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When Nokia's '41-megapixel' PureView camera clicked for me

Sure, I understood the concept behind the Nokia 808 PureView's mega-whopping camera, but CTIA drove it home.

Nokia 808 PureView
The Nokia 808 PureView's menu options look slick and provide customization options.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

NEW ORLEANS--When you're stuck in the tornado of a cell phone conference, it's sometimes hard to savor what you see. I had sought out the Nokia 808 PureView at Mobile World Congress. I mean, a 41-megapixel camera -- how could I not investigate?

However, it wasn't until I had spent some time digging into the mechanics behind the phone camera that I started to really appreciate what the PureView camera does differently.

Here at CTIA is where it began to click. I had a moment to actually peruse the camera menus and take the test shots I wanted to see how oversampling worked in a meaningful way.

Over-what-ing? Oversampling, for the uninitiated, is Nokia's chosen term for what happens with the 41-megapixel camera, which will usually resolve into a 3-, 5-, or 8-megapixel shot, depending on how you set your preferences (you'll have a choice of three custom programs, by the way).

In a very tiny nutshell, oversampling means that the camera gathers 41 pixels worth of information, which it condenses down into a 5-megapixel shot (or other settings). When you zoom in for a closer look, or blow up an image, or even print it out, it won't look as muddled or blocky as blowing up an image could with some photos, since the digital information is already there.

If that doesn't make much sense to you, my recent article on demystifying camera megapixels might help.

Nokia 808 PureView
I shot this delicious cranberry muffin using the 5-megapixel lens and "zoomed in" to see very fine detail. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

If you're already a pro, you may appreciate one of the better sample shots I took with the 808 PureView (above) in a terribly-lit CTIA meeting room. Alas, it is the sugary crust of my cranberry muffin, and not the great outdoors, or one of New Orleans' famous jazz spots. So perhaps you won't fully appreciate my immortalized breakfast after all.

Catch all the latest news from CTIA 2012.