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Lens Blur in the new Google Camera app
Posted by Carlos Hernández, Software Engineer

One of the biggest advantages of SLR cameras (http://goo.gl/XeAhti) over camera phones is the ability to achieve shallow depth of field effects (also known as bokeh, http://goo.gl/xHR774), which makes the object of interest "pop" by bringing the foreground into focus and de-emphasizing the background. 

Achieving this optical effect has traditionally required a big lens and aperture, and therefore hasn’t been possible using the camera on your mobile phone or tablet. That all changes with Lens Blur, a new mode in the Google Camera app (http://goo.gl/UpMubk). 

Lens Blur  replaces the need for a large optical system with computer vision algorithms and optimization techniques that are run entirely on the mobile device, simulating a larger lens and aperture in order to creating a 3D model of the world. 

To learn more about the algorithms and optimization that makes Lens Blur  possible, head over to the Google Research Blog, linked below. We hope you have fun with your bokeh experiments!
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83 comments
 
well why does it say my samsung s4 is not eligible? 
 
It says no compatible with my Moto G runing 4.4....
 
This is great.
I wonder if there are algorithm who estimate something like that from a single image.
 
I already try it. Still learning function
 
+TJ Chao same here, doesn't install to Galaxy S4 with latest pre-kitkat Android (update hasn't showed up for me yet), and not showing in Market when browsed from phone.
 
+Roberto Catalani , yes there's also HDR as in old version....
Photocamera mode --> tap on options and there you go... HDR enable/disable
 
I've pretty much implemented the same algorithm for part of my PhD work. Damn, all that work and it's now in my phone!
 
+Roberto Catalani , I do have Nexus 5.
Already updated the app and tested.
Anyway if you have moto G, and you can install app update.... I suppose you'll get the same features
 
I cant believe it. How about the quality of the pictures? +Mohamed Al-Ahmad . The noise is the images are less or the moto camera app was better?
 
+Olivier Amrein it shouldn't be restricted by country, but I think it's safe to assume that the US will get it first (I already have it), and then it will roll out to other countries, based on time zone. The only restriction I know of is that it will only work on devices with KitKat (ie. new or rooted devices). 
TJ Chao
 
+Jay Hiza Well that explains it. I'm still on Jelly Bean (cough* Verizon *cough). And no I don't want to bother rooting. Thanks for confirming.
 
+TJ Chao do you have a KitKat device? If so, have you tried clearing the app data for the Play Store? I received the update about an hour ago. I'm in the metro NY area. 
 
Updated on my n5. It updated over the stock camera app.
 
I've N5 and I'm in italy and got update...
A friend of mine, same.. just updated.
+Jay Hiza 
TJ Chao
 
+Jay Hiza I just cleared the Play Store app data however still could not find it. It doesn't even show up in search. I'm not yet on KK so that may be the issue.
 
+TJ Chao, that actually IS the issue. The app description already says it's for 4.4+ devices.
 
Very nice. Just installed it on my Nexus 5, looks pretty good. Glad to see this moved to the Play Store. I hope it enters the regular app upgrade rotation. Bet it will eventually have an option to set full screen viewfinder. I don't want it, but you know a lot of people will complain, so they might as well have the option.
 
Any news if the Samsung SM-C105A (AT&T Zoom) will be compatible with future updates?  As of right now, I can't install it from the store...

EDIT:  Never mind.  It looks like I need to wait for Samsung to roll the 4.4 update for my phone.
 
Just tried it out, it works - kinda hard to use though.
 
+TJ Chao try installing by Clicking on Install button on the Play Store from your PC.
 
Where is the timer for my selfies ?? :\
 
TIMELAPSE... Why did you remove it??
 
+Adrian Colley Interesting read about the green lightning. However, artificial bokeh is not a bug masquerading as a feature.
 
Seems you've removed two key features that are in the stock android camera app - time lapse and white balance settings (if they're there, I can't find them). Please restore these two must-have features.
 
This seems a perfect outcome of an outstanding research. I was wondering if there are +Marc Levoy 's contributions ?
 
I'm sorry, but Windows XP was updated and supported for how many years, and mobile OS makers can't even create apps to work with phones that aren't even 2 years old? Something sucks about "progress".
 
Hi, I own a Nexus 4 that's running 4.4.2 KitKat. The update keeps failing. I hope you fix that error soon. :)
 
Galaxy Nexus: This app is incompatible with your device. :(
 
Seriously, why did you even remove White Balance? At least put it back in the advanced settings :(
 
+Brian Pinard Yes, I did. Nothing seems to work. I installed the Google Now launcher a couple of weeks back, could that be it?
 
I have HTC One M7 and its saying its not compatible. What should i do?
 
Frickin' Verizon for not updating the Note 3. Red bastards.
 
Hey What about face recognition feature. I do not see any in this update. Is it there?
 
Interesting that it seems to be a plus to actually show less information.  The image (hopefully) is still rendered with all the info, and then a Gaussian or something similar blur is applied against some part of the image.  Why not do this after and control the "bokeh", which is why some lenses are so far superior to others.  A Leica Bokeh is beautiful, while a cheap plastic lense bokeh is much less so.  digitally we should be able to create any type of bokeh we feel like (some good after-process app).   
 
Used to be able to take photos while recording video on the Nexus 5, since this update I can't.
 
In HDR+ mode, its taking time for taking new pic-- disadvantage.
This feature was working well in old version.
 
How can I access the depth map in my own applications?
 
I use Nexus 5.  Why did Google remove these following features?  Take photo while recording video, Time lapse and timer countdown.  As a result, I had to uninstall updates and am now using the older version of the camera app.  Any plans to bring at least the photo while recording feature back in the new app?
 
+Research at Google Not sure if this is the right place for feedback, but the Lens Blur effect doesn't work too well with Google+ auto upload. Auto-upload does its thing, and if I want to adjust the effect later, it does not change the Google+ auto-upload image. There should be some way to do this. It's a pain to have to delete the original upload and manually re-upload.

Thanks.
 
Please fix the autoupload bug for lense blur images
 
Like others here, I'm having trouble getting edited photos to sync with the auto-uploaded version. Any time I want to edit the lens blur effect the changes only show on the local photo and the auto-uploaded photo does not reflect the edits making it really difficult to edit and share a lens blur photo.
 
What am I missing here?  I got the new camera app, switch to "lens blur" mode, take a "selfie" with a somewhat distant background, it indicates to move up, I do, it shows processing for several seconds, and then dumps me back at the viewfinder for another take.  I flip over to the previous picture, and it looks just like it normally does, and there's no option to do any kind of lens-blur post-processing.  Am I doing something wrong?
 
+Joseph Mainusch I also do not get any lens blur processing option. The photo doesn't even process. It will start to process lens blur then quit. Using a Razr Maxx HD.
 
anyone got the blur working on a stock Sprint Galaxy S3 (running 4.4.2)?  It takes the picture but bails during the rendering process.  All other camera modes work fine...
 
+Dennis Caunce , I have the same problem. Using a Razr Maxx HD running 4.4.2. Rendering process bails around 25%.
 
Rooted my phone and installed Cyanogenmod 11.  Camera app now works!
 
The Lens Blur idea is great, but a BIG problem for me is that it regularly crashes my phone (S4).  It will suddenly totally die & the photo will have disappeared on reboot.  Also, on occasion the phone will not restart until I start charging it, reporting that the battery is totally flat (it isn't).
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