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Microsoft's Lumia Camera app looks like a big improvement for Lumia phones

Mark Hachman | Jan. 22, 2015
Microsoft showed off Lumia Camera in advance of the Windows 10 consumer reveal. The app's quick-shooting, creative features look excellent.

Not a still image, though, mind you. Lumia cameras generally save two images: a lower-resolution one for sharing, and a higher-resolution version for archiving. Microsoft is encouraging users to save "Living Images"--a still image with a separate "sidecar" file with a fraction of a second of video attached. The idea is to give a bit of life to an otherwise static shot, Niemi explained.

We referred to the Rich Capture feature as one to watch when Microsoft announced the Lumia Camera improvements last September, and that still seems to be the case. Rich Capture snaps several quick photos of your subject. The demo Niemi showed used a normal exposure and a flash, but it apparently works with HDR as well. After the shots are taken, Rich Capture allows you to adjust the flash after you've taken the photo, to find the right combination of natural lighting and a focused flash.

That's a pretty nifty trick--and one that requires some significant computational power, as well. What's not clear is exactly why cameras like the Lumia 1020 won't get the Lumia Camera upgrade--and even that's not set in stone, apparently. But it does have to do with the limitations of the hardware, Niemi said.

We weren't able to test the low-light capabilities of the new Lumia Camera app, but Microsoft's promised us a review unit so we can spend some quality time with the app in the near future. And as for Windows 10 on Microsoft's phones? Niemi declined to comment, but he did say we'd hear more at Wednesday's event. At this juncture, however, Lumia Camera looks like a selling point all by itself.


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