Posts tagged with "camera"

Sony’s QX Portable Lens

I am intrigued by this new product line from Sony: it's essentially a lens that uses a paired mobile device as viewfinder, leaving you with just the lens to operate. The lens is the camera.

I see some nice advantages: you don't have to carry a full-size additional device alongside your phone and tablet, but you retain the higher quality of photos shot with Sony's camera. Not to mention the fact that this approach eschews the need of having to deal with the poor software and controls that are often cited as drawbacks of modern portable cameras (that is, assuming that the app for iOS and Android devices is better than what could be possible on an embedded viewfinder with LCD display).

The possibility of not attaching the lens to an iPhone makes this particularly appealing to me as I've never liked those ugly accessories that turn iPhones into tiny telescopes with external lenses.

Vlad Savov has more details at The Verge:

Both camera modules will pair with your phone via NFC, if you have it, and will then transfer data over Wi-Fi to Sony's PlayMemories app. The QX Smart Lenses are compatible with Android and iOS devices, will accept microSD and Memory Stick storage cards, include optional clips for attaching to the back of a phone, and also have tripod mounts for those users who want to get really serious with their mobile photography.


Oh Hai

So ‘Oh Hai’ was the eventual outcome. It makes use of iOS face detection and to address our bugbear, we removed the need to interact directly the photo by including two sliders (one for eyes and the other for the mouth). These enable fine adjustments to be made with a complete and uninterrupted view of the results. The final working version was technically finished after more or less three days of work.

A simple, fun app by ustwo. I tested it over the weekend, and it does exactly one thing, quite well, with a straightforward design. The iOS face detection technology behind it is smart and accurate. Free on the App Store.


Apple Airs New iPhone 5 Commercial: “Photos Every Day”

Apple today aired a new iPhone commercial called Photos Every Day, which, as the name implies, focuses on one of the iPhone's core features: taking pictures.

The ad doesn't follow the tone of Apple's latest upbeat commercials, but instead marks a return to the company's old iPad and FaceTime commercials with a slow music playing in the background, a single voiceover at the end, and, more importantly, a distinctive focus on the people using Apple products.

In the one-minute commercial, people are seen taking pictures of food, everyday situations, their kids, concerts -- everything. The message is clear: either with the default camera or Instagram (also shown in the ad), in landscape or portrait, as normal shots or Panorama pictures -- the iPhone is your everyday camera. This is corroborated by the tagline at the end: Everyday more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.

The ad has been posted on Apple's website and YouTube channel. You can watch it below. Read more

PowerUp: 8-bit iPhone Camera For The Nostalgic Gamer

In February 1998, Nintendo released an accessory for the Game Boy line called Game Boy Camera. Compatible with all Game Boy systems (including the Color that would only come out eight months later), the Game Boy Camera could take black & white digital photos using the limited four-color palette of the Game Boy hardware. The Game Boy Camera, which was also compatible with the Super Game Boy SNES/Super Famicom accessory, could print photos on thermal paper through the Game Boy Printer, another piece of hardware that Nintendo introduced in 1998 and discontinued in 2003 (two years after the release of the first Game Boy Advance).

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Why The iPhone 5′s Low-Light Boost Mode Is Awesome

Last week, developer Jim Rhoades noted on his blog how, with the iPhone 5 on iOS 6, third-party developers could access a new "low-light boost" mode for the camera. Through new APIs made available in the SDK, developers can take advantage of low-light boost to enable users to shoot better photos in low-light conditions -- which, in fact, was one of the features Apple mentioned at the iPhone 5 keynote.

By shooting at speeds of ISO 3200 (instead of ISO 800), low-light boost increases light sensitivity at the cost of increased noise. You will "see" more, but the photo will be more noisy.

Developers quickly went back to work to add low-light boost to their apps. And today, tap tap tap released an update to Camera+ which, unsurprisingly, adds low-light boost mode for the iPhone 5. Read more

iPhone 5 Camera Tests and iPhone 4S Comparison

iPhone 5 Camera Tests and iPhone 4S Comparison

As usual with new iPhone releases, Apple has created a webpage showing "actual photos taken with the iPhone 5". It is available here, and it features a gallery of six photos with an option to view them in full-size (the iPhone 5's camera shoots photos at at 3264×2248 pixels).

Curiously enough, Dpreview's Scott Everett recently took a photo of Big Sur in California (the location pictured above) with an angle very similar to Apple's one for the iPhone 5 (also embedded above). Because of this, Dpreview was able to closely compare the picture quality of the devices with the same subject. While the camera may appear to be the same, there are some notable differences.

Looking at the EXIF data of the images confirms Apple's assertion that this is a new sensor, despite the pixel count remaining the same. Close examination shows the iPhone 5 is using a 4.1mm lens to give a 33mm equivalent field of view, rather than the 4S's 4.3mm lens, which gave a 35mm equivalent view. This means the new sensor is a tiny fraction larger. The iPhone 5 has also selected ISO 50, 1/3EV below the 4S's minimum sensitivity of ISO 64.

Last year, a Sony camera was found in the iPhone 4S' teardown. Check out the 4S/5 comparison shots at Dpreview, and more iPhone 5 photos over at Apple's website.


Camera+ 3.0 Review

Few iPhone apps have managed to substantially improve on the functionalities offered by Apple in its core system apps. Tap tap tap's Camera+, a popular alternative to Apple's Camera app, is one of them, and the 3.0 version released today takes a major leap in turning Camera+ into a more powerful solution to shoot, edit, and share photos online, as well as providing a solid foundation other developers can integrate their apps with.

The thing about Camera+ is that its lead developer and creator, John Casasanta, knows what people want from an iPhone app, and understands the rules behind viral marketing for software sold on the App Store. In spite of a 4-month ban that forced Camera+ out of the App Store due to a functionality the developers shouldn't have hidden without telling Apple, the app has been an example of modern success in the App Store, granting its developers a renowned position in the top charts with millions of copies sold worldwide. But it's not just about clever marketing (Casasanta also runs MacHeist, a website dedicated to promoting deals on Mac software that has amassed an incredible amount of followers in the past years). Camera+ is a very well-done app -- from the polished user interface to the features it adds on top of Apple's standard camera-related functionalities, Camera+ has become many users' go-to camera app thanks to its enhanced view options, filters and effects, and elegant sharing capabilities.

With Camera+ 3.0, a free update for existing users, tap tap tap wants to refine every aspect of the app, whilst opening the door to third-party devs with APIs to offer Camera+'s features into other apps. Read more

Witness Home Alarm System Gets AppleScript Support, Sneak Peek, Face Detection

I've been a loyal and satisfied Witness customer since the app's original release last year. Witness, developed by Orbicule (makers of Undercover and Macnification), is a Mac-based home surveillance system that uses your Mac's built-in FaceTime/iSight camera to snap photos of whoever's using your computer when you're not there. This utility, in fact, securely communicates with a web service that's connected to iOS apps (iPhone and iPad) that enables you to remotely lock your machine as you walk away from your house, and receive push notifications when the camera detects motion in front of your Mac's screen. Witness sends push notifications, snaps photos and videos that are sent in real-time to your iOS devices (so you know instantly what's going on), and can lock your computer using Lion's standard login screen, or the app's own lock dialog. You can read more about Witness in my review.

With Witness 2.0, released today, Orbicule has supercharged its home alarm system technology adding a series of functionalities that give more control to users away from their computers, and more issues to (possible) burglars looking to steal your Mac without being seen (or really, just people who want to mess around with your Mac without telling you). Aside from motion detection, which has been improved, Witness 2.0 comes with face detection, allowing you to be notified only when an actual person is sitting in front of your computer's camera. There are settings to adjust motion sensitivity, and, overall, this feature can really come in handy if you have pets running around the house when you're not there. I have tried this with my two dogs, and it worked remarkably well with motion sensitivity set to "Normal": Witness didn't detect anything with my dogs normally walking around, and I was only sent a notification when I held my dog right in front of the FaceTime camera. Similarly, Witness' alarm didn't fire off when I asked my girlfriend to simply walk around the living room, but I did get a notification as she approached my computer.

Next up: multiple cameras and sneak peek. Whereas Witness 1.0 allowed you to set up one camera (the built-in one) and watch images and videos sent after a successfully triggered alarm, Witness 2.0 lets you connect up to 3 cameras (USB or FireWire) and check upon your room from multiple angles. Combined with a new feature called Sneak Peek that lets you load an image from your camera at any time, Witness 2.0 offers a good combination of real-time capturing and multiple angles -- I imagine this can be particularly useful for large rooms and office areas.

Last, Witness 2.0 has AppleScript support and auto-activation. You can ask Witness 2.0 to run an AppleScript when an alarm is activated, deactivated, or motion is detected, thus creating a whole new range of possibilities for remote automation. Someone's using your Mac? Why don't you tell iTunes to start playing this at the highest volume? Or perhaps open a totally creepy video in the default browser? With AppleScript support, you have endless possibilities for customization and it's really up to you to find something that might be useful when executed automatically by the system. Even better, with Witness 2.0 you're given the option to forget about activating your alarm as the iOS app now uses geo-location to see when you're not near your Mac anymore, and activate the alarm for you. Obviously I still recommend manually activating alarms (especially if you're working with multiple Macs in different locations) as geo-location can't always be 100% reliable, but in my tests Witness managed to activate an alarm roughly 2 minutes after I left my house, so I'd say it worked fairly well.

With these new features and optimizations, I highly recommend existing Witness users to upgrade to version 2.o and check it out by themselves today. If you haven't tried Witness yet, a single user license is available through Orbicule's website at $39 with a student discount available.

Exclusive offer for MacStories readers: Using this link, you can purchase Witness 2 (single user license) with a 20% discount. The coupon code is directly applied, and it will be valid until February 6.

Camera+ Reaches 6 Million Downloads, Over $5 Million In Revenue

The developers of Camera+, the most popular alternative to Apple's on the iPhone, have posted updated statistics regarding the performances of Camera+ in the App Store, and the results are quite astonishing. To date, Camera+ has sold over 6 million copies and earned over $5 million after Apple's cut. Camera+ was first released on June 7, 2010, and was later pulled from the App Store in late July, only to come back in December 2o10 with version 2.0. Since then, the app has been growing in popularity and receiving updates with various enhancements and bug fixes.

Over the past 6 months, Camera+ revenue has increased over 3x. Play along and fantasize for a second about that trend continuing over time… if it keeps going, by 2018 our daily sales would be twice the world population. Yeah, this growth might not be sustainable over time. Anyway…

The two most relevant things contributing to the large jumps on the right side of the above chart were the launch of the iPhone 4S in early October and the annual Christmas bump. Both were increases that were expected but what’s been surprising is how long each has lasted.

tap tap tap's latest blog post is interesting not just because of app sales numbers alone: I think it provides good insight into the 4S "bump" from October and the typical sales increase in the holiday season, which is related to new users buying apps for their new devices. This year, however, sees a new iPhone model released against the holiday season for the first time. It's been widely reported the iPhone 4S should be selling really well (we'll know more on January 24), but tap tap tap's numbers seems to suggest an impressive growth, not just a good one.

Camera+ is a rare example of a paid app maintaining a stable growth over time with only a few promotions and features by Apple. Read more about the app's sales figures here.