Review of Lumia 920’s Video Recording Quality

The Lumia 920 is the first smartphone with optical image stabilization. Does it live up to the hype?

Positives:
Yes, it lives up to the hype. Whenever you are holding a phone in your hand while recording, the Lumia 920 is incredibly smoother than other devices like the Galaxy Nexus. Yes, the Galaxy Nexus is a year-old phone, but any modern smartphone will suffer the same shakiness since they do not have optical image stabilization.

I did a variety of tests to prove that optical image stabilization makes a big difference. I performed the infamous bicycle test by holding both phones in one hand at the same time, and the difference was impressive. The 920’s video looked nearly as great as an $800 personal camcorder. Seriously, I compared the 920 to my camcorder and it was nearly identical!

I also performed walking tests with a variety of methods of holding both phones. The Lumia 920 was always the clear winner in terms of smoothness and stability.

Neutrals:
However, the 920 has no advantage if both phones are propped up against something. For example, if you prop both phones up against a wall and run across the camera screen, the Lumia 920 doesn’t perform any better or any worse than a Galaxy Nexus in terms of smoothness (their frame rates are similar and none have motion blur).

Also, in low-light conditions, the Lumia 920 provides no advantage compared to the competition. All modern smartphones seem to have perfected low-light filming and no longer suffer from slow frame rates like older HTC devices used to have. But if you’re holding the phones while recording, the image stabilization of course makes the Lumia 920’s video look smoother.

Negatives:
The Lumia 920 has issues with color balance and often randomly changes the color of the video while filming. This problem is quite obvious in the walking down the street video. The Lumia randomly makes the video more yellow, then briefly goes back to normal, and then returns to the yellow tint. This is likely an issue with the white balance overzealously trying to adapt to the scene while filming.

Also, videos from the Lumia are generally too “warm”, too yellow/red, or too vivid. Videos from the Galaxy Nexus are too blue and could use a little warmer touch. Therefore, both phones fail to accurately represent the scene, and both can improve in this section.

Both of these issues are software-related and could be fixed by software updates. Hopefully Nokia can deliver an update solving these issues! (This section was edited 1:43 PM Arizona Time, 11/21/2012)

Overall:
The Lumia 920 films smoother video when phones are held by a human and aren’t perfectly steady. Optical image stabilization works, and it makes a big difference. Unless you’re a god at holding a phone steady, your videos will be significantly improved by the 920. However, the 920 suffers from color balance issues. Sharpness and video quality was not considered in this comparison as I do not have a modern smartphone like the S3 to compare with.

 

Watch all video comparisons: YouTube Playlist

Download raw video samples: SkyDrive Folder



About Author

Andrew is strongly invested in Windows Phone as a developer of numerous apps and a future employee with Microsoft. He takes a critical and unbiased approach to reviewing products and software. Even though he loves Windows Phone, Andrew will tell things as they truly are, without any sugar coating.