Finally, we made it to the 8-megapixel camera that is also the first to have integrated variable aperture on a cell phone. Moreover, it is equipped with wide-angle Carl Zeiss Tessar optics and fourth generation double LED flash, so it should be up to its task. A major advantage of wide angle optics over its standard counterpart is it covers larger vision field. Logically, this leads to an increased number of smaller objects being visible, meaning you will need to zoom in more than you normally do. Greater than normal image distortion is characteristic of wide angle optics, although this is almost never an issue. And what advantage does the variable aperture offer alongside of regular cell phones? Well, camera should have better sensitivity to light and provide improved picture depth in snapshots taken in proper lighting conditions. Still, its performance is more important than theory itself.

As a whole, the interface starts fast and you are ready to go in about 3 seconds after sliding the cover open. Taking pictures is also fast – focusing in daylight takes about a second, in the dark – about 2.5 sec. and having the snapshot saved is done in 3 seconds.

We are not really captivated by the interface itself, because it´s not much different from the several year old Nokia N95. You can choose from panoramic pictures, scenes, several color effects, 3 flash modes, timer and sequence shooting. Aside from these you also have ISO sensitivity settings (low, medium and high), sharpness, white balance, exposure and contrast. All told, we are of the opinion that the interface looks dated and unfriendly. Plus, modern options like face and smile detection or similar to LG´s Intelligent Shot are not present. We did expect Nokia to equip its first 8-megapixel device with something brand new or a modern set of camera options at least. Ultimately, it´s image quality that matters, so let´s take a look at how the phone fares. 

Pictures taken outdoors have average quality alongside of other 8-megapixel camera phones. Snapshots are well exposed and with good contrast, but similarly to what you get with other devices of the manufacturer, the sky looks mauve. Our more significant gripe, however, regards the mediocre details. This is a problem that all other 8-megapixel models seem to have, although most of them deliver better results (the Samsung INNOV8, OMNIA HD, Pixon, LG Renoir)

Snapshots taken in artificial lighting conditions have lower quality, which can be expected. It´s a good thing that colors remain properly represented even in low light – you can see for yourself that the test pictures we took indoors look just fine with their resolution decreased. This makes for a significant camera advantage. The good performing double LED flash provides enough light and it´s only the Sony Ericsson C905 that comes with a more powerful module. So, the Nokia N86 8MP comes out second on our list of devices that deliver indoor pictures with decent quality. Well done!

Pictures taken with the Nokia N86 8MP at night are not impressive, but are OK. Their quality is quite similar to what the competition delivers – a lot of noise and lack of enough details.

All told, the improvement that the variable aperture brings along remains rather unnoticeable due to the lack of enough details, so the feature seems more a marketing hype than something of real advantage.

We almost forgot to tell you that you can capture videos with quite good image and sound quality at 30 frames per second and maximum resolution of 640x480. We need to point out we are pleasantly impressed by the performance of the Nokia N86 8MP as a video capture device, despite the limited resolution.

Nokia N86 8MP sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution

Videos and pictures are browsed in the phone Gallery that offers several options to filter content - by month, album, tags or all available content, just like the Nokia N97 and  Nokia 5630 XpressMusic. Once you choose an option, captured frames are called up on screen, turn up sorted in a cool way and spin around when you change over to another. There is a counter that shows the number of the current picture and the total number of snapshots on the device. Moreover, you have the options to see content in slideshow, assign pictures to contact entries and set any as home or call screen wallpaper.

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