Yup, Nokia Faked the Still Photos In Its PureView Promo

Nokia has already confessed and apologized for faking the optical image stabilization sample footage in a new promo video for its Lumia 920 phone. In case you weren’t sure: yes, the sample still photographs in the video were faked as well.

Designer Youssef Sarhan did some investigative work after the story initially broke, and came to the conclusion that the images were almost certainly taken with a camera other than the Lumia 920.

He writes,

We don’t have the EXIF data because these are part of a video, and there’s no cheeky reflections we can zoom in and enhance. However, there is one thing, that once seen can’t be unseen. Diffractions. Diffractions are the sparkle affect generated around the bright lights in the background.

It’s impossible for a camera with a fixed aperture of f/2 to generate so many spikes from a light source. These kind of diffractions are typical of a DLSR camera with a smaller aperture like f/22. So, it makes perfect sense that if Nokia were to fake the video, they would also fake the stills; which they almost certainly have.

All of the “sample photos” in the video show these starry lights that Sarhan is referring to:

Visiting the official PureView page on the Nokia website, Sarhan found sample night photos that were actually taken with the Lumia 920. These clearly lack those starry lights seen in the shots that were presumably shot using a professional still camera:

In case you still have any doubts, a passer-by’s photo shared on Hacker News shows that the “sample shots” were shot using a mobile studio. A DSLR lens is also visible on the left side of the frame.

Nokia says that they simply made a mistake in not putting a disclaimer in the promo video, but take a look and judge for yourself. It seems like the video was designed to be misleading (which is probably why it has a 1:2 like-to-dislike ratio on YouTube):

Nokia faked the still photos too [Youssef Sarhan]

Update: Here’s Nokia’s response, as reported by The Verge:

Indeed, a Lumia 920 was not used to illustrate the benefits of optical image stabilization and we regret the error. The other still images in this post were extracted from that video. Again, we have posted an apology and the video is now clearly marked.

I wonder how prevalent this kind of thing is in the camera industry. Isn’t it the equivalent of showing dashcam footage of a Lamborghini to promote the increased horsepower of a Toyota?

  • Ian Ludwig

    Just remember, they never meant to deceive anyone…

  • Edward De la Torre

    All companies really do that. Every sample of “technology” in use is rarely the technology itself when it comes to adverts. At least nokia fessed up as soon as they were called out.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    well, they kind of fessed up – they attempted to say “well, we never said it was actually filmed with the phone”… derp.


    Media a bit too harsh on Nokia. This phone is great anyway. I dont see a lie here. Just mistake.

  • az_121490

    I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such a big concern over a smartphone advertisement, and I believe that Nokia wasn’t the only one creating these kinds of false advertisements, so why is it such a big deal now? Is it because people were really expecting an IS camera on a phone that much? Or is it some kind of a marketing scheme?

  • Rafael Ricoy

    The fourth picture looks too “digital” to me, like an old mobile phone picture. It’s ok, there’s very low light, but I don’t want this kind of finishing for my pictures. The key on the success of the iPhone as a camera is the lack of agressive post processing on their jpgs. It seems pretty obvious that the three first pictures was taken with an SLR.

  • Mansgame

    There is a behind scenes picture of it somewhere too where you can see a DSLR. Even if it wasn’t for the DSLR, it would still be a fake picture because they have several professional studio lights along with a giant reflector to ensure perfect lighting on the subject. How many people taking pictures with their cameras carry a portable studio with them?

  • Daniel

    Maybe we could advertise a car but show the actual economy results from a more economic competitor? We wouldn’t be trying to deceive anyone, we’d only be trying to make people buy it.

  • Jesmond

    They might have faked these photos but they also showed live demos of the phone’s camera and the resulting photos are as good as what’s seen in these adverts. So I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I’m pretty sure that most companies do this.

  • tonster

    I remember a sony advert of a point and shoot showing a super sexy close-up of a brazilian-rio dancer.. at night! Although i don’t have any proof that they did not shoot it with that camera, i thought that either they are joking or my EOS with my L glass on is total crap… We are talking stellar sharpness, not one bit of noise and a shutter speed of at least say 1/200 to freeze that fast moving dancer..!

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    “I dont see a lie here. ”

    Wait, they have large text on the images that says “OIS ON”. Never mind, the fact that they took the photos using a DSLR on a tripod?

  • Mansgame

    Tripod AND studio lights!

  • AMT

    What’s the mistake? Getting cought lying?

  • John Kantor

    A good start would be to fire their Executive VP of Marketing.

  • Mattimat

    Really? Did everyone here just discovered that advertising is no documentary or benchmark? Did anybody else than me noticed the difference between real life hambergers and the one’s on TV? Does 54’s year old Andie MacDowell looks that young only because she “use L’Oreal” products?

  • Jaruth


  • nate parker

    it was the off camera lighting that really made this stand out- the Lumia stills are all blurry and dark and shaky then the “OIS On” shots were done with studio lighting so like does that mean that the Lumia comes with Pro-photo lights?

  • quickpick

    advertisements are for morons who believe that whatever is in the media is factual. but nevertheless is gives a harmful dent to the reputation when get caught like that.. my reservation about nokia smartphones is not the phone itself or false even advertising but the windows only OS basis. windows isn’t quite the shiniest brand outside of the traditional computer OS market.. shame on the lame microsoft who always seems to trust their luck being the market leader and continuing being one for whatever.. :-

  • Mansgame

    There are laws that food advertising has to be of actual food. Search for a McDonald’s behind the scenes shoot. It’s the exact same sandwich but arranged differently.


    I remember that Nike claimed the right to lie when their deceptions were exposed in 2003, asking the Supreme Court to rule that corporations had the same 1st amendment right as individuals (that was in 2003, and the SC didn’t take the case).

    At least Nokia is not acting like jerks about it.


    Google nike vs kasky for details

  • Thomas O

    I don’t agree that the “stary” light sources is a sign that a DSLR was used. Surely some DSLR lenses have like aparture 8 blades, which can result in star like patterns whith small apartures. I doubt very much that these where taken with such a small aparture. Considering the light. you would need very long exposure times and the trails of the cars would have been much longer. The stars are more likely made in some post processing.

  • derek

    There are ‘star filters’ available that can produce that star light effect at any aperture. We used them a lot in film days.

  • jdm8

    If an ad for a laptop required a supercomputer to perform the display results they claimed, you wouldn’t call foul?