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Nokia Lumia 1520 gets RAW photos, Lytro-like refocusing

Smartphone photographers get more options with the announcement of RAW support for the Lumia 1520, trickling down to the Lumia 1020 in due course.

Along with the announcement of new handsets and a tablet at Nokia World, the company proved it was serious about photography with the addition of RAW support.

The Lumia 1520. (Credit: Andrew Hoyle/CNET)

Nokia's camera-centric Lumia 1020 used the company's PureView technology and sported a 41-megapixel sensor, earning praise from photographers and critics thanks to its imaging technology. Alongside the announcement of the 6-inch Lumia 1520, the company provided another hook for photographers, revealing that the handset will be able to capture DNG files from the get-go. RAW support will come to the Lumia 1020 next year with the Black update.

Why are RAW files such a big deal? Because a RAW file is exactly that — raw image data from the camera's sensor before it is processed into a file type such as JPEG.

"We are responding to consumer feedback," said Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson. "It's clear that our Lumia range appeals to people passionate about photography. They've asked for raw format support, and we are happy to be the first smartphone camera that offers this kind of professional-quality data."

The good news about DNG is that it is an Adobe format that can be read by a wide range of programs, developed in response to the lack of an open standard for dealing with RAW files. Generally, every digital camera produces a proprietary RAW file format that can only be read by first-party processing software packages or programs such as Lightroom and Photoshop with the addition of add-ons.

Despite their advantages in terms of capturing the most image data, RAW files generally take up much more space than their compressed JPEG counterparts, which could present a problem on a handset like the 1020 that has no expandable storage options.

Nokia's other imaging announcement was around a new refocusing app. Taking inspiration from light-field cameras like the Lytro, Nokia Refocus Lens appears to be a software-based method of letting users refocus images after they have been taken. Details on the app are scarce, but Nokia has a microsite showing the technology at work.

The app works by taking a series of images and merging them together to give the refocusing capabilities, as seen in the demo image below:

Nokia Refocus Lens will come with the Lumia 1520, rolling out to earlier handsets in due course.