Nokia Lumia 1020 camera phone for food bloggers

There are many things that can blight the images of the non-career food blogger. By that I mean the ones that have a day job and don't have the luxury of daylight recipe cooking or time (and skill), to style their food beautifully.

Cooking in the evening (gah!), reviewing restaurants in romantic lighting (get a room!), wanting to appear discreet (in those shoes?). They all call for a small camera that can deal with terrible lighting and closeups.

I should care about good images, and do try my best, but being obsessive about visuals is my day job and I even take to poking food art directing the odd food shoot like this.

So really, when I get home, fannying about with lighting and tweezers is not what I want to do. The food I cook is real life and often poor Mr GFs dinner which I have to snap quickly before I get "the look".

More and more, I have been using the camera on my Samsung S3 phone for restaurant reviews and it is great, but often lets me down in low light. I also have a Lumix TZ5 which is a nice little camera but also getting on a bit. Either way, any blogging camera I have with me must be clutch bag friendly, plus whipping out a DSLR in a restaurant just isn't my style.

Nokia kindly offered me their Lumia 1020 phone for trial (maybe they were making a point of my blog photography?!) and my first impression was "oh my God, it's sooo yellow". What was I saying about being discreet in restaurants? Luckily it does come in a more reserved black. The main USP of this phone is the powerful 41 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens. It also comes with a camera grip to make it even more like a camera.

And camera really did impress me. I took it along to a few of the evening functions throughout the Brighton Food Festival and to be honest, didn't have time to look at instructions. But I was very pleased with the clarity and colour the camera managed to capture. Here are some of the shots (none are retouched). And if you really knew about photography, I'm sure you could wield it to greater effect. Most of my shots were uninformed point and shoots, and I think most of them were darn good.

The focal point was particularly useful. Here you can see the different effect and depth of field you can achieve.

Foreground focus

Background focus

But really, I suppose the best way of judging this camera for me is to compare it with what I am currently using. See below the image I took at the Coal Shed supper club which was very low light with both of my devices. Clearly the Nokia shot is miles better and I think you would need a really decent camera to get close to it.

Shot with Nokia Lumia 1020
Shot with Samsung S3 Mini

Nokia Lumia 1020 benefits summary
  • The main benefit of the camera is that it can shoot in focus light only, enough to light the food, but avoiding harsh flash which makes dishes look terrible
  • Ability to adjust focal point, allowing you to get the shallow depth of field effect that makes images look more professional
  • Macro was really good
  • 41MP means that you can crop or zoom in without loss of quality
  • Colour and vivid quality is amazing for shooting food
  • Plenty of control over things like white balance and shutter speed so you can create the effect you need
  • I found it quite fast to operate, with no real lag taking images
  • HD video which is supposed to have fab sound quality but didn't really spend too much time on this
So yeah, I was very pleased with my trial with the Nokia 1020 and will absolutely look into it when my current contract expires. I have no idea about the phone function as I didn't really have time to play with that aspect and the main pull with his phone is the camera. To be honest, the Windows OS is not the best from what I've seen. But definitely from a food blogging tool, I'm really sad to see it, and all of it's banana chic, go.

Thanks to Nokia for loaning me the phone for review.