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Microsoft's Photosynth 3D panorama app gets higher-res capture mode in latest update

Photosynth is one of the more innovative imaging apps to hail out of Microsoft in the last few years. However, the Photosynth app for Windows Phone has not seen too much in the way of updates or new features. In fact, the last update was back in January.

So it is a surprise to see version 1.8 not only go live in the Store, but come with some new, post-worthy features!

Photosynth 1.8

  • New higher resolution capture mode that takes better advantage of your camera's capabilities
  • Improved stitching engine that blends panoramas faster and reduces visual artifacts

Indeed, launching Photosynth on our Lumia 1520 yielded some impressive results. Once we snapped all of our 'synths, the processing of them into the massive 3D pano took just seconds. The quality too seemed much better.

In short, if you are using a newer, high-end Lumia 830, Lumia 930/Icon, Lumia 1020, or Lumia 1520, you should see the most dramatic effects. Of course, other Windows Phone users, especially with lower-spec processors, should also benefit as well.

If you have never tried Photosynth, you should. The app lets you take dozens of photos, and it effortlessly stitches them together into a unique, 3D panorama that you can share with others online.

Thanks, Sree H., for the tip!

QR: photosynth

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

82 Comments
  • Hmm
  • After one year, m going to download this app :D
  • At last omg, i was waiting for this feature for year
  • Hurray!
  • +1020 This low res was especially annoying with the 1020 :P
  • Yup! Exactly why I never really used it on my 1020! I got much better results from my first Windows phone, a Lumia 800 then I do on my 1020 for some reason...
  • Cool!! Gonna download again
  • And I'm preying that Instagram and maybe Twitter can follow this update wave... Am I asking too much??
  • I know Christmas is coming up but what you ask is beyond even Santa! :)
  • Lol! :P
  • HA-HA!
  • Nothing is beyond Santa! You just have to believe
  • Unless Verizon and cyan.
  • lol
  • DM and video share on instagram is all I'm asking for.... Is that too much??.... Is it? :(
  • Cool, I wish this had come sooner.
  • I love this app, but I can naver get it to work quite right. 
  • I've also never been able to get decent results. Therefore I've always disliked this application. So why do you love the app if it doesn't work?
  • From looking at what some others have accomplished it's pretty damn nice. I actually do pretty well with it till I try to get shots right above and below me. 
  • Brilliant news. I've used the app on my 1520 a number of times and been impressed. Looking forward to trying out the updated version.
  • Cool.
  • I wish they would update the horrible panorama app!
  • Panorama app is good but image quality sucks.. :\
  • If image quality sucks how can the app be good? I don't get it.
  • Are you the ohne John Callaham asking questions to random people you don't even know?... if you don't think it works, why should people think the apps wouldn't still be good? the quality sucks... not the app itself. and photosynth always works for me, so yes, it's a good app. useless but good. only because you don't have a good experience or it's your fault, it doesn't mean it makes the app automatically worthless.
  • For me it is not only imagine quality that is bad but also focus and I can never get it to work when its dusk or dawn... :(
  • So agree with you, it sucks!
  • App still can't capture full 360 panorama on my Lumia 820. It captures ~320°...last 2 pictures just don't fit to "virtual sphere" http://1drv.ms/1v3xe1V :(
  • Nice. I've been using Photosynth since it was just a website. I've enjoyed the evolution.
  • Nice to have higher resolution results.
    The problem with Photosynth is that it basically maps the inside of a 3D sphere with photos and the user cannot adjust the size of this sphere. That means that neither indoors or outdoors shots look quite like they should. Adjustable or even a preset sphere would be a must, and it would be quite easy to implement such as well.
    The principle of the app is quite easy to follow, the team could easily take it to an even higher standard.
  • When and only when I try downloading Photosynth it says it can't connect to the store.
  • It's normal
  • Does anyone know if there is a way to save photosynths into .JPG or HDRI? it would be awesome to use them as lighting in CGI
  • It wouldn't give the same effect as the original panorama
  • I'd use it just as a light source, the background would be a high resolution picture. If PhotoShop manipulation is possible I'd give it a try
  • What do you mean, i didn't get your point. Tnx
  • I hear you, export to 32bit or even uncompressed 16bits would make this a proper tool. But no, you cannot export hemisphere HDR out if the app (hopes they will do something about it but I seriously doubt that).
    And btw, jpegs are not useable for lighting, 8bits lacks all the necessary information.
  • Out of the app HDRI would seem impossible since you are not capturing high dinamic ranges in the first place but high resolution jpeg might be helpful. Thank you!!
  • Maybe not as the main light source but they might provide some nice contrast/color to your scene
  • To serve as image based lighting? for reflections and refractions I would understand it, but for lighting? your workflow seem strange... because while you can just make a fake, different exposures jpg merged HDR file from or something similar, it would never be the same as a real exr or hdr files.  anyway, you can always tap on the share button and send it to camera roll and it will create a jpg.
  • It might work as you say, as fake GI, that is not my workflow at all but I have done it a couple of times with hemispherical skies and does the trick. I think you can pull it off in some scenarios thanks! I will try and share some results
  • yeah I never use photosynth but wanted to test how to export it to jpg, it seems it's only the share button. but you are right, for fast lighting and something fast, you could always use it. I was testing using it on photoshop, and then HDR Light Studio, not the best thing, but at least you can tweak it. and see it live and add a better lighting and all. I don't know what 3d software you use but it should have the live connector thing for it. so yeah it could work. at least for reflections and refeactions it should be good.
  • I use 3dstudio max with Vray as my render engine. I cant find the "send to camera roll" in the share options by the way. I think this can work on a final full resolution rendering even for a picky pro to criticize if done right. But yeah its not the best approach at all
  • oh yeah I was just testing hdr light studio with 3dsmax and vray :P 3dsmax it's by far the best 3d software, I hope Autodesk realized that by changing many guys in 3dsmax team, and releasing extension 1 with good features. hmm and strange, I made a quick photosynth panorama, or whatever is called. and when I click on share to it displays: https://9tduca.dm2301.livefilestore.com/y2pcG_IfMUIxAnIFM5wBSmujqY8j7XgJ3Kkv7eyn9IFTFSu1QwLtmWMadK1ZsERSoeymDNqCYA_kfPIk51T-7jr8YP6mxbe65Sbo4JnutZdyc0/wp_ss_20141121_0001.png oh but I guess you meant you wanted to use other people photosynths, the features ones. so yeah I think that's a no from WP or something. I was just thinking about creating it myself and that's what I was testing. so yeah. I guess there is no way. and now I get what you wanted to do.
  • As someone who has made his living doing 3D motion graphics, effects and compositing for the last 13 years, I wholeheartedly disagree your comment about 3Ds being the "best by far". If you think about it you understand it too.
  • I agree, i have been using 3dsmax for about 9 years and I am fully aware of it's flaws and unintuitive UI. I tried a couple of great programs but never made the switch, since I am an architect, 3dsmax does the job. If I were on another side of the industry that would be a whole different story. Best regards!
  • well I wish I could delete my last message. because I took sometime and found this for you http://synthexport.codeplex.com/ nice little tool that even downloads the point cloud thing when available! :) I used this plugin http://www.guruware.at/main/plyImp/index.html  for the PLY file. but it worked and you can export photos and point cloud and other things. really cool tool if you need it. VRML also worked but the other was easier. and Obj can't be imported into max because it doesn't allow only vertexs to be importer, but Lightwave seemed to import it well.   but anyway! you can download the photos from the photosyths, and use Photoshop or other panorama software that will stitch it and do the magic. Hope it works for you!
  • Wow thank you, I will try for myself as soon as the weekend expires! Good to see WP/3DSMAX users here!
  • For downloading photos Synthexport seems nice and easy. of course I got more interested in the point cloud stuff I can get from it. I finally got it to import into 3dsmax as a point cloud. using Cloudcompare to export the PLY to Autodesk Recap, and then save as RCP to be used into 3dsmax, it was quite a long journey but it was interesting. but also Meshlab would be a nice tool for that, to create the mesh and all. if you are ever interested in that. but anyway! good luck and hope you can do something with it! at least there is a way to download the photos from photosynth site if you need it even if it's not directly on WP. but yeah 3dsmax is super cool tool, i really like it, and it's powerful even if people think it's all about plugins and Autodesk focuses on maya. ^_________^
  • FINALLY! I'd just about quit using this app because the resolution was so bad.
  • would like to see some synth's now made with a 1020.... will try with my meager 920 later :)
  • "new, post-worthy features"
    Not to be snarky... But since when has an update needed new features to be post-worthy? Everytime Facebook or XBox Music and similar widespread apps get updated with NO visible changes, this site makes a post. Which is especially tiresome since the OS either tells us an update is available, or does the update for us.
    A post like this one is cool because people that had uninstalled Photosynth might be interested again and go reinstall. But for the apps everybody has like FB and Xbox Music, why post for every bug fix update?
  • To share our thoughts, SEEMS FASTER for example
  • sometimes we need "log" of when the update occurs, and features were given that day, even if it just a regular bug fix.
  • Negative Nancy
  • False. We don't do it for every app regardless, for instance, we didn't cover the recent Messenger update which had no changelog. For some apps, we do a post even if there is nothing visible only because we are getting flooded with tips. If that did not happen, we would skip it. In fact, our 'app update' coverage has dramatically dropped over the last six months as we ramped up coverage for the rest of the ecosystem, help and how to, and more in-depth pieces.
  • Didn't say you did it for all apps, just popular apps like Facebook. So I'm not sure what "False" was referring to. Anyway, I always assumed you did it due to a high volume of tips (for which I'm very sympathetic) and not because you just felt like writing paragraphs about an update with no changes. If you're managing to do less of those posts nowadays, then good for you
  • Where the hell is the 3d object noise they have iOS? Ridiculous
  • Ah well.. Google sphere is superior to this..
  • if someone can told me how to use it.. i mean sometimes it takes pictures at the edge of the previous frame but some time it doesn't simpl showing red area with a warning and is there any possibility to go in horizontal and vertical direction simultaneously so that i can create much more 3d like image with greater view. 
  • Very cool. Wish it was summer so I could give it my usual whirl at a state park. I can usually get some pretty great Photosynth shots with near 100% coverage of the sphere on my 925.
  • Sweet! Haven't used it much in a long time because of the low-res. Excited to try out the improvements!
  • I like how the 920 (still used by lots of people) is getting mentioned less and less in these types of articles.  (hashbrown)Waiting for a gamechanger.
  • I love photosynth. I'm on vacation this week, I'm going to get a lot of use out of the new features.
  • can we just take a horizontal panorama with photosynth? or will I get the same spherical effects?
  • I love Photosynth. Look up swizzlerz. Also I use the tech preview more now.
  • Still broken, can't do a proper 360 even with a tripod. And it doesn't look that high-res..
  • Yet another MS service that is supported on other OSes more than its own more like #dontforgetyourownOS than app.
  • When are they going to integrate it into the stock camera??
  • This is an awesome app.
  • What you guys forgot to tell is that the higher resolution is only 25% higher than the low-res. It is quite frustrating that it does not use the original resolution of the phone's camera. :| I rather take a bunch of photos with my 1020 and than have the photosynth application on my laptop such out together to achieve the best result.
  • Nice to see they updated it as I wasn't lucky enough to get into the beta last winter
  • Might wanna add that you manually have to change the capture resolution to high. Just tap the three dots when you are in capture mode to go settings
  • So after updating, the app still says its version 1.7. I even uninstalled and reinstalled, same thing. Anyone else?
  • Was waiting for this....
  • one of my best application as well as the the GPSCalculator Pro
  • A bit unrelated. But does anybody know why normal photos shared to facebook look awful?
    Has Microsoft developed some propriety algo for WP facebook sharing to make people to jump ship? (running l1520 here and been in the boat since l800)
  • Facebook compresses images quite heavily if they're above a certain size I believe. Perhaps downsize them in say Fhotoroom and then post?
  • Perhaps. After people hub was made non-functional in 8.1 I may just quit facebook for good and that solves the problem. Still somewhat annoying that basic things that should just work now require extra hoops.
  • YES FINALLY AFTER WAITING THIS SO LONG.
    Yea i'm stressed out, why my panorama looks pixelated and crappy quality.
  • this is great app
  • I just updated but when I go to Help > About, it still says Microsoft Photosynth Version 1.7. Hmmmm