Telling new stories with Nokia Refocus - another great imaging app coming up!

There seem to be no boundaries to Nokia's creativity when it comes to "telling new stories". The concept of "Zoom Reinvented" is one of the new famous examples, and the way you can play with your shots in Nokia Smart Cam - now part of Nokia Camera - is another one. Nokia Cinemagraph even precedes it.

The newest addition to this impresive collection of imaging applications will be "Nokia Refocus". In this post Nokia Conversations showed what it's all about a few days ago. And while I'm not a great fan of Nokia Smart Cam (sorry about that), I'm really interested in the possibility to Refocus.

As Sami Niemi, Nokia’s director of Capture & Relive software product management puts it in the article: "Nokia Refocus captures different images over the entire focus range. What this means is that you don’t have to worry about getting your shot in focus before you take a photo. You just capture your image first and then play with focus afterwards. It’s cool!"

That's a remarkable approach to read as someone who really cares about the focus in the shot by the way. For me it's much more interesting to be able to get different results from the same shot - enabling me to "tell another story" (to put it as Nokia has always put it).

Anyway, at the site you can click on two shots to see three different versions, and even one of both with all the parts in the shots "right" (losing every bokeh effect you might have liked earlier :-)

And there's focus on sharing itself as well, of course - you can't tell a story without sharing it: “Nokia Refocus isn’t just about being able to refocus your photos on your own phone, we want you to share those stunning shots with your friends and let them refocus the shots, too! When you share these photos on Facebook or on the web, they can do precisely that.”

That's probably done the same way as you're able to share your "Cinemagraph" on a Nokia server, but that works fine for me -  I just can't do that here, so I made screenshots of all the different versions you'll find on Nokia Conversations - focussing from left to right, and (in the fourth version) on all points at the same time.

Refocus 1 Refocus 2 Refocus 3 Refocus 4 Refocus 5 Refocus 6 Refocus 7 Refocus 8

The Lytro camera
Now you probably already know the Lytro camera that does more or less the same using totally different (and much more advanced) technology. I tried it and it's quite complicated to work with I must say (needs dedicated software on your PC as well), whereas the Refocus app seems to be extremely easy to use. And I know there is an app for Lytro, but only for the iPhone...

Moreover, however interesting and showing the future no doubt, the current 1MP resolution the Lytro offers is not really impressive... I'm not sure what kind of resolution Nokia offers for all of the "Refocus" shots, but I assume 5MP, that being the standard oversampled size nowadays. I only hope we'll have access to all different versions of the shot, to choose the one we like best to save seperately (to share or print).

Where is HDR?
Back to another quote from the post over at Nokia Conversations: "To make an already focus-perfect photo even better, Nokia Refocus also includes a fun colour-pop feature. When applied, the whole photo turns to black and white, apart from the bit you’re focused on."

Well, colour-pop might be fun to work with, but what about combining Refocus with HDR? This is a something PureViewClub member  Sawan Bruins suggested when I met him today - not "only" being able to play with the focus in your shot, but with the dynamic range as well would really open up even more possibilities to tell different stories!

Coming to think of it: where is HDR on Nokia Camera? There are third party apps that do a great job, but I can't think of a reason why HDR isn't part of the Nokia Collection already, since this is all about a sequence of shots. Nokia Camera does offer Bracketing, so why not a Refocus kind of app using the dynamic range - or even better: combining them, as Sawan suggested?

Maybe in due time - it doesn't look like the team over at Nokia has finished thinking of new imaging techniques anyway.

As written on Nokia Conversations, the Nokia Refocus app will be available for the Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 928, Lumia 1020, and Lumia 1520, and will be available to download from the Nokia Collection in the Windows Phone Store in the coming weeks - and that's pretty soon! :-)

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