Mobile

Nokia challenges camera startup Lytro with refocusable photos

nokia-lumia-860
Image Credit: Nokia

Tired of having your mobile phone cameras focus on the wrong thing in an image? If you have a Nokia Lumia smartphone – any kind – you can easily fix that for free.

Nokia announced today that an update to its Nokia Refocus app enables all Lumia smartphone owners to take refocusable images. This enables people to change the picture’s focus after you take it.

Say you want to better highlight the main object in a picture. You can blur the background so that your subject stands out better.

This is an update since Nokia first released the app in the Windows Phone store last November, when it was only available for more advanced devices such as Lumia 920 and upwards.

“As we have seen with the great imaging apps like Nokia Camera before, lots of people have been asking for it and we responded,” said Jens Eggert, Nokia’s lead program manager for Refocus, on the company’s blog. “You spoke. We listened.”

Still, some Nokia smartphone owners complained on the company’s website that the app is not yet available on phones such as Lumia 620. Chances are that those people still have to wait a day for the new update to be in effect, depending on the region, according to feedback from people on the blog.

Nokia is certainly not the first that tried to transform the future of digital cameras. Refocusable camera first hit the markets two years ago when San Francisco-based startup Lytro introduced the technology, which was named as one of the “50 Best Inventions” by Time magazine at the time.

Unlike Nokia’s app, which allows refocusing through merging pictures with different focus, Lytro’s applies a micro-lens array to a digital image sensor to change the direction of light coming into the camera.

“They are two different things,” said a spokesperson from the Lytro support team, denying that the app could be a competition to Lytro or be a factor that lowers the price of Lytro cameras, “It’s still not a light-field camera like Lytro. We’re definitely moving toward professional camera [quality].”

Perhaps one drawback of Nokia’s software solution compared to Lytro’s hardware is that because the phone camera has to take several pictures at a time, users have to hold their phone still for a while to avoid blurry effect.

The advantage? It’s free! In comparison, a 8GB Lytro camera costs $400 on B&H and $500 for the 16GB model.

Apple also patented its own Lytro-like camera last year, but the technology has not yet appeared on the iPhone. Rumor suggests that the refocusable feature will be a part of the iPhone 6.


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