August 29, 2013 9:10 am

National Geographic photographer explores American West with Nokia Lumia 1020

Award-winning National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez has used a Nokia Lumia 1020 to capture stunning images during a unique storytelling expedition in the iconic America West.

Nokia Lumia 1020 on assignment with National Geographic

Critics have already hailed the Lumia 1020 as the greatest smartphone camera ever made, but what would a professional photographer make of it, especially on a tough assignment?

Here is a video of his adventure, also shot on the Nokia Lumia 1020:

“The Nokia Lumia 1020 performed like a DSLR under every condition—from low light to moving airplanes,” says Stephen.

“Since the Nokia Lumia 1020 is so small and light I can actually compose shots from some pretty crazy positions. I find myself being much more creative with this little phone than I might be with my DSLR.”

“It’s amazing to me as a professional photographer that I can come to a vast landscape, like the American West, and only carry my phone.”

Capturing the Wild West

The expedition across Utah and Arizona took Stephen Alvarez to some of the most beautiful sights in the United States, including the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River and Monument Valley.

The Lumia 1020 performed heroically in changing conditions for the entire 10-day trip. Nokia Pro Camera, in particular, impressed Stephen:

“The Nokia Lumia 1020’s Pro-Camera mode gives me complete control over all the functions in an easy to use interface. I can manually set shutter speed, ISO, and white balance so I can get the picture exactly where I want it. With the 41 mega-pixel sensor I can take in wide expanses and get results that are good enough for professional use.”

The trip was undertaken to challenge the imaging capabilities of the Lumia 1020 to its full limits, the results can be seen on the National Geographic website at and in the special 125th Anniversary Photography Edition of the National Geographic Magazine.


Here is a selection of the photos taken by the National Geographic’s Stephen Alvarez with a Nokia Lumia 1020 during his expedition.

This is what Stephen had to say about them:

“What the Nokia Lumia 1020 does astounds me – these results, from a smartphone, are stunning. I have used a lot of camera phones so when I set out on this assignment I had my doubts, my doubts are gone – nothing else compares.”

Click through on each image to see the full hi-res version.

Nokia Lumia 1020 on assignment with National Geographic
Sunset at Cape Royal on the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Nokia Lumia 1020 on assignment with National Geographic
Kayak ride through a Face canyon in Lake Powell

Nokia Lumia 1020 on assignment with National Geographic
Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River south of Page, Arizona. Zoom in on the hi-res image to see if you can spot the campsite!

Nokia Lumia 1020 on assignment with National Geographic
Driving toward the “Courthouse” in Arches National Park, Utah

Nokia Lumia 1020 on assignment with National Geographic
Riding Moab’s slick rock bicycle trail

You can see the full selection of images at from today.

Updated October 1, 2015 2:48 am