Color accuracy was a problem for the Lumia. Photos appeared to have a bluish tint under most lighting conditions. That problem applied to the 38.2-megapixel images and the smaller 5-megapixel copies the camera automatically produces to facilitate sharing on social networks and cloud-based servers and other activities that consume lots of data. But those color-accuracy problems may be resolved with a firmware update.
Video performance under good indoor and outdoor lighting conditions was also very good, though slightly marred by the same bluish tinge as still images. Under low-light conditions, video quality was only fair, appearing relatively dark with an inordinate amount of grain.
The Lumia's Pro Camera app presents an arc of a half-dozen individual controls for manipulating exposure levels and other adjustments. They include manual-exposure settings such as shutter speed, ISO, manual focus, white balance, and exposure compensation. Consumer Reports' camera expert Terry Sullivan found those controls to be nicely designed and easy to use. You can slide the controls to make precise selections, and they worked pretty well. You can also set the camera on auto and let it select those settings for you.
The adjustments made using the Lumia's Pro Cam app appear instantly on the display, preventing unpleasant surprises. Consumer Reports image engineers found the adjustments presented on-screen accurately matched what actually happened to the image file.
Overall, the controls are more versatile than what you’d find in most digital cameras but not quite as sophisticated or varied as those on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom, which even allow you to select the aperture and offers a wider variety of scene modes. Plus, the S4 Zoom includes an actual optical zoom lens, which is typically superior to digital zoom.
Most smart phones have a flash, but this one is far more powerful than the usual LED type, closer to what you’d find on a digital camera—a big advantage when shooting in dark environments.
Color accuracy issues aside, the Lumia 1020 has one of the best still cameras we've seen on any phone—and even some point-and-shoots. But you'd better pack another smart-phone or camcorder if you're planning to shoot videos in dark environments.
Check our cell phone buying guide and Ratings.
—Mike Gikas and Terry Sullivan