5. Camera

Lumia 640 has an 8 megapixel f/2.2 camera and a LED flash on its back. There is no dedicated camera button which is typically found on higher end Lumia nowadays. This is not a big deal anyway considering you can access the camera from the Action Centre easily.

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You have two camera apps to choose, namely the Microsoft Camera and the Lumia Camera. The former is a basic camera app and its features looks pale in comparison with the latter. Lumia Camera has an auto mode but if you are familiar with photography, the exposure level, white balance, focus, shutter speed and ISO are yours to control. While the auto mode works well most of the time, you can craft your shoot carefully with manual mode for better pictures.

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The benefit of using Lumia Camera does not end here. It supports Rich Capture and Dynamic Flash. These two features are brought over from high end Lumia devices and they are really useful.

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With Rich Capture turned on, two or three photos will be taken with different exposure values. Then, the software will combine these photos together to improve the dynamic range. This is how HDR photos are created commonly. Rich Capture is another step forward. You can manually set how strong the HDR effect will be, after you finished taking the photo. All you have to do is to turn on Rich Capture and nothing else.

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Having manual control on the strength of HDR effect is meaningful. Different people have different taste. Some prefer the photos with strong HDR effect and very saturated colours, while others prefer natural colours. It is hard to please everyone so allowing them to set how their photos look like makes a lot of sense.

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Dynamic flash shares the same idea. Instead of the HDR effect, you have control over how strong the flash is on your picture. This feature will be available if the flash and Rich Capture are turned on. The Lumia 640 will capture one photo with flash turned on and another one without the illumination. The photos will be merged together.

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After the shoot was taken you can choose how strong the LED flash will affect your picture by selecting one of the generated pictures or by adjusting it manually. I used to hate the LED flash on smartphone as it will wash out the photos. But without it, a lot of photos cannot be taken in the dark. Dynamic Flash solves this problem nicely for me.

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Rich Capture and Dynamic Flash are two photography features you can only find on certain Lumia phones, at least at this moment. The software algorithm is really powerful as the results turn out to be amazing most of the time. Thumbs up has to be given to Microsoft for bringing such useful features on budget devices like this.

More importantly, how do the pictures look like? Well, Lumia 640 is capable of capturing good photos, especially when the light is sufficient. The colour is rich but colour temperature is a little on the warmer side. The details are there and it is exactly what you expect from an 8MP photo. Macro shots can be done quite well too as you can control the focus manually.

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Actually Lumia 640’s camera is not bad at all in low light shooting for a phone with this price. However, it does not outperform its competitors too.  In auto mode, the exposure time will be quite long and you need steady hands to avoid blurry photos. Again, you can get better pictures if you get your hands dirty with the manual control. For people who are unfamiliar with photography, a tripod will help a lot.

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Here are some sample photos taken by the Lumia 640:

Lumia 640 has a 0.9 megapixel front facing camera and by the pixel count you would expect a mediocre selfie experience from it. Unfortunately, it didn’t manage to prove us wrong. Even though the field of view is acceptable, the resolution is quite low by today’s standard. It is not sufficient even for sharing on social media. In well-lit areas, the photos turn out to be just fine but once the light goes down, the grains will creep into the photos. I have to say Lumia 640 is not for selfie-lovers.

Lumia 640 can capture either 720p or 1080p videos. The frame rate is a little low for the 1080p video but it is not intolerable. The colors are natural and accurate but I think there is some artificial sharpening. The auto-focusing during the video capturing can be a little slow and since there is no hardware stabilization, you will need steady hands to keep the video stable. The auto exposure is great as the correct exposure can be found almost immediately as the surrounding changes. There is almost no delay in handling the exposure level when you go from outdoors to indoors or vice versa.

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