Cheap gear, good results: Street Photography with the Lumia 520



While the Nokia 1020 is heralded as THE best camera phone, Vittorio shot all the images in this article with a base model phone. It’s the kind that will not any press coverage, but here’s Vittorio’s work with it along with some thoughts.

When I leave home without my trustworthy mirrorless camera and I’m on the road, the only thing I have to shoot some interesting pictures with is my smartphone: TheNokia Lumia 520. I’ve tried to push it all the way in many different light situations, so here I am with a small review.




The Lumia 520 offers a fast and bright lens, a 28mm f2.4 Carl Zeiss, a focal that fits street shooting. You can get the best out of it with well lit situations and close to your subject. The well lit zones will be looking very clean and tidy, but at the opposite, the shadow zones will lack detail and are pretty grainy.




Another quality (that can also be a weakness) of the Lumia, is that it always produces pictures with a very well balanced exposure. Given the fact that you will not have an exposure value compensation , you might have some problems as you might know.




Things change radically in low light situations. First of all, you don’t have a flash, so it’s better if you always carry a real camera if you want low light shots! You will have a drastic loss of details, grainy images, even for interiors photos. For ISO and exposure settings, I use the Nokia Camera app, that allows you to manually set pretty much everything. White balance is good.





The shutter button is extremely tiny, so if you are hurrying you might have some trouble with it. Autofocus is slow and you might lose lots of photos because of this, especially if you’re moving. The camera has a 5mpx sensor and allows us to shoot with a 2952×1936 pixel resolution. I use Lightroom 5 and Silver Efex Pro 2 (for the black and whites) or Alien Skin Exposure (for color). What I do is increase the sharpness where subject are well illuminated and are already sharp.





In the grainy areas of the frame I try to proceed with caution and reduce the noise. At the end of the day, I am very happy for this cheap smartphone (you can get it for 100€). Surely it has its limits (short battery life on top of everything – reduce your Internet use if you plan to shoot for a whole morning!).





The Lumia 520 can be a decent street shooting pal, especially for what concerns portraits, near and well-illuminated subjects, preferably standing still (that’s why I prefer portraying elderly people!).





Avoid using it at sunsets or for interiors or other situations that don’t have an huge amount of light – you’ll lose all your work!




I’ll try to shoot with the well acclaimed Lumia 1020 and maybe I’ll write something about that! I’ll see you soon.


Other Lumia pictures my Website : Instagram:

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5 thoughts on “Cheap gear, good results: Street Photography with the Lumia 520”

  1. Pingback: Complete Lumia 520 review on Inspired Eye | Vittorio Aulenti

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  4. Nicely done! It shows the camera matters less than we like to think. I had the Lumia 521, and liked its rendering a lot. Esp, sadly rare these days, that it had physical shutter button!

  5. Pingback: Using the Asus Zenphone for Street Photography - INSPIRED EYE

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