Hey, didn’t I post just yesterday that Nokia’s N86 was the best camera phone EVAR?
Indeed I did. I’m not trying to contradict myself here; instead I merely wish to point out a couple of issues that prospective N86 owners should be aware of. You can decide for yourself how important they are.
Exhibit A: Panora-meh.
Maybe it’s because photo-stitching is a bad idea with a wide-angle lens, or maybe it’s because I suck at such things. But try as I might I could not for the life of me get a halfway decent result in the N86’s panorama mode.
Click through to each photo’s Flickr page and see what went wrong with each. The third photo came closest to yielding acceptable results, but there are errors in all three…
Exhibit B: (not so much) Macro.
I’m not terribly impressed by the macro mode on the N86 (or any of the Nseries handsets I’ve tried, for that matter). I just can’t get as close to what I’m shooting as I’d like to, like this big bag of betel nuts in Taipei, for example:
The odd thing is that while focusing the lens will often lock on my subject for a split-second, then lose it completely. Maybe this hack for macro video recording would also work in photo mode?
Exhibit C: Here we go again…
N97 owners are all too familiar with Nokia’s destructive camera lens cover. Well, guess what — the cover on this N86 is doing the same thing. See that line just below the lens?
The saving grace here is that the cover is not scratching the glass directly over the lens, per se, due to its modified design. But Nokia could have avoided this uproar altogether with more metal painted plastic around the lens, as they did with their own N79:
I’m not personally sold on the lens cover idea at all, and my opinion is that a thick, clear shield over the lens (as in the N95 8GB and N97 Mini) is the way to go.
And on the subject of cameras…
Exhibit D: Front-facing camera… WTF?!1!
Imagine my surprise to discover that the front-facing camera on Nokia’s imaging flagship has a lower resolution than the N97 before it — CIF vs. VGA. The pixel count isn’t much different but the resulting video sure is!
Here are two streamed Qik videos, recorded in the same location at the same time of day with the same settings. The only difference between the two is the slightly weaker Canadian winter sun.
N86 (352×288 pixels), recorded yesterday:
N97 (640×480 pixels) recorded last summer::
While the front-facing camera might never be used on most handsets, I’m a big of Qik and use it quite often with my screen facing me. Maybe this is why Qik’s running a contest right now with the 1st-gen N97 as the prize?
So there they are, my photo and video-related issues with the N86. Are they enough to steer you towards another device? It’s certainly giving me pause for thought…