matthew murray

blogging about mobile photography, mobile apps and social media


How to Dubai with Camera+ app

Published on May 18th, 2012 | by Matthew Murray

15

Mobile photography with Camera+ app

As any visitor to my Instagam feed will know, Hipstamatic has been my app of choice for iPhoneography for sometime now. Although I still love it, over the last 2 months I have become a huge fan of Camera+.

During a recent trip to the UK via Dubai, I took over 1200 photos using the Camera+ app, way more images than any other app and even more than I took on my Fuji X100 digital camera. In this post I review the features of Camera+ and showcase some of the images I’ve taken with it.

View out of my hotel window looking towards the Grand Mosque, Dubai

View from my hotel window looking towards the Grand Mosque and Dubai Museum.

Separate focus and exposure controls

One of the great features of Camera+ is that it has separate focus and exposure controls, unlike the native camera app on the iPhone where focus and exposure points are bundled together.

Tap two fingers simultaneously on the screen and both a focus point (square) and an exposure point (circle) appear. When you move the exposure point around the scene it lightens or darkens the exposure of the image depending on where the exposure point is placed (see below). When composing an image I put the focus point exactly where I want it and then experiment by moving the exposure point around the screen.

Camera+ has separate controls for focus and exposure

Exposure of the scene changes depending on where the exposure point (circle) is placed

Taking photos

To take a photo you can either press the shutter button on the screen, use the volume buttons on the side of your iPhone, or for the ultimate in candid street photography, plug in some headphones with volume buttons and use it to trigger the shutter.

Tapping the cog symbol next to the shutter button brings up options for stablizer, timer and burst shooting modes – all of which come in handy. In the settings menu, you can turn on gridlines that are helpful when composing an image.

Also available on the shooting screen are the 6x digital zoom and the ability to use the front facing camera.

Flash options

Camera+ also manages to better the native iPhone camera app when it comes to the flash options available. As well as the standard on / off / auto options, there is a torch mode – the iPhone LED acts like a torch on your subject and remains on until you click the shutter button, giving you an iPhone version of continuous lighting.

Walking home past Lots Road Power Station, Fulham

Lots Road Power Station, Fulham. I stood in front of these bright shutters for a few minutes, waiting for a interesting subject to walk into the frame.

Shooting speed

After using Hipstamastic, taking photos with Camera+ is fast and furious with barely any delay between taking a photo and Camera+ being ready to take the next. (Though now I have over 1400 photos in my Lightbox, things have slowed down a little, time to clear out some photos I think!)

Photographing the Burj Khalifa on a smartphone

Photographing the Burj Khalifa on a smartphone. I wonder if he’s using Camera+?

Lightbox

All images taken with Camera+ are stored in a scrollable filmstrip called Lightbox. Images are saved here by default, though you can change this and save them to your camera roll, or if you don’t mind slightly slower shooting you can save to both your camera roll and lightbox.

Captured images appear in Lightbox - a scrollable filmstrip

Captured images appear in Lightbox – a scrollable filmstrip which looks good and works well.

As you scroll through your images in lightbox, you can tap on an image to edit it, share it, save it to your camera roll or view info about the image. I really like the info screen (below) – it gives a great overview of all technical details associated with the image, and even a map of where you took it if you have enabled geotagging in the menu.

Tap on info shows this rather nice screen of info (funnily enough)

The rather nice info screen.  (I had the wrong time on my iPhone when I was in London – this image wasn’t taken at 9.48pm!)

Editing images with Camera+

Camera+ has some amazing editing features. As well as the usual rotate and crop, there are lots of different scene modes and borders you can apply to images.

Clarity

It’s worth having a play around with all of the different scene modes, but the best of the bunch is clarity. On certain photos – especially those that have areas of underexposure – the clarity setting brings a fantastic improvement to the brightness and contrast of an image. I wouldn’t advise using it on all images though, sometimes it’s too over the top for me.

What a difference some clarity makes!

Waterloo sunset – what a difference some clarity makes!

Filters

Camera+ features a good range of 27 built-in filters plus 9 more “I heart analog” filters which are an in-app purchase for 99 cents.

I quite like some of the filters, though after using Hipstamatic for so long, I’m rather enjoying seeing my images without a lofi or toy camera effect.

Camera+ filters

Camera+ filters

What I don’t like about Camera+

Slow retrieval of old photos

Okay, I admit it – this is an issue I have brought upon myself. I love Camera+ so much I’ve taken over 1400 photos with it. The downside of this is that scrolling through the lightbox to see older photos is now a nightmare. I scrolled to the bottom of lightbox and then waited for over 3 minutes until the photos loaded. It must be time to clear out and save photos off the app I think!

Damn those Angry Birds! Dubai Mall

Damn those Angry Birds! Dubai Mall

Copying / duplicating photos

Copying / duplicating a photo is something I am used to doing from working with Adobe Lightroom. When I held a photo and the copy command appeared, I tapped on it expecting to see a duplicate appear alongside as it does in Lightroom. When nothing happened, I actually thought it was a bug and the copy command didn’t work, until I realised you had to tap somewhere else on the screen and tap ‘paste’ when it was displayed.

Although iPhone users are used to this functionality for text, I don’t think it is very intuitive when working with images. Especially as no matter where you paste your image in lightbox, the duplicate image automatically ends up as your most recent photo at the top and not next to the original image where I would’ve expected it.

London icon - Battersea Power Station

London icon – Battersea Power Station. I had to put my arm through a gap in the boarding that surrounds the power station and shoot one handed to get this shot, being very careful not to drop my iPhone! Sadly I didn’t have any headphones with me to trigger the shutter with my free hand.

Deleting photos

After editing a photo once I accidentally hit the delete button. The photo I had been working on disappeared off the screen instantly. I was panic stricken, thinking that my image was now gone forever! The next image in the lightbox appeared on screen and there was no undo button. I went back to the filmstrip view of the lightbox and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw the undo button.

Conclusion

Camera+ is a fantastic app, I love it so much it has won a place on the home screen of my iPhone. I took more photos with it on holiday than any other app and even more than my Fuji X100 digital camera. There are a few minor issues that could be improved, but otherwise this is an app I would recommend to all iPhoneographers.

You can see more of my Camera+ photos on EyeEm – search for user mattbrisvegas.

 

 


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15 Responses to Mobile photography with Camera+ app

  1. You really pinned down the reasons why I really love Camera+ as well. It is truly a great app.

    On our recent trip to Crete, I took loads of images with Camera+ where most of them ended up on Instagram as well.

    Yay for iphoneography!

    • Matthew Murray says:

      Hey Danne, thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear other people are using Camera+ for travel photography. Yay for iPhoneography indeed! 😀

  2. Phil Jewitt says:

    Matt, your critiques of camera apps are a fantastic resource for would be phone photographers. Also a great read as you explain things in such an easy style backed up with screengrabs and your excellent examples. I don’t have an Iphone so when I read your blogs I immediately look to see if there is an Android version. Fortunately there was with Instagram but not yet with Camera+ it seems. Keep on being the photo app critic equivalent to a Gadget show presenter and thanks sharing your knowledge and passion.

    • Matthew Murray says:

      Hi Phil, thanks so much for your comment, it was very kind of you to say that (your cheque’s in the post! ha ha 😀 ) Sadly at the moment, many of the best mobile photography apps are only available for iOS, though slowly developers are bringing out Android versions.

      It was interesting to read a few days ago on http://www.ourmobileplanet.com/ that iPhones make up 49% of the Aussie smartphone market but only 32% of the US market and 29% of the UK market. I will try to feature some cross-platform apps in the future! 🙂

  3. Mar says:

    Brilliant thoughts and examples. Thank you! I saw a jewelry photographer who shot with Camera+, and applied the purple haze filter in low intensity to give a slight cool tone to the images.
    You can paste your images in other applications, that’s why the images doesn’t get pasted inside Lightbox automatically I guess.

    • Matthew Murray says:

      Hi Mar, thanks for your comment 🙂 Cool, sounds like Camera+ is being used for more than travel photography. Oh yes of course, I will give pasting into another application a go 😀

  4. Mark Braggins says:

    Hi Matt, this is super-useful. I haven’t tried Camera+ but definitely will having read this post. Thanks very much for sharing these tips.

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  8. Paul says:

    This post is a really nice summary of Camera+. I think Camera+ has to be in every iPhoneographer’s bag.

  9. Lisa Bettany says:

    Thanks for your great insights on Camera+. We are always looking for ways to improve the app! 🙂

    To make sure you always have two copies of your photos, you can turn on “Autosave” in the Menu preferences (bottom right in your Lightbox).

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