Right since the HTC M8 was announced with its dual back Camera to help users take shots and artificially blur background or subjects in the foreground, just about every major player seems to want to achieve the same via some sort of software gimmick. Google did it in their standalone Camera app for Android 4.4 with Lens blur, while Samsung has tried something similar on their S5. Next up in line is Sony with their Defocus app, that was seeded on Google Play yesterday.
Play Store: Download Defocus application for Xperia devices here
The application sits within the camera app of the Xperia devices and adds to the collection which includes AR Effect, Creative Effect, Info Eye etc. We were able to use the application on our Sony Xperia Z1, but as long as you are running an Xperia device on Android 4.2 and above, you would be able to find the application on Google Play and add it to your device.
The application in itself is easy enough to use though it does not work under all conditions and is extremely hit and miss at this point. You need to have the main subject about 15-45 cm away and the background should ideally be about 5 meters away, rendering the app pretty much useless for subjects that are closeby. As a result, the app really works in conditions where you have substantial landscape view. Even then, you get a weird effect which is very odd especially at the borders where from where blurring begins due to a solid line appearing. Not just this, the effect in itself is very uneven and the app has a tough time keeping just the subject in focus as you can see in some of the shots we have attached below. This makes the photo look really fake unlike some of the shots we have seen from the likes of HTC M8 where there is a degree of subtlety.
The effect is generated as the app basically takes two snaps when activated, one with the focus on the subject while the second with background in focus. Thanks to some quick processing it recognizes the background from the subject and blurs it out.
The bokeh effect can be generated in three shapes from the application as you have a control to pick a sphere based, vertical or horizontal effect. Once you have done that post clicking the picture you are required to save the picture with the effect like any jpeg and can share it. Once post processed, you cannot go back and refocus the images. We have attached a couple of sample shots below which we had taken with our Xperia Z1 to illustrate the points we have tried to make above, do note both the images have circular bokeh effect. Do click on them for a full view.