Over the summer, wireless carriers will begin deploying Windows Phone 8.1 to existing Windows Phone 8 handsets. For those with Lumia handsets, that update will also be accompanied by a set of Nokia firmware updates called Cyan. And among those updates are a number of improvements to the imaging capabilities of the firm's smart phones.
These updates were revealed in a live Ask Me Anything session during Nokia engineers answered a number of questions about imaging improvements would appear in Cyan. (Imaging is obviously a big deal on Lumia handsets given the superiority of the camera hardware found in these devices.)
The following imaging improvements were described:
Much better low light performance. This is actually a big deal. Back when Nokia released the Lumia 925, it really pushed the low light performance of its camera. But with the otherwise high-quality cameras in the Lumia 1020, 1520, Icon/930, I've noticed a problem in low light, and I think it's related to the advanced imaging software "over-thinking" things and ruining shots. Hopefully this is fixed with Cyan, as it really is a problem.
Better colors. On the Lumia 1520 in particular—I guess there are coloration and artifact issues—Cyan will provide new algorithms that improve color quality.
Continuous autofocus. Cyan brings continuous autofocus to Lumia 630, Lumia 1520 and Lumia Icon/930.
Better video quality
Raw image improvements. On the Lumia 1020, 1520, Icon/930, you can choose between JPEG (low- and full-res versions) or JPEG + RAW. I've always opted for the former for a variety of reasons, but Nokia says that "raw images will look better because we are using the sensor in more clever way." So I'll want to test that.
Image quality improvements. But only on Lumia 1520 and Icon/930.
Living image support. Nokia is adding a new feature called Living Image to the Lumia 1020, 1520 and Icon/930. This feature is a bit like Cinemagraph, in that it shoots a series of stills that works somewhat like a short movie. But unlike Cinemagraph, it's automatic. So when you view a living image in the camera roll, you'll see a standard photo plus a short video of additional shots. And you'll be able to use a new version of the Nokia Storyteller app to share the living images as a video. (That feature is called Story Sharing.)
Creative Studio rewrite. Nokia's Creative Studio app—which provides fun photo filters like blur, color pop, collage, and so on—is being completely rewritten for Windows Phone 8.1/Cyan and it will offer non-destructive editing in addition to new filters. As noted above, Nokia Storyteller is also being updated for Cyan.
Nokia Camera improvements. The pokey Nokia Camera app is also being updated for Windows Phone 8.1/Cyan with performance improvements and "a better camera roll." The performance improvements are directed in part at the Lumia 1020, whose big imaging sensor makes picture taking a bit slow.