Phone Scoop

printed October 20, 2014
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Review: Samsung Focus 2 for AT&T

Form Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  

Media Camera Photos/Video Browse/Customize Extras  

Camera

The Focus's 5-megapixel camera operates just as the cameras on other Windows Phone devices. The camera can be opened at any time with a long press to the camera button, even when the phone is locked or in the middle of using another app.

There is a box that appears in the center of the screen to help with centering the shot. Basic controls to access zoom and the video camera are stacked on right side of the display. The Focus offers a lot of tools for controlling the camera, including shooting modes, face detection, smile detection, scenes, burst shot, and of course control over the flash.

One feature I liked is touch-to-focus. It works very quickly, and will focus on whatever object you select in the viewfinder. Once it focuses, it shoots the picture without requiring users to also press the shutter button. The physical camera key is great thanks to the really well-defined two-stage control.

Once images are captured, they are whisked into the gallery app. The right edge of the previous photo serves as the frame on the left side of the viewfinder. It's a quick reminder of what it is that you've most recently shot, and swiping it provides quick access to the gallery.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Pictures Hub

The Pictures Hub is all about the community experience. It lets you easily upload images to Facebook, SkyDrive (Microsoft's photo upload service), Flickr, or send them along via MMS or email. Microsoft wants users of Windows Phones to spread the photo lovin'.

The native gallery app doesn't have any editing tools other than using the "auto-enhancer" setting. All this does is fix exposure, white balance, color, etc. You can't crop or rotate, and you have no control over how the auto-enhancer works. It does its thing, and you either have to take it or leave it.

Thankfully, the Focus includes the same Photo Studio application from Samsung that has appeared on other WP7 phones. This separate app is a rich photo editor with a vast set of features that include crop, rotate, fix brightness, fix contrast, fix color, etc. It works with the pictures you've taken with the Focus itself, but not those in your Facebook folder (it will share directly to Facebook, Picasa, and other web services, though).

Even more interesting, the Photo Studio software can act as a camera and lets you apply a lot of effects to shots as you take them. For example, you can pick panorama mode for wide vistas, or “plus:me” to add yourself to existing photos, and so on. It's a neat tool that bolsters the Focus's otherwise stock camera.

 

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

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