For some reason or the other Nokia have always insisted on NOT including “HDR” in pretty much all their phones, the 808 has “bracketing mode” but that’s about it. Of course HDR is kind of useful sometimes, and sometimes people have no idea what it is, but constantly have it set to on, on their iPhones. Well it turns out theirs actually a setting in your Lumia’s camera that should get the job done, selecting “Backlight” under the scenes option in the camera settings will get you some pretty good results in those tricky lighting shots.
Sure it’s not true HDR (where three different pictures are taken at different exposure levels) but it is close enough; in terms of every day performance; with the added benefit that you can use it directly from the camera without the need for a 3rd part app/lens. The image above was taken on the Lumia 720, the right one obviously being Auto mode, while the left was backlight; and the difference is huge (don’t ask why auto mode doesn’t adjust to the sun/shade). True the background in the left picture does look nicer with more accurate and deeper colors, but the tradeoff being that I was reduced to a silhouette. On the other hand the right picture taken with backlight mode did some magic with the exposures and got an acceptable outcome (minus my horrible smile and squinty eyes of course).
The two photos below were also taken once in auto mode (the first image) and once in backlight (both with the physical camera button, to avoid changing the focus area).The difference once again is obvious, and although the backlight one’s screen is horribly washed out you can see the difference in the background detail.
Hopefully Nokia will add a full auto-HDR mode soon (perhaps in the smart camera app?) but for now backlight mode is a useful trick to keep in mind.