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February 17, 2014

On an assignment in Afghanistan with a Lumia

All the everyday journalists out there know how useful it is to have a device like the Lumia 1020 in your pocket.

It has a great camera, and being a smartphone, the chances are that it’s always with you, allowing you to capture all the unexpected moments and events you may come across in your daily adventures.

Excellent image and video quality, small form factor and portability also make the Lumia 1020 an ideal camera choice when embarking on a journalistic assignment in places like Afghanistan, where journalists walking around with attention-grabbing DSLRs may not always get a friendly reception.

I had a chance to talk to Pauliina Ståhlberg, a journalist at YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company), who had recently returned from her latest assignment to Afghanistan. For the second time, she was there to train some local female journalist on video journalism and photography – using Nokia smartphones.

Pauliina in Bamyan, Afghanistan. The demolished Buddha statues as the backdrop.


“If you are a western, a female, a journalist or a teacher, the chances are that you won’t be greeted with welcoming arms. Yet there I was, on an assignment, ticking all the dangerous boxes,” she says.

“Understandably I didn’t feel that comfortable carrying my regular cameras and normal set of equipment with me all the time, so was happy to have and use the Lumia 1020 instead,” she continues.


Lumia – a great companion

Pauliina explains that in addition to being small and invisible, the Lumia 1020 feels less aggressive – it’s makes shooting more natural and relaxed. It was easier to get closer to people, compared to using a regular camera.

Local female security guards at the women’s beach in Band-E-Amir National Park.
A local security guard admiring the beauty of the Band-E-Amir National Park.


Thanks to Nokia Camera and optical image stabilization (OIS), she was also very pleased with the pictures she took in low-light conditions and when shooting a video.

Pauliina says: “I was surprised to see that the video I captured in a moving car was much more stable than what the situation was in reality.”

“And with the good low-light image quality, I found that I didn’t have to be so pressed with time and could extend my working hours up until the sunset to get the photos I needed taken,” she adds.


For the local female journalist in Afghanistan, a smartphone with a good camera is also the ideal choice. It’s small, easy to use and something they can easily carry with them without drawing too much attention. And it’s also less likely their male colleagues will take possession of their smartphone cameras, as they are more personal than regular cameras.

Heading home. Bamyan airport, Afghanistan.


It’s not only on assignments far away from home when the Lumia 1020 comes handy. Pauliina doesn’t tend to carry DSLR with her all the time, so having a smartphone with a good camera really changes the way one can capture interesting and unexpected moments as they unfold in real time.

Have you been on a journalistic assignment where a smartphone camera has been a better choice over a DSLR? Let us know in the comments below.