More experiences with Rich Capture, Dynamic Flash and Moment Capture

Since I'm lucky enough to be able to borrow a Lumia 930, I can share some more of my recent experiences with Lumia Camera, especially concerning Rich Capture and Dynamic Flash. I think these are quite brilliant innovations and it will only be a matter of time before other smartphone producers will offer similar possibilities in their camera software. I still have some wishes and suggestions though. I'll write about those while sharing a few of the results I got.

First, a correction on my previous post. I wrote that after pressing the physical camera button your Lumia will start shooting a video. That´s true in itself, but you can still use the button for shooting a photo, you just need to push if very shortly - something I appear to have a hard time getting used to. 

Second - as I've written before - I think it's not very practicle that if you want to edit the shot you captured, you can't do so from the Gallery. You'll have to open Lumia Camera first, open the last shot you captured from there and then scroll to the shot you captured earlier - the one you'd like to edit. An update to be able to open the file you want to edit directly from the Gallery shouldn't be too difficult to realize. I read someone using Story Teller as an alternative Gallery though.

I was happy to be able to add some HDR to this shot, to see both the blue sky, the trees in the middle AND the details in the foreground. Of course, the possibility to work with HDR on Windows Phone isn't new at all - there have been apps doing that for years even. What's new is the amazing speed with which you can capture a scene and the subtle way you can choose how much of the effect you'd like to apply afterwards. I worked with an older HDR application that would take several seconds to capture three shots and then again quite some time to allign them etc. 

In the next example, you'll first see a shot I captured without using Rich Capture, and next an "artistic" version (as Lumia Camera calls it) of pretty much the same scene (the cow was moving, so I had to as well)


Of course, this "artistic" version is far from realistic - it's not the best example I'm afraid. I'm sure Rich Capture offers a lot more than just the possibility to fool around with the colours etc. Like in these two examples in strong back light. First with medium, the second much stronger HDR effect applied, 


Sure, the second result isn't as realistic, again - but it enables you to show more detail from the same scene.

I want to get back to the two cow shots however, with one shot captured without using Rich Capture. What do these shots tell us about detail? Of course, this is not exactly the same shot - distance has changed, for instance, but as far as I can tell both shots are sharp. Not shooting in Rich Capture, you'll get these crops from the 16MP result.


When captured using Rich Capture and choosing Lumia Camera's "artistic" version of the shot, the detail appears to become brighter, but oversharpened as well (of course, these crops do not profit from any oversampling)


A large disadvantage (to me at least): there is no possibility to save different versions from the same shot on the device. Lumia Camera will overwrite an earlier edit if you decide to make another one - it won't save the second edit as a new file. That goes for both the 5MP and the 16MP version of your shot. It's a bit of a bummer if you want to compare different versions of the same shot on the screen of your PC: you'll have to copy the first edit to your PC, then do another edit on your device and copy that once more to your PC. It's cumbersome, I would have liked to be able to save different edits on my Lumia right away.

A "workaround" would be to make several shots from the exact same scene, which I did as you can see below. Not everybody has time to do so - and of course, many people will be happy with just one edit (finding the "perfect balance"  for your shot). I have three versions of the next scene, captured using "Rich Capture" (didn't get the same shot without it, unfortunately).



Now of course, no-one would prefer the last version: this is just to show the wide range of choice you actually have in adding HDR to your shot. What happens to the detail? Let's just have a look at the difference between no HDR and medium HDR below - these were cropped from the high-res, 16MP result (so again, no PureView oversampling)


As you can see, darker areas become brighter (as we expect from HDR). Detail on both shots are good enough to make out the old green ginger pot below the lamp.

Dynamic Flash
Something else that can be really practicle in daily use is of course dynamic flash. It's hard to demonstrate how effective it can be without making several versions (now you know why I would love to save different edits on the Lumia itself). Here's a funny scene I captured with Dynamic Flash (meaning using the flash in Rich Capture mode). You'll see the result without flash, medium flash and maximum flash, all edited on the phone of course.



Three versions of the exact same shot, showing only three stages of the wide variety you have to choose from in the newest version of Lumia Camera (only on Lumia 930 and 1520, partially on Lumia 830).

So far so good. I've been looking forward to "Moment Capture" a lot as well. Just shoot a 4K video and choose a razor sharp 8MP shot from it. For this, you will need to download yet another application, Lumia Moments. 
 
It's free, but it doesn't really work as I hoped. First I thought the resolution I chose was too low, but even at maximum resolution (2160p/30fps) the video was okay of course, but the stills weren't. Not with moving objects that is, and that's the whole idea: to be able to "freeze" moving objects in your 4K video.

Well, I'm sorry to say it just doesn't do that, not inside (moving cat), not even outside (moving cars). I tried multiple videos, it just doesn't work the way it should, every single shot is blurred (except where the cat actually didn't move for an instant). So it's not much use sharing the results here.

Now I have one more suggestion to the Lumia imaging team... I'm sure it's possible, but I doubt that it's high on the priority list. What I would like is to be able to share the full version of the "Rich Captured" file, so I (and others) can work with what I captured on a PC - like with Nokia Recofus. Just send the full version to a dedicated server to be able to add HDR or Flash online and save the best result(s) from there. It's just a thought, I don't think it's ever going to happen (like I asked for an Instagram-like service to be able to easily collect and share Refocus results).

All in all, I think Rich Capture and Dynamic Flash are both brilliant, enabling you to really get the most out of your shot in more demanding light situations. Still, I have the impression you might get better results when you don't have to choose Rich Capture - I'll need to look into that a bit further. But it's good to have a choice anyway and I have been using both Rich Capture and Dynamic Flash a lot. I'm sorry to say however, Moment Capture has been quite underwhelming so far - it really does look like Microsoft has been a bit too optimistic in promoting this specific new feature of Lumia Camera.