORMANCE

Ergonomically, I had no complaints. It’s a Contax and all the controls are well laid out. It’s one of those cameras I could use without a manual and that to me is always a sign of a good camera.

The Contax 645 is an autofocus camera and unlike the Contax AX 35mm camera I wrote about, the AF on the 645 is quite good and definitely usable.

While there were quite a few lenses for the 645 system, I only used the 80mm f/2 Zeiss Planar so I speak only to my experience with the camera and this lens. I do not know how it performed with any other Contax lenses.

It was not an EOS or Nikon speed demon, but I did not remember having issues with it, except in very low light conditions. I think you’d be fine with this for those wonderful outdoor wedding portraits.

The 80mm f/2 Zeiss Planar is one of the fastest lenses available in the 645 format. I believe only the manual focus Mamiya 80mm f/1.9 was faster.

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The lens, as expected, made for wonderful portraits. The lens was beautiful wide open for portraits with bokeh that seemed much smoother than other Zeiss lenses I have used. Perhaps it was the extra shallow DOF that you can get with medium format, but the bokeh on this lens was not quite as “nervous” as the Zeiss lenses I have used in the 35mm format.


BOTTOM LINE

If you’ve ever read any of my articles on Contax, you will know that while I love Contax cameras, I’ve always blasted their electronics as brittle and unreliable.

I’m happy to report that in the three or four years that I had the Contax 645, I never had that problem. Oh, there was one time when the camera started focusing erratically, but it turned out that it just needed a new battery.

It seemed to me that Kyocera put everything they could into making the Contax 645 the best camera that they could make.

The Contax 645 is a highly desirable camera. With its usable AF system, and an arsenal of superlative Carl Zeiss lenses, it is an incredibly capable image maker. To this day, it is considered one of the premier systems in all of medium format photography. It is a camera that can take film or modern digital backs making it versatile enough for the old school film die-hard or the modern digital artist.

The Contax 645 is without a doubt a Camera Legend and perhaps one of the greatest cameras ever made.

WHERE TO BUY?

If you’re thinking about a Contax 645, I have to burst your bubble a little bit and say that with Kyocera out of the camera business, buying a Contax 645 is a bit of a risky gamble.

The reason for this is that if something goes wrong with the camera, Kyocera’s contact in the USA, Tocad, will no longer repair them. I’m not sure who does.

The good (or somewhat good) news is that there are not many reports of these cameras needing repair, just do a search. However, as these cameras approach twenty years on the market, they are getting older and as with any camera, there’s bound to be many ready for retirement or in need of repair.

I would imagine that since the camera is incredibly popular with pros, there should be someone or some place out there repairing these cameras. But in my research, I haven’t found any. I believe they still repair them in Japan, but I will have to do more research.

When I got the Contax 645 in 2008, I paid $1200 for the whole outfit with 80mm f/2 lens, film back, and AE prism. A complete outfit in the same excellent condition today runs for $3000 or more. I’m glad I sold it when I did and made a little profit from the sale 🙂

A Mamiya 645 AF or AFD system is probably a better alternative if you are looking for a similar medium format system that will still be supported.

Now, if you still have your heart set on the Contax 645 Kit (body, 80mm lens, AE prism, back) is trending at $3000-3500. I have seen the kit on eBay with the 45mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens going for around $2300.

For this camera, with its delicate electronics, I would definitely recommend buying from a place with a good returns policy. For that you may try HERE and HERE.

INSTAX cameras on Sale

GoPro HERO on Sale

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: The Pentax K-1 Full-Frame Digital

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The K-1 full frame digital camera, the new “King Of Pentax.” Pictured with the HD Pentax-D 24-70mm f/2.8 SDM WR lens. Pure Pentax heaven! Picture courtesy of Ricoh/Pentax Corporation.

Ho! I thought I was on a week long sabbatical but this one is a must! Ricoh/Pentax has finally introduced their full-frame digital called, appropriately the K-1.

Just from looking at the specs, key features: 36.4mp CMOS sensor, no AA filter (better sharpness), built in 5-axis stabilization, ISO 204,800, 1080p 24/30fps HD video, rugged build and tilting screen. Of course, there’s a lot more to it.

All the cameras we have today are like super computers in many ways. They have like gazillion features and you know I’m not the kind of guy who wants to repeat all the technical specs. If you’re interest in the technicalities you can read them HERE.

I’m sure there will be a lot of Pentax fanatics who will be picking this thing up. In fact, I KNOW some fanatics who will be looking hard at this one 🙂

THOUGHTS ON THE PENTAX K-1

Everything seems right with this camera. Specs are great, however things seem familiar. 36.4 megapixels? Hmm, probably that Sony sensor we saw in the Nikon D800/D800E and Sony A7R. No AA filter? Cool, seems like everyone is doing away with that “wicked” AA filter that used to be so important for the first fifteen years of digital. ISO 204,800? Cool, but I never go anywhere near that ISO so I wouldn’t know.

I guess what I’m saying is…the specs are great, awesome even, but many of these things we have seen since 2012 so it’s not mind-blowing anymore (to me anyway). Nothing against Pentax, as I’ve said a few times before, it’s really hard for me to get excited about the latest and greatest these days. But I love the build and handling of the top Pentax cameras and this one looks to be the best of the best.

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“Pentax Camera Art.” Before the K-1, we had a funky little thang called the K-01! Wow, what a close call with the names 🙂

Despite what I said about the specs, the main thing that we should remember is that while the rest of the world have seen these high specs before elsewhere, Pentax users have not had these specs till now so this is enough reason for Pentaxians to rejoice.

And heck, based the fact that all your Pentax lenses in the 35mm format can now be used as they were intended and even based on the specs as they are, this could probably be the only Pentax digital anyone could ever want or need! Here’s a cool and interesting video on the new K-1:

As I said in an article not too long ago, many have waited for this day since we heard about the Pentax MZ-D in 2000. The first full-frame Pentax digital that never was. Today, nearly sixteen years later they have officially announced the K-1. Whether it succeeds or fails this camera is bound to be a Camera Legend. All I can say is…Pentax, thank you.

Note: The Pentax K-1 was introduced with three new lenses. You can check out all the specs to the K-1 and see the new lenses HERE.

WHOA, WAIT A MINUTE, THERE’S ALSO THE CANON EOS 80D 

I didn’t put this in the headlines because I didn’t want to take anything away from the Pentax K-1, which many have waited so long for and is in a different league of cameras, but I’m sure many Canon fans will be happy to hear that there’s a new “enthusiast-class” body out, the EOS 80D.

Just quickly off the specs: new 24mp sensor, 45 point AF, updated dual-pixel AF, mirror vibration control.

I don’t really want to get too much into it, but I’m sure it’s going to be a killer little camera.

You can check out the specs HERE.

Celebrating Ten Years Of JuJu

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JuJu @ Six Months. 2006. Nikon D1X. Cannot remember the lens, it just shows as 300mm on the exif viewer. A straight jpeg from the D1X, no treatment done. Although it was only 5mps, I really loved the D1X!

No “Tuesday Titans” today. Instead, we are celebrating a “titan” of our personal world. He is the first kid of the new generation of our family. Today, we celebrate my nephew JuJu who just turned ten recently. He was, in a way, my first beta tester for so many of the cameras that came into my possession in the years following his birth. Thanks for joining me in the celebration and for my fellow gear heads, take comfort in the captions which will reveal some the cool cameras used during this ten year period. Happy Birthday JuJu!! 🙂

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“Boy From NYC” 2006. Bessa R3a, CV 40mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic, Kodak BW400CN. I had just fixed the rangefinder on this camera, it was the first rangefinder adjustment I’d ever done. Shortly thereafter, I sold this camera, but now looking at the results from this combo, I kinda regret it!

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“Order & Chaos” 2009. Olympus Pen FT, Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 Pancake lens, Kodak Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max developer. Two frames from the half frame Pen FT camera showing how order can turn into chaos in a minute 🙂

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“My Brother’s Keepers” 2014. Nikon D1X, 35mm f/2.4 MIR Russian lens.

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“Rockabilly Ju” 2013. Fuji X-Pro 1, Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens. JuJu rocks around the clock! 🙂

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“Happy” 2014. Panasonic DMC-GF1, Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH lens. Go ahead people, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof! 🙂

 

Tuesday Titans: The Mighty Minolta XK Motor

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The Legendary Minolta XK Motor of 1976. Sorry for this funky Instagram pic, I’ll probably replace it 🙂

Hi everybody. Let’s start 2016 off with a bang with this ultra-rare Camera Legend, where info is scarce even on the best Minolta/Rokkor sites…

Somewhere in the deep, dark corridors of my camera memory lurks a giant. A giant that frightened and fascinated me at the same time. That giant is the Minolta XK Motor.

The XK Motor is a 35mm SLR introduced by Minolta in 1976. It was marketed as a professional camera and was Minolta’s answer to the Canon F-1 and Nikon F/F2.

The XK Motor is ultra-rare and hard to find in today’s market.

MY MEMORIES AND DREAMS OF THE MINOLTA XK MOTOR

As a kid, I still remember seeing this gigantic brute of a camera in magazine articles and ads. It was a camera that seemed frighteningly large, muscular, and complicated to a young boy. Yet at the same time, for a skinny young kid, this camera’s muscular build signaled “power” in my mind.

I wanted it bad, but I knew I’d never get one. Or so I thought…


HOW I CAME ACROSS THE MINOLTA XK MOTOR CAMERA

Fast forward some thirty plus years. About four years ago in 2012, I saw two XK Motors listed on KEH Camera in BGN (bargain) condition, priced at about $500 each. Right away, knowing the rarity of these cameras, I had to get one!

Fortunately, it was one of those rare times when I actually had enough in the bank. Sure it still hurt to part with $500, but hey man, this was the Minolta XK Motor! Gotta have it! 🙂

So I got one, and if I had the funds, I’d probably have gotten the other too, but I didn’t have any funds left and it quickly went to someone else.

Though I can’t check 24/7, I do check KEH’s site fairly often. I’ve never seen the XK Motor before or since on KEH’s site. My theory is someone sold these two from their collection to KEH and it quickly went up for sale.

THE XK MOTOR BODY

When I first got the camera, I was in awe. This thing was solid, heavy, and just as in my dreams, seemingly powerful.

The body feels blocky, much like other cameras of its time such as its slated competitors, the Nikon F/F2 and the Canon F-1.

Unlike those two cameras, the motor drive is permanently attached on the XK Motor. The motor drive was capable of a (then) “high” of 3.5 frames per second at its top speed.

The camera required two EPX-76 or S-76 alkaline or silver batteries for the body and ten, count ’em, TEN AA batteries for that motor drive. With batteries installed, this camera got heavy fast!

The camera had electronic shutter speeds of 16 seconds to 1/2000th of a second and mechanical shutter speeds of 1/100 and B.

ISSUES

Shortly after I got the XK Motor, I realized it is not without issues. While my first roll of film went off without a hitch, I quickly realized there was one glaring achilles heel (or heels in this case) with this giant.

That fault is…the battery clips that hold the epic ten batteries are brittle and worse, they eventually break rendering the great “motor” portion of the camera virtually useless. They broke off on both sides of my XK Motor and believe me I did not do anything rough to cause it.

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“Chipped Clips” The battery clip issue is the main thing that ruined my XK Motor experience. If seeking one of these cameras, be aware that this is an unfortunately common thing with these cameras.

And if that wasn’t enough, trying to find a replacement for these clips is harder than finding a needle in a haystack!

Sure, I have tried the old fashioned method of taping the broken clips. As you can see from the pics, that is exactly what I did but it didn’t work well. The tape would eventually come off and one time the battery compartment on one side got incredibly hot and I had to quickly remove the batteries for fear of fire.

If you think the broken battery clips were just my error, take a look at this link from KEH BLOG from 2011.

They had an XM Motor for sale in EX+ condition for $1950 with one catch…”battery door broken” 🙂

WHY I SOLD THE XK MOTOR

I recently sold this camera to a private buyer who was willing to buy it as is for the same price I bought it for. The great thing about these old legendary cameras is that you could almost always sell them without much of a loss.

It may seem unscrupulous to sell the camera in worse condition for the same price I bought it, but these babies are rare and the last one I saw was on eBay where it was sold as a parts camera. Bidding went over $500, so I definitely think I gave a fair price.

It became an unusable paperweight for me and the climax of a dream that became a nightmare.

This camera could have easily become one of my “Best Cameras I Never Knew” but it’s such a rare camera that I was honored to have had a chance to hold and use one in the flesh, fulfilling one of my childhood fantasies.

X-1 XK XM DIFFERENCES

There is actually a non motor driven version of this camera. The ones sold is the USA are known as the XK and known elsewhere around the world as the XM or X-1.

While the XK Motor is ultra-rare, the standard XK/XM/X-1 are not as rare. Many people mistakenly buy these thinking they are the XK Motor, but they are not, and they do not command the same high prices.

Cool you say, couldn’t I just buy an old motor drive and turn my XK/XM/X-1 into an XK Motor? In theory, you could’ve, but sorry there was no motor drive option for these cameras which is one of the reasons the XK Motor still holds its place among the Camera Legends of Minolta.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta XK Motor was a dream camera for a young boy that turned into hard reality for a grown man.

It was Minolta’s answer to the Canon F-1 and Nikon F/F2. Unlike the Canons and Nikons, the Minolta XK Motor had one glaring and seemingly incomprehensible fault…weak battery clips!

Despite their ability to make some of the world’s finest cameras and lenses, there IS a reason why Minolta never made it to the top in the world of Canon and Nikon pro bodies. A flaw such as weak battery clips is totally unacceptable for a professional grade body such as this.

If you search the internet for the XK Motor, you will find precious little information from actual users. You will not see much on the battery clip issue either. Why? Because there is not much info on this camera in general, it’s that rare.

In usable form, the Minolta XK Motor is a dream camera to hold and use. It was a culmination of Minolta’s dream to rule the professional camera world. It was a dream ruined by flawed execution, but that doesn’t matter in the end. The Minolta XK Motor represented the power of Minolta and what could have been. It is, without a doubt, a Camera Legend.

WHERE TO BUY?

If looking for an XK Motor, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are very hard to calculate due to its rarity on the market.

I got mine for $500 at KEH Camera in Bargain condition. But they also had one five years back in EX+ condition for $1950. The last one I saw on eBay was an “as is” parts camera which went for over $500 in 2013.

So I would say in pristine working condition, these cameras could easily fetch anywhere from $1500-2000 and maybe more.

If you want a taste of the XK Motor without using a fine toothed comb, you could easily get the ‘regular’ XK/XM/X-1. Prices for these can go anywhere from $50-300. I would not pay more than $100 for one. In fact, I got one of these for $56 bucks! 🙂

Note: I do have pics from my test roll with this camera and the 50mm f/1.2 Rokkor. But it’s not on a hard drive, it’s on a photo CD and I can’t find it. I do not think these test pics are worthy of your time, but I am still looking for them and may or may not post them. But it is proof that at one time, the Mighty XK Motor worked and gave me some nice pics!

 

Camera Spotting Part I

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Spotted this Sony A6000 while walking around Best Buy. Wow, this camera looked so much better in silver/black than I thought it would! I personally find silver digital cameras a little cheesy looking, but this one is HOT! 🙂

I was going to do this one as a Flashback Friday post, but I really can’t because these are not “flashback” cameras. Instead, they are very current cameras that are riding on this “retro” trend that we have seen in the past few years. Anyway, I am not in the market for these cameras at the moment, but I liked seeing them.

Have you seen a camera at a shop or hanging on someone’s neck that really caught your eye? If so, I would sure love to hear about it or drop me a link to your photo pages.

I hope to expand this series in upcoming postings. Have a good weekend my friends 🙂

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Spotted a new Canon G9X is silver/orange trim. Cool and funky and indeed “dramatically different.”

SOME NEW CAMERA DEALS

Our friends at Adorama passed along some current deals they are having. Just quickly running through them, I said, wow wish I had the money. Especially on that G16, that’s a very nice price for a hot camera!

Some serious savings in here if you’re in the market for any of this stuff. I’m just going to pass along the information as I got it:

Canon PowerShot G16 Compact Digital Camera Bundle

$249 after $350 MIR

CANON G16.

This is quite a deal, every other place has the G16 for at least $379!

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Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

$399 after rebate

Canon EOS Rebel T5i and EF-S 18-55mm Kit.

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Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

$599 after Rebate

Canon T5i and EF-S 18-135mm Kit.

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Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

+ Canon EF 75-300mm lens

$399 after rebate

Canon SL1 with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 STM.

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Free Assassin’s Creed Syndicate & 32GB Evo+ MicroSD Card with the Purchase of Select Samsung SSD Drives.

Black Friday pricing is still active on the SSD’s!

Link to all:

Free Assassin’s Creed Syndicate & 32GB Evo+ MicroSD Card with the Purchase of Select Samsung SSD Drives.

Free Shipping. Expires Sunday 12/06

Hope some of you can take advantage of these savings!

Pocket Power Phone: The Nokia Lumia 1020 41mp Cell Phone Camera

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The Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone from 2013. “Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” Mae West might have said of the yellow Nokia 1020 with all of its 41 megapixel glory 🙂

It may seem out of place on this site where classic film and digital cameras are profiled but as the first cell phone camera with a headline grabbing 41 megapixels, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is actually a perfect fit here.

The Lumia 1020 was introduced in 2013 as a modern day smartphone that runs on Windows 8. It has a touch screen and is capable of doing almost anything else a phone from 2013 could do. Its main distinction from the competition was that the phone held a 41 megapixel sensor inside. Yes, 41 megapixels in a cell phone! In 2013, that was more megapixels than almost any consumer camera on the market, point and shoot or DSLR.

To keep the record straight, the Nokia 808 Pureview was the first Nokia with a 41 megapixel sensor. However, it ran on the Symbian operating system which a lot of people don’t know about, and this probably kept a lot of people away. The 1020 aimed to go after the market that the 808 missed.

When I first heard about this phone, I was interested in it, as any gadget freak would be. However, as a photographer and lover of traditional cameras, I was more than a little skeptical.

AS A CAMERA

The Nokia 1020 has a 41 megapixel sensor, a 4.5″ display, and a 26mm f/2.2 Carl Zeiss lens and optical stabilization. Just on those specs alone, it sounds killer!

The camera does have a front facing camera as well, but that one only does 1.2 megapixels of resolution.

While the camera does have a 41mp sensor inside for the main camera, the actual highest resolution that the camera churns out is about 38mp. Due to slight cropping from the aspect ratios available, some pixels are lost. There may be more to this technically, but that’s how I understand it. However, 38mp is close enough to 41mp that you’d not likely notice the missing 3 megapixels 🙂

Hey listen, I won’t claim to understand all the thingamajigger behind this technology. Wiki has an excellent page on it and there are other reviews out there that can explain it much better than I can.

For easy file sharing, the 1020 uses an over-sampling technology where the 41 megapixel images are reduced to a 5 megapixel files without loss of quality. You can get the full resolution of the camera when using Nokia’s photo transfer app.

As a camera, it is very slow. The shot to shot time, the AF, the shutter lag. All slow. You will not be taking any action shots with this camera, even at low resolution.

If you hit the “shutter” icon, it will sometimes miss its target while focusing. The best way I have found to get consistently sharp shots with the 1020 is to first tap the screen at your target to achieve focus, then hit the shutter. This will give you many more sharp shots than just hitting the shutter “button” and because the camera is slow anyway, you’re not really going to lose any more time doing it this way.

There is a definite lag between shots, reminds me a lot of the lag time in old digital point and shoot cameras.

AS A PHONE

Don’t ask. I don’t use it as a phone. I use my iPhone which is definitely more intuitive to me. I was going to say the Nokia “sucks” as a phone, but that might be unfair! Just so you know that I’m not an Apple fanboy and I don’t hate Nokia, fifteen years ago, in the early days of mass consumer cell phones, Nokia was my choice 🙂

The phone has a dual-core 1.5ghz processor, 32gb of mass memory and 4G LTE according to the official specs.

Battery life is not great and it seems to get worse over time. I’ve had the phone for over a year now and I find myself charging it more frequently. I can’t really give you numbers because everyone uses their phone differently. This is not my main phone, I don’t make phone calls or play games with it, I just use it as a camera. With sporadic usage, a charge will last about a day or so just to give you an idea.

IMAGE QUALITY

At its best, the Nokia 1020 gives an impressive output. At full resolution, images are very crisp and has amazing detail. But that’s “at its best” which means just like the Sony A7R or any high resolution camera, you don’t see the advantage all the time, especially if you’re just taking quick snapshots.

NokZCCC

“Baby’s Nest” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020. This image shows some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Nokia 1020. On one hand it’s colorful and sharp. On the other hand, you can see the clipped and unrecoverable highlights on the sweater showing the camera’s limited dynamic range. I believe the casual viewer would not see anything objectionable with this image. As for the subject, I was walking around when I found a baby chickadee on the foot of a giant tree! 🙂

And unlike the A7R or its siblings, the images do not hold up as well at 100 percent, and I did not expect it to. Apples and oranges. You have to be realistic; I mean this is a cell phone camera with a small high resolution sensor. Not to degrade the 1020, it’s an amazing cell phone camera, but it is still a cell phone camera. The A7R is a true digital camera with a high resolution full-frame sensor. The Nokia costs roughly $180 give or take, the Sony costs $1800 give or take! Be realistic with your expectations and you will love the Nokia 🙂

NokTreesC

“Autumn Legs” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020. The Nokia Lumia is capable of very colorful images. This one was tweaked and may be a little too funky! I am no longer using Photoshop and am still trying to hone my post processing skills on a new program, please forgive me 🙂

Ok, so it doesn’t hold up well against a high end full frame camera. How does it do against a high quality point and shoot like the Ricoh GR (16mp) or Sony RX100? I find that at 100 percent, the images from the two cameras mentioned look better than the Nokia. Tones look smoother, image definition holds up better on the high end point and shoots.

NokTreesHi

This is a 100 percent crop of the previous image straight out of the 1020. No processing was done to the image. Please click on the image for a better view. Note the softness and almost “painterly” look at 100 percent.

Taken on its own merit, the Nokia makes a fine secondary camera or even as your main point and shoot camera. While the images can be very sharp, dynamic range seems limited which means you need to be careful with exposure and the files are not highly pliable which means they won’t take a lot of messing around with in your post processing. It doesn’t take a lot to turn the files bad fast.

The files, which can be beautiful, appear to have a distinctly ‘digital’ look, perhaps due to the limitations of putting such a high res sensor on a small 2/3″ sensor.

Some of you know that I had a hard drive crash recently that knocked out a lot of my files. I was able to recover most of them and will be adding photos I took with the Lumia 1020 in 2014, so this page will get another update soon.

A lot of the readers of this site also know that I’m a fan of that elusive “film-like” digital file and this is a subjective thing, but I don’t see that with this phone. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with it. It looks digital because it is digital and yes, digital files can be fine too 🙂

Low light shots are surprisingly good. Not 5D Mark III good, but very good for a phone camera. It may sound vague, but any experienced photographer will have an idea of what I’m saying.

NokSamII

“In The Midnight Flower” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020. An available light sample from the 1020. I tried to extract the exif info for you so we could see what ISO the camera selected, but no exif would show on the programs I used. Please click on the photo for a larger view.

BOTTOM LINE

I got this phone over a year ago primarily to use it as a camera. Once I got over the frustration of using it as a camera, I’m able live with its weaknesses because I’m attracted to its strengths, which is a sharp lens and high resolution files.

In many ways, this is the same reason why people are attracted to Sigma cameras. They are slow as a turtle, but the image quality makes up for it. Some can live with that, some can’t.

If the 1020 was my only camera phone, I probably couldn’t live with it, which is why I use the camera on my iPhone 5 more often. However, as a specialty tool for static subjects, the Nokia is fine.

Cell phone photography has come a long, long way. It is the number one method of choice for most of the world’s population today. I don’t remember the numbers, but more people take and share photos with their phone cameras than any other type of camera by a wide margin. You don’t even need a poll to know this. You can see it every day!

To me however, cell phone camera quality still lags behind the best point and shoot cameras, but it is getting there.

It may be too soon to call the Nokia Lumia 1020 a Camera Legend, but if any cell phone camera deserves a spot on the list of legends, the Lumia 1020 should definitely be considered.

WHERE TO BUY

The Lumia 1020 is now easily found and the prices very affordable. If looking for one of these, prices are trending at $100-200 on eBay, with $200 on the high end. You may even find them under $100, but these usually have cracked screens and other flaws.

Your best bet for a safe purchase on the 1020 is probably through AMAZON. Especially since today is CYBER MONDAY I would definitely check for deals if I were in the market for this phone!