Nokia Creative Studio brings panorama capture to Lumia handsets (hands-on)

Nokia recently launched a new photography app called Creative studio which is available in the Windows Phone Marketplace exclusively for its Lumia handsets. Part panorama stitcher, part photo filter and part image editor, the app lets you take new pictures or chose shots from existing albums and tweak them to your heart's content. It features ten Instagram-like effects (including vignette and auto-enhance) plus seven common adjustments (such as crop and sharpness). We took the app for a spin and the UI is pretty slick, with an optional side-by-side before and after view of the photo you are currently editing. Once done, you have the option to continue applying additional effects and making further adjustments, save the image or share it. Twitter, Flickr and Facebook are supported, but sadly there's no integration with Windows Phone's People Hub -- you'll have to login to each service in the app itself. Check out the screen shots in the gallery below and hit the break for more impressions and some samples.

The built-in camera interface is very basic with nothing more than buttons to control the flash settings when taking standard pictures and four small boxes showing up to four images of your progress when using panorama mode. Speaking of which, panoramas default to landscape and only support left to right sweeps. The app snaps up to four photos and provides feedback via a large box-shaped outline on the viewfinder which shows the position of your next shot -- something you'll recognize from Samsung's TouchWiz camera UI. Capture is accomplished by tapping anywhere on the screen or by pressing the dedicated dual-stage shutter key (which lets you focus ahead of time by pressing halfway).

Finally, the face warps and live styles option allow you to see the filters being applied to the viewfinder in pseudo real-time (pseudo on account of the abysmal refresh rate). Each mode offers 6 different effects to distort your coworker's faces and turn your friend's pets into cartoons (as we aptly demonstrated in the gallery below). Panoramas consist of 4 pictures that are processed into a single 5525 x 1485-pixel image, and while the result is surprisingly high-res, the stitching process often reveals noticeable seams. While far from perfect, there's a lot to like about Nokia Creative Studio -- the panorama capture alone is worth the price of admission (which is free, unlike the alternative) since it's missing from the default Lumia camera app.