How to fix your Lumia 920 photos using Nokia's Creative Studio

A common complaint with the Nokia Lumia 920 is that of "soft" photos--both in terms of sharpness and colors. While we can argue the merits and reasons for such behavior, did you know you can easily fix them with just a few seconds and barely any effort? The key is to use Nokia's homegrown, free and surprisingly robust photo editor, Creative Studio.

But how does it work and what are the best tips? Read ahead and we'll show you how to make the most of it.

Creative Studio is a photo editing app exclusive to the Nokia Lumias, much like HTC has the Photo Enhancer app for their line of Windows Phones. The Windows Phone 8 version of Creative Studio is a wee bit different that the previous versions and we thought a quick walk through would be helpful.


The app lets you apply unique, eye-catching filters and employ basic editing adjustments to photos aka post-processing. In addition, it saves the original untouched image in your Photos Hub (Camera Roll) and creates a second image under Saved Pictures.

The other big advantage is that Creative Studio doesn't automatically re-size images--it keeps them at their original resolution, which is a huge selling point. The downside is sometimes, on rare occasions, we have had the app crash, most likely due to a memory error. Still, the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

Where to find it

You can access Creative Studio by directly launching the app from your App List. You can also more conveniently launch it directly from the camera app via the three-dot menu when reviewing a photo. When reviewing a photo, simply hit the  "edit" command and you will be taken directly to the app for a quick fix.

How to use it

When you launch Creative Studio independently, you'll need to select a photo to edit. From there, the editing process can be a little confusing but it doesn't take long to get the hang of things.

Your first task is to select (or not select) an Effects filter. There are eight filters to choose from that include Opal, Amber, Aquamarine, Jade, Quartz, Seashell, Ivory and Silver. Each one enhances certain color elements--one brings out blues, another reds, another green. All in all, there filters are quite nice and give some pizzazz to your photos.

Or if you're okay with no filters, there is the Original view that can be chosen if you don't want any effects filter applied. Whichever you choose, just tap on the thumbnail to launch the editor where two buttons will appear: Edit and Save. If you need to fine tune your photo, hit the Edit button to pull up the editing tools. If you are okay with things as is, just tap Save and your image is saved to the Photos Hub.

Editing tools are spread out across two pages; Adjust and Fix. The tools include color balance, brightness, clarity (sharpness), vibrance. For the 'Fix' tools you have crop + rotate and red eye. Each tool is simple and straight forward. Once you have all the fine tuning done, save your photo by hitting the little floppy disk (bottom bar).

[Pro Tip: As we demonstrate in the above video, the Lumia 920 doesn't need too much "fixing". The one go-to repair we do always apply is 'clarity' aka sharpness. For that one, we move the slider about 1/4 to 1/3 to the right as instinct and that seems to greatly sharpen the Lumia 920's photos. Likewise, we use crop + rotate often too.]

Once done, the original photo is left untouched in the Camera Roll under the Photos Hub. The new creation is placed under Saved Pictures. Once you're done editing, you can directly Share the photo via email, Twitter, Facebook, SMS or whichever third-party app you have installed on your phone. 

Where to get it 

Creative Studio is a very capable and easy way to edit photos captured on your Nokia Lumia Windows Phone. It's a free app that you can find in the Nokia Collection on your Store App. Or you can follow this link (opens in new tab) from your Lumia Windows Phone.

Look for our other Windows Phone photography coverage right here.

Before and After shots from a Lumia 920 using Creative Studio

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • Windows Phone 7's creative studio doesn't have the red eye function.
  • Yep
  • Yes, thanks for pointing out the red eye feature.  I wanted to remove it from a photo I took the other day but I didn't see it.
  • It's a shame Auburn's past football season cannot be fixed so easily.
    Sigh. It was a long season.
  • Yes it was, but things are looking up for next year. WAR EAGLE!
  • I was happy with Mr Malzahn, it has been a very long year indeed
  • War Eagle! As for the subject at hand, any similar apps for the 8X?
  • If anyone only needs to fix the Softness, just use Clarity. That fixes most of the issues :)
  • Pretty sure we wrote exactly that in the post and said it in the video too ;)
  • Yep
  • LOL Sorry! I skimmed the article and then felt, what if someone just wants a quick answer? So I decided to state it in the comments :). I meant no harm with it haha
  • Clarity != Sharpening.  Too much clarity creates undesired artifacts (halo).
  • Very useful and clearly presented. Thank you for this.
  • Creative Studio is okay. You can also lighten up your photo's by using "fix" in the the Crop, rotate, auto-fix edit app. 
    However the best photo enhancement app for WP8 is Photo Shader. Well worth the $0.99.  
  • How does it compare to Fhotoroom? I like Fhotoroom a lot for simple adjustments.
  • Photo Shader is *great*...and I've had some really good dialog with the apps creator. 
    It differs from some other photo apps, though, in that it really shines when you want to sit down and mess with a photo for awhile -- almost like a mini-Photoshop session.  It has a "draw" feature that I've never seen anywhere else.  Basically, you can apply a filter (Sepia, B&W, Titl Shift, whatever) and then perform a pressure-sensitive Draw on the photo to *NOT* apply that filter to that portion of the photo.  For instance, I took a picture of my kids at Halloween -- my daughter dressed as a Greek goddess, and my son dressed as a ghost. I was able to apply a "glow" filter to just my daughter, and then a B&W filter to just my son -- both of them in the same photo, but very different effects.  Really cool stuff.
    For very quick "fix and edit" type stuff, there might be better apps out there.  For digging in and making GREAT photos, though, I'm not sure you can beat Photo Shader :)  Not sure it has a 'sharpness' filter though....
  • I tried it, but it saves the photo at lower resolution!
    I edited a 5MP photo and I hot a 1.2MP photo... Meh...
  • photo fantasia (not sure i spelled that right) appears to have a lot of the same features. you mention pressure sensitivity as in the hardness of the brush changes depending on how hard you press the screen? dont think fantasia has that though. But indeed the other being able to apply masks on your filters using a phone app is really awesome! 
  • Thank you, I really like Photo Shader!  It can actually make the Lumia shots look passable.
  • In my experience a lot of the Lumia's softness problem is from defaulting to a low shutter speed and overexposing to show off its image stabilization. Even if you set exposure level down ir always uses a very low shutter speed unless its in sport mode.
  • That's my assertion as well. I'd love an app that just gave us manual controls, or at least a better UI for quickly changing settings.
  • I bet those feature will come very soon, WP8 camera UI is awful....Though I love my lumia 920.
  • That makes a lot of sence.  I really hope they can fix this problem.
  • Thanks for the article Mr. Ponder!
  • Great article guys, I have two questions:
    1) Did Nokia remove that sort of "slider" that you could move on the photo to see it before and after the effect? I'm sure I saw that in older videos about Creative Studio...
    2) This app is great, but as for me, it still lacks a LOT of features, like color curves, white balance, light/shadows balance, and a lot of filters (Lomo, miniature, etc...)
    I'll keep going with Thumba, as it saves the photo at full resolution, too :)
    Did you try that app? What do you think?
  • The advantage to creativeStudio is that it is free on the Lumia 920, the phone this article is directed towards, and it shows up in the edit menu. I have thumba, it's very nice, but not free and not embedded in the edit menu.
  • Seriously, I'm in no way a professional photographer, but I would say: lost details are lost details. you'll never bring em back with post-image processing. nokia should fix that asap.
  • Who's complaining of lost details on a camera phone? Re-saving a post processsed image via JPG once ain't gonna kill the photo.  Do you have an actual examples where this can be demonstrated?
  • I don't think he's talking about recompressing . The question is whether the softness of the 920 is due to a lack of resolution or a lack of Acutance. A lack of either makes an image lock soft. A lack of Acutance can be fixed with sharpening but no amount of sharpening can fix a lack of resolution. A good article on the subject can be found here:
  • I mean check out the crop in wpcentral's own article DayCrop_edited-1.jpg nothing is gonna bring back the details in the brick facade. the funny thing with the 920 is, when you half-press the shutter button, the image is crystal sharp, like it is on my old htc titan. but when you press and the image processing is applied, the softness kicks in and details are lost. so i would say the lens and chip in the 920 is way more capable than final image results.
  • I agree the 920's hardware seems to be much more capable then the results you get. I wish there were manual controls or exit data so we could narrow down what the problem is as there are a number of things that could be the problem. I think the problem is either that the camera is defaulting to a lower shutter speed when the picture is taken then when in live view or the same amount of aggressive noise reduction is applied at every ISO, greatly softening image. It could also be both.
  • Roll Tide!! Creative Studio could help Auburn's season look any better.
  • Is there a fix for "white-eye?". I seem to get that a lot more often than red eye...
  • Bottom line: the Lumia 920 takes poor photos. The color has a definite bluish tint and the image is "soft" or what I like to call "slightly blurry". The Auto settings are what I use. If there are better settings I should use, I'm open to suggestions, but Auto settings still need to be fixed. My sister's iPhone takes much better photos. Sharp, clear, and realistic coloring. I bought this phone because of the camera and I am sorely disappointed.
  • Bottom line: that's your opinion, which is in the minority. George and myself definitely do not agree with your assertion. 
  • I agree with him 100%.
    Look, I *LOVE* my 920... but there's just no denying (imho) that the camera is, at best, sub-par. My old iPhone 4, let alone my wife's 4S or theiPhone 5, absolutely *trounce* the 920 in overall photographic capabilities. The one exception, of course, being low light photos, at which the 920 excels.
    But for regular old, outdoor, sunny weather, landscapes, still lifes, macros, etc? Not even close. iOS by a country mile.
    I've used Creative Studio, Fotoroom, and several others. STILL can't get anything near iOS photos imho.
    I am hopeful that it's merely a software issue. I'm not trading in my 920 or anything, but unless they address this issue the camera aspect of the phone has be considered a huge, huge disappointment.
    For me.
  • BTW, trying to justify the poor photo quality from the Lumia 920 compared to the iPhone is putting lipstick on a pig. I am a die hard Windows Phone user, but the photo quality is a problem with this Lumia.
  • Is that statue of you 3d printed? It has an interesting texture to it.... and if so... Holy crap, how do I get that?!
  • Why does Creative Studio double the size of your jpgs? That is my only issue with this software. Just check the size on SkyDrive after uploading. Even if you barely touch it up it does this.
  • this could be skydrive messing with your head. Skydrive downscales your pictures unless you manually upload them.
  • Great tips, tried this myself and there is a definite major improvement and some really good effects. I use my phone as a happy snap replacement camera and am really happy with the results. These adjustments make it even better!!
  • I'm pretty sure in my case, at least part of the problem is that the camera doesn't focus perfectly.  A lot of times I notice if I push the camera button halfway, I see during the focusing stage that the picture gets very clear.  But when it quits focusing and supposedly has found the "best focus" it appears a little blurry.  And that's before you actually take the picture.  Then I make it focus over and over again and it never gets any better.  Has anyone else noticed this?  I also seem to have trouble with focus during video at times.
  • Are you sure it's before you take the picture?  I always think, wow, that looks like it will be a great photo!  And then after post processing I see/feel dissapointment.
  • I bet we could get better final results by using another camera to photograph the Lumia's live preview screen.  
  • Ha! Sad, but sadly true.
  • I have a concern... If a photo is stored by the camera already softened, doesn't that mean that all the color definition required to sharpen it while keeping it TRUE to the actual subject is already gone? If so, sharpening it with Creative Studio would use algorithms to estimate where one color ended and the other one started without the blur, but this algorithm is an estimation by design.
  • I think the best policy here is to let your own eyes decide. Not the knowledge that a JPEG is going to lose quality each time you save it, or that it is digitally enhancing the image to create a desired effect. Bottom line, the clarity bar will alter the photo in some way. If the end result is to your liking, use it. If not...don't.
  • That's stating the obvious. My concern is of technical nature, where things are or aren't, without room for grays. It shouldn't elicit a subjective opinion (whether I like it or not, whether I think is good enough or not).