Continuing the conversation with Wesley Lee

Hi all,I wasn't able to join in the live AMA with @WesleyLee but I want to echo what others said and say that we really appreciate any member of the HMD team (or your partners!) taking some time to answer our questions.

Continuing the conversation with Wesley Lee

madbilly madbilly
Super User  /  edited November 2019
Hi all,
I wasn't able to join in the live AMA with @WesleyLee but I want to echo what others said and say that we really appreciate any member of the HMD team (or your partners!) taking some time to answer our questions. We will never be wholly satisfied, we will always have more questions, always want more of your time and never be 100% satisfied or in agreement with your answers! But that it why I think that dialogue with the community is so important and rewarding for both HMD and us - the more we ask and answer the more we learn about each other and what motivates the other.
There were a few answers from Wesley that prompted more questions from me but I didn't have chance to write them before the thread closed, so here's my attempt at continuing the conversation:

Hi @Kirti Arora

thanks for the question. 

At the time of launch, Nokia 808 PureView was a great innovation – bringing zoom to a smartphone camera. At that time, there were no optical tele lens, no AI super resolution algorithm. Nokia 808 PureView was the first product to bring lossless zoom experience by cutting the pixel count approach. But there was a trade off in using the pixel counts to bring the lossless zoom experience or using the pixels count for pixel binning as a result of the more sensitive virtual pixel which is better for low light photography.

Imaging technology has advanced since then, AI has had an impact on imaging quality. Today, AI algorithms can enhance zoom quality a lot more compared to a few years ago. Also, tele lens solutions are a possibility in camera modules already – although it is relatively expensive right now.

In short, there are other options available to preserve pixels for pixel binning to enhance both low light and day time image quality and use either algorithms or tele lens approach or a mix of both to deliver great quality zoom pictures.

There are a few things I want to pick up on here:
1. Comparison with the 808 PureView is an interesting but obsolete benchmark, because the successor (the Lumia 1020 PureView) brought OIS and a backside-illuminated sensor whilst the later models brought further improvements in image processing and post-processing capabilities. The real benchmark which Wesley should have considered is the 950/950XL camera.
2. Referring to pixel-binning for the PureView cameras isn't quite correct AFAIK, because they actually used an oversampling method which is must more sophisticated than quad-pixel-binning, as it actually uses more than 4 adjacent pixels to create one pixel, e.g. going from 38MP to 8MP is not a factor of 4... nor is going from 20MP to 8MP...  Similar for video resolutions.
3. I don't know what is meant by "sensitive virtual pixel".... but the 950/950XL is excellent at lowlight photography, sometimes too good to be believable.
4. AI algorithms can enhance zoom quality... it would be nice to see some of these algorithms used on HMD's phones! I'm serious, this is not a joke. I haven't seen any digital zoom examples from HMD's phones which are anywhere near as good as the old Nokia PureView phones. My Nokia 8 may be two years old but it the ISP is still better than the one in the 7.2 and 6.2 (in fact only the 8.1 and 9PV have better ISPs) and its digital zoom is terrible - it's better to take the full photo and crop later; I cannot believe there is any "AI" used in it at all. I haven't been able to test other HMD phones but I believe they will be very similar - can anyone confirm?

PureView was so far in advance of the competition at the time it was on the market and in many ways it is still more sophisticated. I have yet to hear a good technical explanation as to why it is no longer suitable. Note that Oliver from ZEISS explained to me that it was difficult to fit such a large sensor and its lenses in a phone now because the trend is for thin-ness, but Xiaomi are showing that this is not the case any more with their 1/1.3" sensor (wow!).

Cheers :)

Edit: I'll explain my experience with the Nokia 8 a bit more. It is only a 13MP camera to compared to PureView models it has many less pixels, however, I don't see any technical reason why PureView algorithms could not (or indeed should not) be used.
At 13MP resolution I accept that oversampling and loss-less zoom are no possible because the camera can't provide more pixels, however, at lower resolutions they could be used to provide a much better quality:size ratio e.g. taking the 950XLs 20:8 oversampling ratio the Nokia 8 should be able to produce 5MP photos using oversampling and get much better image quality than a "standard" 5MP photo, but this is clearly not done.
Worse, when using a lower resolution and zooming the lack of oversampling approach means that the zoomed image is terrible. For example, instead of oversampling at 1x zoom and cropping in to the image for the zoom effect but maintaining the resolution, the camera crops into a lower resolution image, e.g. goes from 4MP to 1MP then upscales it to 4MP again... but without any apparent intelligence. The result is awful.


  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  /  edited November 2019
    WesleyLee said in reply to @dr. falcon2 : Thanks for the feedback, fully understand this, and we are had passionate discussions within our team on this. The button has a trade off on design and we have noticed that consumers are not using the physical button very often because of some user experiences that do not imitate the natural usage when going in for a portrait capture. It is also possible to accidentally launch camera. 
    I don't understand what is the natural usage of the shutter button (whether software or hardware) which is not the same for portrait capture, can you explain? Are there really that many people using their phones in this way that it would be unnatural to include an additional optional button? (remembering that the onscreen button will always be there). Is this the truth or is this decision more about saving a few pennies in production costs?

    4) We are actually moving in this direction (although it isn’t not necessarily called the N series), but our Zeiss certified products aim to deliver the same experience and we are adding to that portfolio in a meaningful manner every year.

    The N-series was about much much more than cameras, it was about the whole multimedia experience. HMD have not made a true successor to the N-series yet and ZEISS-branding is not the same, not even close.

  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  / 
    @singhnsk said:
    Okay, since you are in charge of all SW experiences, here's me speaking out again. I hope I will not be seen as the bad man here. But..
    When you say "I really like the clean android approach (really hate been forced to use 3rd party app😊)", isn't the clean Android already forcing you/us to use 3rd party apps? Because we do not have enough first-party or native apps as the competition does. For example, we do not have a native voice recording app even. We do not have a proper file manager and a gallery app. We do not have a music player aimed at offline music and we do not have a video player at all (which could deliver easy seek, volume, brightness and zoom via gestures - it is common today). Also, by fair logic, aren't even Google's apps which we get are 3rd party since they are not included in the "pure" Android Open Source Project (AOSP)?
    I am an ex-user of Motorola, Asus and OnePlus (both one Cyanogen and Oxygen OS) phones (while Nokia was away from the market) and I absolutely like it when the software gives me more, natively, without me having to look for solutions from the app store. I am glad that you have acknowledged things like "Power-off alarm". But here are a few which I think should be incorporated into Nokia's software experiences and I wouldn't mind if it comes at the cost of not having the Android One branding.
    1. A native audio recorder app which can use OZO audio capabilities for a nice recording experience. No voice recorder from the the store can make use of OZO due to the closed APIs (I believe?)
    2. More customization, starting off from the most basic one being the ability to get rid of a forced Google search bar on the homescreen. I do not mind that it exists there by default, but I should have the right to decide if I want to use Google search or Bing or DuckDuckGo; or not have the search bar at all. And moving towards advanced functionality which can range from modifying the device's ringtone vibration pattern to fonts, themes and ambiances (like those in Sailfish OS).
      I also want myself to be able to decide which icons show up on my status bar. So, similar to LineageOS, a setting to choose which of the static icons should be allowed to appear. For example, I might not want to waste my icon space for the headphones, WiFi, or the VoLTE icon.
      In fact, I'd also want the Google Assistant key to be remapable, at least for those who fully disable Google assistant, making the dedicated key do nothing. And there are enough people in this category too. As HMD usually says - there should be a Nokia for everyone.
    3. App lock: So many people use it. Some apps natively offer locks to prevent unauthorized usage, most do not. So, just like competition, there is a need for having a native app lock which can be considered secure enough to restrict access to applications even when the device is unlocked.
    4. Parallel apps: Age of Dual SIM phones and we all use social media apps. Some apps allow us to use multiple accounts, others do not. And then it becomes a need to have something in the phone to run copies of the same app, for example 2 copies of WhatsApp, one for each SIM card inserted. There are solutions available via the Play Store, but again, they are not fully compatible and often have their own share of issues.
    5. Firewall for apps: Pretty self explanatory, but yeah just if I want certain apps to not have access to WiFi or Mobile Data or both, I should be able to do that. Sometimes you are roaming and on very limited data quota, you do not want apps to consume it all in a fraction. Then there are times when you do not want WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to access data. There should be a way.
    6. Screen recorder: Mobile gaming is the next big thing and so is YouTube-ing and other game streaming platforms. BUT, sigh Android does not allow internal audio recording to 3rd party apps. So, the audio experiences gets ruined by background noises. Hence, there is a need of a native screen recorder which can record the internal audio for a great sound experience for the viewers. Again, competition does offer really nice solutions to take care of it.
    7. Support for exFAT and other formats: As @Madbilly said it earlier, we need support for other common file system options such as exFAT for the SD Card and the USB OTG drives. I am not sure what stops Google from offering it, but you can do it while they sort their issues.
    It is worthy of mentioning that most of these features existed in the Nokia's phones sold in China. But they were deliberately trimmed in the global variants, probably to have the Android One logo.

    To me, the software feels like Google and not like Nokia. And I want Nokia to feel like a Nokia and not like Google. Somebody earlier asked Google to include the ability to take a longer or a scrolling screenshot and Google proudly said that it is "infeasible". Source. This is something I have used since 3+ years on competing phones and Google still says it is just infeasible? The problem here is that this is a Nokia phone and we will ask Nokia/HMD for our desires and not Google. It will be sad if Nokia/HMD then has to wait for Google to do something before it can give a particular feature to its users.

    Here's hoping that something will be considered out of it. Android One or stock Android is a good choice for lower-end devices which do not have enough hardware resources. But for devices going mid-range to flagships, you got to add some unique software experiences, if not for anything else, at least to make useful use of the hardware underneath.
    Hear hear! :smiley:
  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  / 
    Nokia 8.1 user here. Why is it that video stabilization is subpar in 4K mode? Isn’t it possible to get EIS working for 4K?
    @WesleyLee said: Video stabilization on 4K will mainly depend on platform’s capability, because it needs certain level of platform processing power. In short, EIS is capable for 4K if platform capability is good enough 😊
    user1518194720872 the simple answer is that EIS normally needs a certain amount of oversampling to be effective. If the video is already recording at the maximum supported resolution then it won't be able to use EIS. This is why OIS is so helpful, because there is no limit to the maximum resolution that it can be used for.

    Cheers :)
  • madbilly madbilly
    Super User  /  edited November 2019
    I'll just add that clarifications about xenon flashes and ClearBlack were welcome, thanks, and good to hear you'll look at how to include a power-off alarm in future products @WesleyLee :)
    Still lots of questions left unanswered, it would be great it we could have greater than 50% hit rate in the next AMA @HMDLaura :)
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