making the iPhone camera better revisted

the coolest thing about the iPhone camera is that it’s the only camera that we have that gets better as time goes by. just about every other camera is feature complete when it comes off the assembly line. the things it can do are the things it does and that is it. there may be a firmware update to fix things that don’t work but we don’t see them often. and we do it’s unlikely that there would be a new “mode” to try out. the iPhone doesn’t work that way. there are thousands of camera apps extending the camera into something more. things like panoramas, high dynamic range, visual effects and 3D are all apps that take a normal snap to extend it’s interpretation.

making your iThing a better camera is not really as simple as downloading a new app and pressing the shutter. to say that everything is different is an understatement. for example the first time playing with 360 Panorama made a horrible image. the second time wasn’t much better. it took some practice to get a panorama that was something worth sharing. all of the apps below are like that. it won’t take you long to get the hang of things but you don’t want to have your first experience with your new “camera” to be the time of important event.

here are some of our favorite iPhone and iPod Touch applications.

Camera Plus vs Camera+ is two different cameras.

360 Panorama is a very free form pano tool. it’s like painting. hold snap move repeat.

DMD Panorama from Dermanda forces the camera to be vertical. as you move to the next stitch watch the two ghosts come together and then it snaps (how zen).

Plastic Bullet and Classic Insta have two very different goals. one of these is slow. the other is fast. one makes gorgeous printable snaps. the other is classic crap cam emulator.

Plastic Bullet from Red Giant is 2 bucks – err 1 buck for a limited time. it’s very slow but makes a nice effect. use it after the snaps are taken for better results.

CIassic INSTA simulates crap cams from the 70s. it has the same 19 effects but put the snap on the different borders is based the “camera” being used to snap. the looks are are frameless, polaroid LAND camera, 90 something and square framed. it’s fast enough so you can just shot and go.

related to the INSTA is the Classic SAMP which emulates a LOMO Action sampler or LOMO Super Sampler. you simply must know this film cam! pull the cord to prime the shutters. snap, snap, snap, snap! unlike the film cameras with the SAMP you get all the cams in one: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 taking almost full rez shots!

HDR FX is a very simple HDR photo taker. click to take the scene then choose the processed look from three modes: sneery, sky, ground. it’s to you to save the image when you are finished. there is also a free version.

HDR Photo Camera is a SLOW! or maybe SLOW-ISH! it is an ad supported (how iWeird) HDR maker that makes you save your processed shot. there are no post processing choices, you just get HDR. remember to save.

Camera Fun FREE is a free fun house camera that offers Mirror, Pinch and Sketch modes that the kids will use until there is no more power left in the battery.

other things mentioned:

the story of the making of Glif is a fun read.

make your pocket Canon do more with CHDK.

cover photo is the pigeon taken with a iPhone 1.

corrections: John got the flip cam reference wrong from the show before. 1080HD wasn’t the norm. neither was 720HD. it was standard video (640×480). HD Flip cams didn’t ship until some time later.

2 Replies

  • Good to hear you guys back on the air.

    A few bits and pieces. I have found that Pro HDR has been consistently a great HDR app.

    Microsoft have a pretty decent thing going with Photosynth again a ‘paint your panorama’, make a blob type app. It’s good and it’s free.

    QuadCamera is another multishot camera. Not updated in a while but the developer did include an animated GIF as an output which is pretty nice to have.

    I come to like Mattebox, it’s a classy version of the crap camera being modeled on an old rangefinder. The design details are great and the developer is lining up a live preview prior to shooting depending on the way you’ve set your presets to look. So it promises, in a limited way, for you to have custom presets, much as you might set up on a regular camera. I may use it as a black and white camera, a poor mans Monochrom

  • thanks Tommy! we’ll make more. there are some many of these apps that the only way we can all know about what works is to share what we are using. we’ll be sure to check out your suggestions. Photosynth looks like it might give 360 Panorama a run for it’s fun.

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