N96 with accessoriesThe fourth instalment in the N96 review, today we shall be looking at the camera and accessories supplied alongwith the device. Previously we have covered the following aspects in the review – design, lighting, software, music, battery and screen.

Without wasting further time, let’s get to what is one of the most important things for an Nseries phone – the camera.

Camera:

The N96 sports a 5 mega pixel auto focus camera with Carl Zeiss lens. The sensor is a little different from the one employed on the N82,N85 and other 5MP phones withing Nokia’s portfolio.

The N96 is also very different from its predecessor, the N95 8GB. The Nokia N96 has a dual LED flash as compared to a single LED flash found on the N95 8GB. While it is an improvements over the N95 8GB, when compared to a 6220 classic or even the venerable the N82, the device is not at all an improvement. The reason for this move is that the dual LEDs allow for video recording to be done in dim lit conditions as well. I wish that the N96 had xenon flash and a single LED or the dual LED setup for the video.

These are the range of options available in the N96’s camera.

  1. Switch to camera/video mode.
  2. Scene Modes> Auto, User Defined, Close-up mode, Portrait, Landscape, Night, Night portrait.
  3. Flash Mode> Automatic, On, Red-eye, Off.
  4. Self Timer> Off, 2 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds.
  5. Switch to Sequence mode
  6. Colour Tone> Normal, Sepia, Black & white, Vivid, Negative.
  7. Switch to view-finder grid.
  8. White Balance> Automatic, Sunny, Incandescent, Fluorescent.
  9. Exposure Compensation> every 3 notches from -2 to 2
  10. Sharpness>Hard, Normal, Soft
  11. Contrast> 9 notches
  12. Light Sensitivity> Auto, Low, Low-Medium, Medium, Medium-High, High.

Now this is a rather extensive list. and as you can see there have been changes to the ‘Exposure Compensation’ and ‘Light Sensitivity’ settings, they are more customizable. The N82 does not have these many variations. This clearly shows that the N96’s camera software is a step ahead. So how does the N96 actually fare? Well for starters the dual LED is simply pathetic. There is a blue hue to everything when the LED flash is used in the dark environments. The temperature on the image is rather ‘cold’. I don’t know why the software does that.

The other thing about the N96 which I did not like was that sometimes the photos just don’t give the desired results. I had a couple of photos which were completely spoilt, and that was not the case when I clicked them, they looked perfect during the preview. I wonder what happened?

The N96’s camera also just can’t compare to the N82’s clarity. In fact the size of the N82’s photo is more compared to the N96’s photo on the same subject. But this does not mean that the N96 has a bad camera. It is quite good. There are some things in which the N96 excels. I am biased towards the N82, but even I am forced to admit that there are areas where the N96 excels.

The macro for example is where the N96 outdoes the N82, 3 times out of 5. There were a few times when the N82 came out with stunning results. But the N96 outdid the N82 more number of times. The focusing is also super fast! I was astounded with the speed taken by the N96 to focus. The thing is in a hurry to focus and gets it right 99% of the times. I haven’t seen anything focus so fast. The colour representation in the open, during the day was more true and in sync with the actual colours. Where the N96 suffers is the processing of the images, when a few settings were changed in the N96 the output was grainy (noise) and really not something one would expect from such a high end device. My N82 performed better with similar setting changes.

Coming back to the LED flash, the good thing about it is that when you click a macro photo and you need a just a little lighting, the LED flash is the best thing to have.

I tried to take a photo in darkness of a ceiling fan and it did not do a good job. The same photo on the N82 was fabulous. By changing it to sports mode, I tried to click the same photo expecting to be dismayed. But it did a better job than the N82.

Overall, I think the N96’s camera is good and there can be some tweaking to the software made, and it would improve the output even more. The inherent weakness of not having a xenon flash is very apparent.

While taking a video, to see how much the dual LED made a difference, I thought it did not make any substantial difference. It was effective only when you came close to the subject, but that would really hurt a person’s eye as the light is really bright, but the throw is not that much.

The N96 has done a good job in this department and deserves a 7.5/10. I think it is a good camera, but not a replacement for the N82. The N82 is still the king in this department.

Accessories:

The next most important thing in the package. The N96 comes with a huge list of accessories.

Let me list them down for you.

  1. AD-54 adapter with a pair of earphones.
  2. Nokia AC-5E wall charger.
  3. Nokia Micro USB cable CA-101
  4. Nokia TV-Out CA-75U
  5. Nokia Car Charger DC-4
  6. The manuals and other related reading material
  7. the PC Suite DVD.

hs45-ad54This is a rather huge list and I guess the only thing missing in this list is a pouch to keep the phone when not in use. The headphones were a big disappointment. I was really disappointed by the output of the earphones. Never did I think that they would be  so bad. The earphones are strictly for calls. The N82’s headset performed better. What is really surprising is that the standard iPod earphones are way better. I used them on the N96 and boy what a difference! A capable music device as this deserved better.

The AC-5E charger, what do I say, I simply am in love with the size and capabilities of this eco-freindly charger. I am tempted to switch it with the big Nokia chargers that are sold here.ac-5e-charger

The TV-Out cable does its job very well. I think the inclusion of a TV-Out is very good move for Nseries phones. The car charger is one thing that I was surprised to see. I nver expected the N96 to come with one. I guess Nokia knew how badly the battery performs and so slipped one in the retail package. The Micro USB cable is the same that dos duty on the N82. No complaints there. It works like it should. I found it good for transfers. Huge transfers tend to be faster if done in “mass storage” mode.

The phone does not come with a Micro SD card as it has an inbuilt memory of 16GB and an additional 60 odd MB of usable phone memory. There is a slot for adding more storage to the Nokia N96. It is easily able to support a 16GB Micro SDHC card.

nokia-dc4-n529-1234b-maibThe accessories with the N96 scored 8/10. The inclusion of a car charger and AC-5E charger helping it. The headset could have been much better.

An advice to Nokia, please provide iPod quality earphones with such devices. An entertainment device is useless without one.

The photos taken from the N96 can be viewed here. This link will take you to my Ovi page and the specific channel. Do not worry the link will open in another window or tab as the case may be.

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