The upgrade from Windows Phone 7/7.5 has brought with it several benefits, in particular increased integration between the camera and third party apps.
We previously looked at taking photos with Windows Phone last year, but since then things have changed quite a bit. In addition, management of images has also been overhauled, with better synchronization options both to the cloud and to your local PC. This can have massive benefits for sharing and archiving, and is improved even further if you are using a Windows 8 computer.
Do you want to take photos and view them instantly on your computer? Windows Phone can do this, thanks to SkyDrive and Windows 8.
Although this guide is written using a Nokia Lumia 920, the same steps and processes apply across all Windows Phone 8 handsets. If you’re a Windows Phone 7/7.5 user, details about image management can be found in our free Windows Phone guide.
Taking Photos On Windows Phone 8
Snapping photos on a Windows Phone is quick and easy. Available by holding the camera button on the side to launch the camera, images can be snapped either by pressing the same button or tapping the subject on the display.
You’ll notice by sliding out the menu that a choice of modes (still and video) are available, as is the ability to switch between back and front cameras (the main, “back” camera is set as default). There is also a switch to toggle between flash on, automatic and flash off, while the double arrows button displays the available lenses (see below).
Photo and video settings are also available, with Scenes (presets for taking different types of photo), ISO, Exposure Value, White Balance, Aspect Ratio and Focus Assist can all be toggled or set – depending on the quality of your camera hardware.
Once you have taken a photo, you will have a wealth of options, from sharing and editing to saving it to your SkyDrive, adding it to your phone favourites or even setting it as a lock screen. Opening the image in a third party app is also possible, as is deleting it.
Lenses & Third Party Apps
Taking photos is easy, and if you spend time at it and get the settings right you can get great results, regardless of the camera hardware.
However, there are various tools available that you can use to add new features to your camera. These are known as “lenses”, and can be activated via the double arrow button as described above. Lenses might be third party apps, or they might be provided by your mobile phone device manufacturer.
In the accompanying image, for instance, Cinemagraph, Panorama and Smart Shoot are all provided by Microsoft or Nokia. Fhotoroom, meanwhile, is a third party app. By tapping one of those tiles, you launch the camera with the tools offered by the appropriate app. For instance, Smart Shoot will work to help you take the best photos when your subjects are smiling, while Fhotoroom offers timer, burst and time-lapse photo options.
Among the lenses you can install are:
- Bing Translator: instant translation of foreign text.
- Cam Wow: camera filters and effects.
- ReadyClick: voice-activated snaps.
- Cinemagraph: create GIF-like short animations.
- Panorama: take wide panorama images.
- Smart Shoot: take better photos, includes automated merge tool.
- Fhotoroom: offers all of the tools missing from the stock camera.
Many more are available in the Windows Phone Store. You can find these by tapping the find more lenses link.
Managing Snaps In The Photo Hub
After taking a photo on your Windows Phone you can edit it using the built in crop, rotate and auto-fix tool or use a third party – all installed options are available from the menu.
If you prefer to take a look at your gallery of images first, you can do so via the Photo Hub, where images can be sorted by date and the people tagged in them, as well as placed into your Favourites folder (useful for third party apps to find).
The Photo Hub also displays images shared by yourself or friends on any social networks you have setup on Windows Phone 8, it lists available image apps (those installed as lenses and editors), while dragging the ellipses menu (look for the “…”) enables you to choose a background for the Photos Hub or set the phone to select a random background from your images.
You can also access the Photos+Camera settings menu, where you can toggle the methods of taking a snap (camera button vs tapping the screen), using the camera button to wake the phone into camera mode (the rest of the phone remains locked) and preventing accidental camera launch when the phone is locked.
Syncing Photos To SkyDrive & Windows 8
Also in the settings menu you will be able to toggle whether you use SkyDrive as your auto-upload service or a third party cloud storage solution. Additionally, SkyDrive can be configured to upload images and videos based on your connection type.
Photos can either be uploaded manually by selecting them in the Photo Hub album, by using the Save to SkyDrive option in the camera software, or by tapping the Share… option in the camera menu and selecting messaging service, email account, social networking app or suitable cloud storage alternative.
You can also sync a Windows Phone snap to your PC. Windows 7 users have the rather lo-fi Windows Phone Sync Client that they can use, while owners of Windows 8 computers have the benefit of a far superior piece of software that will auto-load when the phone is connected by USB.
Photos are synced to the named folder on your PC. The only exception are screenshots, which are saved in an appropriately-labelled subfolder (screenshots are made by holding Power+Start).
Windows Phone 8 builds on its predecessor with some excellent camera add-ins, known as lenses, which enhance the way in which users can take photos. With camera hardware such as that found on the Nokia devices, this proves an extremely useful new feature.
While sharing is largely the same, the ability to launch a photo editing tool is also very useful. In addition, screenshots can also be made, which are then saved to the phone in a separate photos sub-folder and synced only to your PC.
Windows Phone remains extremely fast as a photo sharing tool. Uploading a photo to Facebook is almost always quicker than on other platforms, for instance, and sharing through SkyDrive is also quick.