Nokia recently published a supposedly comical video advertisement which shows why its Lumia 1020 advanced camera phone with 41 megapixel 2/3-inch sensor is better than a professional DSLR.
Now, all jokes aside, is there really any basis for this claim? do we see any situation where a pro photographer or even an avid amateur photographer will replace his DSLR for a Lumia 1020?
Lets look at the Lumia 1020 first (we had a hands-on here last July when it was announced). The Lumia 1020 is a Windows Phone 8 based mobile device with a 41 megapixel sensor which is much larger than anything you will find on any other non-Nokia based smartphone (and larger than most sensors on point and shoot cameras, but still significantly smaller (and thus far less sensitive to light) than any mirrorless camera (let alone DSLRs of any sort).
The Lumia 1020 resolution on the other hand is much higher than what you have on any current DSLR – this means that Nokia had to squeeze lots and lots of pixels into a very small space – which ultimately got to cause more noise.
All this technical talk needs to interest you if you have any desire to shoot in any sort of low light conditions (and since there isn’t sunshine 24/7 everywhere – this is pretty much relevant to all of us). Now what about the size of the Lumia 1020 compared to a DSLR? well, the Lumia is definitely much smaller and lighter than any DSLR (or mirrorless for that matter – although a Sony RX100 II for example isn’t that much bigger and heavier and it is a pretty great compact camera with a larger sensor).
The problem is that we are not comparing the same thing here – the Lumia 1020 has a fixed 26mm (equivalent in 35mm) lens which you are more or less stuck with. A DSLR or mirrorless can have almost any lens you can find (from ultra wide to super telephoto). Can you really manage with just a 26mm lens? well you can, but you will be very restricted with what you can achieve even if you use crop – which is never a real substitute for a proper good quality lens.
Another point we see in the video is how easy and simple it is to use the Lumia 1020 over the large DSLR. Well, as any real photographer will tell you – the more physical dials and bottoms the better – they give you direct access to important shooting functions which otherwise will require you to search inside in menus and sub-menus – annoying and time consuming task.
Finally, even if you are O.K. with all of that – shooting with a camera is far more comfortable ergonomically. Yes, the Lumia has a case which gives you a little more grip, but its still far less comfortable than a real camera (especially DSLRs with a deep grip).
So, at the end of the day – we aren’t going to substitute our DSLR for a Lumia anytime soon. Its a nice companion device for a photographer when travelling when using a big heavy camera is a problem, but if you are even a little serious about photography we suggest you stick with a real camera.