Nokia Releases Their First Camera…with a Phone Attached: The N86

by Miserere


Nokia N86

Image source: endgadget.

If I told you somebody had released a pocketable digital P&S camera with an 8MP sensor, Carl Zeiss Tessar lens, mechanical shutter, dual-LED flash and capable of 1/1000s shutter speeds, would you find it attractive? I know I would!

But if I then told you that ‘somebody’ was Nokia, would you raise your eyebrows and say huh? I know I did! Nokia officially announced their new N86 camera—I mean, mobile phone today, although rumours had abounded for quite some time. See the full specs here.

As luck would have it, just last week I bought a new phone for the first time in 3 years, and although it has a camera, it probably isn’t as good as the Nokia N86’s. From browsing around some tech forums it appears that many photo enthusiasts are thrilled to have this camera-phone available and if IQ is any good, Nokia could not only make a killing, but also revolutionise the P&S market. Why am I saying this? Well, most of us carry a mobile phone with us, and if you’re reading this blog chances are you enjoy photography; do you always carry a camera with you? I try to, but even my digital P&S is often too bulky. So imagine you could always have little camera with you, a camera that has GPS (which even most expensive DSLRs don’t) and bluetooth (to allow wireless downloading) and an internet connection so you can upload photos to Flickr wherever you are. What P&S in the market today can do that?

Of course, this all hinges on the images from the Nokia N86 being of high quality, at least comparable to a standalone P&S. The lens offers a fixed (35mm equivalent) 28mm focal length with a relatively fast f/2.4-4.8 aperture range, while the CCD is a little under 6mm in length (about a 1/2.5″ sized sensor) with a 4:3 aspect ratio, providing 3280×2464 pixel files. Not bad on paper. I believe that if Nokia haven’t got it quite right in this incarnation, they probably will in the next. Because here is what makes this camera-phone different: the fact that they’ve enlisted Carl Zeiss for the lens tells us they’re serious about making the camera a quality component of the whole device, and not just an afterthought.

While some people will still buy standalone P&S cameras for the zoom lenses, there are many who will be very happy with a quality prime if it means they don’t have to carry a separate camera. So this may not mean the downfall of digital P&Ss as we know them, but it might signal the emergence of a new paradigm for convenience cameras.

And it seems you can also make phone calls with these things.


7 Responses to “Nokia Releases Their First Camera…with a Phone Attached: The N86”

  1. I should point out that Samsung also recently released an 8MP camera phone. What makes the Nokia stand out to me is that, while Samsung is also a manufacturer of digital cameras, Nokia has traditionally been a mobile phone company. That they are taking the camera component of their new phone so seriously gives me hope that a quality phone-camera convergence is close at hand.

  2. I’m thinking I need a new phone and something I canb incorperate into my photography would be a welcome choice.

  3. Nah, not interested. I’d really love to have a smartphone with no built-in camera. Hate those little buggers.

  4. As far as pictures are concerned, Sony Ericsson’s offerings are the best, and they seem to really make good use of the Carl Zeiss branding and technology (which I think Nokia just pays for the name and marketing spaz associated with it – not sure about this, though). I’ve checked photos from friends who have either the Sony Cybershot phones and Nokia N-series phones (I just have a plain GSM phone) and compared photo output from them. Sony wins hands down in the camera segment.

  5. […] has a new cell phone the N86. It is a minor case of déjà vu, as I recently wrote about the JVC GY-HM100U and Canon 5D […]

  6. I’m intrested, maybe. Will be watching developments, and saving nickles.


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