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The Penguin Beach at London Zoo

Any gadget fan will tell you that there is nothing they enjoy more than getting their hands on a shiny new toy and taking it out of the box for the first time.

So you can imagine my delight when I got my hands on a brand new, box-fresh Nokia 808 PureView last week. Right now, it is one of the shiniest new toys around.

Let’s not forget that the 808 PureView isn’t just another camera phone – it features a revolutionary 41-megapixel sensor, state of the art optics and cutting edge algorithms for lossless zoom and super sharp images.

The reviewers have already been falling over themselves to heap lavish praise on the 808 PureView’s stunning camera and now it is going to be my turn to reach for the superlatives.

Naturally, the only way I could contain my excitement was to take the device with me on a trip to the zoo.

First impressions

Nokia 808 PureView

First, though, let me share my initial thoughts about the look and feel of the Nokia 808 PureView.

Yes, the first thing you notice when taking it out of the box is the ‘bump’ that houses the camera. 

Far from being incongruous, the phone feels very comfortable and natural in your hand. In fact, the ridge of the camera gives the index finger a natural resting place when you’re holding the phone upright with the screen towards you. 

A neat by-product of the camera’s bump occurs when the 808 PureView is put on a flat surface, such as a table or desk. It props the phone up at a slightly raised angle, which tilts the screen towards you and makes it easier to keep an eye on any alerts, messages or just so you can see the time. 

Standing out

So, as far as I’m concerned, the bump is very much a good thing – and that’s before we get to its core purpose of taking photos. Of course, it also makes the 808 PureView stand out from the crowd and that’s definitely where this phone deserves to be.

The 808 PureView is a little heavier than, say, my Nokia Lumia 800 but not outrageously so. If you have a thick protective case on your Lumia smartphone, then it would probably make up the difference.

As ever, the ClearBlack display is a thing of deep beauty and the phone’s body feels sturdy and tactile. Also, the loudspeaker is fantastic for playing your music out loud. Very loud.

Capturing the Zoo

London Zoo

During the summer months of June and July, London Zoo at Regent’s Park opens late on Friday evenings to give visitors a walk on the wild side with a nocturnal twist.

For my visit, there was a brief respite from the unseasonal rain showers and the fading light made it an ideal opportunity for me to put the 808 PureView’s camera through its paces.

At this stage, I should confess that I am not a particularly accomplished photographer. I am strictly of the ‘point, press and pray’ school of taking pictures.

With that in mind, I mainly left the camera’s setting in ‘Automatic’ mode. For most people, most of the time, this will let you take great pictures. 

Looking through glass

London Zoo

In my defence, the zoo was not an easy place to be experimenting with the advanced and creative settings on the 808 PureView.

The animals were often behind glass screens and I had to contend with large crowds to even get a sight of the more popular zoological exhibits. Often, I had to hold the camera above everyone’s head and just hope for the best.

That being said, the 808 PureView was a revelation. Professional photographers must hate the fact that modern cameras have made it so easy to take such good photos.  Now, of course, thanks to this leap forward with Nokia’s PureView technology, you don’t even need an expensive digital SLR camera to do it.

The greatest benefit of using the 808 PureView was the confidence that it gave me. After monitoring my first few pictures, I had total faith that it was not going to let me down.

Turn on the camera, tap the screen to focus on the subject and take the picture. It produced great results every time.

Long distance champion

London Zoo

One feature of the 808 PureView that I found astonishing was how it made a mockery of distance.

You take a picture and then when you are looking at the picture on your phone’s screen, you pinch in to zoom into a particular detail or part of the photo. And pinch, pinch and pinch again to go even closer.

It’s great for spotting things that you hadn’t even realised were, quite literally, right in front of you. 

A decade of progress

The joy of using the 808 PureView was heightened considerably by comparing my photos with those of my companion, who was using her smartphone’s camera. The difference in the sharpness, clarity and detail was satisfyingly massive.

The Nokia 7650, which had a 0.3-megapixel sensor, was Nokia’s first phone with a built-in camera when it came out in 2002.

Ten years on, the Nokia 808 PureView is yet another landmark device. The photos compare favourably with those taken on my very good digital compact camera.

Quite simply, unless you’re a serious photography connoisseur, you won’t need a standalone camera if you have an 808 PureView.

The new deal with Scalado shows that Nokia is not being complacent about its imaging expertise either. Who knows what the next decade could bring?