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Windows Camera app update removed bracketing feature – but did anyone notice?

Earlier this week, Microsoft updated the Windows Camera app for PC and phone. The version number jumped to 2016.107.11 and at the time we assumed it was just part of the .63 OS updates rolling out as nothing new was noticed.

However, a few members in our forums and on Reddit did notice one change: exposure bracketing had been removed.

Bracketing is an advanced feature often found in high-end cameras. The feature lets a user take at least three photos (and up to five) at different exposure levels e.g. -.5EV to +.5EV, -1EV to +1EV, and -2EV to +2EV. Prosumers often use the function in post-editing to create high-dynamic-range (HDR) images using PC software.

The bracketing feature was first brought to Windows Phone in the summer of 2013 back when it was only part of Pro Cam for the Lumia 1020. Later, the feature expanded to other PureView devices.

As to why it was removed we can only guess that it was a feature rarely used by consumers. Despite it being taken out Tuesday, we have barely heard a peep from users about the missing function, suggesting that most people did not even notice.

Additionally, Rich Capture (HDR mode) does almost the same thing when enabled. Rich Capture quickly snaps three photos and then overlays them to create a single image with high-dynamic-range. A user can then control the range of the exposure within the Photos app and making bracketing slightly redundant. Rich Capture is certainly more consumer friendly and convenient.

However, for real pro-shooters bracketing did save three separate JPG files to the phone that could be uploaded to OneDrive whereas Rich Capture lumps them into a single .nar file. You could save images as DNG (RAW) but this can quickly use up a lot of storage, and it doesn't auto-upload to OneDrive.

All in all, losing a feature is never a good thing and for all we know maybe it is being re-worked. Then again, seeing as how the community barely noticed its absence perhaps Microsoft was just reducing complexity and responding to what people (did not) use.

Did you ever use bracketing in the Windows Camera app and will you miss this feature? Let us know in comments.

Via: Windows Central Forums and Reddit

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

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.

  • I know Microsoft. They love to take things away and add them again later. See "color pop." One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • Color pop is there in Lumia creative studio. What do you mean?
  • All the same to me. Nokia/Microsoft. They both take useful features away and add them later for some odd reason. See Me Tile for Windows phone 10 Mobile. Maybe a better example. One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • There's the me tile in wm10? Where?
  • Exactly. Its not there. One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • No Nokia never did that.
  • He meant MS removed colour pop and added it again in a later update.
  • It was removed in some versions of creative studio and then returned.
  • Exactly. It was gone for a while (I don't know how long), and then returned in October 2014.
  • There was once an app Nokia Smart Cam it's gone now,are those features in new windows camera app?
  • I asked the same thing and the answer seems to be "No, not now...maybe tomorrow"
  • Those features are still in Lumia camera.
  • LG sucks tho.
    No updates and a lot of lag
  • What does your opinion of LG have to do with anything?
  • I'm not here to start wars your phone can't finish. Just saying that it's something that I've noticed about Microsoft. One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • Here we go.
  • Fair enough point about Microsoft removing that. But seriously, I'd wager fewer than 1% of all Windows Phone users relied on bracketing. And by pruning what's there and then adding new features that's how you get an experience that is not as bloated as Android with LG's skin on top of it. Having escalated the conversation yourself if there is one phone that can match the LG V10 in a hardware war that would be the Lumia 950 XL.
  • Good point. I'd love to have that triple LED flash and iris scanner, but I have wireless charging on my V10 and the IR blaster programmable to cable boxes, tv's, and other things with IR receivers is not only cool but useful as well. One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • How does that LG perform? I've been reading good reviews. So far, this is the phone that might replace my Lumia 1020 ... that or the LG G4, but L like the idea of the fingerprint reader on the V10.
  • The V10 performs beautifully. Coming from the L1020 you'll find yourself right at home in the camera app and even more so with additional capabilities. Battery life and speakers won't blow you away. Fingerprint sensor is not the fastest either but these are small pains to an otherwise near perfect phone. I really love love the camera. Really. The UI is debatable but everything is customizable with Android. The hifi DAC makes for a heightened level of purity in a listening experience. Huge screen is brilliant. Please do visit our thread over on Android central to check out our pictures. Plus 64gb of internal storage plus memory card slot. It was really one of the best phones of 2015 in my opinion. One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • You really have no clue. LG are much better nowadays. Best cameras on Android too.
  • It would be hella better if they add a friggin Panorama mode instead of having to load up the old and cumbersome Nokia app.
  • This ^^
  • It would be hella better if they just add Panorama instead of removing things because "nobody use it" reasons.
  • Son of a gun, I just finished writing a book about that feature.
  • Love that color pop!
  • I'm glad I have wp8.1 and will stay like this. Win 10 mobile is such an unfinished mess.
  • Probably a lot less mess than you realize if you haven't used it lately.
  • It has got sooo much better. Hopefully quickly continuing to get better.
  • @wilkna Win 10 Mobile is not a mess.  Please provide an example of what creates a mess.
  • Microsoft is always screwing with our features. Not sure why they can't leave the great features alone.
  • Because reasons...
  • It's not like Google hasn't messed with Androids GUI for these pass few years or even the fact like IOS GUI has changed these pass few years just the same the point is at lease Microsoft is listening to the community and allow us to be apart of Windows insider and getting new updates sooner such as LG G3 still on 5.0.1 and LG removed alot lf the lock screen features when they updated the G3 and then released the G4
  • pass few years?  at lease?   apart?   like?   alot?   Just SAD!
  • I tried bracketing once, and it was so long ago that I thought bracketing was the grid feature while reading this
  • Not gonna lie... Thought the same thing. Although I was poking around not long ago before the update and came across this
  • I thought the same thing... Weird.
  • Clearly, we suck at bracketing.
  • Same here
  • I thought the same
  • thought the same thing as well. I thought it was centering your subject hence the grid that popped up. Bracketing your subject [☺]. Maybe they should have called it multi exposure for the novices, lol.
  • We have come long way my friend and learn many many thing.(in my Mawagi voice)lol One picture at a time -- LG V10
  •   It has been called bracketing for many more years than there have been phones capable of taking photos.
  • Quote!
  • Now MS Removes it just because it was rarely used and rarely heard a peep !! C'mon! It was working fine so no need for peeping around about it!!! And now they are have everything in the app to start removing features! Why?!! .. It was very handy in circumstances where no camera in hands! And so what will MS introduce instead!!??
  • Besides, Rich capture is not available in all the phones. So, bracketing was a good alternative.
  • Indeed! Also Bracketing is preferable for some who prefer to use actual photo editing applications like Photoshop to manually combine them for whatever reasons. Bracketing feature is obviously none consumer feature but somebody do use it but not always. I do use it sometimes but I don't use it on everyday photos, even for artistic reasons. This feature was great to have one when you need it and now it's gone because "people rarely use it".
  • I feel that I'm going to have several disappointments when they phase out the remainder of the luxuries we were accustomed to in the Lumia apps.
  • I don't know what's wrong with them!!!! >_
  • They want us to stop buying Lumias.
  • A few days later. "Microsoft removes the manual controls of windows camera as it was not used by majority of users :3" .
  • My gosh, I'm not even surprise if they will do that but I hope they will never even think about it. Microsoft reasoning is "few people use it, just ditch it" and it's really annoying if happens you rely on such functionality, even worst if there's no other good alternative available. This move just annoy it's users which gave them a reason to give up on the platform and switch. Microsoft approach is quite extreme sometimes, they think it's black or white. 
  • Never used it, didn't even know it was there, and still don't understand its purpose, but sad to see it go.
  • The feature is used for tough lighting conditions so that you have alternate exposures in case your main exposure is off. It's also used in creating HDR images. I personally use a phone camera for quick captures and an slr for more serious captures. But others are using their phones as their only camera.
  • I don't now a days anyone who takes pictures will be, hold on let me use the brackets for my pictures. We only snap a picture and see u later. Anyway for those who do use it then I guess is kind bad move from Microsoft but then no one has complaint.
  • You clearly don't understand what this is or does... You should read and comprehend
  • What language is this?
  • I used bracketing a lot on all my Lumias. Disappointed that it was removed, as not all phones supports rich capture.
  • I use also bracketing. This is a very disapointing news.
  • Removing it might even improve app performance. Less code = faster?
  • Doesn't really work that way case in many cases.
  • Nope, guess it was another decision down telemetry. If I say any more I will probably type an essay. I really hope they bring it back, it really removes the edge from the 950 and XL Imo.
  • In what way?
  • @IEhrgeizl. Bracketing combined with manual controls is plain awesome. I'm no pro photographer however I know several who are and they just love how much control they have. We were taking pictures at a wedding, they were using their fancy dslrs and me since I don't own one i was fiddling around with the manual controls on my 920 which caught their eyes. Needless to say they drained out my phone's battery playing around with the camera and manual controls. I'd post pictures but since all the photos contain relatives or friends someway or another I can't and won't. I got all 5 to try out the 1520 and they still are rocking 'em. Sure I could tell them they could use and assign a different app. However what happens when an app update skews up the photos? Plus you have the element of trust and brand recognition. They would rather use the default app knowing that it's provided by Microsoft (testing etc). I know because I went through everything and showed them proshot assigned to the camera button - that's what they said and all agreed on.
  • If they just literally decide based on telemetry then they have a flawed analysis of such functionality about it's usefulness and how it will affect their users. Bracketing is a functionality not designed to be used in every scenario, but it's great to have when you need it especially for some people (which is tends to be more on artistic photography and other reasons). They cannot say that it's rarely used because the use-case of that functionality isn't meant to use everytime on every user. This is like removing Cruise control because not alot of people nor not often used. This is like the reasoning on removing the Start button because the telemetry said it's not heavily used. Guess what happened the time they remove the button (though there is still a way to access Start).
  • Nope, the bracketing feature is not an active functionality that use additional system resources if not used. It doesn't affect the app performance at all and if there is, they have different and much serious problem on how they develop their apps. It's like removing a dedicated Send button on the messaging app, it doesn't make any difference on app performance on removing the button.
  • That's annoying. I use bracketing a lot - you don't lose image quality like you do with the mediocre HDR mode and you have more control over the range and number of exposures. It was actually really good for taking photos where you have a strong light source, such as sunsets. I hope they bring it back.
  • Exactly my point.
  • THIS!!!
  • Hi guys. Speaking on camera features ...  what is that red square face detection used for ?  Is possible to take advantage of that for QR and Bar Codes scanning (instead of calling an specific Lens, which takes some time) ?
  • The camera is far too complicated for a phone as it is, when most people's pics end up shared and re-viewed on small screens anyway. No one wants all the arsey stuff, just point and snap. Never got a decent photo yet without using Auto settings, it's just too fiddly.
  • For those of us that can use a camera, manual controls are invaluable.
    Your inability to use manual settings does not mean they aren't useful.
  • Thank you
  • Well said. The feature isn't even on the way on taking decent shots with automatic setting, the UI was simple enough to do that. Accessing the manual controls are optional and users are not forced to used it.
  • I've taken only few photos with my Lumia 635, but the best photos, were the ones that were taken with Manual settings. If you learn how to use the Manual settings of the camera, you'll only use Auto in certain situations
  • Life's too short to mess around like that. Snap and go. The tools are fine if you're into photography but most people probably wouldn't bother. Hence the niche appeal of the 1020.
  • No one? Wrong.
  • Ok, a tiny percentage. Your average Joe wouldn't care less. Ask them.
  • It's complex in functionality but the camera app isn't complicated to take photos. Manual controls are not in a way to take photos in a simple way. It's just that you're not the target user of those features (and for most users), that doesn't mean it's unnecessary complicated because they're designed to have more control on how you take the photo. No one is forcing you to use it.
  • Bracketing is fairly situational. Plus it never seemed fast enough for to be a viable use on the phone without the use of a stabilizer. I would love if we could keep the option in for when it can be an option.
  • I think they removed it because it was pretty much a less user friendly version of Rich Capture which made it a redundent feature (which is basically what you were saying).  So it isn't less functionality, it is just now easier to use.  If you really need that feature then there are a lot 3rd party camera apps that give a lot more fine tuning control.  Maybe they did it to help out 3rd party developers as well.  It isn't a feature I ever used on a smart phone so I certainly won't miss it.
  • It IS less functionality. Don't try and sugar coat it.
  • So use one of the hundreds of 3rd party apps out there.  People that needed the feature are an edge case and just end up cluttering up the interface.  For the 1% that used this feature there are plenty of 3rd party options that still have it.  That is why we have apps.  99% of the people out there prefer simplicity. 
  • @Icthiodrak. These people aren't your "edge" case. If anything it removes the "edge" off their flagship devices. I really hope they bring it back.
  • They are exactly an edge case.  Are you telling me that you know more than Microsoft on who uses what feature?  They collect tons of telemitry on features for a reason.  If they see that hardly anyone uses it then they remove it.  It isn't until someone points out that a feature is missing that people crawl out of the woodwork to complain about something being removed whether they really use it or not.  People love to have something to complain about.
  • @Icthiodrak, people buy products expecting to have certain features, no? So if the product you bought based on a feature or list of features that get removed based on usage data, would you be happy? :P.
  • I have used bracketing many times and it is very useful in editing pics on PC. The only reason I didn't notice it being removed is because I didn't use it recently. Also, this feature is not available in the camera app overlay so not many people know about it. Those who do, they just open the camera app to take the pic instantly without any fine-tuning.
  • i will not miss it but only because I use Lumia Camera on my 1020 and so I will still have it. MS Camera produces quite crappy photos on the 1020. I would be furious if I would be dependent on MS Camera - I love bracketing. Rich capture is only "pseudo HDR" and I need the full possibilities of merging brackets on the PC
  • I'm glad I'm not the only one that notices crappy pictures from windows camera! Lumia camera is much much better for the 1020
  • I used the widest ranged bracket. I didn't understand it though, but I related it to exposure range in my mind. I still don't know how it works. LOL. But, I guess it won't affect users so drastically either.
    Btw, I'm on windows phone 8.1, so I still have it on my phone. And I don't use the camera app on my laptop, and maybe so I didn't notice it! :p
  • Far too complicated for me as I like point/focus and click. The quality of the photo in this scenario is what is most important. HDR is useful for stills only and never use that either. 4K video and photos are of more interest, to me anyway.
  • I have used bracketing lots of times. Compared to manual exposure settings, bracketing provides more convenient way to take photos and choose the best among them.
  • I think anyone who wants more pro features will look at something like ProShot anyway. It's a bit strange that they took out a feature that was already working fine though. Wouldn't moving it to something like "Advanced Options" be better? On a side note - does camera upload work reliably for anyone on W10M? I'm using the latest build on a 1520, and the upload basically doesn't work. It will upload photos maybe 10% of the time. I tried a hard reset, but didn't solve the problem. I've tried turning upload off, restarting, re-enabling, and nothing. I've taken over 30 photos over 4 weeks since the last upload worked. Is there some way of kicking it in the butt to make it start working again? Frankly it's really annoying, the photo sync was perfect on 8.1...
  • It worked like **** on my L930 and L1520 on Win10, but its flawless on my L950XL
  • No problems on both my 1520 and 950 XL.
  • I use bracketing quite often for HDR. I use more powerful desktop software (EasyHDR) to actually merge then back together. This is a very disappointing change.
  • Noticed but not sad about it. Proshot for pro features and Microsoft camera for everyday use for me.
  • Simply dumb... We need more features, not fewer. I dont care that I never used it, but people (on Android and iOS) seem to think that Windows already have too few features
  • People on android thinks everything that isnt android has to few features.
  • I used bracketing a lot, especially during sunset and sunrise situations.  Rich capture is okay, but bracketing gave me more creative freedom.  No big deal do, if the photo is serious enough, I'd use my Nikon D750 anyway.
  • That's really a solid fx-format dslr. #happyshooting
  • MS removing features from Windows Phone? Doesn't suprise me and is unfortunately the norm.
  • As if rich capture is available for all high end lumias
  • Rich Capture is on the Lumia 550.
  • And also, the 640 and 640 xl, of course.
  • No need bracketing after Lumia moments... Take 4K videos and than extract images  on Lumia moments... Images are much better rather than bracketing...
  • You just went full retard
  • You should never go full retard.
  • Lol, to explain why this is incredibly satupid, video stills will ALWAYS be worse then dedicated shots, when recording a video, the amount of light taken in is much lower than if you take a picture, reason being video has to keep taking stills voer and over, where as an actual picture dedicates the shutter to gathering as much light as possible. TL;DR: stop doing that if you care about quality. EDIT: whoops, i replied to the wrong person, intended for DCPaul
  • Even if features aren't used by many, they shouldn't be removed. Those who did notice the change might be using it. And I don't see any issue or efforts in retaining those features.
  • I wonder when Microsoft will add preset modes in the camera app? And why can't older pureviews have hdr?
  • They shouldn't be taking anything away but rather spend time optimizing menu layouts and organization, such as all menus having icons. They also need to be focusing on optimizing speed.
  • How did you even get Bracketting to work? It never did anything on my phone
  • Read the article
  • Could you guys help me and tell me why is taking a very long time to load or save to my one drive, I have plenty of space, anything I can do on my settings, last time a restart my phone all mt christmas pictures were lost :(
  • Internet connection maybe, speed and bandwidth could be problems.
  • it was noticed..... people mentioned it in the comments of the initial camera update story. this option should have been left for the beasts of photography to keep using.
  • Did some one can record video in surround with this "Camera App" in Lumia 830 like Lumia Camara can did?
  • Yes i did notice it. I use it sometimes on my T3i but never on my Lumias (1520 and 830)
  • As long as they produce phones with camera buttons unlike any other phones, that should be fine.
    It's sad though, Bracketing was one of the most demanding functions for us.
  • Now they will later ask users to beg for it to come back
  • am i the only one who still use lumia camera beta on my lumia 950? but again with HDR, bracketing is not necessary any more.  
  • Now that i know what it does I do feel like it is very handy. I haven't used it much to be honest. But we need a more dynamic camera app that makes shot set up /post production super fast and easy right after or before shooting.
  • Rhich capture sucks. It only works in automatic mode. Why I can't control manual focus AND enable rhich capture? But it disappears when I expand the options. So rhich capture is completly useless.
  • +1
  • Yes we did. But what's the point to mention or complain? They have even removed Windows Phone from Windows Phone a long time ago.
  • I wonder when functions will be added instead of removed...not even a ******* panorama function but MS wants marketschare...what a ******* joke.  
  • Wish I had known about it, sounds good
  • Is bracketing a more advance feature of what now 950XL has called BURST?
  • Nope, burst mode takes several pictures in quick succession.
  • I was using bracketing on all my photos on a recent vacation and the results were fantastic. However I did notice that some of my photos refused to sync to OneDrive, so I'm wondering if that may be why they removed it.
  • Rich Capture (and Living Images) are not working on my Lumia 735 :(
  • Noticed since the camera update
  • Used to use it, but it never actually worked on my Lumia 550.
  • i use(d) it for night photograpy with very bright elements in scene. its much slower, but produces less noise than built in hdr, and allows to set iso manually.
  • I don't mind having simplar app just make sure it works, some times too many features makes thing more complicated.
  • Rich capture must be enabled by the user not by algorithms...