Can The Microsoft Lumia 950 Replace Your DSLR Camera?

Lumia 950 XL photography

The new Lumia 950 and 950 XL take better pictures than any other smartphone

By Stephen Pate – With the soon-to-be-released Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL, it looks like the Lumia team have built a smartphone that can replace a DSLR. Other than zoom and depth of field, there doesn’t seem to be any compromise in the photographs taken by the Lumia 950 XL.

The photos posted by Juha Alakarhu, Director, cameras for phones at Microsoft are stunningly vivid and detailed. The photos look like pictures taken by a high quality DSLR not a phone. They were taken on at least two different Microsoft Lumia 950 XL prototype smartphones.

Here are a few of his amazing Nokia 950 pictures. It is hard to compare these Lumia 950 photos with iPhone 6s or Samsung Galaxy 6S since most sites are not posting raw images. Ironically, the iPhone 6s is only #10 on the ranking of best smartphone cameras according to the detailed reviews at Digital Photography Review – DxOMark.

None of the photos have been re-touched or edited with software like Photoshop. I verified each photo was the original through examination of the meta data, analysed them on FotoForensics analysis and verified it with Mr. Alakarhu. More on that later.

Outdoor Portrait

Let’s consider this beautiful portrait of a Scandinavian girl, which makes sense since the Lumia comes from Nokia in Finland.

Lumia 950 XL outdoor portrait, Tampere Finland, Exposure Time 1/250, F Number 1.9, ISO 64, Average metering (Source Microsoft)

This stunning, detailed and natural photo was taken with a Lumia 950 XL on September 24th, 2015, in Tampere, Finland. It looks like a DSLR photo but it’s not. The Lumia 950 XL settings were exposure 1/250, f  1.9, ISO 64, and 16 megapixel. No flash was used and the subject was lit with natural light and an outdoor reflector.

The original photo is 5344 by 3008 pixels which is 4 MB and is too large to load on this site. The original is found at this link and you can look at it in detail there. There is almost no pixelization or camera noise at 100% magnification.  I am amazed at the detail of her hair and skin texture. It’s very natural.

Lumia 950 XL portrait 100% crop

Outdoor close-up

My brother loves taking close up photos of plants with his DSLR and a wide-angle lens. I think he sprays them with water for effect. This next shot is one he would appreciate for getting up close and capturing the fine detail and color of wet leaves.

Lumia 950 XL photo at Jämsä Finland, 3840 x 2160 pixels, shutter 1/155, aperture F 1.9, ISO 64, average metering, no flash (Photo Microsoft September 6, 2015)

The water droplets on leaves was taken in natural low light in a field in Finland. “The photo of the water drops has been taken in low-contrast daylight.”  The photo is stunning full-sized at 3840 x 2160 pixels which you can see by clicking here.

Again, here is the 100% crop that shows amazing detail, color and almost no noise. Smartphone cameras have limited depth of field which is obvious but then so would a DSLR close up lens.

100% crop of Lumia 950 XL photo at Jämsä Finland, shutter 1/155, aperture F 1.9, ISO 64, average metering, no flash (Photo Microsoft)

Are these photos real?

Whenever I see the manufacturer post stunning pictures, I wear my Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot hat. However, these photos seem to be the originals taken with a prototype Lumia 950 XL.

First, the meta data is all there for all the photographs in Mr. Alakarhu’s post. I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 and FotoForensics to check the metadata. That tells you what camera took the photographs, where they were taken by GPS location, the camera settings and tons of technical information.

Usually the metadata is stripped from sample pictures used to promote cameras so you can’t actually tell what has happened with the photo. Was it edited or the saved history.

The metadata told me interesting things. A Samsung Galaxy S6 took the natural low-light picture of the girl in the comparison with the 950XL. That was not revealed in the blog post.

Second, I ran all the blog photos through FotoForensics analysis to see if it could find any touch-ups. That came up negative.

My third and last check was to ask Mr. Alakarhu on Twitter.

Are @Lumia 950XL pics completely unedited on the blog post?

His answer was an unequivocal no. They were not edited.

Alakarhu twitter reply – no edits

I have owned iPhones, Android phones and Windows phones but nothing compares with these photographs. I will be ordering a Lumia 950 XL – the phone looks too good to resist. If it doesn’t match the posted examples, I can always return it.

Microsoft expects to ship the new Lumia 950 and 950XL phones in November.

The Lumia 950 with 5.2&Prime WQHD display, 20MP camera with ZEISS optics, 32GB storage/microSD 200GB capable and Windows 10 costs $549.00 unlocked in the US and $749 in Canada. The Lumia 950 XL has a larger 5.7&Prime display and costs $649 US and $849 in Canada.

Follow the links for more information from the Microsoft Store – Lumia 950/950XL from Microsoft Store USA  and Lumia 950XL from the Microsoft Store in Canada.

In the US, AT&T will carry the phone on 2-year plans. It is less expensive over 2 years to buy the unlocked phone from Microsoft.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

1 Comment

  1. This would make a great phone/camera for where ever I go. Travel, outdoors and social. The photos look great! DLSR quality in a phone is what I want! I will order it as soon as it is available!

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