How good is the N95 camera?

I was recently at the WOM World get-together in SF when we started discussing the some of the ways that Nokia should market the N-series devices, specifically the N95 vs iPhone issue. One of the things we all agreed on was that the camera on the N95 is a huge differentiator that Nokia really hasn’t been pushing as much as it should. People are so used to seeing crappy photos from devices like the Razr and the iPhone that they dont expect phones to have good cameras. I, on the other hand, have been using various variants of the N95 for well over a year and the camera is so good that I can honestly say that I will never buy a point-and-shoot camera again. People who see the shots are blown away by the quality of the images and often wont believe that they are from a cameraphone. Additionally the fact that I can use ZoneTag to upload, tag and geotag photos directly from the phone means that I upload way more photos from my phone than I ever did with my point-and-shoot camera.

So anyway, I had a quick look at some of the photos I’ve taken over the last year and have pulled out a few of the really outstanding shots to demonstrate the quality of the N95 camera – hope you like them.

Monday 7:04 pm 6/25/07 Warrenton, Oregon
One of the first really great shots I took with the phone was this shot of the wreck of the Peter Iredale of the coast of Oregon. I took a bunch of photos of the wreck but I particularly like the contrasting colours in this picture. You can also see that the photo has been automatically geotagged using ZoneTag which allowed me to do 2-click upload the photo while on vacation while also suggesting the tags “shipwreck” and “beach”.

My first magazine photo
In case you have any doubts about the print quality of the images you should check out this photo of mine that was used in a full page advertisement in SportsCar magazine. The photo was taken with an N95 classic after I spun out at the track.


One of the things that people forget is that not only does the N95 take great photos but it also shoots 640×480 video at a full 30 fps. The above video was taken at a BMW club autocross using an N95 8GB (N95-2) on my homebrew track video setup. As you can see the picture is clear and skip free. The loud rustling sound is the wind noise from the air entering the cabin once you go above a certain speed. Also check out this trackday video that I made at Reno-Fernley Raceway using the same camera setup.

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210520081453
The two photos above are part of a set that I took from the front row of an Iron Maiden concert in San Antonio using my N95 classic. The concert environment with its combination low light, moving subjects, backlighting and audience jostling is pretty hostile to cameras and makes it super challenging to take clear photographs.

The biggest issue for me was the time it takes for the N95 camera to both switch on and also focus on its subject. I would often click the button to capture an interesting moment but the moment would be well past by the time the camera actually took its shot. I took about 150 photos on that day and roughly 40 were worth putting on Flickr with another 40-50 worth saving. Not a very good ratio but since people were having worse ratios with high-ish end cameras I certainly cant complain. Also being a cameraphone means that there are zero questions asked when you take it into the venue 😀


The last thing I want to share is some video that I shot from another Iron Maiden Concert (this time in Concord). This was from an N95 8GB NAM and as you can see the video is pretty damn good despite the tough camera conditions. The sound is once again the biggest issue – it just cant handle the loud noise and ends up clipping most of the audio.

All in all I can say that the N95 has a truly spectacular camera (for a phone) and it can easily be a replacement for a point-and-shoot camera. Plus if Nokia can fix the sound/clipping problems on the phone they should seriously market the N95 as a full-on camcorder replacement as well. The addition of easy uploads to Flickr and YouTube (the current Flickr share SUCKS!!!) would make this the perfect point-and-shoot photo and video capture device.

7 thoughts on “How good is the N95 camera?

  1. Agreed; I have one of the original N95’s and yeah, the photo and video portions of the phone drastically outperform pretty much all competitors I’ve seen. Great shots BTW.

  2. Great Video! I haven’t really gotten to play with the video on this N95-4, but have had the N82 for a bit and have taken a bunch. I’m pretty happy with it, I’ve been carrying around both for photos, and have found them to be about the same in daylight, but the difference comes into play at night or indoors. Have you had a chance to try the N82’s camera?

  3. I was a N95 fan for 2 years. I still think it’s the best phone ever made by Nokia, but you should try N82 too. I must say it has better picture quality. Don’t know why. Maybe because of the Xeon Light.

  4. I actualy have a Nokia N95 8gb and the camera’s quality is aweful when draging photos on the facebook.

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