If there's any area that the Nokia N8 is going to excel at, it's on the camera, and thankfully, it does just that, and with aplomb.
Forget the fact you can create coffee-table books with the 12MP sensor and Carl Zeiss optics (as well as 'proper' Xenon flash) it's in the day to day picture taking we're impressed with the Nokia N8.
There are a multitude of options to play with: for instance, raising the contrast up and down, or messing with the sharpness of an image. You can also fiddle with exposure or white balance, and there are a number of scenes to play with as well, should you require an improvement in performance.
That said, we've only once ever managed to use the 'Fireworks' mode on any camera, and even then we sort of missed the main explosion. Still nice to have it there though.
Face detection is included too – it's pretty good, although when we tested it on a group of 12 people it only ever managed to find 11 at most, and that's with a lot of manipulation.
That said, it's not critical to have every face recognised, as you only need to set the focus levels accurately, and the Nokia N8 does that with veritable aplomb with pretty much any mode (although Macro mode was a bit erratic at times when trying to take an EXTREME CLOSE UP).
While we love having a dedicated camera button on the side of the phone, we were a little annoyed about how long our unit took to open the camera application up - at one time it managed to take nearly ten seconds and by that point our subject had gone.
This was due to running a couple of games in the background, and actually crashed the phone - but we doubt many people would be pushing the CPU this hard.
We would like to see the settings menu in the camera a little more compact - there are essentially two as you can mess with things like scene modes and colour from the camera mode, but you have to hit 'Options' the 'Settings' to change things like resolution and location info.
NORMAL MODE: The N8 in automatic mode
LANDSCAPE VIEW: Not a lot of detail is added by switching the scenes, suggesting the general mode is good enough
CLOUDY WHITE: The white balance is set to cloudy - again, not showing a lot of difference
HIGH EXPOSURE: When dialling up the exposure, so much more detail is shown in the foreground. Nokia's decision not to add touch-focus, where you can tap on the portion of the screen you want in focus, is obvious here as this may be the shot you'd prefer
INDOOR: The natural mode captures images sharply despite a relative lack of light, and shots are easy to frame
9MP MODE: Using the 9MP mode allows you to take wider shots; the macro mode used here captures detail pretty well
HIGH CONTRAST: Upping the contrast adds a nice sheen to photos, but isn't suitable for every situation
XENON FLASH: Working as quickly as a compact camera, the xenon flash takes decent pictures and captures the colour of the subject well
GREAT ZOOM: Despite being a digital zoom, the clarity when magnifying the shot is awesome, a feature that's reproduced on the HD video recording too
In terms of comparison, it's hard to say that the Nokia N8 is leagues ahead of the likes of the Sony Ericsson Satio or the Samsung Pixon 12, although the overall ease of use is better with this phone than those from last year.