There is a new spark in smartphone innovation these days revolving around the camera. After their hardware war smartphone manufacturers shifted their area of concern from processor, RAM, and internal storage to smartphone camera.
Starting with Nokia’s PureView which was a totally different level, we have seen a lot more flagships come out with DSLR like features. Background defocus is one of the hot new feature evolving in smartphone cameras this year. Sony, LG, Samsung, HTC and the obvious Nokia which is now Microsoft Mobile have their high ends running software quirks to result in images which alike Lytro first maintstream light-field camera can be refocused after capture.
Lytro works on a completely different technology compared to these smartphone cameras. Generally all cameras capture images with light intensities at given point. Lytro on the other hand also captures the direction of light along with the intensities which allows it to generate images with different things in focus using the matrix of microlenses over its sensor. Getting this currently on any smartphone is not feasible due to space limitations and obviously the cost. But fortunately the high processing chipsets that power the smartphones can do some intensive processing producing desired DSLR like Bokeh effects.
Following the most common approach, the smartphone captures HDR images with different exposures at different focus points and later combine those longer and shorter exposure images using computational photography to result in an interactive image with areas of the photo being out of focus. This is actually done by the camera app and is a slow process since it takes time to perform processing on a hardware level. This too have some limitations and they always will remain because it is not the best way to obtain what we want. HTC providing dual camera have tried to reduce the time taken but it has its own limitations like this can’t be done in low-light etc.
Getting all this done by a software means we could achieve on other smartphones as well, in fact any android as we are talking about the Android flagships of the year. This was actually been made available using third party applications from a time when this was not much in talks and what we all were concerned about was the hardware. There have been some new applications released recently and updates to the existing camera apps which brings this feature for any Android smartphone.
Recently launched in April 2014, Google revamps the camera interface adding a brand new lens blur feature. Selecting the lens blur mode, the app asks you to click a picture and slowly move the smartphone upwards in order to capture different focus points with different exposure values. The app is absolutely free to download but currently is only available for Android 4.4 KitKat which is a bummer since only 8.5 percent of Androids are presently running the latest version.
The popular third party app which is available in free with limited features and complete Pro version which is available for $1.99. It allows you to select the area which needs to be defocused and then apply various filters if you want. Easy to use and works on Android 2.0+
Same as AfterFocus, with less features and lot less popularity. It allows users to select the focus area which can be a circular region, rectangular region or can be selective focus and there you get your result. The app is completely free to download and works on Android 2.2+.
Camera ZOOM FX
The ultimate camera app which has been recommended by a lot of editors. It is one of the best alternative to stock camera app which expands the option to capture more detailed shots and apply effects directly without looking for any other app to do so. The bokeh effect can be applied on a captured click. It is available for $2.99 from the Google Play Store and works with Android 1.6+.
Everyone’s favourite Instagram which is not just an image editing application but also is a social community of smartphone photographers. Instagram as we know has sufficient filters but apart from that it can defocus the selective areas from the captured image. Free to download and works on Android 2.2+.
So those were some of the apps that can help you with an artificial bokeh effect on your images. Which app of the above is your favorite? Let us know in the section below.