Saturday, June 12, 2010

More App Love ...

You may be sick of reading about iPhone apps at this stage, but I just can't get enough. I've got five more to report on, and once again they run the gamut from fabulous to just so-so.

I was pondering earlier the performance of the iPhone camera in low light--it's not, as you might imagine, very easy to adapt to low-light conditions. Of course, I guessed that someone must have an app for that, and skulked around until I found Night Camera. This turned out to be a lot more than just a low-light app, however. Night Camera does offer an "accelerometer-assisted" camera mode that fires the shutter when the camera is stable, which could conceivably assist you in low-light situations. But it also has shooting modes that enable you to make a double-exposure, overlay red and cyan versions of an image to create a "3D" effect, and fire the shutter with sound. (Mixed media girl that I am, this feature pinged my "oooh" meter almost immediately, and I'm awash with ideas for using it, although when an ordinary person might use it is kind of mysterious to me ...  anyway, I tried it out and it works as promised.) The image at left is the standard "accelerometer-assisted" low-light photograph.

Add to this options for fullscreen shutter mode (touch the screen area to activate the shutter), a 4x digital zoom (swipe to zoom, no tiny slider to work), grid lines to aid in composition, optional on-picture time stamp and other interesting features like adjustable image ratios and resolution, color or b/w "processing," an auto-timer and automatic "rapid-fire," and you have a pretty full-featured app. By Sudobility, 99 cents.

Next to catch my attention was Camera Bag. This app apparently got some good press from the New York Times, and I admit that it's a fun little add on that goes beyond the usual collection of color and border effects. Either using an image from your Camera Roll or something you shoot on the fly, Camera Bag lets you emulate 12 different films, cameras, and processes, including cult favorites Holga and Lomo, infrared film, crossprocessing, and silver print. Includes easy in-app email or upload. Image at right is the approximation of infrared.  By Nevercenter Ltd., $1.99.

I checked out Camera Flash Deluxe because I was still thinking about the low-light issue, and it claimed to offer "flash." It actually offers a fairly ordinary lightening or darkening process, albeit rather more subtle than some of the others I've seen. You can also add effects like fog, sepia, invert or black-and-white. This app will also let you "flip" the image in-camera. By Haiwen Soft Inc., 99 cents

I had really high hopes when I downloaded ArtCamera, as it claimed I would be able to make my images "micmic art styles of famous artists like Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and others." The sample images looked intriguing. ArtCamera turns to be a series of filters that we've all seen a few million times if we use Photoshop and Illustrator with any degree of proficiency at all, and that we've all avoided as "cheesy;" see old favorites "neon" and "pencil" below.  I guess my expectations were a bit too high. Anyway, it can still be a fun app to goof around with, and lets you apply the filters to images from your library or those you shoot on the fly. You can also vary resolution from 320 to 2048. By MacPhun LLC, $1.99.

My last app this evening is Photo Fx. When I saw the maker (Tiffen--that's right, the pro photo filter people), I thought I might have something interesting here. I was not wrong in that assessment. This app puts at your disposal 67 photo filters, many of which emulate proprietary photographic filters made by the company. All are adjustable, but each filter is "packaged" with a substantial number of presets; the total comes to a whopping 780. Filters are organized by a loose group affiliation: Face FX, Classic FX, Lens FX, and Portrait FX are three of the nine groups. Within those groups you'll find some familiar names (polarizer, Color-Grad, Soft FX, Pro-Mist, Glimmerglass) and some truly funky effects, like light pattern application. You can use your finger to create "masks" on the touch screen and then apply the effects only to the mask. This app also permits you to work in layers, applying one filter over the other; you can select images from your Camera Roll or shoot fresh from the app. By The Tiffen Company, $2.99.

So far, I've reviewed quite a few iPhone photo apps. In my next post, I'll attempt to assemble what I think is the Essential iPhone Photographer's Tool Kit, with a summary of what I like best and why. Your Mileage May Vary, of course, and if you'd like to weigh in on any app I've missed or offer a different opinion of an app I've reviewed, please do post a comment.

As always please note that comments in languages other than English or French will be discarded, as will comments that do not advance the discussion in any way from people I do not know. (I don't have to know you if you're making a useful comment. Those will always be published.)

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