Applies to

Surface RT, Surface 2, Surface 3, Surface Pro, Surface Pro 2, Surface Pro 3, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1.

Improve photo and video quality

If you’re looking to improve the photos or videos you take with Surface, you may be able to manually adjust some settings in the built-in Camera app.

Install the latest updates

Before you manually adjust any camera settings, always make sure you have the latest updates, including updates to Surface and Windows, the Camera app, and any related apps. This may fix some issues you’re having with the camera. For more info, see:

Adjust exposure and other settings

Some camera settings on your Surface, such as brightness, affect photo and video quality and adjust themselves automatically by default. Before taking a photo or recording a video, you can use the Camera app to manually adjust exposure to make your photos brighter or darker. Here’s how:

Step 1: On the Start screen, tap Camera to open the Camera app.
Step 2: Swipe down from the top edge of the screen, and at the bottom of the screen, tap Exposure.
Step 3:

Move the slider up or down to adjust the brightness of your photo.

Camera app settings

You can make other adjustments, such as switching to a wider view, or turning on the onscreen grid lines. Here’s how:

Step 1: In the Camera app, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and tap Settings.
The available options may vary, depending on which Surface model you have.
Step 2: Tap Options and change any of the following:

  • Under Photo aspect ratio, select the aspect ratio that you want: 16:9 (widescreen), 4:3, or 3:2.
    Aspect ratio controls the ratio of the width to the height of your images. A 16:9 ratio shows a wider view of a scene and is good for landscape photos and widescreen video recording.
  • Under Video quality, select an option: 720p or 1080p.
    A resolution of 1080p is higher, and the resulting video will show more detail.
  • Under Grid lines, use the slider to select Show or Hide.
    The vertical and horizontal lines on the screen can help with overall composition in your photos, or help you keep the camera frame level. For example, use them to line up a horizon when taking a landscape photo.
  • Under Flicker, you can select 50 Hz or 60 Hz.
    The Surface camera will automatically detect and choose the appropriate flicker setting for your lighting conditions. However, in some conditions you may find it helpful to choose the setting manually.

To learn about other camera settings, see Take photos and videos with Surface.

Use autofocus on Surface 3

To help you improve the sharpness of your photos and videos, the back camera on Surface 3 has an autofocus lens. The lens automatically focuses on the main subject on the screen, but you can easily change the focus to a different area before taking a picture or while recording a video. Here’s how:

    • Before taking a photo, tap the screen to focus on a spot.
    • While shooting a video, tap the screen to spot-adjust the focus without stopping the recording.

To learn more about autofocus, see Using autofocus on Surface 3.

Autofocus is available only on the rear-facing camera on Surface 3. The front camera has a fixed-focus lens.

Tips for taking panoramas

You can use the Camera app on Surface to create unique, immersive panoramic photos. A panorama is a series of images combined into a single photo. Panoramas are great for capturing landscapes and creating 360-degree images.

When you’re taking a panorama, you can get the best results by following these basic guidelines:

  • Hold the Surface camera level as you rotate and tilt it.
  • Move slowly and steadily as you line up each image, and then pause to capture it. If you move too far too fast, the Camera app will warn you onscreen to move back towards the previous position.
  • If your body blocks the viewfinder, keep the camera in the same place and step around it until you’re out of the way.
  • Experiment with tilting the camera in lots of directions, including up and down.

For more how-to details, see Camera app and webcams help.