Selective focus: we tell you and show you what the fashion function is about on smartphones

Among the characteristics that the different manufacturers have placed as add-ons in the cameras of their high-end smartphones of this 2014 there is a function that is taking more eyes (if we ignore the media selfies): selective focus.

In this race to get as close as possible to traditional photography (advanced compact and DSLR), this year the different brands have chosen to enhance the possibility of obtaining images with background blur (or bokeh) or to be able to choose the focus after taking the Photography. Beyond results or how each terminal poses and executes it (that's what this post is about), I must tell you that I like this possibility on a smartphone and that, with practice and knowing the limitations of each method, we can spend great moments with the camera of our smartphone.

Below we review how they pose and what results we obtain with the different selective focus or refocus methods using the Lumia 1020, the Galaxy S5, the One M8, the Xperia Z2 or an Xperia Z1 Compact with the Google Camera application.

Selective focus video analysis on smartphone

Nokia Refocus

Inheriting in software from the spirit of the Lytro camera, the Nokia Refocus application is the closest to the idea of ​​a true refocus after taking the initial photograph.

It is also the most powerful and with which it is possible to achieve better results if we avoid limitations such as the maximum resolution of the final image (5 megapixels) or that the process is not exactly fast.

Nokia Refocus takes between 2 and 8 images of the scene to make a kind of depth map of different elements, and then allows you to have the entire image in focus or select which subject should be the main one and blur the rest. The execution is very complete, with well-defined edges, and can always refocus on the original image.

HTC Duo Camera

Is the dedicated hardware selective focus feature worth it? One would think that of course if HTC had managed to wipe out its rivals in results or include the possibility of a very powerful subsequent refocusing and superior to that which until now could be achieved via software.

But as it happened with Ultrapixel, the extreme effort of HTC with the dual camera on the HTC One M8 has left us with conflicting feelings. On paper, performing in selective focus with the help of a second camera seems ideal, but the results have not convinced us despite the clear advantages of being implemented at the hardware level.

The UFocus system allows you to refocus a scene after taking the photo, as long as it does not have a close-up close-up, in which case the system does not allow subsequent refocusing. The main 4 megapixel camera is the one that takes the image while the secondary one collects information about the depth of the scene.

The great advantage of this HTC solution is that we will always have it available, there is no need to activate it, and it is by far the fastest to work. But in results it is one of the most to be desired, and the edges are usually not very well defined.

Selective Focus on the Galaxy S5

Samsung, with the departure of its Galaxy S5, could not leave the issue of selective focus behind in its new reference terminal, and precisely that is the name that the Koreans have given to this function of their camera.

The option in the Galaxy S5 must be activated (we can put it as a direct access on the screen of the camera interface), it just delays the taking of the image and after processing it, it gives us the option of choosing three focus modes: close-up , background or the entire scene.

The results are among the best we have obtained in the comparison, at the Nokia level, also being faster in length and allowing more resolution in the final image. However, it is a refocus only for two positions (foreground and background) in addition to "everything in focus".

Sony background blur

Sony's bid for selective focus is directly called background blur. And the name is completely true to what we can do. Here it is not a matter of refocusing after taking the photo, but we must select the specific mode, shoot (the camera takes two photos, one of the object in the foreground and the other of the background), and then, with the help of a potentiometer, regulate the degree of blur of the image background, which can be very aggressive.

If we choose a medium term, the result is good, but it will depend, as in other cases, on the complexity of the scene.

Google camera: the "universal" solution

If you do not have a Sony, a Nokia or any of the new S5 or One M8, Google has opened its Camera to all terminals, and an included mode is the background blur.

In our test it seemed like a nightmare, and it is not easy or direct to get it to work. You have to select it and slightly move the camera to get a photo, which if we can take it and not have despaired before, may even be acceptable. This was not the case in our test as you can see:

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