Camera Features continued

Gallery and Image Editor

The 1020 features Microsoft’s Photos gallery app, which is a decent way to flick though photos. You get 20 square thumbnails on a page, or you can zoom out of the single-image view to see a scrollable bar of around four more recognizable frames at one time. It supports albums, favorites and can group tagged images of people together. You can share photos via mail, messaging, Nokia’s Tap+Send feature or supported third-party apps from within the gallery (or within the capture apps themselves).

The standard Windows Phone photo gallery app provides an attractive entry point to your images.
The image browsing view’s grid of 20 square thumbnails makes finding a specific picture easy. Vertical orientation is your only option here, but once you’ve zoomed in on a specific image, you can pull out a bit to get a scrollable horizontal band with three or four shots onscreen at a time.

Nokia bundles its Creative Studio with the 1020, a filter and editing app with a few nice touches. You start off by deciding whether to use one of eight color-cast filters (Silver, Ivory, Seashell, Quartz, Jade, Aquamarine, Amber, or Opal) or sticking with the original as-shot image. Check out a few options below:

With that out of the way, the app offers some basic edits and enhancements. Under the Fix menu, you’ll find cropping and red-eye removal tools. The Adjust menu lets you tweak color balance and brightness, as well as clarity (affecting contrast and sharpness) and vibrance (more or less a saturation slider).

The Creative Studio clarity slider at work: moving to the left gives the image a murkier, soft-focus look.
Sliding to the right produces a more defined image than the original.

The Blur menu provides a “Radial+Tilt Shift” option that lets you create blur, either around circular area you pick, or with a tilt-shift, miniature look.

The radial blur tool creates soft focus around a circular area you define.
The tilt-shift tool simulates a tilt-shift lens for a miniature look, but is restricted to a horizontal sharp zone.

The Focus Object feature provides more elaborate blur control, letting you mask areas that you want sharp or blurry. You can zoom in for more precision with the mask, and the software does a decent job of finding edges to guess what you’re trying to accomplish.

The Focus Object lets you pick out sharp and blurry areas by first filling in the zone to remain sharp …
… and then outlining it.
You can then zoom in for a bit more masking precision, painting the blur effect on and off.
The final result is fine for web resolution sharing, but if you zoom in to pixel level you’ll find imperfections.

Under the Play menu, there’s “color pop,” a selective color tool, and “collage,” which lets you group a few images into, well, a collage. It could be fun for creating digital postcards. 

Color Pop makes it easy to whip up selective color images. Here, simply tapping the yellow building does the trick.
The Collage feature groups together a few images into a 3MP collage, but you don’t have much control over the arrangement.

App Ecosystem

Microsoft came late to the post-iPhone, app-centric smartphone party, and now has to compete with iOS and Android for developer attention. App support is lacking compared to the two leading platforms: Windows Phone seems to be gaining traction, but its competitors have a long head start.

Good imaging apps are thin on the ground. Hipstamatic initially released the nifty Oggl exclusively for the Lumia 1020, though it's now available on more models. A version of Aviary’s photo editor is in the Microsoft app store. Nokia itself seems committed to expanding the imaging capacities of its phones: Pro Cam and Smart Cam are available for most of the earlier Lumia handsets. But it will be quite a while before the Windows Phone Store begins to match the breadth and depth of the imaging offerings on Apple’s App Store or Google Play. 

If you’re coming from an established platform and have apps you can’t live without, make sure there are at least serviceable equivalents available for Windows Phone before committing to the switch.