Saturday, July 24, 2010

ClearCam on AppStore - A Personal Review


ClearCam is now 1.5.5 with the following new features:

Touch-to-focus now has visual feedback*
Double-tap for exposure control*
Triple-tap for LED flash*
New info screens to help you learn all the features quickly
* If supported by your iPhone's hardware (iPhone 4 for all and iPhone 3GS for first 2 enhancements)

One of the best camera app that I've ever used during my Jailbreak (pre-iOS4) days was ClearCam. Everyone knows that the camera on the iPhone produces lots of noise, especially in low light conditions. Coupled with the low megapixels count, it's certainly not something that all of us would want to brag about. Don't get me wrong though, for I still think that the iPhone camera produces great shots, albeit a little high on the noise side to my liking. With sufficient light, the camera performs well and I have no complaints. 

So in May this year, Occipital had finally brought ClearCam upon the doors of the AppStore to be enjoyed by all iPhone users, not just for the jailbreakers. As of today, it's already matured to version 1.5.1. 

Generally ClearCam is able to push up the resolution of your pictures by 2X, up to 11 Megapixels if you have an iPhone 4 and about 6-7 Megapixels on the iPhone 3G/3GS. Not only does it increase the pixels of your shots, but the app also produces sharper images with less noise as well. 

The main UI of the app looks like the first screenshot shown below. A single 'glowing' button for you to press to take a shot, easy and fast and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. 2 modes are available for you to choose from: Quick and Enhanced. 

Quick mode - ClearCam takes 3 consecutive shots and stored the clearest image into the Camera Roll. Pictures saved using default megapixels count of the camera.

Enhanced - ClearCam takes 6 consecutive shots of which you have the options to enhance them to produce a clearer and sharper image at up to 2X the default megapixels value.  

The function of each mode is not explained in the app but you can get the descriptions off the ClearCam page on the AppStore while you are at it.

Do note that unlike the stock Camera app, you can't zoom nor tap to focus on this app. So it's back to the iPhone 2G days where you could just tap the button to capture the shot and nothing more. Also, I found out that it's best to set the phone to Silent while using the app as the shutter sound during each shot (6 of them if you are using Enhanced mode) could cause some noticeable lag in between shots. Maybe iPhone 4 users will not experience this  due to the newer and faster A4 processor.

To view the photos taken using the Enhanced mode, tap on the folder icon on the lower right of the screen.

Main UI of the app

ClearCam saving pictures taken on Enhanced mode into the Queue

Tapping onto the folder icon will bring you to this UI shown below. Basically, all the images that you've captured using the Enhanced mode will be listed here.

List of photos taken on Enhanced mode

Selecting any of the images in the list will bring you to the 6 captured photos during that particular instance. You can choose to save any of the 6 images into the Camera Roll or you could align them, the first step towards the enhancement process and is really useful to reduce the shake effect while you were capturing all the shots.  

Align the 6 shots before producing the final output

Once you have aligned all the 6 of them, ClearCam will now superimpose the images on top of each other to produce a clearer and sharper (and way less noise!) version of the shots. It might take a little while to for the process to complete so my suggestion is to capture all the shots that you would like to make and to only enhance them at a later time. As mentioned earlier, you can find all captured images in the list shown above.

Now let's pump it up, babey!!

The screenshots below show the differences between the original shots (left) and the enhanced ones (right), with obvious improvements noted on the noise side. You might want to open the images in a new tab to see the differences more clearly.

In conclusion, I think that ClearCam is great and could appeal to most iPhone users who want something better other than the stock Camera app as it really produces way better images captured on the iPhone camera and at $1.99, it's worth the price. You can get it off the AppStore here

But I do hope that the developers will add the following in the next release as these will definitely add great values to this already great app
1) zoom and tap to focus in the main camera capture UI
2) automatically rotate and save pictures taken under landscape profile (currently all pictures taken on landscape are saved as portraits)
3) a help page within the app to explain the functions of different modes and how-tos would be good


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nikon D3000 + Nikkor 35mm f/1.8

Got a new addition to my gears lately, a 35mm f/1.8 lens for my beloved Niki :) It's a prime lens from Nikon itself and it's the cheaper (roughly half the price) compared to the 50mm f/1.4. The good thing about this 35mm is that it is AF-S, which means that it has a built in autofocus motor that works well with my motor-less D3000.

So it got delivered, safely, to my home on Thursday and I've been experimenting with it since, especially on its bokeh capabilities. A very sharp lens by itself, it captures great shots even at low lights. This is good news for me since it's a known fact that D3000 does not perform well in low light and at high ISO settings. The maximum that I've ever used is 800, unless it is really necessary to use 1600 and I don't even touch Hi1/3200. Below are some of the sample shots that I captured with the 35mm. I think that it compensates for the weaknesses of the D3000 at low light and high ISO for me and I hope that it'll complement well with my existing 18-55 and 55-200.