Monday, February 21, 2011

Nokia C6-01: The Tiny Camera that Snaps

Side Note: All images in this entry except the first image, were taken with the Nokia C6-01. Moderate post-processing (image editing) were applied, hence the images should not be used as reference.

My old phone was dying, hence I was on a hunt for a replacement. My budget was RM1000, and I would not go much further beyond that. My requirements were simple, I wanted a phone that still is a phone (that does efficiently well in calls and texting, reliably), has a decent screen, with additional important features, such as integrated web-browsing to enable me being connected to the internet wherever I go to. I need regular updates on my emails since I am getting more urgent correspondences these days, and of course, it would be awesome if I could reply any comments on my blog almost instantaneously, right?

Lets not go into why not I-Phone or Blackberry or Android or some cheap China no-brand phone, this argument wont lead us anywhere.

After doing some research, I found the phone that matched my needs was Nokia C6-01, and I purchased it without hesitation. By now, I know you must be thinking, "How about the built-in camera on the phone? How come no mention or any consideration at all?". Well, to be honest, I did not even consider the camera on the phone at all, and I have always believed that camera phones are useless. This may be harsh, but I have not seen anything that comes out from any new camera phones that can make me think otherwise. No offense to some hardcore camera phone fans out there, perhaps, in a few years to come, the technology may catch up, but not now.

Nokia C6-01, image shot with Olympus E-5 with Sigma 30mm F1.4

So I have the Nokia C6-01, upgraded the firmware, subscribed to a data-plan so I can use the internet whenever I please, downloaded a few important applications and softwares, set up the phone and customize the phone to my preference, and I even changed my text-message alert tone to the shutter sound of E-3's infamous burst shooting mode 5FPS clicking. No kidding. I did enjoy using this phone, and growing quite fond of it. It can do a LOT of things.

Until one day, I asked myself, what else is there to do with? Then I remembered, hey there IS a camera on this phone !!

So I told myself, the next time I went out I should try to use the camera and snap some photos, and see what I think about it. Sure I did, on last Saturday afternoon.

You see, it is just a meager camera phone. It does not have that F1.4 lens, you cannot even control any settings, and basically there is almost nothing you can do about it. No macro or close up capability, no optical zoom, nothing. Any photo-enthusiast would have a long list of complains, so do I. There seem to be very little I can do with this negligible camera, but somehow, the voice inside my head told me to just use it. Just make it work, grab some photos, then see it on my computer screen. Just use it, who knows how it would be, until I really use it, right?

Sadly, snatch-theft is running high in local crime scenes.

At the entrance of Times Square, KL.

Under the burning afternoon sun.

Getting cloudy.

Delicious wallpaper

I did come home with a set of photographs. To my surprise, I did quite like that tiny little camera after all.

These are my thoughts, in no particular order:

1) 8MP resolution
The sensor, though extremely small, is packed with respectable 8 MegaPixels. Though the real resolution was not really on par with a compact point and shoot's 8MP quality, I would say the outcome was somewhere really close to a 3.2MP or 4MP compact camera, and that is very good indeed. The original resolution was more than good enough for web use, or small size printing. It also allows for very minor cropping work, which is fine for me, since I usually do not crop much at all.

2) Noise Reduction
Even shooting under low light condition, you will find that there is almost no chroma or luminance noise present at all !! In fact, this little Nokia camera phone has less noise than my DSLR Olympus E-520. Upon closer inspection, I realized, as suspected, the noise reduction kicked in really, really hard, and the details were all smeared and fuzzy. I would have preferred they just left the original details captured intact, and apply less noise reduction. Ah, I must remind myself, this, is after all, just a tiny camera phone.

3) Colours. Likes and dislikes.
I find generally the colour rendition of this Nokia camera to be quite "neutral" and flat. I did however added contrast, and boosted saturation a little in my post-processing. The original colours did not pop, and there was nothing to impress either.

4) Shutter lag
Yes, there is, and it is horrible. Enough said.

5) No Macro/Close up
I am so used to taking photographs of close ups and macros, that not having this feature was quite a hair splitting experience. Yeah, we cannot have everything in a budget camera phone, can we?

6) Artificial Sharpening
The JPEG engine must have thought that everyone loves over-sharpened images. The sharpening was so aggressively done that I did not believe how sharp the image was straight out of the phone. When zoomed to 100% view, you will be surprised to see lack of detail, but with the abundant presence of sharpening artifacts, which was quite ugly.

Ok ok ok, it was weird enough that I never recognized the usability of a camera phone, and what hypocrite I am, now that I pixel peep images that come out of my own camera phone !!

Little Red Man.

Bukit Bintang area.

Traffic Police.

Pets on the streets

Entrance to Lot 10 Plaza

I did think having a good camera phone can be handy in many situations. It is impractical to bring a DSLR everywhere I go to. Yes, a good compact camera which is pocketable can be a great substitute, but having to take care of that so many things in your pocket: car keys, house keys, wallet, mobile phone, various flavors and shapes of condoms, and add the extra bulk and weight of a compact camera to all that, it was not an enticing idea. Not that I am admitting the camera phone to be a replacement to any cameras out there, but still, having a good one is a definite plus.

Do I think this Nokia C6-01 camera is a good one? Yes, it does pretty well for a tiny little camera. It does fall short when it comes to many crucial functions, such as macro/close-up capabilities, low light shooting, and what nots, but when the day comes that a camera-phone can deliver all that demands, I think the compact camera market would be doomed. For now, we just have to make do with what we have. It is still a great phone, no doubt.

KL view from 11th Floor, Times Square.

So, tell me, do you use your camera phone a lot, and what do you use it for?


  1. Robin..walau leh.with handphone camera also the pic u capture so nice.. :) AmyLi

  2. Amy,
    Thanks !! But a lot of limitations la, so slow response, and many things cannot do like zoom and macro. But still quite fun to use ahahaha

  3. You know you are a shutter god when you produce good photos even with a camera phone *points at Robin Wong*

  4. Hey Chong
    Where who what?
    *turns head around

  5. hi robin.. i fact i want to buy this phone maybe next month. but lack of auto focus feature makes me down a bit.. what`s your oppinion about this fixed focus camera phone?

  6. Only the Shutter God, Robin Wong has the skill to turn a cheap ass phone camera into kick ass photos.


  7. Hey Daniel,
    I am not too concerned with the autofocus, but not having closeup is a bummer!!

    Jason shuddap lol

  8. Soon Nokia will send you a free unit of that Nokia C6-01....

  9. Aaron,
    But I already own one haha

  10. The next time I'm in KL, you're taking me to see that crazy motorcycle with all the cats on it.

  11. Gette,
    Sure thing. Its at Bukit Bintang area.

  12. Nice pictures~~~ Am very inspired :)


    ok im surprised u didnt go get yourself an iphone. not that i own one myself anyway. i seriously believe u ought to own a smartphone if u want internet on the go :)


  14. Amy,
    Thanks !!

    The Nokia C6-01 is a smartphone. LOL

  15. Amy came from Twitter one, just so you know. :P

  16. Yes Jason, but that does not change anything ekekekekke

  17. I love you too Jason LOL.

  18. Yes, I use a lot my phone camera. Now, N8. In the past N95, 96 and 97. Pictures I took can be visited on, a blog where ALL pictures are made only with mobile phones. Or on MOBILE ART project facebook page.

  19. hey Abhisek,
    Thanks !!

    Hey Marius,
    I shall check out your blog. Thanks for the mention.

  20. heck.. the camera on my phone is only a 2.0 megapixel.. camera option is always the last in my consideration list. if it comes with 720p HD video recording, it's a bonus. otherwise, i wouldn't even care at all. :D

  21. Allen,
    Yes it comes with the 720p video !! ehehehehe

  22. Cool! I didn't know the phone I owning is so cool in its camera function!


  23. Hey,
    Can anyone tell me how to shoot the close up images of any documents. With c6-01. However as it is 8 mp camera but quality is worst like a 2 mp camera, when i capture any docs images.