Nokia unveiled PureView at MWC a couple of days ago. A lot has already been said about it. Most of the tech & mainstream press seems fixated on the 41MP sensor & some fools have even begun comparing it with the utterly immense Nikon D800!
Rather, what it does, or will do, is allow users to take remarkably clean pictures at more sensible 5MP or 8MP resolutions. There is not much sense in taking a full res 34/38MP pic & then pixel-peeping it on a PC monitor. You can see an example of this when Stephen Elop took a pic of Myriam Joire & posted a zoomed crop on twitter here.
When you do this, all the PureView magic has already been discarded & you get a simple large jpg file. You might beat some compact cams & the N8 this way, due to the much better optics & the far larger sensor.
The magic really lies in the way zoom is handled in a constrained form factor, like a phone, or an enthusiast cam. You get a fixed aperture zoom, which is uncommon at any level of photography equipment. The best of this zoom mechanism? It eliminates noise, enabling super smooth & sharp 5MP/8MP images. For more technical details, check this DPR post.
This is also the reason why RAW output doesn’t make much sense, IMO. There is no software on our PCs that will do the pixel-binning for us. If/when that comes, RAW captures become useful.
Now, had Elop done the zooming, _before_ taking that pic, the results should have been quite remarkable indeed!
We shouldn’t be comparing the PureView results with other phones, or even most compact cams. It should be able to beat them quite handily, when used correctly. Instead, we should be comparing them to the 6MP/8MP entry level DSLRs from a few years ago, then we’ll get an idea of how astounding it really is, in a phone to boot!
PS: we have seen 2 major paradigm shifts in photography these past few months: 1) Lytro, 2) now PureView. I’ll be quite disappointed if dedicated cam vendors don’t explore them further….