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More Photo Tools for the S4

I’ve updated this blog entry as it is getting near to summer and budding photographers will be wanting to make the best of the weather.

As if the digital photographer didn’t have enough in the way of superb tools with which to take and manipulate photos, Google some time ago released a product called PhotoSphere for it’s Nexus phones. This is not just a panorama tool but one that allows for full 360 images both horizontally and vertically – or anything in-between.

Of course you have to have one of their phones for this – until now. Here is a link to a page which offers you the .apk file for Photosphere for the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. So now not only is it probably the best phone on the planet – but also has the best combination of photo tools. On my phone now I have the excellent Samsung versions of camera and gallery but ALSO the Nexus versions – giving me the best of both worlds.  Incidentally if installing that on your personal phone screws it up – don’t complain – I’m taking no responsibility. I do NOT recommend anyone with a corporate phone “tries this at home” – all I can say is that on my S4 with stock Android 4.22 – it works a treat.

Here’s my setup. On my PC using Windows 8, I’ve installed Google Picasa (actually I’ve used it for years – cracking product – the FSB uses it at our Conferences as we have hundreds of photos coming in that need quick editing). Once that’s installed and assuming you prefer desktop use of Windows 8 over the rather useless-on-a-laptop tablet version, you’ll need to view images – sadly as soon as you try – say, a bunch of images you have in Dropbox – you end up back in the new interface with a totally useless image viewer that Microsoft kindly supply.

So, in desktop mode, simply right-click every type of image you have (maybe .png or .jpg or both) and select the default viewer to be Picasa Viewer. It is FAST and really good – and also gives you a right-click option to edit in Picasa – which I maintain for general use is the best of the image editors (not for serious stuff but if you’re in a hurry it’s almost unbeatable – for anything serious I use Gimp).

On my S4 phone I now have both cameras, both galleries (you need to Google gallery to view Photospheres properly) and the absolutely stunning free SnapSeed App for editing – indeed I do more editing on the phone now than ever before.

Having just installed Photosphere this morning on the Samsung S4,  I’ve not had a chance to do much with it but here are some of shots I took on a brief trip to the market.


The photo above is a combination of perhaps 20 shots – showing a full 360 view of the square in Huescar this morning. My shadow is screwed up – so – learning exercise – make sure you take your own shadow first – smack in the middle of the screen because as you move around – the shadow shape changes and that confuses the camera. Note that there no-one else in the square? WRONG – the camera quite cleverly spotted people moving in different overlapping views – and got rid of them! I must be more careful not to rotate the camera when taking these shots – I can see some joins.


In the photo above, we popped into my favourite cafe in the centre of Huescar for coffee and churos – and I could not help experimenting in there – much to the amusement of the people inside who were no doubt wondering why I took something like 12 photos in a row!

In the Google Gallery app – these images are viewed properly and hence you don’t see the curves – you’re seeing that incidentally not so much because the image is distorted but because you don’t normally see anywhere near this much at once – zoomed in the images become more normal looking (incidentally, click on these images for larger versions)– and in the App you can swing around (top image is full 360 degrees both ways) left, right, up, down and see a perfectly normal image.


In the last image – you see pretty much a 360 view of our place complete with mountains in the back and the pergola. The close proximity makes the building look even more weird. As you can see it’s a stunning day, a tad cool at maybe 7c but with a nice fire or a woolly hat outside, inside it’s just like summer!

Of course you might well say “that’s fine but how are we supposed to show these properly on a PC?” That’s easy – images put into Google+ photo albums automatically handle Photoshere pics. Head on over here.

And so there are my first 3 attempts with Photosphere – enjoy and expect a LOT BETTER once I get fully to grips with it. More on Photoshere itself here.

If you’re more into video – but only have your android phone to work with – consider taking a look at Cinema-FV5 – this is a cracking piece of software, recently developed that lets you take off all of those amateur auto-controls to concentrate on making quality video with your phone – AND you can plug in an external microphone!

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