Lumia ups the ante on mobile camera technology – again

Lots of new and exciting announcements going on at IFA in Berlin. Among them, for cell phone camera lovers, is the news that while Nokia’s handset business may have been bought by Microsoft, that doesn’t mean they have slackened off their commitment to one of their greatest strengths, their imaging technology.

The cell phone world has never really recovered from the shock of Nokia’s Purview technology, and the incredible capabilities of the Flagship Lumia 1020 which are unrivalled over a year after its launch-remain the high water mark of cell phone camera technology and performance.

Go ahead Sammy, Fruity, show us your hole card.
Go ahead Sammy, Fruity, show us your hole card.

Neither Samsung nor Apple are launching anything this year to equal the Purview technology available today on Lumia phones, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft is sitting on its laurels, no sir.

Microsoft announced in Berlin that this fall the camera technology on all new and recent Lumias will be updated in the fourth quarter of 2014 (for recent and new phones) and via an OTA Update in early 2015 for the remaining.

The mechanism will be a combination of the upcoming Lumia “Denim” update, and a completely new Lumia Camera App. This App has been completely re-written, from the ground up, to be much faster than the existing App, even the one we just received courtesy of the Cyan update.

The major improvements in speed come in the area of App opening and the time to first capture.  This has been greatly reduced, and will be further reduced using a clever trick described below.  The other major change, and its a big one, is that the image processing and capture activities have been split apart.  Previously a lot of image processing had to take place before the next image could be captured, which slowed down the entire process.  In the new camera App, image capture is unaffected by image processing activity, so capture can proceed at the speed of the hardware, while processing goes on in the background as fast as its software will permit.

The result is a rapid start up, and millisecond capture times between shots.  A great improvement that will increase the chance of getting that ‘perfect’ shot when you see it!

"Please say you got that shot!"
“Please say you got that shot!”

Another enhancement to getting the first shots taken quickly is “Moment Capture/HD Capture”.  These are the same thing, just implemented with different resolutions on various handsets as their hardware will allow.  The idea is that a long press on the camera button without the camera App running will bypass loading the Camera App and instead start immediate filming in hi res video at 24 fps. Capable handsets will capture up to 4k resolution, and others in HD, but each frame will be savable as a seperate image.  Another great way to very quickly capture the unexpected when it arises!

There will also be a “Rich Capture” mode that incorporates both HDR and dynamic flash output to capture a range of brightness levels.  Many of you have been using HDR Apps for years, but this would bring that capability to the larger number of Users who don’t want to use multiple Camera Apps.  A great option that increases the chance of getting the perfect shot, even in challenging lighting conditions.

And as always seems to be the case with Lumia’s, the algorithms have been rewritten to provide yet another boost to their already best in the world low-light performance.

Good news for new device owners, this will first be released as an update for the Lumia 930, Icon and the 1520, as well as an OTA update for the Lumia 830, all in Q4, 2014.

And for us legacy device Owners, the Camera App will roll out along with the “Lumia Denim” update in early 2015 – subject to Carrier testing and approval.


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