Every smartphone has a built in camera app and some of them are very good, but how good are your photographs? Could they be better? Microsoft thinks so and it has the iPhone app to make it happen.
We all take brilliant pictures occasionally and sometimes, usually by pure chance, the conditions a just perfect and the photograph is amazing. The lighting is right, the exposure is spot on, the focus is pin sharp, and so on.
Sadly this is not true of all the photos we take with our phones and more often than we would like, the results are dull and lifeless, are out of focus or they have bad lighting when the subject is against a light background like a window or the sun.
Microsoft Pix, initially only available for iOS, but eventually for Android as well, aims to fix photo flaws automatically. It aims to make you a better photographer by automatically selecting the best settings.
Where many camera apps enable you to adjust settings like exposure to compensate for over or under exposure, HDR (High Dynamic Range) to make the colours more saturated and fix the lighting, and even adjust the shutter speed or aperture, Pix doesn’t.
Where are the controls?
Microsoft has produced a feature-free app that has no controls. You point the phone camera, tap the button to take a photo and that’s it. All the adjustments to make your photographs stand out are done by the app automatically.
This solves several problems:
- You often don’t have the time to adjust settings and you’ll miss the moment if you spend two minutes adjusting the settings.
- Many people just want to point and shoot and can’t be bothered fiddling with settings.
- Many people don’t know how to use the settings to make photos better.
- You can hardly see the screen, never mind adjust the settings outdoors, especially on a sunny day.
Microsoft Pix does several things to make your photos better. It continuously shoots photos and when you tap the button to take a photo, it automatically selects the best one. The screen update is a little bit jerky because it is constantly taking photos. It’s not bad, but it is not as smooth as the iPhone Camera app.
Continuously shooting is a useful feature and it just works without you having to do anything.
Another great feature is live images, which is basically Microsoft’s version of Apple’s Live Photos. Apple’s camera app requires an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus to take Live Photos, but Microsoft Pix took live images an old iPhone 6. The app is compatible with even older phones like the 5s too.
Live images are created automatically when movement is detected in the shot. They are saved to the Camera Roll as short auto-looping video clips. The resolution is a lowly 816 x 608 pixels, but that is good enough for sharing on social media websites, via email, and so on.
After taking a photo there are a number of simple filters that can be applied to photos. A strip of thumbnails shows the effect and you just tap one to apply it. A Compare button enables you to compare before and after results.
Microsoft Pix shoots videos as well as photos and it uses Hyperlapse with image stabilisation to create interesting videos.
When to use Microsoft Pix
Microsoft Pix is not for every photo you take. Some shots, such as a landscape on a sunny day, look no different with Pix than the phone’s Camera app.
If there is some movement and you want to create a live image, especially if you have an iPhone that doesn’t have Live Photos, then use Pix.
If the lighting is awkward, such as someone standing with their back to a window or the sun, Pix might do a better job with the exposure. It looks for faces in the photo and tries to make them look good, rather than silhouettes.
Title: Microsoft Pix (iOS App Store)
iOS: 9.0 or later
Phone: iPhone 5s or later
iPad: iPad Air or later
Verdict: A useful app for certain conditions.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 05 August 2016