Focus and Refocus

I don’t know why Nokia called their new app Refocus, because refocusing is the last thing you will have to do with this app. Now, anyone with one of the new PureView Windows Phones can take a picture, upload it to the Nokia server and choose which part of the photo they want to be in focus, or can choose to combine all parts of the image into one super sharp, super depth of field photo.

In 2007, Leaf (now Mamiya Leaf) released a revolutionary camera called the AFi. Made in Germany by the same company that made the famous line of Rolleiflex cameras, the AFi was capable of taking up to nine photos, one right after another, changing the focus just slightly between shots. In post processing, a photographer using one of several focus stacking applications, was able to combine the sharpest point of each image in order to create an image that was sharp all the way through from foreground to background. At the time, it was the only camera on the market that had this capability, true to form for Leaf who have always been known as leaders in digital medium format technology.

Fast forward five years and we see that Nokia, having fallen from the number one position in cell phone sales, eager to regain market share, has learned that consumers don’t need another 500,000 apps in order to have a positive experience with their phones. Besides a healthy selection of apps (how many alarm clocks do you actually need?), users want features that are useful and easy to use. The design of the new Nokia Lumia series with Pure View cameras has proven successful with users who enjoy taking photos with their phones. Nokia worked with Zeiss to create a superior lens that is faster and sharper than others. The lens assembly includes optical image stabilization, which helps compensate for those shaky photos and a xenon flash, useful for when the ambient light levels are just too low. This latest app is a brilliant addition to the already capably built-in camera.

A brief explanation on depth of field

Try putting an object six inches from your eye. Your eye focuses on the object, but what lies beyond is as fuzzy as a pet poodle. Now shift your eye to the object in the background and the object that you are holding in your hand has become a fuzzy blob. This is how your camera works too. You can’t have objects that are very close to the lens and objects in the background be both sharp at the same time — until now. Nokia employs the process of focus stacking to combine the sharpest part of each image to create one image with a very deep depth of field. But it is not just the new deeper depth of field that you can now achieve, it is a tool to enable you to change your focus AFTER (hence the name Refocus) you click the shutter, giving you the option afterwards to decide what part of the photo you want to be sharp, and what you want to be out of focus.

Show me

Take a look at the images below and see the focus change.

  • The first image shows the foreground in focus.
  • The second image shows the background in focus.
  • The third is a combination of all sharp elements into one image with a depth of field that would have been almost impossible with a smartphone until Nokia introduced their app.
Foreground in focus

Foreground in focus


Background in focus

Background in focus


Both in focus

Both in focus


Try it yourself here.

Click on the camera on the left or the cameras in the background. Clicking on the icon in the lower right corner of the image brings everything into focus.

[field name=iframe]