Nokia’s N97 & 5800XM: The trouble with 16:9

Two weeks ago, in my first video diary for Really Mobile, I was talking about my Nokia 5800 Xpress Music when I said:

Two weeks ago, in my first video diary for Really Mobile, I was talking about my Nokia 5800ย  Xpress Music when I said:

“I’ve kind of fallen for it a little bit… the firmware update has brought transitions… there are some really nice things in there… for instance: recording 16:9 video”

At which point – at around 1min 35secs into the clip to be precise – I flipped the 5800 around and began recording and, thanks to the wonder of Ben Smith’s editing skills, you can see the transition between the two segments below.

In the shot on the left you can just about see that I am holding the phone at arm’s length and yet, on the right, you can see the EXTREME CLOSE UP that the 5800 so unnaturally provides.
Problemo, no?

Ben and I noted this at the time and had a further play – resulting in this video that I put up on YouTube just before Really Mobile launched:

The sound quality is poor but – as you might have just about heard – this is because we had put the 5800 at such a distance away from ourselves, the mic could only barely pickup the audio. Check around 18secs in when both Ben and I reach towards the phone, again – our arms at full length.

Not. Good.

The focal point is too far away and as such, no matter how cool recording in 16:9 is, dealing with this bizarre nuance can feel frustrating . As it was, not soon after we published the above footage, YouTube user ‘augusc’ commented on the video with this telling nugget of information:

“Actually the phone just crops off the up and down side of the standard HQ video recording, that’s why the focal length must be bigger – and that’s why i find this 16:9 mode unnecessary…”

So in effect it’s not ‘true’ 16:9 recording then?
Interesting.

That’s the 5800 covered, what about Nokia’s upcoming uber-flagship device, the N97?
This device, oft-heralded the saviour of Nokia for 2009 (I’m still betting on the N86), runs the same S60 5th edition software as the 5800 and boasts almost the exact same display specifications too.

Well, over the weekend – via Mark Guim at The Nokia Blog – I spotted Nokia rep, Chanse Arrington, Qik-ing from his own N97 and I asked:

His response?

Right. Clear as mud then.

Unofficial Nokia blogger, Mark Guim, however was another story. He and I continued the conversation offline; I explained in further detail what I meant – using the video above as an example – and he replied that he had noticed the same thing on his 5800. He even went so far as to put together this rather good compare and contrast post between said Xpress Music device and his own N85.Nice work Mark.

This morning I asked Chanse again, this time linking to Mark’s post as a reference. This time he was a touch more forthcoming with his response:


So, there you have it. It would seem that the N97 does indeed record video in the same ‘extreme close-up’ mode as the 5800.

What do you think?

Do you own a 5800, have you spotted this problem?
Or are you considering purchasing an N97? Does this bother you?

As ever, your comments are welcome.

NB: The 5800/N97’s 16:9 recording functionality is oft-referred to as ‘nHD’.

This, for the initiated among you does not mean that the respective devices record in NEAR HD, as is sometimes reported, but in fact refers to the screen-size being proportionately equivalent to 1/9 of the original HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Fact-tastic.

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84 thoughts on “Nokia’s N97 & 5800XM: The trouble with 16:9”

  1. As irritating as this is – and obviously I witnessed it first hand – could this be a design decision. Nokia decided most people filmed stuff 'far away' and preferred the 'zoomed' effect?

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  2. That's why I said “for a fixed sensor size”. The correct term is indeed “field of view”, but focal lenght is more commonly used as a measure of the view angle of a lens. But yeah, what Ben said ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. That's why I said “for a fixed sensor size”. The correct term is indeed “field of view”, but focal lenght is more commonly used as a measure of the view angle of a lens.

    But yeah, what Ben said ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]

  4. Ordinarily, I would have agreed, and gone down the same route. However, I just fancy something a bit different to the norm for a change. I figured that if I hate the N97 when it comes, I'll be able to eBay it at a fair rate, and buy an unbranded N86 instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Ordinarily, I would have agreed, and gone down the same route. However, I just fancy something a bit different to the norm for a change. I figured that if I hate the N97 when it comes, I'll be able to eBay it at a fair rate, and buy an unbranded N86 instead. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Mr Facts on Demand.

    Actually this might make a good point of comparison in a phone face-off: Nokia great lens and pixel count but impossible angles. iPhone bad a everything optical and now proven by Smithian science.

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  7. Mr Facts on Demand.Actually this might make a good point of comparison in a phone face-off: Nokia great lens and pixel count but impossible angles. iPhone bad a everything optical and now proven by Smithian science.

    [Reply]

  8. Mr Facts on Demand.

    Actually this might make a good point of comparison in a phone face-off: Nokia great lens and pixel count but impossible angles. iPhone bad a everything optical and now proven by Smithian science.

    [Reply]

  9. James, can you tell me how we could do that?
    Cause honestly, I don’t see where it would be possible and provide such a “side effect”.

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  10. That saving “tech/effort/cost” on such things wouldn’t have an impact on the “angle” of the picture, besides of course using a different lens.
    What matters here is the width of the lens, and on the N97, it is wider than on the 5800. You can have the device closer to you when taking self videos for example.

    I took a picture couple days back but I lost it.
    I’ll take an other one tomorrow.

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  11. How about recording it on VGA mode on the 5800/N97 to zoom out a little bit, and then publish it as widescreen when editing the video later like on iMovie?

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  12. James, can you tell me how we could do that?Cause honestly, I don't see where it would be possible and provide such a “side effect”.

    [Reply]

  13. James, can you tell me how we could do that?
    Cause honestly, I don't see where it would be possible and provide such a “side effect”.

    [Reply]

  14. That saving “tech/effort/cost” on such things wouldn't have an impact on the “angle” of the picture, besides of course using a different lens.What matters here is the width of the lens, and on the N97, it is wider than on the 5800. You can have the device closer to you when taking self videos for example.I took a picture couple days back but I lost it.I'll take an other one tomorrow.

    [Reply]

  15. That saving “tech/effort/cost” on such things wouldn't have an impact on the “angle” of the picture, besides of course using a different lens.
    What matters here is the width of the lens, and on the N97, it is wider than on the 5800. You can have the device closer to you when taking self videos for example.

    I took a picture couple days back but I lost it.
    I'll take an other one tomorrow.

    [Reply]

  16. How about recording it on VGA mode on the 5800/N97 to zoom out a little bit, and then publish it as widescreen when editing the video later like on iMovie?

    [Reply]

  17. How about recording it on VGA mode on the 5800/N97 to zoom out a little bit, and then publish it as widescreen when editing the video later like on iMovie?

    [Reply]

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