PhotProc: a new open source app for Nokia 808 PureView. Powerful photo editing for free!

December last year, I was incredibly proud to present the HDRApp for the Nokia 808 PureView (it's still here for you to download). If you don't know it yet but want to know what it's capable of, you should read Peter Meijs' article as well.

And now, I have another very impressive premiere for you, brought to you once more by PureViewClub member Peter Meijs, who contacted app developer Andrew about his app PhotProc, and made sure the final version would be presented here at the PureViewClub first. Even better: you can download it for free!

PhotProc, King app for the King of camphones - by Peter Meijs

On May 13 of this year Andrew ( profile) surprised us with an app, called PhotProc, specially written for the Nokia 808 PureView. He wrote: "I have just released a beta of an open-source photo-editing app I have been writing. It's called PhotProc. It works on the 808 and can do some quite advanced photo-editing techniques. It does de-noising, shadow-lightening, recolouring etc. It doesn't do all those Instagram effects."

After 9 intermediate betas, Andrew now released version 1.0.. I was in the fortunate position to test the different betas and also to test version 1.0 in the past days. In this contribution to the PureViewClub, I give my findings with v 1.0 You will also see some pictures from the beta stage.

This article is not a tutorial but gives the results of my testing and some observations. Andrew himself gives a lot of  help on how to use his app. Before I forget, here you can download photproc v1.0.  Read the full story after the break!

What can you do with PhotProc?
As always, I will use many pictures and only a few words. First an original picture taken (at full res) during a picnic. And then the result (from the center of the image) after cropping and enhancing in PhotProc.


As you can see I openend up the shadows, increased the "pop" and cropped.
This cropped picture is on Flickr, has a very good IQ and is 1600 x 1380 pix.

My second example is the "before" and "after" of a heavily under exposed picture.

Click "after" to see the result at 1632 x 1225 pix.

PhotProc is very good in lightening the shadows and (to a lesser extent) darkening the highlights.

This is an extreme example because I used PhotProc's dynamics corrections 4 consecutive times (quadprocessing so to say). I show the end result here only to demonstrate what miracles PhotProc can do while keeping a remarkable high IQ. This means that Andrew uses rather advanced algorithms.

PhotProc starts with a bit intimidating picture (fortunately you only see it for a few seconds!).
You can load pictures you see in your gallery or you can browse for a picture file somewhere else on your phone. Even full res 808 pictures load rather fast. Once loaded PhotProc will set the picture resolution to 2.5 MP by default. But you keep the possibility to choose a higher resolution. Of course the processing time will increase. The next screenshot shows the main menu.

The settings interface is a floating box that you can move to see all the sliders and options. It takes some time to get used to, but then you see that it is an elegant solution. Touching the big white arrow (bottom right) will hide all settings and show the picture you are editing.
"Levels" brings up the next screen where, for this picture, I increased the brightness slider as you can see. The "R" resets the slider to its default. Here and there you will find explanations what the slider does.
Touching the white arrow again will show you the effect of your edit. Retouching the upright pointing big arrow brings you back to the last sliders. Touching the symbol bottom left brings you back to the main menu.
The next screenshot shows the "Crop" feature. Further edits will only affect the selected area.
One of the paintings.

Next I show you "zoom reinvented" for the 808 using PhotProc. The target here is the bird's eye.
These extreme crops are ideal to test PhotProc's sharpen feature from the "enhance" submenu.

Depending on the picture sometimes Black&White will give a better artistic result. That's no problem for PhotProc. You can alter all color parameters.

Another example. First a screenshot of the original full res 808 picture. After loading I resized to 2 MP. The picture is rather dull and shadows (trees) are a bit too dark.
To edit, I used "lightening shadows" and "darkening highlights" of the Dynamic Effects submenu and also "Colours Lab saturation" of the Advanced submenu.
The result is convincing.

In-phone processing.
PhotProc stands for PhotoProcessing. In-phone so that you can share immediately an enhanced picture or an enhanced cropped detail. In the first released beta versions the app was very slow but Andrew wrote better algorithms and reduced the default file size considerably (to 2.5 MP). Now with v 1.0 the processing and saving times are short enough.

A typical edit takes 1 to 3 minutes. And files of 2.5 MP are good for sharing. Picture quality stays on a high level when you don't too far with certain sliders. You have to figure out how far you can go with some that are very "potent". If you like you can use those sliders to get a dramatic HDR look.

Here is an example. First a screenshot of the original, second the crop as screenshot and third the "pseudo HDR" resulting picture.

To get this HDR look I used: Edit/Dynamic/ and being there; Dynamic histogram, Local colour contrast and Luminance map size.

The number of editing features is high. I counted 35 slider settings spread over "Levels" 14, "Colours" 7, "Enhance" 4 and "Dynamic" 10. In addition you have the "Crop", "Info", "Resize" and "Advanced" buttons offering many options.

It will be clear that it takes some hands-on experience to master the most important features. But when you like to do image editting it is real fun working with PhotProc. I myself love postprocessing (Pixel Peter, you know) and PhotProc is a mini photoshop (sort of) for me. Just as photoshop it has a steep learning curve but also just as photoshop the results are rewarding.

Testing PhotProc I was repeatedly positively surprised by the good IQ of the output. The algorithms must be high standard. PhotProc is quality wise on par with the Nokia 808 PureView. Andrew wrote in mMay: "The 808 has such a good camera, that it deserves good photo-editing on the phone that takes advantage of the high quality of the images from the camera".

Download and install
Now that Nokia will no longer support development of Symbian apps as per January 2014 it is great that open source developers like Andrew not give up. Here once more you'll find the download link for the app. You have to download the .sis file and the installer file when you install PhotProc for the first time on your 808.

With your 808 connected to your computer you copy the .sis file and the installer to somewhere on the mass memory of your phone. To keep things organized I paste it into the map "download". Once you have the file(s) on your phone you find them by browsing. Then you install them by touching the file name.

It can happen that the phone "says" something like "no signature" or "unknown source". You ignore that and touch "continue".
The first beta releases suffered from instability but Andrew did a fantastic job and with the last version 1.0 I did not have any stability problem.

Andrew explains many features on his open source page like:

Some practical tips

-You can of course use the app with your finger(s) but I advice you to use a stylus. Especially when choosing a feature in the advanced section you need a stylus. But also in many of the other sections, for instance "crop", a stylus is handy.

- When you use PhotProc for the first time it's advantageous to start with small files. After loading an image you first go to edit/resize, touch the 1 MP button and then choose the edit feature you want to use. These 1 MP pictures process fast and previews come up fast so you can easily gain experience. For these experiments I advise you not to change the default output quality. That quality is ok for most situations.

- You have to get used to the floating box with all the settings and sliders. Moving this box over the phone's screen you will discover other sliders that you could not see before.

- As normal, double touching a picture will result in zooming in. Often the app will take quite some time to calculate the new preview, so keep your double touching to the minimum.

- When you are ready with editing a picture you save it and when you then load another picture without first exiting PhotProc the app will automatically apply the same edits to that new loaded picture.

- When you are at home you can connect a big screen via a HDMI cable and all of a sudden it feels if you are editing with a (sort of) photoshop program. Especially when you also attach a mouse via the USB OTG.
But I found that the cursor of the mouse tends to disappear unexpectedly from time to time so I ended up with the next configuration where I work with a stylus on the phone's screen.
I have to admit that this big screen workflow is a bit overdone, but I like to tests things to the extreme. The real thing of course is doing some quick in-phone edits right after the shooting and sharing the results with your 808 right away. And preferably on a terrace with a nice glass of wine at hand!

Some more test results
I did a lot of testing so I have many "befores" and "afters" pictures. Part of them you can see by clicking Tests.
To end this article I show some of them below.

Sunset nearby my home

In the Schiedam municipal museum

In the Japanese garden The Hague.

Also in the Japanese garden in The Hague

Zooming in (artificial insect on artificial flower) at the event on September 25 where Nokia presented the Lumia 1020 in the Netherlands.

To prevent misunderstanding, the picture below is taken with the 808.

Last remarks and links
You can follow the development of PhotProc since may 2013 by clicking Discussion
Andrew's sourceforge page is Here
A set with many other examples I made is on Flickr

PhotProc has many advanced color features. Far too many to discuss them all here. To be honest, I have not yet mastered them all up till now. But even when you don't touch these advanced things, 808 users can benefit greatly from the app.

Now that we know that Nokia, as per January 2014, will no longer support the development of Symbian apps it is a blessing that gifted developers like Andrew don't give up.
October 17, 2013
Peter Meijs aka Pixel Peter

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