A while back I announced my project to find the apps that would help me get more value from my camera now that I’ve started using it more often. The concept behind the first app I wanted to review is actually what inspired the idea. However, technical issues I discovered when I took a closer look at the app made me put it on hold. I shared my concerns to Josh Paterric, the developer of the app and he immediately got on it…
Today, a new version of ClearCam (1.99$) was released and it’s even better than what first caught my attention 🙂 so it’s time you read the post that almost got cancelled…
The app that will help you get better pictures
How do we avoid fuzzy, unclear pictures
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment you don’t have time to set the camera just right, trying to take a picture of a hyperactive kid or pet that makes move just as you hit the button, maybe your grip is not steady enough…
A picture out of focus is always a source for disappointment.
What if, instead of taking 1 picture when you hit the button, the camera takes 4 pictures one after the other and then selects the best one for you?
Can we double the megapixel pictures we get from our camera?
Photography savvy people will tell you it’s impossible, the lens capacity is fixed and you can only get as much as it’s designed to give you…
What if, you take several pictures and combine their data?
after all, a digital camera captures pixels and if you have more pixel data from several pictures – why not use that data…
ClearCam has an innovative approach to tackle both these challenges with two dedicated modes of work:
Enhanced mode – takes 6 pictures one after the other and then (offline – when you have the time) you go into edit mode and process them.
Step 1: auto align the 6 pictures
Step 2: enhance – the app will combine pixel data from the 6 pictures into 1 – producing a much sharper image
Step 3: save – you can choose whether or not to save the enhanced image or one of the originals.
The enhanced pictures are 150% the size of a regular picture you take with the iPhone and they are clearer than the alternative.
Refael Salem, Medusa, 2010, oil on canvas, 140*180 cm – enhanced picture using ClearCam
Enchanced vs. Regular photo – closeup on a detail from above picture
Quick mode – takes 4 quick snap shots one after the other as soon as you take a picture then saves the clearest picture automatically. The results compared with a single picture I take while moving or without proper setup time are often better this way.
While the app default when switched on is “Quick mode”, I would recommend using the “Enhanced mode” whenever you can, this way you’ll have the option to review the different pictures taken by the app, try to enhance and save one you like most (especially when kid’s / pets are involved since you never know in which millisecond they will be at their best…). My problem with quick mode is that the app chooses the clearest picture for you and you cannot see the alternatives).
Josh says the improvement in pictures taken using the new iPod touch with the low end camera makes a BIG difference and you can really see it in the following official demo:
According to official figures:
MegaPixel according to Apple
MegaPixel using Clearcam enhanced mode
NEW iPod touch
For full and fair disclosure, I got a promo code for the review of this app (but that didn’t keep me from pushing Josh to deal with the issues I found!). This would be a good place to express my deep appreciation for Josh on this matter – it took less than 24 hours since I presented my concerns for him to come up with an initial solution and get to work on including a fix for following version.
Why I held back on this review
(Short story / technical side note)
As part of the research and close study of the app I noticed important geo tagging information was missing from the photo files created by the app. That meant if you choose to use the app instead of the iPhone original camera – you would not be able to see where the picture was taken. I called up my personal local photography guru friend Liran Stern, who quickly discovered a great deal of data was missing from the EXIF record kept for the photos.
As it turns out, many if not all 3rd party apps that let you take pictures actually deny you important meta data that the iPhone native camera app brings.
EXIF – (Exchangeable Image File) is saved by many cameras and provides valuable data on a verity of environmental and functional parameters for the moment the picture was taken. You can view the EXIF data of a picture using a tool such as exifviewer.
Data on exposure, shutter speed, flash and a lot more including of course GPS coordinates for the geotagging was missing which in my view was not acceptable.
The latest version of the app includes the EXIF data and is apparently the first non-native app to have it!
So a bonus tip – if you value the standard data you are supposed to get with your pictures, check the files produced by any app that offer replacing the native camera app and verify the EXIF data is accurate.
BIG thank you to Liran for bringing EXIF to my attention!