Enough noise isn’t made about the camera in Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4. The two lenses, one 8 megapixels and the other 4 megapixels, are easy to overlook, it seems. Most people focus on the device’s integrated Surface Pen accessory or the Surface Pro Cover that attaches and turns the entire device into a notebook. Microsoft itself rarely highlights the sensors that are in the device, probably because it thinks there very few people who want to hold up a 12-inch tablet to take glamour shots.
They’d be mistaken. No, tablets aren’t the best form factor for capturing photos, but most people don’t care. That’s because the best camera is the camera that you have with you at the particular moment.
Taking selfies and pictures with the Surface Pro 4 is relatively straight forward.
The Camera & Photos App for Windows 10
You can’t purchase a Surface Pro 4 without having Microsoft’s latest operating system installed on it. Windows 10 comes stuffed full of new features, but the highlights are all the improved apps. These apps are pre-installed on every device running Windows 10, including the Surface Pro 4 that you own. Two separate apps do the heavy lifting were pictures are concerned.
Camera is where you head to when you want to capture a picture, as its name suggests. Microsoft pins the Camera tile to your Surface Pro 4’s Start area directly from the factory. You can find it again, by digging into the list of installed apps on your device.
The second app is called Photos and it’s also pre-installed and available directly from the Start area. Photos operates the same way that a Gallery app would on your phone. It lets you look at all the pictures you’ve taken already, regardless of what device you took them on, if you have the OneDrive app installed on your smartphone too.
If you can’t find them, don’t worry. There’s no way to uninstall them from your Surface, so they’re there. Microsoft updates these apps from the Windows Store automatically, but that’s provided you use a Microsoft Account with your device.
How to Use Camera in Windows 10
The Camera app is one of the few apps still available in Windows 10 that really does prioritize touch interactions over anything else. It’s dominated by an interface that’s great for touch and treats a mouse and keyboard like a second-class citizen. This is ok, given that most people will use this app with a touchscreen only.
The first time you open the app you’re asked to give the app permission to use your Surface Pro’s front-facing and rear-facing cameras. From that point on, what you get is a viewfinder by default.
Your Surface Pro 4’s camera supports zoom. You tap on a specific subject to get the camera to focus on a specific region or object. You don’t have to manually tap anything to activate focus though, the software handles that automatically too.
Tapping on the camera logo on the right side of your screen takes your picture. If you slide that button out you get meters for adjusting some of the options. White Balance, Zoom, ISO and contrast levels are all things that you can alter.
Tapping the three dots in the top-right corner of your screen opens a menu where Photo Timer and Settings live. Photo Timer gives you a chance to pose for a picture or video. Settings holds options that Microsoft couldn’t fit anywhere else, like changing whether a photo is square or rectangular and allowing you to digitally stabilize the videos that you record.
The button at the top-center of the app allows you to switch between the front-facing and rear-facing Surface Pro 4 cameras. Note that as you switch between the two, an indicator light comes on, letting you know that the camera is in use.
How to Use Photos in Windows 10
The Photos app is where you go when you want to look at all the pictures your Surface Pro 4 has taken already. It’s design is both mouse and keyboard friendly. It’s colored in black to keep the focus on your photos.
The Collection view divides all of your photos into the month they were taken. With Windows 10, Microsoft is keeping the focus on cloud storage. Install the OneDrive app on your phone and set the app to upload pictures to your online Camera Roll where they can be viewed from Photos, with little effort. Photos pulls content directly from OneDrive and your Surface Pro 4’s local stash of pictures.
Albums has just three areas in it by default, Camera roll, saved pictures and Screenshots. Camera roll is where the photos you take with your Surface Pro sit. The other two are where Windows saves pictures that you get from the internet or take from your screen by default.
New for Windows 10, is the automatic Album creation tool. The operating system and OneDrive group pictures taken on the same day together, giving you the option to easily sort them if you want. When there’s enough for a new Album, the app lets you know with a notification.
Tapping or clicking on a specific image gives you a closer look at it and some very basic options for editing it. The Photos app can crop, rotate and lightly touch up most file formats.
Good luck with your Surface Pro 4. Be sure to capture every moment you can, whether it’s with your Surface Pro 4 or any other device.