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Nokia’s 41MP Lumia 1020 wants to reinvent photography

Nokia thinks the evolution of the camera lies in having a massive sensor and a great software experience on a smartphone. The Lumia 1020 is the company’s attempt at realizing that evolution, with Windows Phone under the hood.

There has been a lot of chatter for a while about Nokia’s next crazy camera phone. A 41MP camera mounted on the back of the 808 PureView wasn’t enough to move it from shelves, but Nokia seems to think that the work it has done with Microsoft and Windows Phone and the Lumia 920 line to create a more balanced and beautiful device. Stephen Elop introduced the 1020 today with a polycarbonate unibody casing that looks and feels very similar to the Lumia 920 series, save for the massive disc on the back. That rear shell holds a backside illuminated sensor with six lens components that is designed to outperform the competition in every photographic environment.

nokia lumia 1020Instead of taking massive 41MP photos, the 1020 actually takes 5MP photos. What makes these 5MP photos different from all the others is the ability to oversample seven pixels for every one pixel you’d expect from a normal camera. This same technology is used in videos as well, allowing you to use optical zoom without suffering from the normal blur issues you’d normally when using this tech in a normal smartphone.

The huge disc on the back of the phone also includes physical stabilization features to make it easier for you to take photos and video without blur or shake. Nokia’s big focus here isn’t taking huge photos or video, but taking amazing web-ready photos with better control of the image you are taking.

Nokia Lumia 1020

The software that goes along with the impressive hardware is just as important — basically Nokia thinks that they have this one in the bag. Today’s demonstration showed the ability to take one huge photo and an oversampled one at the same time, as well as the ability to return to the huge photo to focus on different things than what you originally wanted. Nokia Pro Camera is the app used to accomplish this, and includes a whole new UI and feature set for Windows Phone. Being able to manually control focus and exposure with detail that is typically reserved for real photos is a big focus for Nokia, who claims to have user friendly tutorials to make this something everyone can use.

The Lumia 1020 comes with Windows Phone 8, with the same feature set we’ve seen with previous Nokia smartphones. The Nokia enhancements to Windows Phone do quite a bit to improve the base operating system, with their maps and text translation apps. Their native AR apps for navigation and NFC photo sharing tools are all included, which is to be expected from a Nokia Windows Phone. Nokia is granting Windows Phone developers access to a special SDK for the new camera as well, with software partners that have already announced support in their apps soon. Many of these apps will be available on launch day in the Windows Phone store.

Nokia has also announced a pair of accessories for the Lumia 1020. For photography fans, Nokia has a special camera grp to make it easier to take photos and videos. The snap in casing offers some extra physical buttons, as well as an extra 1020mAh battery in the camera grip. The phone will also have a snap on casing for wireless charging, as well as third party accessories from JBL and Monster to be announced soon.

The Lumia 1020 will come in yellow, white, and black as an ATT exclusive in the US. Pre-order for this phone starts on July 16 for $299 on a new contract, with a launch date of July 26.

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