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October 23, 2013

Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Arabian Peninsula

The days leading up to Nokia World were hectic for some. But for National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez it was an opportunity to spend some time with the new 6-inch screen Nokia Lumia 1520. Here’s what he thought of it and some of his favourite shots from Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this year Stephen Alvarez spent 10 days travelling around the Grand Canyon armed with nothing more than a Nokia Lumia 1020. The resulting videos and images are absolutely stunning, with one image making a three-page gatefold inside the cover on the October issue of National Geographic. But there’s a new kid in town. The Nokia Lumia 1520 is very much the bigger brother of the Lumia 1020, sporting a 6-inch display.

Although it only packs 20 megapixels against the 1020’s 41 megapixels, the results are no less stunning. “The image quality is fantastic” is Alvarez’s instant feedback, “every bit of the Lumia 1020’s”. The larger screen makes a difference, too.


“It’s easier to frame because you can see the image much larger,” Alvarez says of the device’s size, “but it isn’t so large that it’s cumbersome”. When doing really careful compositions, Stephen believes the Lumia 1520 makes short work of such tasks, citing the screen as being “remarkable”.

For a professional photographer, the ability to extract DNG (Digital Negative) image files from a device is crucial. Whether it’s to work further on the image in post-production, or whether to prove you have an un-tainted image (if you’re a journalist or gathering evidence, for example). With the Lumia 1520 comes support for DNG files, much to Stephen’s delight when he found out.

Amateur and professional photographers alike benefit from the fact there is zero compression in the file. Pulling more detail out of a shadow is just one example Alvarez offers before pointing out that the file size is comparable to what he sees from his DSLR.

The four images below, shot and selected by Stephen, come untouched from the camera. Unfortunately DNG image support has only just been announced and as such wasn’t available on Stephen’s device. We will be sharing some DNG files on Conversations before long, though. Meanwhile, check out Stephen’s work on the Nokia Lumia 1520 (click for full images).



“We’re in the sand dunes, quite a bit out of Abu Dhabi, close to the Arabian Nights Village. We wanted to just set the scene and to get out in a place that was identifiably on the Arabian Peninsula.”



“We’d been up on this dune, and I saw this come together out of the corner of my eye. The Lumia 1520 is great because it’s so fast. I just spun around and took this shot really quickly. We shot this in the evening and had great light: the golden hour – photographs are little poems made out of light. Nice guy and a great camel too.”



“That’s Capital Garden from the top of a hotel. Nighttime has been closed to mobile photography for so long because the sensors just couldn’t handle it. Pureview and the Lumia1520 opens that up. It works so well at night, it’s really incredible.”



“This is the Abu Dhabi skyline from heritage village, looking back towards it at night and it’s fully dark by now. And you know again, it just opens up the night. Half of that day that was closed to us before is now wide open.”

Follow Stephen – @alvarezphoto – on Twitter