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January 13, 2014

Camera apps and tricks to amaze your friends

The Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 smartphones all sport incredible PureView cameras, taking the best pictures possible on a smartphone.

If that wasn’t enough, we’ve uncovered four tricksy apps that will cause a serious case of eye-popping with anyone you care to show them off to. Original, hugely powerful and, above all, a lot of fun.

Turn your Lumia into a spy cam

Has someone been stealing your biscuits? Is the dog chewing up your trainers and then flatly denying it? With Remote Shot Beta you can become a digital detective.

The app works by pairing two Lumias (or Windows Phone 8 smartphones), live-streaming one of the cameras and using the shutter button on the other to take a shot of the unsuspecting protagonist. Connecting over Bluetooth, the phones will stay linked from up to ten metres away.

Viewing the remote camera
Viewing the remote camera


You can capture shots in 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, add a range of effects and use the ‘controlled’ device to tap-to-focus. For less Machiavellian snappers, Remote Shot offers a great way to take group shots with you in it.

We caught up with the app’s developer, Nik Hoesl, who created Remote Shot as part of Nokia’s Future/Capture imaging contest last year, to ask him how the app has progressed.

NH: “In the first two months after the competition a lot changed in terms of how the phones communicate. I made the camera stream smoother, ironed out some bugs and made shooting possible in every possible phone orientation. I also published the app in German and English”

NC: “What is your favourite Nokia phone to use Remote Shot with?”

NH: “The Lumia 920 because you can stand it upright on a table.”

NC: “What features would you like to add to the next update?”

NH: “First, because of the app’s complexity, I want to add a tutorial. I also want to explain to users what they can do and how, so they can have more fun with it. I’d like to add ‘Tap to connect’, allowing phones to be connected via NFC.

Feedback from users want the ability to choose which phone is the camera and which is the remote device. Finally, I’d like to make the camera stream even more stable.”

Take photos in extreme clarity

We all love the multi-faceted Nokia Camera (now available across the Lumia range with the new Black software update), but there are other ways to take some truly breath taking shots on your Lumia.

4Blend HDR employs the magic of High Dynamic Range (HDR) to give more pop to your pics. It takes a series of shots at differing exposure levels, blending them together to add greater foreground and background detail.

A stunning shot, taken with 4Blend HDR
A stunning shot, taken with 4Blend HDR

The app is extremely simple to use but will need a steady hand when capturing photos. Alternatively, use the in-built voice command to activate the shutter.

As well as HDR mode, 16 more scenes are in the offing, ranging from the cosmic ‘Colour Boost’ to the vintage ‘Lomo’ mode.

Those looking for advanced photographic control will be pleased to see gamma, focus, ISO and exposure in the settings menu.

We spoke to 4Blend HDR’s developer, Sebastiano Galazzo.

NC: How does 4Blend HDR differ from Nokia Camera in terms of power and flexibility?

SG: The UI is clearly inspired by Nokia Camera, keeping everything user friendly, but it differs at three key points

  1. To provide support to low-end devices
  2. To provide HDR for more demanding users
  3. To offer RAW rendering

The app not only gives basic HDR support but a new multi-layer way to apply filters. Users can also use 4Blend HDR as normal camera, taking one shot, but also choosing to process a RAW rendering.

NC: What tips or tricks would you give our readers to take great shots when using the app?

SG: The app takes shots at the maximum speed allowed, but that’s still too slow for some users. As the app takes multiple shots, a misalignment between images may happen. 4Blend HDR provides its own image-alignment algorithm, which is effective to the precision of a single pixel. However, it’s not perfect, so to reduce this ‘ghosting’ effect, I’d recommend using the voice control feature to reduce movement and vibration.

NC: What is your preferred Nokia phone to use with the app and why?

SG: The Lumia 1020 of course! But… I had a wow moment taking fast shots with the Lumia 925 in very low-light conditions. I have great expectations from the Lumia 1520, which seems to be a mix of the Lumia 925 and Lumia 1020 in terms of imaging.

NC: What features would you like to add to future updates?

SG: Post processing for sure. More filters, more controls and real-time preview rendering.

Resize images with a pinch

Winner of the 2013 Nokia Future/Capture imaging hackathon, Smart Resize is ingenious. You’ll need to spend a bit of time learning the basics, but the results are hugely powerful and beneficial; make a landscape photo square with a pinch of your fingers, or extract unwanted humans and objects with a rub and a click. Smart Resize will do the rest, using a combination of the app’s “content-aware scaling algorithm” and the Lumia’s unadulterated processing power.

Take a look at this video. It’s very, very clever and worthy of its plaudits.

Tap, capture, impress

Similar to Remote Shot Beta, the TapShoot app also allows you to pair a brace of Windows Phone 8 smartphones, using one as a remote to control the camera of the other.

An unsuspecting TapShoot subject
An unsuspecting TapShoot subject


The main differences here are the abilities to use a remote flash, plus 19 effects that can be applied to any taken shot. TapShoot also uses NFC to connect devices together, so just tap two Lumia’s together and, as if by magic, the devices will pair up. A great party piece and fun app for taking the ultimate selfie

Do you have a favourite Nokia imaging trick or app? Let us know in the comments below…