Tag Archives: Camera

Choosing a camera application for Windows 10 Mobile

I should preface this feature comparison by saying that I’m using the newish Alcatel IDOL 4S/IDOL 4 Pro as my test-bed. Anyone with a Lumia 950/XL is best off using the default Windows 10 Camera, since it ties into the oversampling hardware best (in my opinion), though most of the extras mentioned below also work on the 950 range. Any lesser Lumia phone is also best off sticking with Windows 10 Camera, since you’re probably not too bothered by imaging in the first place?

Anyway, some notes below are specific to the Alcatel phones, but don’t let that put you off, since the vast majority of features and options apply for these applications on any Windows 10 Mobile-running devices.

Let’s start with the UIs of the three contenders being considered here:

Screenshot

The familiar UI of Lumia Camera, or Windows 10 Camera, as it’s now known. Flick out from the shutter button to get the advanced rotary controls shown below, etc. Note also the panorama control in addition to the usual Stills/Video selection for the main action button.

Screenshot

The advanced controls flicked out, perfect for adjusting with your right thumb as needed.

Screenshot

1Shot UWP has a bare bones, but largely functional UI. From top left, clock-wise, a resolution/aspect ratio read-out and selector (of which more below), toggles and shooting/focus mode controls, Settings, stills and video selectors, and (bottom left) a read out of the current zoom factor. This last is especially useful once you’ve turned on ‘intelligent zoom’, since you can see the current zoom factor as you swipe up to zoom in. And, while doing so, the resolution figure top-left also reduces, showing how far you’ve cropped in on the sensor.

Screenshot

Turning on the optional ‘Advanced controls’ adds ISO, White Balance, Exposure Correction, and so on….

Screenshot

Tapping on the resolution read out/control directly gives access to this panel of options. The slightly odd staggering of 16:9 and 4:3 options here is due to the quirks of the Alcatal IDOL 4 Pro, but you’ll get the idea!

Screenshot

Meanwhile, in ProShot UWP, there are more settings pop-up panes and controls than usual, the learning curve is steep indeed. This pane, popped up from the bottom left, features the intriguing image source selection (I’m thinking that ‘RAW’ will give higher quality) and the option to change the JPG encoding factor (higher quality at the expense of larger JPG file size).

Screenshot

Then this DSLR-like rotary pop-up from the top right offers various sets of manual imaging controls, including HDR options and custom presets.

Screenshot

While a similar control at the bottom right gathers all the useful bits that aren’t anywhere else in the UI, such as light painting, video controls, and – here – detailed control over colour, sharpness and contrast in the saved JPG. Very detailed!

And now let’s break things down by feature set:

  Windows 10 Camera  1Shot UWP  ProShot UWP
Links In device Last covered here Last covered here
Resolutions offered in 4:3 and 16:9 1  21MP and 16MP 21MP and 10MP
[plus 18 other (lower) resolutions
in each aspect ratio]
21MP and 10MP 
Zoom facilities Mainly digital, with PureView zoom in lower resolutions on some Lumias Optional PureView zoom ‘intelligent’ on all phones, up to (e.g.) 4x on 21MP phones, outputting down to 1.5MP All digital, up to 4x, but interpolating full resolution
Oversampling (PureView) 2 Yes No No
Self timer 2, 5, 10s 2, 10s 1, 3, 10s 
Maximum (creative) exposure 1 up to 0.6s up to 0.5s up to 0.5s
HDR modes Auto-HDR/Rich Capture advanced blending and processing on the Lumia 950/XL, plain HDR toggle on other phones Included in range of scene modes 6 HDR and Auto-HDR, simple bracketed shots combined 
JPG encoding quality adjustment None None Four steps from 90% to 100%, plus three quality presets for video capture
Time lapse facility 2, 5, and 10s intervals, have to manually end sequence 2s and 10s intervals, can pre-set duration 5 From 3s to 24 hour intervals, can pre-set duration
Focussing Automatic, spot-tapped, or manual Automatic (continuous), spot-tapped, or manual Automatic (continuous), spot-tapped, or manual 4 
Extra photographic features Panorama stitching mode  Flip controls for left handers Custom settings presets; detailed control over contrast, saturation, sharpness; light painting mode with ‘infinite’ shutter’; noise reduction filter with two presets; monochrome mode
Max video capture resolution 1 2160p, 30fps 2160p, 30fps 2160p, 30fps
Stabilisation 1 Digital, on 1080p or less  Digital, on 1080p or less  Digital, on 1080p or less 
Audio capture Stereo Mono Mono, ‘VU’ sound level meter displays audio in real time 
UI learning curve Simple Moderate Hard
Application stability 3  100% 70%  90% 4

Notes:

1 on the Alacatel IDOL 4 phones
2 on the Lumia 930, 1520 and 950/XL, in 5MP or 8MP modes, purer output pixels from oversampling the higher resolution sensor, etc.
3 looking at crashes during weeks of testing
4 only one repeatable crash scenario (manual focus) on my test IDOL 4 Pro
5 in theory, though I couldn’t figure out how to get it working!
6 though not working on my test IDOL 4 Pro

If you’re expecting me to pronounce an outright winner then it has to be the stock Windows 10 Camera application – it’s rock solid and has everything most people need, plus it usually pulls the best images out of the best camera hardware (e.g. Lumia 950). But 1Shot UWP is well worth keeping around for its intelligent (smart cropping) zoom and ProShot UWP has a number of subtle tricks up its sleeve, with minutely detailed tweaks to capturing images.

In short, I keep the stock application as my default, and I’ve bought the other two to ‘have up my sleeve’ when needed. Your comments welcome though – what do you use?

PS. The ‘stability’ row above is interesting – camera applications are very demanding on RAM, plus they’re not trivial to program in the first place. Put all this together and 1Shot and was prone to crashing on my test device, while ProShot wasn’t crash-free, especially when using the manu focus facility. Oh well.

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All About Windows Phone

Choosing a camera application for Windows 10 Mobile

I should preface this feature comparison by saying that I’m using the newish Alcatel IDOL 4S/IDOL 4 Pro as my test-bed. Anyone with a Lumia 950/XL is best off using the default Windows 10 Camera, since it ties into the oversampling hardware best (in my opinion), though most of the extras mentioned below also work on the 950 range. Any lesser Lumia phone is also best off sticking with Windows 10 Camera, since you’re probably not too bothered by imaging in the first place?

Anyway, some notes below are specific to the Alcatel phones, but don’t let that put you off, since the vast majority of features and options apply for these applications on any Windows 10 Mobile-running devices.

Let’s start with the UIs of the three contenders being considered here:

Screenshot

The familiar UI of Lumia Camera, or Windows 10 Camera, as it’s now known. Flick out from the shutter button to get the advanced rotary controls shown below, etc. Note also the panorama control in addition to the usual Stills/Video selection for the main action button.

Screenshot

The advanced controls flicked out, perfect for adjusting with your right thumb as needed.

Screenshot

1Shot UWP has a bare bones, but largely functional UI. From top left, clock-wise, a resolution/aspect ratio read-out and selector (of which more below), toggles and shooting/focus mode controls, Settings, stills and video selectors, and (bottom left) a read out of the current zoom factor. This last is especially useful once you’ve turned on ‘intelligent zoom’, since you can see the current zoom factor as you swipe up to zoom in. And, while doing so, the resolution figure top-left also reduces, showing how far you’ve cropped in on the sensor.

Screenshot

Turning on the optional ‘Advanced controls’ adds ISO, White Balance, Exposure Correction, and so on….

Screenshot

Tapping on the resolution read out/control directly gives access to this panel of options. The slightly odd staggering of 16:9 and 4:3 options here is due to the quirks of the Alcatal IDOL 4 Pro, but you’ll get the idea!

Screenshot

Meanwhile, in ProShot UWP, there are more settings pop-up panes and controls than usual, the learning curve is steep indeed. This pane, popped up from the bottom left, features the intriguing image source selection (I’m thinking that ‘RAW’ will give higher quality) and the option to change the JPG encoding factor (higher quality at the expense of larger JPG file size).

Screenshot

Then this DSLR-like rotary pop-up from the top right offers various sets of manual imaging controls, including HDR options and custom presets.

Screenshot

While a similar control at the bottom right gathers all the useful bits that aren’t anywhere else in the UI, such as light painting, video controls, and – here – detailed control over colour, sharpness and contrast in the saved JPG. Very detailed!

And now let’s break things down by feature set:

  Windows 10 Camera  1Shot UWP  ProShot UWP
Links In device Last covered here Last covered here
Resolutions offered in 4:3 and 16:9 1  21MP and 16MP 21MP and 10MP
[plus 18 other (lower) resolutions
in each aspect ratio]
21MP and 10MP 
Zoom facilities Mainly digital, with PureView zoom in lower resolutions on some Lumias Optional PureView zoom ‘intelligent’ on all phones, up to (e.g.) 4x on 21MP phones, outputting down to 1.5MP All digital, up to 4x, but interpolating full resolution
Oversampling (PureView) 2 Yes No No
Self timer 2, 5, 10s 2, 10s 1, 3, 10s 
Maximum (creative) exposure 1 up to 0.6s up to 0.5s up to 0.5s
HDR modes Auto-HDR/Rich Capture advanced blending and processing on the Lumia 950/XL, plain HDR toggle on other phones Included in range of scene modes 6 HDR and Auto-HDR, simple bracketed shots combined 
JPG encoding quality adjustment None None Four steps from 90% to 100%, plus three quality presets for video capture
Time lapse facility 2, 5, and 10s intervals, have to manually end sequence 2s and 10s intervals, can pre-set duration 5 From 3s to 24 hour intervals, can pre-set duration
Focussing Automatic, spot-tapped, or manual Automatic (continuous), spot-tapped, or manual Automatic (continuous), spot-tapped, or manual 4 
Extra photographic features Panorama stitching mode  Flip controls for left handers Custom settings presets; detailed control over contrast, saturation, sharpness; light painting mode with ‘infinite’ shutter’; noise reduction filter with two presets; monochrome mode
Max video capture resolution 1 2160p, 30fps 2160p, 30fps 2160p, 30fps
Stabilisation 1 Digital, on 1080p or less  Digital, on 1080p or less  Digital, on 1080p or less 
Audio capture Stereo Mono Mono, ‘VU’ sound level meter displays audio in real time 
UI learning curve Simple Moderate Hard
Application stability 3  100% 70%  90% 4

Notes:

1 on the Alacatel IDOL 4 phones
2 on the Lumia 930, 1520 and 950/XL, in 5MP or 8MP modes, purer output pixels from oversampling the higher resolution sensor, etc.
3 looking at crashes during weeks of testing
4 only one repeatable crash scenario (manual focus) on my test IDOL 4 Pro
5 in theory, though I couldn’t figure out how to get it working!
6 though not working on my test IDOL 4 Pro

If you’re expecting me to pronounce an outright winner then it has to be the stock Windows 10 Camera application – it’s rock solid and has everything most people need, plus it usually pulls the best images out of the best camera hardware (e.g. Lumia 950). But 1Shot UWP is well worth keeping around for its intelligent (smart cropping) zoom and ProShot UWP has a number of subtle tricks up its sleeve, with minutely detailed tweaks to capturing images.

In short, I keep the stock application as my default, and I’ve bought the other two to ‘have up my sleeve’ when needed. Your comments welcome though – what do you use?

PS. The ‘stability’ row above is interesting – camera applications are very demanding on RAM, plus they’re not trivial to program in the first place. Put all this together and 1Shot and was prone to crashing on my test device, while ProShot wasn’t crash-free, especially when using the manu focus facility. Oh well.

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All About Windows Phone

Where does Denim and the new Lumia Camera leave the 1020?

Published by at 14:43 UTC, September 8th 2014

We’ve heard a lot about PureView imaging, a new, faster Lumia Camera application, Moment Capture, Dynamic Flash and Rich Capture, buzzwords aplenty over the last few days at IFA 2014. And the mix of all of this in the upcoming ultra-slim Lumia 830 does looks very tempting. But I thought a few words about what will and what won’t happen to the existing imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020, might be in order.

The story so far:

  • 2012: The Nokia 808 PureView is launched, with a huge 1/1.2″ hardware-accelerated 41MP oversampling camera, with shot to shot times a fraction of a second. Imaging is very well respected, there’s Xenon flash too, but it’s the tail end of the ever-less-supported Symbian OS and ecosystem.

    1020 and 808
      

  • 2013: The Nokia Lumia 1020 is launched, with a slightly smaller 1/1.5″ sensored 41MP camera, implementing much the same algorithms (plus the ability to reframe from the full image later) but handled by the phone’s main processor, resulting in shot to shot times as high as four seconds. There’s Xenon flash again, though(!), plus OIS, which helps. Again, the 1020 is at the tail end of a platform, this time the Snapdragon S4 range within Windows Phone, resulting in generally slow performance even when not in the main camera application.
      
  • end-2013/start 2014: The Lumia 1520, then Lumia Icon and 930 were launched, with a 1/2.5″ 21MP sensor that has similar functionality to the 1020 but with the next-gen Snapdragons powering the image processing and only half as much image data to handle at a time, resulting in shot to shot times of just less than one second. OIS, but only LED flash though.

The smartphone imaging fan in me, at this point, wanted to see Nokia – or rather Microsoft these days – attempt to reimagine the 1020, updating it with a Snapdragon 800 or 801, and bringing shot to shot times down to around a second (just my estimate). With the Xenon flash, the PureView zoom, the high end oversampling, plus the new chipset meaning that Windows Phone itself didn’t behave too badly, we’d have something of an outright winner.

Alas no. While it’s possible that such a device – say, the mythical Lumia 1030 – might be released, looking at the tea leaves in the mobile industry (the top Android smartphones and the iPhone have moved to computational photography, taking multiple shots very fast and then doing clever things with them) I’d say that this is now very unlikely, especially with Microsoft in charge and less scope for Finnish quirky extravagance.

  • September 2014: Microsoft launches the Nokia Lumia 830, with 10MP ‘PureView’ camera that has OIS but only a small 1/3.4″ sensor and no oversampling at all. The key benefits here are supposed to be the ‘Dynamic flash’ (achieved through taking a shot without LED flash and then very quickly taking another with) and ‘Rich capture’ (similarly, taking several shots at different exposures very quickly and then letting the user merge these as required).
    Lumia 830 back view

Leaving aside my worries that all these techniques (on the 830 and on other competing phones) utterly rely on the subject not moving at all (so a laughing or giggling subject would be blurred, etc.), the trend in the industry is clear – never mind the physics, make a camera that’s barely good enough but which is thin enough to fit in a phone only 8mm or so thick and then use burst mode techniques to let users get creative with the results.

Part of the ‘Denim’ platform update, the new ‘Lumia Camera’ application, according to Microsoft, is a revision of Nokia Camera (Lumia Camera was being called ‘Lumia Camera 5’ on the Microsoft demo stands, while the current Nokia Camera is up to v4.8) and enables:

  • shot to shot time of only a small fraction of a second
  • bursts of 4K or 2K video (depending on hardware) and then stripping out still ‘moments’ for use as photos
  • dynamic flash and rich capture functions, depending on whether the LED flash is enabled or not in the interface

Microsoft did say that the new application will be on the Lumia 830, hopefully at launch, plus will be coming to the 1520, Icon and 930 in due course. Now, the obvious question is what about all the relatively time consuming oversampling on the latter three devices. How can we have tiny shot to shot time when there are so many pixels to process? Is the oversampling being quietly forgotten?

It turns out (according to Juha, still on the imaging team and now at Microsoft) that the processors in the 1520, Icon and 930 are powerful enough that oversampling can be done in the background. On the 830, the shot is simply taken, encoded to JPG and stored in the background, while on the slightly older devices the shot gets taken and then UI immediately returned for the user to take another photo, while the quad core Snapdragon 800 chipset chugs away behind the scenes, performing the usual oversampling and encoding. 

With such a schema, Juha estimates that the 1520 (et al) will be capable of two to three shots per second. Not as fast as the likes of the HTC One devices, but still fast enough for almost all users. And yet with the oversampling still in place.

Lumia 1020 camera

So. What about the imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020? The Snapdragon S4 is significantly less powerful, plus there’s twice as much image data to handle and up to four times as much oversampling processing – this is the reason why the new Lumia Camera functions won’t be available for the 1020 – there’s not enough oomph available to do all the background processing required. Juha confirmed that ‘achieving smooth experience would be very difficult’. To say the least.

There’s little point then, in complaining about the speed of the 1020 camera or that Lumia Camera/Denim’s functions won’t be backported. If you must have the 41MP sensor and Xenon and speed then the old Nokia 808 is still available! If you can live without Xenon and oversampling then the new Lumia 830 looks like a good bet. If you want a good compromise, with some oversampling, good speed and can live with LED flash, then the Lumia 930 is probably the best option. or the 1520 if you fancy veering into ‘phablet’ territory (the 1520 is a great device).

Having established that there’s little point in complaining – the 1020, based on a 2012 chipset, is limited by its own specs and physics – there’s an extra option, of course. Live with the 1020 as-is, producing nigh on perfect oversampled images, getting crisp Xenon-frozen social snaps, and so on. All it requires is a little patience in terms of startup and shot to shot time. It could be argued that it’s all about planning ahead?

As the Rolling Stones once sang, ‘you can’t always get what you want, but you might just get what you need’. Interpret that whichever way you want to and let us know if you’re going to stick with the 1020 or move on, in the comments below!

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Platforms: Windows Phone 8
Categories: How To, Comment
 

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All About Windows Phone

Where does Denim and the new Lumia Camera leave the 1020?

Published by at 14:43 UTC, September 8th 2014

We’ve heard a lot about PureView imaging, a new, faster Lumia Camera application, Moment Capture, Dynamic Flash and Rich Capture, buzzwords aplenty over the last few days at IFA 2014. And the mix of all of this in the upcoming ultra-slim Lumia 830 does looks very tempting. But I thought a few words about what will and what won’t happen to the existing imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020, might be in order.

The story so far:

  • 2012: The Nokia 808 PureView is launched, with a huge 1/1.2″ hardware-accelerated 41MP oversampling camera, with shot to shot times a fraction of a second. Imaging is very well respected, there’s Xenon flash too, but it’s the tail end of the ever-less-supported Symbian OS and ecosystem.

    1020 and 808
      

  • 2013: The Nokia Lumia 1020 is launched, with a slightly smaller 1/1.5″ sensored 41MP camera, implementing much the same algorithms (plus the ability to reframe from the full image later) but handled by the phone’s main processor, resulting in shot to shot times as high as four seconds. There’s Xenon flash again, though(!), plus OIS, which helps. Again, the 1020 is at the tail end of a platform, this time the Snapdragon S4 range within Windows Phone, resulting in generally slow performance even when not in the main camera application.
      
  • end-2013/start 2014: The Lumia 1520, then Lumia Icon and 930 were launched, with a 1/2.5″ 21MP sensor that has similar functionality to the 1020 but with the next-gen Snapdragons powering the image processing and only half as much image data to handle at a time, resulting in shot to shot times of just less than one second. OIS, but only LED flash though.

The smartphone imaging fan in me, at this point, wanted to see Nokia – or rather Microsoft these days – attempt to reimagine the 1020, updating it with a Snapdragon 800 or 801, and bringing shot to shot times down to around a second (just my estimate). With the Xenon flash, the PureView zoom, the high end oversampling, plus the new chipset meaning that Windows Phone itself didn’t behave too badly, we’d have something of an outright winner.

Alas no. While it’s possible that such a device – say, the mythical Lumia 1030 – might be released, looking at the tea leaves in the mobile industry (the top Android smartphones and the iPhone have moved to computational photography, taking multiple shots very fast and then doing clever things with them) I’d say that this is now very unlikely, especially with Microsoft in charge and less scope for Finnish quirky extravagance.

  • September 2014: Microsoft launches the Nokia Lumia 830, with 10MP ‘PureView’ camera that has OIS but only a small 1/3.4″ sensor and no oversampling at all. The key benefits here are supposed to be the ‘Dynamic flash’ (achieved through taking a shot without LED flash and then very quickly taking another with) and ‘Rich capture’ (similarly, taking several shots at different exposures very quickly and then letting the user merge these as required).
    Lumia 830 back view

Leaving aside my worries that all these techniques (on the 830 and on other competing phones) utterly rely on the subject not moving at all (so a laughing or giggling subject would be blurred, etc.), the trend in the industry is clear – never mind the physics, make a camera that’s barely good enough but which is thin enough to fit in a phone only 8mm or so thick and then use burst mode techniques to let users get creative with the results.

Part of the ‘Denim’ platform update, the new ‘Lumia Camera’ application, according to Microsoft, is a revision of Nokia Camera (Lumia Camera was being called ‘Lumia Camera 5’ on the Microsoft demo stands, while the current Nokia Camera is up to v4.8) and enables:

  • shot to shot time of only a small fraction of a second
  • bursts of 4K or 2K video (depending on hardware) and then stripping out still ‘moments’ for use as photos
  • dynamic flash and rich capture functions, depending on whether the LED flash is enabled or not in the interface

Microsoft did say that the new application will be on the Lumia 830, hopefully at launch, plus will be coming to the 1520, Icon and 930 in due course. Now, the obvious question is what about all the relatively time consuming oversampling on the latter three devices. How can we have tiny shot to shot time when there are so many pixels to process? Is the oversampling being quietly forgotten?

It turns out (according to Juha, still on the imaging team and now at Microsoft) that the processors in the 1520, Icon and 930 are powerful enough that oversampling can be done in the background. On the 830, the shot is simply taken, encoded to JPG and stored in the background, while on the slightly older devices the shot gets taken and then UI immediately returned for the user to take another photo, while the quad core Snapdragon 800 chipset chugs away behind the scenes, performing the usual oversampling and encoding. 

With such a schema, Juha estimates that the 1520 (et al) will be capable of two to three shots per second. Not as fast as the likes of the HTC One devices, but still fast enough for almost all users. And yet with the oversampling still in place.

Lumia 1020 camera

So. What about the imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020? The Snapdragon S4 is significantly less powerful, plus there’s twice as much image data to handle and up to four times as much oversampling processing – this is the reason why the new Lumia Camera functions won’t be available for the 1020 – there’s not enough oomph available to do all the background processing required. Juha confirmed that ‘achieving smooth experience would be very difficult’. To say the least.

There’s little point then, in complaining about the speed of the 1020 camera or that Lumia Camera/Denim’s functions won’t be backported. If you must have the 41MP sensor and Xenon and speed then the old Nokia 808 is still available! If you can live without Xenon and oversampling then the new Lumia 830 looks like a good bet. If you want a good compromise, with some oversampling, good speed and can live with LED flash, then the Lumia 930 is probably the best option. or the 1520 if you fancy veering into ‘phablet’ territory (the 1520 is a great device).

Having established that there’s little point in complaining – the 1020, based on a 2012 chipset, is limited by its own specs and physics – there’s an extra option, of course. Live with the 1020 as-is, producing nigh on perfect oversampled images, getting crisp Xenon-frozen social snaps, and so on. All it requires is a little patience in terms of startup and shot to shot time. It could be argued that it’s all about planning ahead?

As the Rolling Stones once sang, ‘you can’t always get what you want, but you might just get what you need’. Interpret that whichever way you want to and let us know if you’re going to stick with the 1020 or move on, in the comments below!

Filed: > >

Platforms: Windows Phone 8
Categories: How To, Comment
 

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All About Windows Phone

Where does Denim and the new Lumia Camera leave the 1020?

Published by at 14:43 UTC, September 8th 2014

We’ve heard a lot about PureView imaging, a new, faster Lumia Camera application, Moment Capture, Dynamic Flash and Rich Capture, buzzwords aplenty over the last few days at IFA 2014. And the mix of all of this in the upcoming ultra-slim Lumia 830 does looks very tempting. But I thought a few words about what will and what won’t happen to the existing imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020, might be in order.

The story so far:

  • 2012: The Nokia 808 PureView is launched, with a huge 1/1.2″ hardware-accelerated 41MP oversampling camera, with shot to shot times a fraction of a second. Imaging is very well respected, there’s Xenon flash too, but it’s the tail end of the ever-less-supported Symbian OS and ecosystem.

    1020 and 808
      

  • 2013: The Nokia Lumia 1020 is launched, with a slightly smaller 1/1.5″ sensored 41MP camera, implementing much the same algorithms (plus the ability to reframe from the full image later) but handled by the phone’s main processor, resulting in shot to shot times as high as four seconds. There’s Xenon flash again, though(!), plus OIS, which helps. Again, the 1020 is at the tail end of a platform, this time the Snapdragon S4 range within Windows Phone, resulting in generally slow performance even when not in the main camera application.
      
  • end-2013/start 2014: The Lumia 1520, then Lumia Icon and 930 were launched, with a 1/2.5″ 21MP sensor that has similar functionality to the 1020 but with the next-gen Snapdragons powering the image processing and only half as much image data to handle at a time, resulting in shot to shot times of just less than one second. OIS, but only LED flash though.

The smartphone imaging fan in me, at this point, wanted to see Nokia – or rather Microsoft these days – attempt to reimagine the 1020, updating it with a Snapdragon 800 or 801, and bringing shot to shot times down to around a second (just my estimate). With the Xenon flash, the PureView zoom, the high end oversampling, plus the new chipset meaning that Windows Phone itself didn’t behave too badly, we’d have something of an outright winner.

Alas no. While it’s possible that such a device – say, the mythical Lumia 1030 – might be released, looking at the tea leaves in the mobile industry (the top Android smartphones and the iPhone have moved to computational photography, taking multiple shots very fast and then doing clever things with them) I’d say that this is now very unlikely, especially with Microsoft in charge and less scope for Finnish quirky extravagance.

  • September 2014: Microsoft launches the Nokia Lumia 830, with 10MP ‘PureView’ camera that has OIS but only a small 1/3.4″ sensor and no oversampling at all. The key benefits here are supposed to be the ‘Dynamic flash’ (achieved through taking a shot without LED flash and then very quickly taking another with) and ‘Rich capture’ (similarly, taking several shots at different exposures very quickly and then letting the user merge these as required).
    Lumia 830 back view

Leaving aside my worries that all these techniques (on the 830 and on other competing phones) utterly rely on the subject not moving at all (so a laughing or giggling subject would be blurred, etc.), the trend in the industry is clear – never mind the physics, make a camera that’s barely good enough but which is thin enough to fit in a phone only 8mm or so thick and then use burst mode techniques to let users get creative with the results.

Part of the ‘Denim’ platform update, the new ‘Lumia Camera’ application, according to Microsoft, is a revision of Nokia Camera (Lumia Camera was being called ‘Lumia Camera 5’ on the Microsoft demo stands, while the current Nokia Camera is up to v4.8) and enables:

  • shot to shot time of only a small fraction of a second
  • bursts of 4K or 2K video (depending on hardware) and then stripping out still ‘moments’ for use as photos
  • dynamic flash and rich capture functions, depending on whether the LED flash is enabled or not in the interface

Microsoft did say that the new application will be on the Lumia 830, hopefully at launch, plus will be coming to the 1520, Icon and 930 in due course. Now, the obvious question is what about all the relatively time consuming oversampling on the latter three devices. How can we have tiny shot to shot time when there are so many pixels to process? Is the oversampling being quietly forgotten?

It turns out (according to Juha, still on the imaging team and now at Microsoft) that the processors in the 1520, Icon and 930 are powerful enough that oversampling can be done in the background. On the 830, the shot is simply taken, encoded to JPG and stored in the background, while on the slightly older devices the shot gets taken and then UI immediately returned for the user to take another photo, while the quad core Snapdragon 800 chipset chugs away behind the scenes, performing the usual oversampling and encoding. 

With such a schema, Juha estimates that the 1520 (et al) will be capable of two to three shots per second. Not as fast as the likes of the HTC One devices, but still fast enough for almost all users. And yet with the oversampling still in place.

Lumia 1020 camera

So. What about the imaging flagship, the Lumia 1020? The Snapdragon S4 is significantly less powerful, plus there’s twice as much image data to handle and up to four times as much oversampling processing – this is the reason why the new Lumia Camera functions won’t be available for the 1020 – there’s not enough oomph available to do all the background processing required. Juha confirmed that ‘achieving smooth experience would be very difficult’. To say the least.

There’s little point then, in complaining about the speed of the 1020 camera or that Lumia Camera/Denim’s functions won’t be backported. If you must have the 41MP sensor and Xenon and speed then the old Nokia 808 is still available! If you can live without Xenon and oversampling then the new Lumia 830 looks like a good bet. If you want a good compromise, with some oversampling, good speed and can live with LED flash, then the Lumia 930 is probably the best option. or the 1520 if you fancy veering into ‘phablet’ territory (the 1520 is a great device).

Having established that there’s little point in complaining – the 1020, based on a 2012 chipset, is limited by its own specs and physics – there’s an extra option, of course. Live with the 1020 as-is, producing nigh on perfect oversampled images, getting crisp Xenon-frozen social snaps, and so on. All it requires is a little patience in terms of startup and shot to shot time. It could be argued that it’s all about planning ahead?

As the Rolling Stones once sang, ‘you can’t always get what you want, but you might just get what you need’. Interpret that whichever way you want to and let us know if you’re going to stick with the 1020 or move on, in the comments below!

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All About Windows Phone

Lumia 830 leaks trump previous rumors, only 10 megapixel camera?

We’ve been crossing some very conflicting rumors with the Microsoft’s Lumia 830. Some of us have speculated that the leaked photos that we’ve seen aren’t of the Lumia 830 because of the 1020-style camera hump, and then there are other rumors that claim that there is a 20-megapixel sensor on this smartphone. Today we get some additional reports that claim that this is just a mid-tier phone in every way.

Sources to WPDang are now saying that the Lumia 830 will only sport a 10 megapixel camera, and they also reinforce the previous claims that it sports a 720p display. Obviously these are mid-tier specs if you compare this to other Lumia offerings in the market, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you compare it to flagships that still exist, like the Lumia 925 or even the iPhone 5s.

We’re expecting to see the Lumia 830 announced at IFA 2014 along with the Lumia 730, which is reported to be Microsoft’s selfie phone. It would be great if both devices sport this selfie capability out of the box, but time will tell as we cover the event live.

Source: WPDang
Via: My Nokia Blog


Pocketnow

Galaxy Note 4 features, iPhone 6 leaks, Moto X+1 camera & more – Pocketnow Daily

Watch today’s Pocketnow Daily as we talk about how many Amazon Fire phones have been sold, a number which is not a shocker. Motorola follows, first with some Moto G2 leaks, and next, some hot Moto X+1 leaks regarding the camera. Then we talk about the Galaxy Note 4 and some nifty new features that we can expect to see. Apple follows with some leaks of the iPhone 6 in its launch date and design. We end today’s show talking about Apple’s new patent for flexible displays, and why this is unique.

All this and more after the break.

Stories:
Smartphone giveaway: win a Blackphone from Pocketnow, GSM Nation, and Fight for the Future
Just how few Fire Phones has Amazon really sold?
Check out the new Moto G: leak delivers hardware pics
Moto X+1 leaks spell camera with optical zoom, and other features?
New features rumored for Galaxy Note 4 fingerprint scanner
Alleged iPhone 6 manual leaks design and launch date?
Apple patents flexible display tech that mimics physical buttons


Pocketnow

Galaxy Note 4 features, iPhone 6 leaks, Moto X+1 camera & more – Pocketnow Daily

Watch today’s Pocketnow Daily as we talk about how many Amazon Fire phones have been sold, a number which is not a shocker. Motorola follows, first with some Moto G2 leaks, and next, some hot Moto X+1 leaks regarding the camera. Then we talk about the Galaxy Note 4 and some nifty new features that we can expect to see. Apple follows with some leaks of the iPhone 6 in its launch date and design. We end today’s show talking about Apple’s new patent for flexible displays, and why this is unique.

All this and more after the break.

Stories:
Smartphone giveaway: win a Blackphone from Pocketnow, GSM Nation, and Fight for the Future
Just how few Fire Phones has Amazon really sold?
Check out the new Moto G: leak delivers hardware pics
Moto X+1 leaks spell camera with optical zoom, and other features?
New features rumored for Galaxy Note 4 fingerprint scanner
Alleged iPhone 6 manual leaks design and launch date?
Apple patents flexible display tech that mimics physical buttons


Pocketnow

Sony Xperia Z3 poses for the camera, inside and out

We’re just a week or two away from IFA 2014, and as our crew prepares to take a long flight across the pond, more leaks emerge on the hot devices to expect. Sony is one of the companies that’s poised to garner a lot of attention at the event with the rumored Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, it’s new Smartwatch, and best of all, the Xperia Z3. The company has done an amazing job at making its flagship grow in mindshare, and today’s leaked photos show us why this phone is hot.

Today’s batch of leaked photos doesn’t only show us the Xperia Z3 in its full glory, but it also takes the time to show us the internals. Yes, the device was dismantled for this photo shoot, and though we wish we could fill this post with more details on the device’s specifications, the only thing we can confirm is that it’ll sport a 3100mAh battery.

Sony’s IFA 2014 event is scheduled to happen on Wednesday, September 3rd. Stay tuned for our coverage, as we’ll make sure to get you all the information you need to know.

Xperia-Z3-Leak_2-640x480Xperia-Z3-Leak_3-640x480Xperia-Z3-Leak_7-640x480

Via: Xperia Blog


Pocketnow

Where’s the Sense camera for the GPe One M8?

When I first tried the One M8, I was pleasantly surprised. For the first time ever, I actually liked Sense.

I’ve used Sense UI from its very first release on the CDMA HTC Hero in 2009 and every following iteration on HTC hardware since. Each time, the custom UI felt overbearing – it used too many resources, the animations were excessive, and most of the changes introduced were changes for the sake of change. Sure, some versions of Sense looked nice, but the bugs, slow updates, and inconsistencies weren’t worth the trouble.

Sense 6 was somehow different.

Last year, HTC lightened the load of Sense, tightened up its appearance, and fixed many of the outstanding issues users had long complained about. It was the most bug-free version of Sense yet, and looked nice.

vzw-one-m8-review-homeSense 6 took that one step further by making things snappier, cleaner, and more consistent. Sense 6 is polished and packs more value than ever before, without being bloated and sluggish. BlinkFeed is more useful and pleasing to use with larger tiles and more relevant content; the theme colors are refreshing and give the entire experience a sense of unity; motion gestures are extremely helpful and make taking the phone out of standby much easier; and other tweaks, like how easy it is to rapidly add apps to the home screen, make setting up the phone a breeze.

When I bought the One M8, I had no intention of switching it over to a Google Play edition. I knew it was possible, but I was happy with Sense 6 during my review period with the Verizon model. Even after having used the phone for several months, I was still satisfied. I had no desire to convert the M8 to flash stock Android on the M8.

However, back in June, I decided to swap the Nexus 7 in my dash out for my old head unit. I paired the M8 to the stereo, put the car in drive and headed to Wilmington. About two minutes down the road, the M8 rebooted. Then it rebooted again and again … and again. It was stuck in a boot loop for the next few hours. I couldn’t power it down and every time I tried to wipe it or access the phone through ADB on my Mac, it would reboot too fast to do anything. I put the phone in recovery mode and restored a backup from a few weeks before.

Phew. Crisis averted.

The problem was, I didn’t connect the dots. I figured the M8 has just downloaded an update and went into a boot loop because it tried to flash an official update through a custom recovery – that’s happened a few times before.

Once I restored the phone, I paired it with my head unit again. Boot. Loop. Again.

It wasn’t an app, it wasn’t some glitch, it wasn’t some anomaly. For whatever reason, my car stereo’s Bluetooth hates the One M8 (or vice versa) and the phone gets stuck in a perpetual boot loop every time they connect. The only way to stop the loop it was to wipe the phone. So I figured the only way to avoid future boot loops would be to convert the phone to a Google Play edition. A few hours and $ 25 later (I had to purchase an S-OFF tool to get the conversion to work because I was one of the unlucky ones who happened to buy an M8 that isn’t compatible with firewater), I had a Google Play edition One M8. I was actually pretty excited. I paired it to my car’s Bluetooth – no boot loop. All good.

gpe-one-m8

However, fast forward about a month, and I’m not nearly as happy as I once was with the One M8. Don’t get me wrong, I love stock Android and the Google Now launcher, but Sense 6 is part of what made the M8 so nice to begin with – it was a beautiful marriage of hardware and software. It sort of feels incomplete now, like its soul is missing.

While motion gestures, the Sense TV app, and BoomSound still work just as well as before, there are no more themes to choose from, I can’t use BlinkFeed, and, most importantly, the best part of the Sense experience is gone: the camera.

one-m8-photo-editFor the record, the One M8 camera is not all that impressive – nor is it the worst. It’s a mobile camera that can do a lot with very little, and that’s respectable. It can take some nice pictures from time to time. But without the beautiful and thoughtfully developed camera app to support it, it’s just another mediocre camera.

For what it’s worth, you can edit your photos using HTC software. When you’re viewing your recently taken photos and tap the edit button, HTC Photo Edit pops up as an editing option. Within this, you will have access to most of the functions of the stock photo editor in Sense 6. You can use the UFocus feature to refocus pictures and apply different effects, you can apply filters, etc. You can’t create GIFs, though, and you don’t get any Zoe effects.

Frankly, I don’t even care that I can use the Duo Camera setup. I just want the Sense camera application – the viewfinder, all the baked-in features, the ability to save setting presets, the Gallery app I thought I hated, and the massive amount of editing features which all come included in Sense 6.

google-camera-one-m8

Me, unsatisfied with the Google Camera.

dot-view-gpeThe camera experience on the Google Play edition version of the One M8 is extremely sterile and unexciting.

What I don’t quite understand is why HTC does’t provide this application in Google Play as it does the Dot View application. Even though I’ve converted my M8 over to the Google Play edition software, I can still snap on the Dot View case and see notifications and the time through the perforated flap. I can also use the IR blaster with the HTC Sense TV remote application despite not using Sense 6.

HTC also provides BlinkFeed, HTC Gallery, and a few other applications in Google Play to decentralize its individual software updates from firmware version updates of. These applications are periodically updated separately from Android and Sense. Frankly, it’s brilliant and something every OEM could stand to do. However, they’re not available to the Google Play edition of the One M8, only the Sense version.

vzw-one-m8-review-camera-ui

I can’t fathom why HTC hasn’t allowed the HTC Gallery or Sense 6 camera – or even BlinkFeed, for that matter – applications to be installed on Google Play edition devices. My guess is that these applications, like much of Sense, require certain frameworks to be in place to work. But truthfully, there is no reason these applications couldn’t work on stock Android. (They have before.)

Just as HTC provided updates to utilize the IR blaster and BoomSound last year, I hope it also updates some of the core Sense applications to work with stock Android on Google Play edition hardware. I know that’s likely little more than wishful thinking. But a man can dream, right?

Eventually, I may be swapping my One M8 back to Sense 6 (after I fix my car and reinstall the tablet). But until then, I’m stuck without the very things that make the One M8 so great. Or I can hold out hope that some third-party developer makes it possible.


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