DSLR (Canon 80D) vs Nokia 9 review

I bought the Nokia 9 (single SIM) two weeks ago as a portable replacement for my Canon 80d and it does not fail me a bit.

DSLR (Canon 80D) vs Nokia 9 review

ZenBoy ZenBoy
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I bought the Nokia 9 (single SIM) two weeks ago as a portable replacement for my Canon 80d and it does not fail me a bit. Here is my reflection on the two cameras:

Disclaimer: I am an architecture student with an interest in photography, not an expert photographer.
  • First I would like to acknowledge that it is always problematic comparing a DSLR and a camera phone due to the built-in mechanical difference which is always more robust on the former. That's why people buy DSLR in the first place. However, one can appreciate the Nokia 9 camera because it offers a very unique photographic rendition and experience (plus other perks of smartphone cameras).
  • Favorite settings: both camera at 100 ISO, on tripod for night photography. For Nokia, Snapsneed for JPEG, Lightroom mobile for RAW. For Canon, RAW in Lightroom Desktop.
  • Price: I got my 80d brand new with lens kit for 990 CAD in 2019 and Nokia 9 for 375 CAD 2 weeks ago.
  • Pixel size (similar): Canon 80d is 24 MP at 3.7μm pixel. Nokia is 12 MP at 1.4μm. If you downsize the 80d to 12 MP, the pixel size becomes 1.8μm which is quite close to the Nokia's. Larger pixels equal less noise and a brighter image.
  • LCD preview (Nokia): The Canon 80d's photos look great on the camera LCD screen (due to the added color tint) but when you view the actual JPEG on PC, the quality tapers out. The Nokia 9 is polar opposite, the resultant jpeg usually much better and brighter than the image shown in the viewfinder.
  • Video recording (Canon): the Canon 80d is fine-tuned for video recording whereas the Nokia 9 is for taking photos so there's no surprise that its video recording is really really bad, nuff said :))
  • Audio recording (Nokia): Nokia's OZO system is much better than the Canon built-in audio recorder. To take full advantage of this feature on Nokia, use a tripod when you record your video. For audio recording, I would recommend the recording app on XDA which enables the OZO when you record audio (intended for Nokia 7.2 but should work on the Nokia 9). Link: https://forum.xda-developers.com/nokia-7-plus/themes/mod-nokia-recorder-ozo-support-t3917232
  • Shooting mode and speed (Subjective): Manual on the 80d is equal to Pro Mode in Nokia 9 (manual shutter speed and ISO, auto exposure compensation). Most of the time, I leave the white balance on both to auto. While the interface on the Nokia is very basic, it is faster to adjust and preview for quick manual snaps.
  • Manual focus (Canon): Due to its fixed lenses, in Pro mode, Nokia 9 sometimes keep the background out of focus when there's a much closer subject. Refocusing in Pro mode, however, messes up your settings. There's a very simple workaround: just enable flash in Auto mode, switch to Pro mode, refocus, you will see the flash light up, snap your photo and all the ISO & . It is that simple. Or you can refocus later using Blur in Gphotos. Ofcourse, the Canon is better at manual focus. You can tap on the screen to focus and take the picture at the same time which is very convenient.
  • Color science (subjective): Famed for its beautiful color science, I expect the Canon 80d to excel the Nokia all the time but to my surprise, in many instances (30%), the colors produced by the Nokia 9 are more interesting and cinematic than those snapped by Canon 80d (probably due to its fusion of B&W + color sensors). For JPEG, Canon has a warmer and buttery color than Nokia which is understandable. For unedited RAW, Nokia produces a cooler image than Canon. But again, all RAW's temperature and color channel can be adjusted in post.
  • Dynamic range (similar): Canon 80d has 13.2 stops at base ISO (theoretical) and 12.8 at ISO 100 (usable). Nokia 9 has 12.4 stops at ISO 100. What is incredible is that at ISO 100, the Nokia 9 produces a much brighter image than the 80d. Its dynamic range is comparable to the Canon Mark series(refer to photos by Tuomas Harjumaaskola for more info). Most of the details in the overexposed objects can be salvaged in RAW. If you don't want to touch RAW, increase the shutter speed until the brightest spot in the picture is well-exposed. Then, increase the scene brightness later in Snapsneed.
  • Tonal range & Texture (Nokia): Nokia is better than Canon on this one due to its fusion technology between B&W + RGB channel. Subtle textures and curves on clothing 10-15 meters away are visible on the Nokia's JPEG. Incredible! Imagine layering B&W + RBG photos of the same scene in Photoshop. That is how the Nokia 9 do.
  • Sharpness (subjective): Canon 80d's sharpness is medium - high depending on the lenses you use. Many people complain about the Nokia 9's overshapened look which I can understand. However, for me personally, the sharper the better since architectural photography on Nokia is amazing. High-end dslr lenses are expensive because they produce sharper image (+ less distortion + let in more light). At first glance, the Nokia 9 looks sharper than the 80d. However, when you zoom up full scale the Nokia's sharpness degrades much faster than the 80d. This is because Nokia uses its tonal range to compensate for the lack of sharpness far away while the Canon relies on its sensors and lenses.Tip: if you don't like the Nokia 9 jpeg's sharpness, use the RAW file.
  • Noise (Canon): Canon 80d has minimal noise due to the built-in noise reduction which also means you sacrifice some of the sharpness. However, since I always use a prime lenses, this is not noticeable. For JPEG, Nokia 9 has more noise on reflective surface far away. Nokia 9 noise at 100 ISO is similar to 80d noise around 500 ISO. For RAW, noise level on Nokia is similar to the 80d but it has less sharpness. For best quality JPEG and RAW on Nokia, always shoot in Pro mode at 100 ISO.
  • B&W photography (Nokia): Canon 80d is converted B&W whereas Nokia 9 has B&W sensors (not true monochrome) but is nonetheless on par or even better than 80d's B&W at times.
  • Night photography (Subjective): This is probably area where most people trash the Nokia 9. I think after an update some time this year, the camera has been able to take 5 or more snaps per lenses. I was able to get a RAW at around 30-40 MB for each night shot. Previously, it only takes 1-2 snaps which from my research, produces abysmal results. In my experiment, I set the ISO to 100 and the shutter speed to 8 seconds on a tripod and the amount of detail it captures is astonishingly good. Noise and RAW quality are similar to day shots although JPEGs does a bad job at capturing the nuances of direct street light. In comparison, Canon 80d at 100 ISO and 8 seconds shows a pitch black scene. A good result is achieved on a tripod at 20 - 25s shutter speed. However, there's no denying that the picture produced looks fantastic. Both cameras complement each other in a way.
  • Special effects (personal): Canon has a lot more customized modes for specific scenes built in but I think the Color Pop/Blur effect by the Nokia is more useful (enabled by the incredible depth map). The 1200 layers are not a gimmick, you just need to keep the camera sight line parallel to the ground. Since the ToF sensor travels straight, whatever object it hits first is the foreground.
  • RAW post-edit support in Lightroom (similar): similar but Canon has a slight edge.
  • Processing time (personal): Images on Canon 80d takes a larger learning curve + longer to edit but it produces a very good final result. Nokia 9 images take less editing time and consistently produces nice looking images for social media.
  • This is a review in progress. I will post some day/night/JPEG/RAW samples when I have time. Again, I am not a pro photographer, just loves photography, that's all :))

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