How to use the Windows Phone 8.1 camera burst mode

One of the many new features Windows Phone 8.1 brings to the table is a burst mode for the native camera app. The burst mode allows you to capture a series of images then select the best of the group to save to your Pictures Hub.

Think of it as a motor drive back in the old film camera days or a 10 frame per second drive for today’s digital cameras.

Burst Mode Operations

The Windows Phone 8.1 camera has three mode buttons sitting in the right of the screen (bottom if you are holding the camera vertically), one for still images, one for video capture and the third for the new burst mode (icon with the three image frames). Just tap on the burst mode and you are ready to capture your kids running across the backyard, your pets chasing its tail or any other action scene.

Burst Mode View

A single press of the shutter button (on-screen or physical button) will capture 15 frames, more if you continuously hold down the shutter button. I’m not sure if there is a buffer limit on the number of frames you can capture while holding down the shutter button but I was able to capture over 100 frames without any issues.

It should be noted, if you tap the screen to focus/shoot your photos the burst mode is only good for the 15 frames. To capture more images at once you will need to use the on-screen or physical shutter buttons.


There are two caveats with burst mode. No deal breakers, just some limitations you should be aware of.

First, the burst mode will only captures images at low resolution (1024x768). The lower resolution is needed to keep processing time down. I can imagine it would take several minutes to process 15+ high resolution, 38MP files. Images may not be good enough for large prints but are just fine for electronic sharing. 

Second, there isn’t a continuous focus with burst mode. It locks focus and then captures the series of images. It is not the end of the world but may limit your camera’s focus range on moving subjects.

You will need to time things just right to avoid focusing on subjects too far away, which will result in out-of-focus images as they get closer to you. The same can be said of subjects moving away from you.

Reviewing Your Images

Burst Mode Image Selection Screen

Once captured, you can preview the entire series and select particular frames to save and discard the rest. Here’s how to go about it.

  • When you review a burst image (either from the Pictures Hub or from the camera viewfinder) a burst icon will appear in the lower left corner of the image.
  • Tap the icon and your full series of images will appear.
  • Scroll through the images and tap the frames you want to save.
  • Once you’ve selected all the frames, tap the save control button that sits to the side of the screen and those individual frames will be saved to your Pictures Hub.

Any images not saved will be automatically deleted, by default, after seven days. You can change this duration in the camera’s setting to as short as one day or never delete the burst images. You also have the option to manually delete any un-saved images. That option is up under the three-dot menu on the review screen for the burst mode.

Burst Mode Retention Settings

While it’s not perfect (no high resolution files or continuous focus) the new burst mode with Windows Phone 8.1 does expand our camera’s capabilities. If you’ve tried the new burst mode, let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

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.

  • Can't wait for 8.1!! 1020
  • install...
  • Not yet I don't want my 1020 to have issues. I'll wait for official release.
  • Lumia 1020 user here. So far, no issues. Playing with all the new features and I'm loving it.
  • Oh cool thanks man I'll try it out!
  • My cousin also has a 1020 with 8.1
    Don't worry about it.
  • hahahahaha!!! a simple comment instantly convinced you eh? :D +1020
  • Windows Phone users are the best! lol +1020
  • yup no far...start appears gr8..notifications all good...but will loose the in built fbmeesenger,beautiful panoramic view of music player is gone which now is bit slow dark theme no recent option or histroy(personel opinion about music player just gone worst from good..still no sliding to forward option) player got better there is subtitile option now thats gr8,games hub another thing thats annoying all games scattered in the app list,....speed dial gr8 feature added,now can call a person in the contacts with one touch thats good...over all good update..but music player and games hub really disappionting....loading resuming screens are considerably reduced...
  • Thank you!  I use a mac and I was wondering would I be able to register my 1020 and install 8.1, or do I have to use windows on a pc?
  • Same here! My 1020 is so much more interesing now... especially with the new start screen background and extra tiles. I'm loving it!   With that said though... isn't this "Microsoft Camera" thing a little bit redundant? I mean, we've had Nokia Camera and it's "burst mode" (Smart Camera) for some time now and it works just the same. Does it not? I guess this would be for "non-Nokia" Windows Phones??
  • when you installed the 8.1 on your 1020 do you have to rearrange the tiles to how you had them before or is everything saved for you after install?
  • Everything is saved just how you had your tiles before. But, if you enable the extra row (or column) of tiles, you'll have to rearrange the tiles to your liking. It'll just give you the extra space to add more tiles.
  • Thanks Ed!!
  • Sure thing, Chief! (Cortana reference ;-))
  • +1020!  WPCentral peeps are so much nicer and cooler than the Android Central ones!  Glad I switched from Galaxy S4 to Nokia Lumia 1020!
  • don't worry man the update is perfect no issues at all
  • I have a Lumia 1020. No issues at all. Please do yourself a favor and developer preview it. It's gonna ba while before it comes out officially. The developer preview is a way for Microsoft to distribute it themselves and basically have beta testers. Read the wpc article about it they explain that it's totally safe.
  • I'm installing right now!  Thank you everyone, especially to Rodney for sending me the links!
  • To burst or to Blink......? Which is better?
  • Burst is way better!
  • Prefer burst, it is start right away when you set to default camera and burst mode. The default camera is faster than Nokia Camera.
  • Orale vato!  You BLINK you dies homes!  LOL
  • Blink is way better - it allows cool effects like rewinding faces, removing moving objects, motion blur image, etc.  Burst mode is cool cause it gives you options to save single files, but to me, blink is better.
  • I was hoping they give a higher res burst mode. This is nothing exciting for me, as blink does this already.. (i know, this one is faster, but that's not very exciting)
  • Nokia Camera is slow and buggy with my Lumia 822. and the quality of the photos is just bad. Dark, out of focus, bad color balance.  I reverted back to the default camera and using it everyday since it is faster, has many optios and photo quality is GOOD! So Burst!
  • There's only one way to find out...
  • I'm loving burst mode!
  • There is a Camera problem in ATIV S. After taking a picture the camera flash suddenly turns on for two seconds. Tried with 3 different ATIV S and same problem. With apps like camfish or cam360 there is no problem, only with the built in camera app of Microsoft.
  • Same problem with me!
  • Same here, also it happened two times already that the camera stayed black with the buttons greyed out after opening and backing out of a lense. It affected all camera apps and only a reboot fixed it.
  • Same here after using lenses
  • You need to change some settings and then 'restore camera settings to default'. That did the trick for my Ativ S.
  • Thanks, I'll give it a try!
  • Is this better than Nokia's smart sequences?
  • Anyone knows how does this compare with "smart sequence" of Nokia camera?
  • Burst is terribly poor quality. The photos are only 0.9 MB big. On my android or iPhone each burst is full resolution. Burst would be great for taking photos of my daughter if the quality was decent. Come on Microsoft!
  • I would have expected with the highest specced devices WP could take higher resolution burst shots as well.
  • Remember this is a beta. More improvements to come before official release
  • You don't see this in Blink. I doubt they will add this option to preserve app integrity across devices. Would be nice if they made one specifically for higher end WP devices.
  • Captured over 100 frames, wow, I'm impressed!
  • What's the point of burst if the pics looks lik they are from 2M - pre 2008??? Yecch! I tried it and hated it.   I think the smart shoot from Nokia works better, as it keeps them as one file, it dosn't delete any of the other pics, and I can always watch them again as mini slideshow movies.
  • I'd rather just stick with the Smart Camera functionality in Nokia Camera. I'm happy with just picking the single best shot, plus there's better editing tools with that as well.
  • Maybe the will be an update where quad core devices have full resolution burst pictures.
  • Wonder if slow motion video capture now enabled or a further update is needed?
  • Just tried it now... Camera stopped working and now all the screen is black. Bad work with the camera app in ativ s.
  • Tried it with the new metro line in my wonders!
  • Is camera a standalone app like music and video. Would be great as it can be updated with pause and zoom support in video.
  • One cool feature to notice is that the burst mode captures a few pictures from before you pressed the shutter button. Great for those moments when the action is faster than your reaction time.
  • George - I'd wager 90% of the posters here would have to do a search for what a motor drive is!  LOL!
  • Yesterday I tried capturing lightnings with birst mode....
    IT'S JUST AMAZING!!! Burst mode is infinite, I waited capturing photos for long times even arriving to 700 photos per time..resolution is not high but quality is fine, and it allows to capture moments difficult to capture in other ways, so it's a good compromise
  • Pretty big limitations if you ask me. I don't use rapid shooting much even on my slr, by I'm sure its nice for moving objects or something alike
  • So is the new native Camera better or you guys prefer Nokia Camera more? Need to choose one for the default shutter.
  • Hopefully a review/comparison will be done.
  • Upperlimitvis 150
  • "While it’s not perfect (no high resolution files or continuous focus) the new burst mode with Windows Phone 8.1 does expand our camera’s capabilities. If you’ve tried the new burst mode, let us know what you think of it in the comments below." -- It'd also be nice if it was like iOS 7, where simply holding down the shutter button (even in regular mode) automatically started taking burst shots. Otherwise, by the time you enter burst mode, you could've already missed the action.
  • The limit is about 3000
  • I can't get the new camera to turn off its flash, so I'm still using the Nokia Beta. However, it did seem marginally faster.
  • I m using lumia 625 in india ......i have completed all the step for update into 8.1 like login into app studio & preview for developers i can't see update plsss help me
  • I can't see update for my lumia 625 in india......pls help me
  • Using this on my 920 and the quality just isn't good enough. These should be 2000x3552 like all of my other photos. If the 920 doesn't have the horsepower handle that, I understand. But these should not be low-res on the 1520, Icon or 930. Nokia needs to step up in the area of capture speed. iPhone5S can auto-focus and capture much faster, and its burst mode does not require a low-res image.
  • How does this differ from Blink? And why is there no built-in timer mode for taking group shots with the photographer included?
  • Ow!? Why not a bit more resolution @ 3 frames per second at 3-5 mpix? That would also be acceptabel for me. I don't need 15 FPS per se. And for the icon and 1520 it should not be an issue with processing  and focusssing since the horse power is quad core with 2x  RAM. For goodness sake!
  • I like Burst mode like the others here but would appreciate higher res pics with maybe a set limitation of number of pics taken per series to allow for that.  Rather than taking a series of photos that can essentially recreate a short video I would rather the ability to take a video and extract a frame at 1920x1080.  I do that on the computer now but would rather choose from one of the 30fps recorded.  Or just have it Burst at 1920x1080 eventually.  I'm not sure if it can be done now but gif creation with the Burst recording would be great.
  • i can only save a single burst image when i select at least 2 images? (all selected images minus 1 is saved, so 1=0, 2=1, 3=2 etc)
  • Suddenly there's a lot of stuff on my camera and it makes it really hard to tap the screen without tapping something else instead. I know that I won't ever be using the burst camera and it's really just clogging up space. I wish there was an option to take it off my camera :(
  • Burst mode is a very good idea. I tried it out and it works as advertised. But, how do you turn the burst mode off? Now, every time I take a photo my phone takes several burst mode frames.
  • I'm old school - 75. I still expect to hear dial tone when I use my phne. I realize many of you don't even know what dial tone is. As far as new technology goes, I drag my feet, but I have to conform just to stay in touch with friends and family, in fact with the world. I have a Nokia with Windows 8.1. I keep finding new stuff on the phone. Burst mode seems to work well, but I can't seem to t urn it off. Is it turn off-able? If so, how do you do it. My first computer was a Mac 512e. I loved it. But since then both Apple and Microsoft keep "enhansing" their software. Now their software, including 8.1 on my phone, has a lot of stuff that few will ever use (but the software companies can justify charging more). As far as burst mode, I've used it but really would rather not. How can I disarm it? Thanks a lot.