Widespread camera "focus" issues with the Lumia 900

yipcanjo

Senior Member
Apr 2, 2008
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Seattle, WA
I've had my Lumia 900 since the pre-order availability date, so I've "kicked the tires" for a week and a half now. I love the phone, to be honest. The build-quality is great, the design is fabulous (in my opinion), it's the first phone I've owned that didn't require MAX volume to have a reasonable phone call, and the list goes on. I *really* like this phone. A lot.

That said, the camera has......issues -- and mainly with "focus", as far as I can tell -- perhaps also with white balance. Is everyone else seeing this? I returned to the AT&T store, tested an in-store phone (black, instead of cyan, which I have) and the issue was the same: open the built-in camera app, press on the screen to focus on something, snap the photo, and it comes out slightly out-of-focus. Strangely enough, the front-camera doesn't have this issue.

Wow.

Fortunately, it appears to be a "software issue", since I was able to grab another camera app -- SophieCam (which is pretty cool) -- and take *great* photos from the exact same phone. Here are two examples -- and in both cases I touched on the top of the shifter knob so that that would be the focus point.


(Taken with the built-in camera app. You'll notice that it appears to focus on everything *except* for the shifter knob, which is what I selected as the focal point.)


(Taken with the SophieCam camera app. You'll notice that the shifter knob is *very* much in-focus, and looks great -- aside from being grubby ;) )

So...is everyone else seeing this issue? Any fixes for it, aside from waiting for Nokia to resolve it? Thankfully, I trust that Nokia *will* fix the problem...but I hope it doesn't take too long. It seems that others are reporting this on Nokia Support, but my photos are a far cry from the awesome ones posted on this page.

Please...hurry up and fix this, Nokia!
 
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shea-bird

Senior Member
Feb 26, 2011
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Philadelphia
second pic is 1000x better. its amazing that universal software comes out better than the "finely tuned" nokia camera software...what a joke! can u snap some more pics with that sophiecam? I am on the edge of buying a 900 and the camera is my biggest concern at this point!
 

mercx

Member
Feb 15, 2007
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I absolutely agree that the camera appears to have issues on the Lumia 900. Compared to my Samsung Focus S, both the front and rear camera on the Lumia 900 are awful. I'm assuming that this is a software related issue as well. Comparing the built-in camera software between the Lumia 900 and the Focus S there are a lot of things that appear to be missing or that just don't work in the Lumia 900.

Here's one for you...

Open the camera and try changing the ISO setting... Does anything actually change for you? I see the phone blink for a second but the ISO level NEVER actually changes. The white balance also doesn't appear to be working quite right. Most of the test pictures I've taken appear to be more red then I think they should be.

I'd like to know what others see when they do the following...

Open the built-in camera app and zoom in all the way on an item and what do you see? I can tell you that when doing this on the Lumia 900 that I have the image is horrible blurred/pixelated (even after focusing). Now I know its digital zoom and I understand what that does but compared to the Samsung Focus S the image quality is horrendous. I'll post pics below for you to see the comparison of full zoomed between the two phones.


Nokia Lumia 900 - Full Digital Zoom 1


Samsung Focus S - Full Digital Zoom 1


I have uploaded more pictures comparing both full digital zoom and ISO levels between these two devices on my server at the link below.
http://www.noboundrees.com/FocusS_Lum900_Compare/
 
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foxbat121

Senior Member
Apr 27, 2006
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I agree and I would think the same thing, but apparently each vendor has the ability to "customize" the built-in app to some extent.
Camera app is the one that has very little customization room for venders. In fact since the 3rd party app is working fine, it means the driver is ok and what's wrong is probably in the latest 8117 OS build.
 

yipcanjo

Senior Member
Apr 2, 2008
412
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Seattle, WA
Here are a few more photos...


(Normal mode, built-in camera app)


(Macro mode, built-in camera app)


(SophieCam camera app)


Strangely, the "normal mode" photo with the built-in camera app performed *fairly* well in this case, but the SophieCam snapshot is noticeably better.

To answer a couple of other questions:

1) YES, I know what macro mode is, and these pictures didn't require that. I would appreciate it if you'd give other forum members the benefit of the doubt that we're not complete idiots.

2) While SophieCam is free, it does not appear to take photos in full resolution. Bummer. That said, it's fun to use, and is really intended as an Instagram-type photo app -- quickly uploading "filtered" photos to Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr.

I do wish I'd done more testing before the latest update, since I don't know if things have gotten worse or better since. I'd also like to know how widespread this issue is. Everyone? Just some? Earlier phones only?
 

yipcanjo

Senior Member
Apr 2, 2008
412
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0
Seattle, WA
second pic is 1000x better. its amazing that universal software comes out better than the "finely tuned" nokia camera software...what a joke! can u snap some more pics with that sophiecam? I am on the edge of buying a 900 and the camera is my biggest concern at this point!
"Yes", it's discouraging to see camera issues at this point, but I'm hopeful about two things: 1) it's only a software issue, since another camera app can take wonderful photos using the same hardware, and 2) Nokia *will* fix this problem. They actually care about supporting their phones, supporting the camera quality, and they know that the company is riding on a successful WP7 rollout. They WILL make this right. Question is...how quickly?
 

ragingclue

Senior Member
Nov 9, 2008
147
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Umm there was a post either here or in a review where they determined Macro is a must even when not taking close-ups, and had various other recommended settings. I entered those and my pics have been better since then. All pics seem to be more in focus with Macro on. I know it shouldn't be that way, but it seems to be at the moment.

I should mention I haven't yet taken any true Macro pics though, so I can't speak for those.

Sent from my Lumia 900 using XDA Windows Phone 7 App
 
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go0gle

Senior Member
Mar 15, 2010
115
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Santa Cruz, CA
you guys should tweet Damian, he is head of imaging @ Nokia and he e a really cool guy.. always responds to camera problems. I am sure they are working on a some camera updates. The hardware in the L900 is capable of more, than what the software allows it to be right now.

http://twitter.com/#!/phonedaz

The problem for Nokia is that they have to switch from their own platform where they have full control, to a controlled OS where they don't have the access, nor the expertise to make a real difference, at least not yet. It will take a while.
 

yipcanjo

Senior Member
Apr 2, 2008
412
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0
Seattle, WA
Umm there was a post either here or in a review where they determined Macro is a must even when not taking close-ups, and had various other recommended settings. I entered those and my pics have been better since then. All pics seem to be more in focus with Macro on. I know it shouldn't be that way, but it seems to be at the moment.

I should mention I haven't yet taken any true Macro pics though, so I can't speak for those.
Hmm. I'd be interested to know what the "secret settings" are to make things look a bit better. Any chance you could find that thread and report back?

you guys should tweet Damian, he is head of imaging @ Nokia and he e a really cool guy.. always responds to camera problems. I am sure they are working on a some camera updates. The hardware in the L900 is capable of more, than what the software allows it to be right now.

http://twitter.com/#!/phonedaz

The problem for Nokia is that they have to switch from their own platform where they have full control, to a controlled OS where they don't have the access, nor the expertise to make a real difference, at least not yet. It will take a while.
I don't have a Twitter account -- and I'm not going to create one just for this -- but I'd certainly appreciate it if someone else could send him a tweet, maybe reference this thread, and then see what he says.

Yes... Nokia doesn't have the control they used to, but we're not talking about being BETTER WITH THE CAMERA than everyone else (like we know Nokia ought to be), we're talking about simply taking nice-quality photos without having things focused incorrectly. The Lumia 900 *ought* to be able to do that right now, and it just doesn't. Yes, they'll fix it, but it shouldn't be an issue at all.
 

Lmuggs

Member
Jul 4, 2007
21
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Here is another related thread from Nokia Support. Specifically, they talk about the camera "trying to focus", and then bumping back to some sort of preset. I've seen this *exact* behavior, as the camera appears to focus properly, and then just before taking the photo it either bumps OUT OF FOCUS or decides to focus on something else entirely. Very strange.
That's exactly what I notice also. The picture looks great on the screen then when I go to take the picture it bumps out of focus. Frustrating...
 

ragingclue

Senior Member
Nov 9, 2008
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Hmm. I'd be interested to know what the "secret settings" are to make things look a bit better. Any chance you could find that thread and report back?
Ok the link was posted by XDA user shiftF7 in this thread here. Specifically this post.

The link goes to his review here.

Also, I've normally found if people figure out what ISO and Exposure do and how it relates to the photos they're unhappy with, they can make situational adjustments. That's not going to help the auto-unfocus issue and general graininess of Marco distance photos, but maybe it can help for the time being until Nokia comes out with a tweak in an update, which I'm sure won't be far away. My pictures generally do look better after reading that thread. YMMV
 
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go0gle

Senior Member
Mar 15, 2010
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I don't have a Twitter account -- and I'm not going to create one just for this -- but I'd certainly appreciate it if someone else could send him a tweet, maybe reference this thread, and then see what he says.
Done. I will post here if he responds.

And ya, it sucks that the camera app/drivers are not doing a good job.. at least we know it isn't the hardware, which would be worse.

Here is GSMarena's take on it, they are usually pretty good when it comes to camera testing..

http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_lumia_900_att-review-748p5.php

"The Lumia 900 captures decent photos with accurate colors and good contrast. The amount of resolved fine detail is not among the best we've seen and there's also lots of noise when viewing the photos at 100% zoom. Still, the Lumia 900 has accurate white balance and the dynamic range is as impressive as it was on the N9 and the Lumia 800. As a result, images from the camera look pretty well when not zoomed at 100% so if you are not pixel peeping as we are, you will be perfectly alright with what comes out of the camera"
 
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