Windows Phone photography

Way back in September, Microsoft in conjunction with Nokia showed off a new Lens app called ‘Blink’. The app, a summer project by Microsoft Research, is a rapid fire camera program that will take numerous photos and then let you select which is best.

The app is kind of ingenious though because it won’t flood your Camera Roll with 20 shots of the same kid running in the backyard. Instead, you save the shot (or shots) you want to your Camera Roll and then later, you can re-open that “project” in Blink to grab a different pic, if you so choose.

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Although Nokia was not announcing any new Lumia Windows Phones here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas, they were still present here making sure people know that they mean business.

Luckily for us their photo guru, Juha Alakarhu, was there to take our questions regarding cameras and the future of mobile camerawork. Being in charge of Nokia’s imaging for their Lumia line gives him special insight into the field and since we’re photo enthusiasts ourselves, we had a lot to discuss.

Most of our conversation concentrated on chatting about their current cream of the crop, the Nokia Lumia 920 but who could also ignore that 808 Pureview with its 41MP image sensor? Not us. So both imaging technologies were discussed in tandem as well as what Nokia is thinking about what’s coming next. Join us after the break for some interesting tidbits behind Nokia’s photographic magic.

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The 2012 Carl Zeiss Photo Contest has taken an interesting twist this year. The contest is now open to photographers using any kind of Zeiss lens. Whether it's affixed to a rangefinder, SLR, DSLR or a smartphone fitted with a Carl Zeiss lens.

Yep, the Nokia Lumia Windows Phones, fitted with a Carl Zeiss lens, qualifies for the annual photo contest.

This year's contest theme is "the moment that knows no limit" and entries can be submitted at the official Carl Zeiss Lenses Group on Flickr. You'll need to tag your entries with the keyword "ZEISSContest2012" and the last day to enter is January 15, 2013.

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Soviet Kam is a Windows Phone 8 app that turns your Windows Phone camera into an classic film camera from the days of the Soviet Union. You swap out lens, flash and film types to add effects to the images you capture to give them a behind the Iron Curtain feel.  Soviet Kam adds faded colors, imperfect color balance, and weathered film effects that film pictures these cameras so fondly produced.

The interface takes a little time to get use to but Soviet Kam does a good job of giving your Windows Phone a look and feel of cameras from days of old.  You may get the urge for vodka shooters but Soviet Kam is a nice addition the the Windows Phone photography app lineup.

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Windows Phone Camera Faceoff: HTC 8X, Nokia Lumia 920 and Olympus OM-D

The other day we shared a night photo comparison between the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone and a Canon 1D-X DSLR. While the Canon 1D-X and Lumia 920 cameras are worlds apart, the Lumia 920 didn't do a bad job of capturing night photos. All of which made us wonder how the recent crop of Windows Phones would measure up against your run of the mill stand alone digital camera.

We recently took the HTC 8X, Nokia Lumia 920 and Olympus OM-D EM-5 camera out for a comparative test drive and the Windows Phone cameras didn't do to shabby of a job. The Olympus is a mirrorless camera that is similar is design to a "point and shoot" digital camera. It has a 4/3rds sensor shares the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the two Windows Phones and the camera has in-body stabilization which is loosely similar to the Lumia 920's.

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Smart Shoot is a Windows Phone 8 photography app, exclusive to the Nokia Lumia phones such as the Lumia 920.  Smart Shoot is a stand alone app much like the smart group shot feature in Nokia's Camera Extras for Windows Phone 7.5 and is designed to help you take better people or group pictures by correcting those distracting facial expressions.

Ever take a picture of your friends and someone has their eyes closed or they are looking away? If you catch it, you can always re-shoot the picture but then everyone gets impatient and they threaten to revolt. If you miss it, then you're stuck with a bad photo. Smart Shoot is designed to avoid these type situations.

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Photo Maps is a Windows Phone 8 photography app that mixes your images with a map detailing the location of the photo. Photo Maps isn't like Image Map where your photos are mapped out based on where they were taken. Instead, Photo Maps lets you take a photo and adds small Bing map of your location to the image.

Maps choices can be set from within Photo Maps' settings and you can choose between road, aerial, hybrid and terrain map views. Camera controls are rather limited in that you can only turn on/off the flash and toggle between the rear/front cameras from within the app.

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While some Windows Phone photography apps have a sharing feature native to the application some, such as Cinemagraph (here's our review), don't. In these cases you rely on your Windows Phone Pictures Hub options to share these images.

You've just created a fantastic animated GIF through Cinemagraph and are eager to share it with friends or family. Once the image is saved to your Windows Phone, head over to your Pictures Hub and go into the Camera Roll gallery. Find the Cinemagraph image you want to share, pull it up to full view and tap the three dot menu.

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Cinemagraph is an exclusive app for the Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices such as the Lumia 920 that lets you create animated GIF files.  The app captures a series of photos and then presents it in a still picture style that brings any animation within the picture to life.  Cinemagraph also allows you to adjust the amount of animation present on the image and once you get things just right, save it to your Pictures Hub.

Cinemagraph files are a bit on the huge side and we found image quality wasn't always consistent.  Still, Cinemagraph is a nice photographic tool to have on your Lumia 920 or 820 Windows Phone.

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deviantART: Windows Phone App Review

deviantART is a popular photography/art website and the deviantART app brings it all to your Windows Phone. It not only pulls in the 240 million plus photos and pieces of art from deviantART but also allow you manage your deviantART inbox, favorites, gallery and other deviantART account features from your Windows Phone.

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We know that the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone captures impressive night photos. The optically stabilized camera with BSI sensor sheds light on some of the darkest scenes.

But how does it compare with a stand alone digital camera? Windows Phone Central Reader, Keng Chang, took the issue to task and compared his Canon 1DX DSLR to the Lumia 920. The results aren't all that surprising but does speak highly of the Lumia 920's low light performance.

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The latest crop of Windows Phones, the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X, bring together some of the latest technology with their cameras. Windows Phone cameras have progressed nicely through the years. We've seen new sensor technology to improve low-light performance, better software enhancements, and new stabilization mechanics come into play. 

While the Nokia Lumia 920's Pureview camera has garnered a good bit of the Windows Phone 8 spotlight, the HTC 8X's camera has been lurking in the shadows. The 8X has a capable camera within its own right but how does it compare to the Lumia 920's heavy weight camera?

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HTC 8X Camera: A Closer Look

While Nokia has been busy turning heads with the Lumia 920, HTC has quietly produced a decent Windows Phone in the 8X. The Lumia 920 touts an 8.7MP camera with optical stabilization and Pureview technology.  And while the 8X's camera may sound meager in comparison, it's not a bad performer in it's own right. If the camera is a factor in choosing the 8X, I think most will be pleased with the results.  

We touched on the camera slightly in the 8X's main review and now we'll take a closer look at things with regards to still images.

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The Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X Windows Phones are fitted with some really nice cameras.  While it may be a topic for discussion on which camera is the better of the two, we've got two WPCentral Forums discussions going on that nicely shows off the capabilities of these two Windows Phone cameras.

We have some fantastic shots being shared over in the forums like the one above was taken by Sahkolihaa with the Lumia 920 of a sunrise in England.  You can find the Nokia Lumia 920 photo sharing discussion here and the HTC 8X photo sharing discussion here.  If you have a favorite photo taken with your new Lumia 920 or 8X, head on over to the forums and show them off.  We've got a few more pics after the break.

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