Refocus app brings Lytro-like effect to Windows Phone 8, impresses us

Refocus is one of the cooler Windows Phone 8 camera apps we've run across. The camera app operates very similar to the Lytro Cameras or the Pelican Imaging that Nokia is investing in that allows you to choose the focal point after you capture the image.

Refocus lets you shoot now and focus later by capturing a RFI image file (SPEFO Stellar Spectra Analysis file) that can be manipulated to shift the focus point. When you get things just right, the image file is saved in .JPEG format. While we are a little shaky on the science behind Refocus, it's an awesome camera app that is a must have for all the Shutterbugs in the crowd (or anyone else who likes to take photos for that matter).

Before we go too far, Refocus is a Windows Phone 8 app but may not work on every Windows Phone 8 device. There are a few hardware requirements that have to be in place for Refocus to work. The Windows Phone camera must support manual focusing, high resolution captures, and have a light that can be used to illuminate dark scenes. If you don't have one of these three elements, Refocus won't work.  I'm not sure on the other Windows Phone 8 devices but Refocus worked fine on the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X.

Refocus's main page displays your image files captured by Refocus that can be retrieved, adjusted accordingly and re-saved. At the bottom of the main page is your camera button to launch your Windows Phone camera to capture a new image.

You can capture new images by using the shutter button or just tap the screen. Once captured you can adjust the perspective or focus point by tapping the screen or by using the focus adjustment arrows to the side of the image. Tapping the screen to adjust the focus works but the adjustment arrows are more precise. When the image is just right, tap the save button and your completed image is saved to your Pictures Hub camera roll.  Images are saved at 1280x720 and 96dpi.

In addition to giving you the ability to re-focus images, Refocus will let you:

  • Share the completed images (Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.)
  • Upload the completed images to your Skydrive account
  • Open RFI files you find on the 'net or receive through email
  • View completed images on Refocus's Live Tile

There were a few bugs present with Refocus. Nothing that will cause small children to run crying from the room but hopefully easily fixed.

First, when the RFI file is re-opened from the main page of Refocus you can adjust the focal point, share the image but for some reason can't save the re-focused image. This feels like the developer simply forgot the "save" button in the programming.

The other bug dealt with the camera initialization. I did have a few occasions where the camera failed to initialize or the dreaded green screen fill the camera viewfinder. Turning on/off the Windows Phone set things right so the camera can initialize properly.

All in all, Refocus is a really neat photo app that only adds to the creative capabilities of your Windows Phone 8 camera. There is a trial version available for Refocus to let you see if your Windows Phone's hardware is compatible. The trial version does have a limit on the number of images saved.

The full version of Refocus is running $.99 and you can find it here in the Windows Phone Store.

Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

QR: Refocus

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.