AMITIAE - Tuesday 2 July 2013
A Vintage-style Camera App for the iPad: FieldCam, from Michael Hardaker
By Graham K. Rogers
Those who use older cameras (and skills) do not rely on the luxury of automatic operations, taking great care with the physics of photography, balancing light, aperture and time, perhaps with a fourth variable: film. Older types of film are still manufactured and sold. The film type (grain, saturation, ISO rating) should be carefully chosen. As each shot is set up there may also be an awareness of the economics. Unlike with digital photography, the medium - analog film - costs money. A true photographer brings an acute awareness of input to each shot that the digital photographer may not always apply.
Michael Hardaker's apps return some of that awareness to taking pictures with devices that need little help. FieldCam, the only app from this developer that is iPad-only, is another nod to older technology: the massive wooden cameras that early photographers would have, usually with a tripod as the film was so slow. The app is priced at $1.99.
Controls are a mix of expected (grid line, metering) to some that are more unusual, like "night" which makes it easy to see the target in low light situations, and flip which inverts the image in the viewer, just like older cameras. Filters and these other effects are not shown unless the switch marked Preview is moved to On. When this is operating, the image in the viewfinder may move slowly if the iPad is panned.
In keeping with the style of the app, the image used in the manual, and the text are in a form that looks as if it had been created at the end of the 19th century. The "Guidance concerning the use of the FieldCam" has an old-fashioned feeling to it, and ends with the note, that FieldCam "may be a source of both instruction and amusement to Photographers as they practise their Art".
While I may want to consider the output from my DSLR cameras in 20" x 30" poster format, users of the popular iPad are satisfied with a pic on Facebook or other social networking sites. To those users, such output is no less relevant to them than the work of the professional photographer. It is not simply that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that the eye of the beholder is the sole criterion by which the photograph (and the app) need to be judged.
As the developer website notes, "If you think your iPad might be a tad bulky to use as a camera, just marvel at how much slimmer and lighter this "steampunk" alternative is when compared with an actual Victorian field camera - and how much more capable!"
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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