AMITIAE - Wednesday 25 November 2015

iPhone Camera, Photos and Specialist Camera Apps (Bangkok Post, Life)

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I was told last weekend about an Apple replacement program for the iPhone 6 Plus (not the latest 6s Plus). A small number of these iPhones, have a component that may fail causing photos to look blurry. The lens floats in a magnetic field, allowing it (normally) to have a rapid auto-focus capability. There is speculation that this might be the root of this rare problem.

My thanks for the information to local travel blogger Richard Barrow who does have a blurry iPhone 6 Plus and is having it replaced. I was able to check the Support site. The iPhone I have is not affected of course as it is a different model, but I was able to confirm that with the Support page.

Apple Support Page - iSight camera replacement

With the improved output from the camera in the latest iPhones, I have been using these much more, often leaving my DSLR camera at home these days. Most times I take photographs with the Camera app, but sometimes I use specific photography apps. I also make good use of Photos: the organization and editing app which is similar to Photos on the Mac.

When an image is being edited in Photos, four tool icons are shown on the screen: Crop/Rotate, which includes a useful straighten tool; Filters; Adjust; and More. The filters included are a sensible selection. Some apps have filters that may not suit all users, but these seem quite a conservative choice. The Adjust options are Light, Colors and B&W. Each has a quick-fix mini display of the image being edited. Sliding the finger left and right across this might be enough to improve most images.

Photos editing Photos editing Photos editing

For more fine-tuning, a 3-line icon to the right opens a list of specific adjustments, like Exposure, Shadows and Contrast for Light. When any one of these is selected, a sliding scale is shown below the image. Again, left or right finger movements are used to make changes. A small grey dot above the scale shows the initial setting, so we can go back easily.

If the B&W sliders are used, the icon itself changes with B&W surrounded by a grey box. Tapping that removes all monochrome input. The B&W effects depend on RGB (red, green, blue) filtering, so some care may need to be taken, particularly with darker skin tones.

There are two controls missing in my opinion: White Balance and Sharpen. These are available in the Mac version of Photos. There are 3rd-party apps that will suffice, but these options would be more useful within Photos. Also useful would be an easy way to duplicate an image. Although it is possible to revert to the original, sometimes it would be nice to retain an edited image.

The "More" option in Photos is invaluable for someone like me, but will be different for each user. Some image-editing apps can be used directly from within Photos. With the recent addition of extensions in Photos on the Mac, a similar option is available. Any available apps on the iPhone are shown in a list shown in a More option to the right of the More list. That list has ON/OFF buttons. The display order can be changed by dragging an item up or down the list.

Photos editing Photos editing

Despite the large number of apps I have installed (I review many, but keep only a few), only 11 are listed on my iPhone. Of those, I only activate 9 for Photos. Those I use most often are Photo Wizard Pro ($2.99) and Tadaa, but making the others available gives me a wide-range of editing tools within Photos.

645 Pro Mk III

Although I use the Camera app in the main, I also have specific photo apps available. The developer Michael Hardaker has some apps that emulate medium format cameras. The top of the range is 645 Pro Mk III ($3.99). It offers a range of 8 resolutions (e.g. 6x6, 6x12) and 15 different film emulations - monochrome and colour - as well as a selection of colored filters.

645 Pro Mk III

Like using a medium format camera, it is best to set the camera up first. An option with the app is the ability to save images in TIFF format instead of the usual JPG. Photos taken with 645 Pro on the iPhone 6s are some 32 MB, up from around 24 MB with the iPhone 6.

Another app I like for B&W photography is Lenka (Free). This is automatic, but has controls for exposure, focus, tint and contrast. These allow manual control, for example a close focus with a blurry background.

Lenka Lenka

These two camera apps have specific uses, however I do have several other apps that have a dual use: camera and editing. I prefer not to use the camera capability for these. When used as editors to apply specific effects, I can always revert to the original image.

See also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. 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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



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