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July 2, 2014

Imaging AMA: more questions answered

Our recent Ask Me Anything session with Microsoft’s imaging experts, Eero Salmelin and Juha Alakarhu, had you asking many questions.

Over the course of an hour, Juha and Eero answered 35 of your imaging-related questions. If you missed the chat, you can replay the sessions here.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, many of your questions were left unanswered.

However, we met up with the imaging-duo this week to go through some of those unanswered questions.


From Tiago: “What’s the most important single feature you would say will be shipping with Lumia Cyan?”

Juha: “For me, it’s the new Living Images feature. It really makes browsing the images much more exciting!

Eero: “For me, it is the continuous autofocus, because it makes capturing images faster.”

From Bryant: “What camera improvements can we expect for the Lumia Icon or Lumia 1520; particularly for low light, video recording, and shot to shot time?”

Juha: ” The new camera application improves shot to shot times slightly across all of the devices. The Lumia 1520 and Icon will also receive new imaging algorithms that are specific to the camera and engine combination. The improvements include for example better low light performance, better video quality and continuous autofocus. Even the DNG files low light performance will improve.


From Aiman Maah: “Can I know all the improvements for Nokia Camera and photo editing apps in Lumia Cyan?”

Eero: “There are actually a lot, some major and some minor. If we focus on the key improvements, Nokia Camera has a new improved camera roll that includes Living Images (in specific devices), and we’ve also simplified the UI. We have also improved Storyteller. We have also rewritten Creative Studio, and you will see many exciting features there”

From Conversations: “What do you mean simplified? How so?”

Juha: “There is not separate icons for camera roll and single picture viewer, but they have been combined to into one. ”

From Richard: “You currently have 3 options in Nokia Camera for shooting mode; Video, Stills and Smart shoot. Would there be the possibility of having a 4th for easier access to Lenses, or perhaps save a favourite lens to this 4th spot?”

Juha: “Of course it is technically possible, but we need to be careful not to introduce too much complexity. Thanks for the feedback.”

From Phil: “Could we have exposure times beyond four seconds [with Nokia Camera]?”

Juha: “That might seem like a simple thing to add-on, but making it work is actually quite complicated. Thanks for the feedback.”


From Massis: “My question is of course about Nokia Camera and its evolution on the 1020. Can we expect soon additional features (that we had on the 808) such as intervalometer or new features such as HDR?”

Juha: “As is usually the case, we can’t comment directly on what might or might not come to future products. However, I’m currently using third-party apps like 4Blend HDR and Timelapse Pro.”

From Filipe: “Hi! I would like to know if the imaging improvements on the Cyan update are only for the newer phones? Will my Lumia 920 get some love?”

Juha: “If you’ve got a Lumia running Windows Phone 8, it’ll be updated to Cyan which includes Windows Phone 8.1 and some unique features that are device-specific. In Lumia 920 will get New Creative Studio and updated Camera application and Storyteller.

From Aloysius Ting: “Many talented app developers have introduced functions that Nokia Camera doesn’t have, e.g. HDR and time-lapse. Some of these developers have even utilised the Nokia Imaging SDK to great effect. Is Microsoft Mobile looking into working with these developers to introduce new functions to Nokia Camera, or to create new apps?”

Eero: “Like Juha mentioned before, there are some great imaging apps already available on Windows Phone Store, and some of them do use our Imaging SDK – that’s why we’ve made it available.

While we like to create our own imagine apps, it’s great that other developers are creating their own, such as OneShot and Kids Story Builder.”


From Dave Parana: “Will you implement a way in Nokia Camera to save user settings for different profiles? I have found some settings on my 928 and Icon that work great for indoors, lowlight, and action shots and have to manually input them.”

Juha: “Thanks. I have heard that idea a couple of times. It could work for some people but it also could make things more complicated. We built our camera application so that it has quick access to all key photographic settings like exposure time, ISO, exposure compensation and even manual focus. They are very much scene specific and the same settings may not work throughout different images.

But one thing is for sure, we’re continually working to make it easier for you to take amazing photos.”

From Narek: “Hello guys! When will we be able to increase f-numbers?”

Juha: “Each camera module is different and we optimize it to overall best possible image quality. The aperture size is one of the parameters. In general the aperture size have grown bigger over time. A few years back, the F2.8 was the standard. We have pushed it even up to F1.9 in Lumia 720.

Lumia 720_camera

From “While 21 or even 41-megapixels in a smartphone sounds impressive, how much does this actually say about the quality of the pictures?”

Eero: “The megapixel number itself isn’t what makes the better picture, it’s a combination of things. Even just adding optical image stabilisation (OIS) can dramatically improve the image quality.”

Juha: “One of the key things that makes our high resolution cameras better is oversampling. By capturing more pixels and effectively overlaying them, we can create pure, natural images. In fact, we’ve written a scientific paper detailing how that works.

It’s not about the pixels, but the clever way you use them.”

We’d like to thank Juha and Eero again for taking time out to go through some of these. Now, back to making great camera technology, gents!