Using the Camera App
As with other mobile, touch-based
systems, Windows 8 includes a simple Camera app that works with the
camera (or, in the case of some modern devices, the cameras)
that is included in (or attached to) your PC or device. This app lets
you capture still pictures and short movies. It’s not quite as useful
as, say, a camera in a smartphone, but it’s there if you need it.
The first time you run the Camera app, you’ll be
prompted to allow the app to use your webcam and microphone. Obviously,
you must allow this for the app to function. If you block this access,
the app will simply quit.
The Camera app, shown in Figure 18, is simplicity itself. There’s an app bar, always visible in this app, with just a handful of buttons.
Figure 18: Dashing! The Camera app
Available app bar buttons include:
- Change camera: On
PCs or devices with multiple cameras, the Change camera button will let
you choose which camera to use. For example, many Windows 8 and RT
devices include both front- and rear-facing cameras. This button works
like a toggle: Tap it once to change the view to the next camera.
- Camera options: Click
this button to see a pop-up display with three options that will be
consistent across all Windows 8 PCs: Photo/Video resolution, Audio
device, and Video stabilization, though not all options will be
configurable on all PCs. You can also click a More link here to view
additional camera options. What you see in that interface will vary
from PC to PC, but some of the more common options include Brightness,
Contrast, Flicker, and Exposure.
- Timer: This
button acts as a toggle. When selected, the next photo or video you
take will be preceded by a 3-second countdown, giving you time,
perhaps, to jump into the frame.
- Video Mode:
This button also works as a toggle. By default, Camera is set up to
take still photos. But if you enable this button, it is set up to take
videos instead. Tap it again to return to camera mode.
Keyboard users can tap Space to take a photo or start/stop video recording.
To take a photo with Camera, simply tap (or
click) anywhere on-screen. If you’re in video mode, this will start
video recording instead. To stop recording, tap (or click) the screen
Photos and videos taken with Camera can be found
in the Camera Roll photo, which is added to the default save location
for the Pictures library (My Pictures, by default).
Doing More with Your Pictures
The Photos app is fine for what it is.
But it doesn’t have any photo editing features at all. Its photo
acquisition features are lackluster at best. And if you want to share
photos via an online service that’s not supported by a Metro-style app
that’s savvy to the Share contract, you’re out of luck on that count as
For these and other slightly more advanced
scenarios, you’ll need to turn to the Windows desktop. Here, you’ll
find some features that are built into Windows 8 directly, and a few
that will require some optional and free Microsoft applications that
may or may not be installed on your PC or device.
Since these capabilities haven’t changed since
Windows 7, we won’t go into great depth here. But we’ll provide you
with a rundown of the applications you can use, and for what
activities, and help you find any missing applications that may not be
included with your Windows 8 install.
Built Into Windows 8: Photo Viewing on the Desktop
Windows 8 includes an admittedly well
hidden desktop application called Windows Photo Viewer that lets you
view individual photos and perform other photo-related functions.
Windows Photo Viewer is odd in that you can’t actually find the
application via normal means—it doesn’t appear in the All Apps view or
even via Start Search. But you can access Photo Viewer by
right-clicking an image file from the desktop and choosing Open with
and then Windows Photo Viewer.
As you can see in Figure 19,
this application provides print-, e-mail-, and disc burning-based ways
to share photos and a handy but simple slideshow feature courtesy of
that large button in the lower middle of the window.
Figure 19: The Windows Photo Viewer application provides basic features related to viewing and sharing photos from the Windows desktop.
You could also make Windows Photo Viewer the
default photo-viewing application if you wanted. To do so, right-click
an image file and choose Open with then Choose default program, and
then pick Windows Photo Viewer from the list that appears. Or, use the
Default programs control panel (via Start Search).
Or don’t. Because there’s a better option for desktop users . . .
Completing the Windows 8 Photo Experience with Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery used to be called Windows
Live Gallery, and it was previously available as part of a suite of
apps called Windows Live Essentials. The application carriers forward,
minus the Live branding.
If you’re looking for a more versatile
tool that can do it all when it comes to photos— photo acquisition,
viewing, editing printing, e-mail sharing, burning to disc, tagging,
captioning, geotagging, advanced slideshows, sharing with numerous
online services including SkyDrive, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr,
panoramas, and more—look no further than Photo Gallery. This amazing
application, shown in Figure 20, is everything you need, all in one place.
Figure 20: Photo Gallery
If you’re in a pinch, Microsoft Paint, included in Windows 8, also provides some basic photo-editing features.
Photo Gallery is the full meal deal, and because
it provides a superset of the features available in a basic Windows 8
install, we recommend using it over the built-in tools.
How to Find Photo Gallery
The only problem with Photo Gallery is that you may not find it on your PC or device. If that’s the case, browse to windows.com, where you’ll find this and other useful Windows applications.