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GLOBAL – The Nokia N8 received a warm welcome when the covers were officially lifted yesterday. Of course, at its heart is one of the most advanced cameras ever seen on a mobile device. Not only does it set new standards for mobile cameras, but it also pushes at the doors of compact models. Alongside its ability to take stunning still images, the Nokia N8 also shoots video in 720p HD. We caught up with one of the key figures behind the Nokia N8’s camera, Nokia’s man on anything photographic, Damian Dinning. Read on after the jump to find out about the Nokia N8’s HD video smarts.

In brief

  • The Nokia N8 is the first to run Symbian^3
  • Its 12 megapixel sensor rivals compact cameras
  • HD video capture and HDMI included
  • N8 is carved from a single piece of aluminium
  • It will ship in Q3 2010

Dinning cites the detail as being one of the biggest surprises people get when seeing video from the Nokia N8 for the first time. Thanks to the large sensor, the team have managed to capture much more detail than ever before – crucial, obviously, for shooting HD video – and specially effective when the device is hooked up to a TV using HDMI. Dinning maintains that the team “have made a massive improvement over where we were a few months ago. We already thought that was pretty good, but felt we could get more out of it”. Looking at the sample video released this morning, that certainly seems to be the case. And that was done with a pre-production prototype, using software that’s still in development.

Check out the first sample images from the Nokia N8

Capturing good quality video needs decent quality audio to deliver a brilliant result. The team have been working on that, too. The Nokia N8 sports two microphones, one on the back of the device, near the camera, the second on the front. Behind these two microphones sits a range of algorithms created to tackle as many different scenarios as possible. To test the extremes, the team took the N8 and a range of competitor devices to a bar. Where the competitors struggled with the loud noise and music, the N8 was able to capture both the atmosphere, and the N8 user’s voice (thanks to the second mic on the front). It wasn’t just the positioning of the microphones which helped here, but the algorithm behind it which enabled clarity to come through.

Check out the first HD video sample from the Nokia N8

With 28mm wide angle optics the team have a huge depth of field to play with in the Nokia N8’s camera. They used this to their advantage when it came to video, using active hyper-focal distance. Subjects from 60cm up to infinity remain in focus when you’re shooting. The alternative of continuous auto focus wasn’t up to scratch so the team opted for active hyper-focal instead which negates the occasional ‘hunting behaviour’ found with continuous auto focus when the conditions aren’t right. The advantage the team have pulled out with the N8 is that if your subject is further than about 60cm away, they’ll remain in focus, even if your subject is running towards you.

The Nokia N8’s video abilities don’t stop at shooting either. Inside the device sits some smart on board editing – the most advanced seen in a Nokia device so far. Dinning sees the bigger display and touch interface offering a brilliant advantage in editing video directly on the device, and the combination of hardware and software has been something he believes people have been waiting for for a long time now.

Behind the Nokia N8 camera and imaging technology sits an orchestra of engineers and scientists dedicated to squeezing every last drop from the camera’s components. In every one of these engineers, perfection is the goal, creating natural looking images (both still and video) and putting high quality photography and video recording into the hands of many people as possible. With a light touch and his conductor’s baton Damian Dinning pokes and prods, making suggestions and offering advice to help make the finished result the best it can possibly be. Sitting between you as consumers and the R&D department, Dinning maintains a position of independence, with a decent understanding of both the technology and the needs of the consumer. The result is a mobile imaging device like no other, setting new benchmarks for imaging on the move.

On a more personal level, Damian also says that the N8 will now take the place of his home camcorder, given that he doesn’t have a HD offering at home. What’s more, he’s found the device ideal for his young family and creates the best opportunity for shooting video of them when out and about. On the downside, his wife is having the same thoughts. “She won’t stop badgering me for mine” Dinning says “she just seems to think it’ll be hers and thinks that what’s mine is hers and what’s hers is her own”. We think Damian should just stump up and buy her one when the device launches later in the year.

Read more about the Nokia N8