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Christmas Gift Guide

Putting the Lumia 1020's 41-megapixel camera to the test

Om nom nom

Good enough to eat

Close crop

Low light

Not as good

Into the fire pit

En fuego

Sharper than it looks

Crop in a little

Even closer

Between shoots

In full bloom

More flowers

Fun with focus

Fun with focus, Part 2

Landscape

Front-facing shots

And now inside

Putt-putt

Zoom, zoom, baby

Closer...

Not done yet

Portrait

Group shot

Not bad

Exposed

Warm flash

Texture king

Light versus dark

Studio shot

Near and far

Most smartphone cameras these days claim 8- or 13-megapixel cameras, which is why Nokia's 41-megapixel claim for the Lumia 1020 sounds so grand, and so impossible.

These shots were all taken with the Nokia Pro Cam app. Unless specified, they were shot in automatic mode and have been resized. Check out our camera shootout for comparison photos with other smartphones.

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This kid loves his snacks.

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This taco platter looks sharp, focused, and delicious.

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I cropped into the original image very closely to reveal the detail captured in the leaves and separate blades of grass.

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You see rice grains and the table's texture in this low-light shot, which isn't washed out or overly lit with flash.

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Another low-light shot, but this time the saffron sauce surrounding the squash isn't as sharp as it should be.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Playing with the ISO and exposure mode got me this flame; taking the same photo with automatic modes in the native camera app just gave me a big, hazy, bright fireball with no depth or definition.

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The same goes for this majestic fountain of flame.

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I shot this photo of a storefront because I liked the juxtaposition of the mural and the dress. Only afterward did I notice the bag reading "Good grammar is sexy."

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To test the lossless zooming, I cropped in from a picture similar to the previous one (I used a slightly different angle to take in the T-shirts to the left of the bag).

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Then, I cropped even more. The original photo captured so much detail, you can see the jagged edges of the bag's stitched lettering.

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This quickly snapped candid shot takes in the scene perfectly, but I expected faces to come out a little sharper.

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Fine detail and bright, saturated color make this photo a winner. The camera autoenhanced this picture to boost color richness and contrast, which is a good thing in this case. An overcast day like today eliminates shadows that can help tease out how good a camera is at dealing with more difficult (but common) conditions.

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It's nice to see the variegated petal colors come through.

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We tested out the 1020's agility in hopping between two focus points. Here, I'm in focus.

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Now, my ice cream takes center stage.

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The Lumia 1020 captured the moment when I shot this landscape scene, but it's so far away, the features all blend together.

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I was happy with the color and evenness in this front-facing photo, taken outdoors in front of a local San Francisco food truck.

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Working and snacking while assessing the front-facing shooter.

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The hot summer sun threw sharp shadows. You can almost feel the heat through this pic.

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Ready for another demonstration of the Lumia 1020's cropping skills? Here's the original photo.

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Now we get closer.

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And closer still...

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The closest crop is a little grainy, but it's still easy to make out sharp edges and detail.

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The 1020 overemphasized amber tones in this indoor photo of CNET's crew, and some faces weren't as distinct as others.

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This photo was shot using full Auto settings. You can clearly see both the sky and the house, as well as the texture of the clouds.

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This photo was shot with a 1.7 exposure compensation. It's brighter, but at the expense of cloud detail.

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Camera flash often blues out an image. The light here is warm, even if skin looks a little jaundiced in spots.

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Gorgeous texture in the sculpture makes this photo feel very true-to-life.

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This stress test shows how the 1020 balances the bright outside light and the room's dark interior. Instead of exposing for the light and making the interior really dark, it kept the inside of the room the right tones while keeping the outside lit. The camera gets points for avoiding extremes.

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Here, the Lumia 1020 goes through the same camera test as a typical standalone CNET camera. There's excellent detail and noise control.

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CNET camera editor Joshua Goldman photographed this New York skyscraper to test two things: the 1020's proficiency with landscapes, and how much noise it creates when you zoom close in on the focal point.

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