AMITIAE - Thursday 6 June 2013

Recent Photo App Arrivals: Analog and Camera Noir (Update)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

Analog Camera Noir

I have rather a good feel for the Phone as a camera these days, but while the basic installation as it comes from Apple produces a fairly good picture, in the right circumstances, for me the apps make the biggest difference.

A couple of recent arrivals include the nicely made Analog Camera ($0.99) from Realmac Software which has a fair output from the few filters that it has, although most of these are not to my taste. I actually prefer the way that the desktop version of the app works.

It is nicely set out opening with access to the photo album or to the camera. Once an image is selected, it is brought into the app and each filter is displayed with the original in the center. There are 8 filters, including one monochrome. Select the filter and then output, with one of the icons below: save to the photo album, email, export, Facebook and Twitter. The Export arrow reveals the apps that the image can be used in.

Analog Analog Analog

Despite the overall simplicity of the app, my main difficulty was returning to the first screen. This is not immediately obvious and requires a little dexterity. The user slides the screen down (an Analog icon appears) and if it is slid far enough, the import screen (camera and albums) is made available.

This is a quite simple app that is easy to use and that may be enough for many users. At the low price of $0.99 it is worth downloading Analog Camera just to try. It is not a stunning app, but is workmanlike and neatly designed.

Another app which appeared within the last few days was even simpler, but should appeal more to those interested in photography rather than snapshots. There are a number of good monochrome apps available for the iPhone. I reviewed three interesting ones in February, the gorgeous Noir Photo and later The Monochromist and B & W Lab, each of which produce some good output and have some sophisticated controls.

More recently a number of sites have enthused about the far simpler Camera Noir which was released this week and costs $1.99. On the face of things this is so basic that there is almost nothing for the photographer to do. That, of course, is the point. It strips away the complexities that some apps have (for good or bad) and allows the user to concentrate just on the image that is being taken.

Alternatively, the app can access images already in the photo library and the effects can be applied in an instant. The effects themselves are suitably minimalist: Hi, Mid and Lo. Hi produces a brighter output with Lo far more dark and brooding. I know that when I change the images from my Nikon to monochrome, I may spend ages selecting the right level of contrast or which colour filter to apply more (or less) of.

The simple selector at the bottom right of the screen, allows the user to examine each effect quickly and select the right one for the moment: or all three, if the object is not moving.

Other controls on the screen are basic with a files icon bottom left to access the photo library; a camera icon in the bottom center and the level controls at right. When an image is selected from the Library, the camera button changes to an Export icon. Several apps may be available for further use with the new image, or it may be saved in the library. It may also be exported by email. On that main screen, a back arrow accesses the library and if Cancel is then pressed the app returns to its camera mode.

Although the app takes full screen images, there are on-screen lines to indicate a square format. A center line, with cross hairs is available for horizon, but if the camera is moved from the horizontal this changes first from green to yellow, then red. The app works in portrait or landscape mode and as the iPhone is rotated so the icons also turn so they are always the right way up.

I tried a few inside comparison shots to start with, but first took a colour image of the same subject (my favourite coffee pot). As these were separate shots, they differ slightly. In terms of size they were all the same at 2448 x 3264 (8 MP). The colour image was of course slightly larger in Aperture at 2.87 MB, while those taken with Camera Noir were between 1.87 MB, 2.4 MB and 2.7 MB.

Camera Noir Camera Noir

Camera Noir Camera Noir

The different level selected with each shows how the effectiveness of some details is changed. There is a right level for each subject. This may be better illustrated with the cityscape when the changing skies each give a different impression to the viewer, with some cloud levels clearer or blurred depending on the mode selected.

Camera Noir

Camera Noir

Camera Noir

As an example, I exported one of the cloud images as a full size 16-bit TIFF image. This opened in Graphic Converter as a photograph 45" x 34". The image was a touch grainy, but the detail was sharp as can be seen in a screen shot from the image.

Camera Noir

Note: Overnight, Camera Noir was updated to version 1.0.1 with three improvements:

  • Fixed a crash that happened if location services was (were?) disabled;
  • Fixed a bug where photos would not save on iPhone 4;
  • Fixed a bug where some photos did not look quite right on older devices.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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