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Everyone says the Lumia takes lovely pictures, but many of mine are blurry and crappy. I generally take them by pressing the shutter button (why yes I am over 30.) This week I happened to take some by tapping the screen instead. Among other things it animated a little square box over the picture centered where I tapped. Intrigued, I took several pictures in quick succession where I tapped in different places. They were indeed different in some way, but I can't really tell why. I think it had to do with exposure, because I was taking pictures of a sunset and there was a big difference between tapping where it was bright and where it was less bright.

Example: these are all from a plane, so the fact the islands are essentially in the same place show they were taken in quick succession:

four pictures

I have noticed that the tap-the-screen pics are not blurry, ever, so I will do that from now on. But I would like to know why it matters where I tap and what affects I can achieve that way.

  • As the answer points out, there is a half-press functionality to the shutter button. In practice, this means that you might be able to take better photos by pressing the button more slowly (i.e. in two steps). There is also an option in the settings menu to not take a picture with a screen tap, which would allow you to visualize different points of focus without taking a picture and then capture the one that you like with a sudden full press of the shutter button. – Tyler James Young Sep 18 '14 at 18:51
  • Kate, please clarify which camera app you're using. When writing my answer I assumed you were using Nokia Camera, but reading @TylerJamesYoung's comment it occurred to me that you might be using the regular Camera app instead. – Indrek Sep 19 '14 at 7:05
  • It's a Nokia phone, and I press the shutter button to bring up the screen where I can see what it's going to take. I guess that's the built in functionality? – Kate Gregory Sep 19 '14 at 11:42
  • @Kate The question is about the software, not the hardware. We need to know whether the app interface looks like this (Microsoft Camera) or like this (Nokia Camera). – Tyler James Young Sep 19 '14 at 17:03
  • @TylerJamesYoung it looks like the first one, with the 5 icons across the top – Kate Gregory Sep 19 '14 at 17:14
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Note: The answer below assumes you're using the Nokia Camera app. Most of it should also apply to the regular Camera app, except the part about manual focus controls.


Tapping on the screen selects that point of the scene for automatic focus and exposure adjustment - the camera app will make sure the point you tapped is in focus and properly exposed (i.e. not too dark and not too light).

This is basically the same that happens when you half-press the shutter button, except that in that case, focus and exposure are adjusted for the centre of the scene.

If your photos are coming out blurry when you use the shutter button, it's possible that the centre of the scene is not the best spot to focus on in that particular scenario. If tapping to focus works better, just keep using it. Or you could try using the manual controls to set focus to infinity. The upside of that is that the photos will be taken quicker since there's no need to auto-focus each one.

For more information on adjusting focus in the Nokia Camera app, see this article at the Nokia Conversations blog.

  • I can’t find manual focus in Nokia Camera anymore. The linked article is written about the previous version of the app. – Tyler James Young Sep 18 '14 at 18:47
  • Yes, the article was written back when the app was called Nokia Pro Camera, but manual focus is still there. It's the third icon from the left in the top bar when in Pro mode, looks like a little square inside a circle. – Indrek Sep 19 '14 at 7:00
  • My previous comment was based on a misunderstanding on my part. When I got my 1020, Nokia Camera (then called “Nokia Pro Camera”) was the default camera app. At some point in the process of moving to 8.1, Nokia Camera was automatically replaced with the app simply named “Camera” (a.k.a “Microsoft Camera”). I’ve now downloaded Nokia Camera and set it as the default, so I can manually set focus again. – Tyler James Young Sep 19 '14 at 16:52
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when you tap the screen, the phone sets its focus at that particular point, so you get clear images.... when you just tap the camera button, the phone may not focus properly and the images you get are blurred... most of the NOKIA phones have dedicated shutter key for capturing images... its a 2-step shutter key... 1st step helps you focus on the object and the 2nd step captures the image... make use of the shutter key... one of the most convenient ways to capture images...

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