Search results for "Halide"

Developer Ben Sandofsky on ProRAW and Halide Mark II’s Implementation of the New Format

ProRAW is a big deal for iPhone photography. Joining Austin Mann’s article that I linked earlier today is an even deeper dive by Ben Sandofsky, a member of the Halide Mark II team. Sandofsky does a fantastic job of contextualizing the benefits of ProRAW and explaining how it has been implemented in Halide.

Before getting into the technical details, Sandofsky walks readers through a high-level overview of the limitations of the RAW format, concluding that:

ProRAW elegantly solves all of these problems and more. You can finally reproduce the results of the first-party camera, while retaining most of the editing latitude from traditional RAWs.

What’s more, as Sandofsky explains ProRAW is an extension of the open DNG file format, which should facilitate the implementation of support for ProRAW by third-party app makers:

This may be surprising to some: ProRAW is not a proprietary or closed format. Credit where it is due: Apple deserves kudos for bringing their improvements to the DNG standard. When you shoot with ProRAW, there’s absolutely nothing locking your photos into the Apple ecosystem.

Source: Lux Optics

Source: Lux Optics

Halide Mark II, version 2.1, is available on the App Store now and supports ProRAW in a number of interesting ways:

  • Photographers can take ProRAW-only or ProRAW+JPEG images, whereas Apple’s Camera app always captures both a ProRAW and JPEG image in one shot when the ProRAW option is picked. Capturing a JPEG alongside the ProRAW image is convenient for quick sharing, but having the option to dispense with it helps reduce file size, which is a real issue with ProRAW images that are typically around 25MB.
  • The new ProRAW options are available alongside the app’s existing RAW options by long-pressing the RAW button in Halide’s image capture UI to reveal a context menu, a new feature that makes switching formats faster than repeatedly returning to settings.
  • The same context menu lets users pick between 10-bit and 12-bit color, reducing file sizes where 10-bit color depth is sufficient.
  • Unlike Apple’s Camera app, you can also turn on ProRAW, and it will stay on even if you leave Halide and return to it later, although turning it on and forgetting it’s on will fill your storage fast.

I have only just begun experimenting with Halide’s new ProRAW support, but I like the context menu for quickly changing format and color depth settings a lot. The added flexibility the app provides for which formats are captured and the color depth used are welcome, too, but it will take some time to get a better sense of which to pick in different scenarios.

ProRAW is a fascinating combination of traditional RAW and computational photography that provides hints about where Apple may be headed with its camera sensors. I highly recommend Sandofsky’s article, which is the best explanation I’ve seen of what is happening under the hood with ProRAW and what the format means for beginner and expert photographers alike.

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Halide Mark II: The Best Pro Camera For iPhone [Sponsor]

Halide Mark II is the brand new camera app from the makers of Spectre, Apple’s iPhone App of the Year for 2019.

Halide is the sort of elegant, intuitive app casual photographers appreciate that also offers the sophisticated, advanced features that expert photographers demand. The app was created by three friends who share a passion for photography and believe that apps should be exceptionally well built and designed, simple to use, and free of any nonsense.

The makers of Halide understand that advanced features don’t have to come at the expense of usability. Halide’s beautiful interface relies on gestures that make using the app fast and efficient. All of the manual controls that pro users expect are available when you want them but are neatly tucked away out of sight when you don’t. It’s a carefully-crafted balance that sets Halide apart from other camera apps.

Halide supports the latest iPhone technologies like Apple’s new ProRAW format on the iPhone 12 Pro and live XDR (Extended Dynamic Range) exposure tools, ensuring that you’re always on the forefront of what’s new with iPhone photography. The Halide team also provides what you need to take advantage of those features by offering an easy 10-day set of photography lessons right inside the app to help you get the most out of it.

There are no ads, tracking, or anything else you don’t want in Halide – just an obsessive focus on helping you take the best possible photos every time. Halide offers a 7-day free trial for subscribers, or, if you prefer, you can take advantage of its one-time purchase option.

Either way, download Halide Mark II today to get ready for ProRAW and make the most of your iPhone’s camera.

Our thanks to Halide Mark II for its support of MacStories this week.


MacStories Unwind: The All-New iPad Air, Halide Mark II, Reeder 5, and Creative Pro Apps

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Sponsored by: SaneBox – Organize Your Inbox (and Never Waste Time on Email Again) With SaneBox

This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • MacStories Favorite: Keep
    • A collection of technologies that will shape the future of Apple’s products
    • Ryan’s system for setting up a new iPhone
    • Lots of new and updated apps and more

AppStories

Unwind


Halide Mark II Review: The Convenience of Computational Photography and Flexibility of RAW in an Elegant Camera App

iPhone photography has come a long way in the past 13 years. The original iPhone had a 2 MP camera that produced images that were 1600 x 1200 pixels. Today, the wide-angle camera on an iPhone 12 Pro has a 12 MP camera that can take shots that are 4032 x 3024 pixels.

Hardware advancements have played a big role in iPhone photography, but so has software. The size of an iPhone and physics limit hardware advances, resulting in diminishing returns year-over-year. Consequently, Apple and other mobile phone makers have turned to computational photography to bring the power of modern SoCs to bear, improving the quality of images produced by iPhones with software.

Computational photography has advanced rapidly, pushed forward by the increasingly powerful chips that power our iPhones. Every time you take a photo with your iPhone, it’s actually taking several, stitching them together, using AI to compute adjustments to make the image look better, and presenting you with a final product. The process feels instantaneous, but it’s the result of many steps that begin even before you press the shutter button.

However, the simplicity and efficiency of computational photography come with a tradeoff. That pipeline from the point you press the Camera app’s shutter button until you see the image you took involves a long series of steps. In turn, each of those steps involves a series of judgment calls and the application of someone else’s taste about how the photo should look.

Apple has made great strides in computational photography in recent years, but it also means someone else's taste is being applied to your images. Source: Apple.

Apple has made great strides in computational photography in recent years, but it also means someone else’s taste is being applied to your images. Source: Apple.

In many circumstances, the editorial choices made by the Camera app result in great photos, but not always, and the trouble is, your ability to tweak the images you take in compressed file formats is limited. A more flexible alternative is to shoot in a RAW file format that preserves more data, allowing for a greater range in editing options, but often, the friction of editing RAW images isn’t worth it. The Camera app is good enough most of the time, so we tolerate the shots that don’t look great.

However, what if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could capture a lightweight, automatically-adjusted photo and an editing-friendly RAW image at the same time, allowing you to pick the right one for each image you take? If you like the JPEG or HEIC image produced by Apple’s computational photography workflow, you could keep it, but you could always fall back to the RAW version if you want more editing latitude. That way, you could rely on the editorial choices baked into iOS where you like the results but retain control for those times when you don’t like them.

That’s what Halide Mark II by Lux sets out to accomplish. Halide is a MacStories favorite that we’ve covered many times in the past, but Mark II is something special. The latest update is an ambitious reimagining of what was already a premier camera app, building on what came before but with a simpler and easier to learn UI. Halide Mark II puts more control than ever into the hands of photographers, while also making it easy to achieve beautiful results with minimal effort. Halide also seeks to educate through a combination of design and upcoming in-app photography lessons.

By and large, Halide succeeds. Photography is a notoriously jargon-heavy, complex area. It’s still possible to get bogged down, fretting over which settings are best in what circumstances. However, Halide provides the most effective bridge from point-and-shoot photography to something far more sophisticated than any camera app I’ve used. The result is a camera app that gives iPhone photographers control over the images they shoot in an app that’s a pleasure to use and encourages them to learn more and grow as a photographer.

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Halide Team Experiments with iPad Pro’s LiDAR Scanner

Source: Halide Blog

Source: Halide Blog

Sebastiaan de With, on the Halide blog, goes deep on the 2020 iPad Pro’s camera module. His examination reveals that the device’s wide camera is virtually identical to that of the 2018 model. And the ultra-wide camera, unfortunately, isn’t quite up to the quality level of what’s found in the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.

The most exciting and impressive aspect of the camera system is the LiDAR Scanner. The Halide team actually went to the trouble of building an entire proof of concept app that utilizes the LiDAR Scanner to capture your surroundings.

With Halide, we’d love to use the depth data in interesting ways, even if it’s low resolution. There was only one problem: there are no APIs for us as developers to use to get access to the underlying depth data. They only expose the processed 3D surface.

What if we re-thought photographic capture, though? We built a proof-of-concept we’re calling Esper.

Esper experiments with realtime 3D capture using the cameras and LIDAR sensor at room scale. It’s a fun and useful way to capture a space.

I always love reading de With’s in-depth explanations and comparisons of new iPhone or iPad cameras, and this was an especially fun one.

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Halide 1.14 Adds New Lens Switching Interface and Guides

Halide 1.14 is out with a new lens switching UI to accommodate the three-camera system of the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. As soon as the update was out, I went for a walk to give it a try.

Halide has introduced a new lens switching button featuring haptic feedback and a dial-like system for moving among the iPhone’s lenses. When you press down on the lens button, you get a tap of haptic feedback to let you know without looking that the lens picker has been engaged.

From there, you can slide your finger among the ultra wide, wide, and telephoto options that radiate out from the button. As you swipe your finger across each option, it enlarges, and you’re met with another little bit of haptic feedback as you swipe over the lenses other than the one already selected. Once you have the lens you want, you simply let go and your iPhone switches to it.

You can also cycle through the lenses in order by tapping the button repeatedly or swipe left for the ultra wide lens or up for the telephoto one. In my brief tests, swiping left or up is the best option if you already know the lens you want, but using the dial-like lens switcher is perfect for considering your options first because Halide has also added lens preview guides.

With the lens button engaged, Halide shows guides for each of your zoom options. That means if you’re using the ultra-wide lens, you’ll see the light gray guidelines for the wide and telephoto lenses. As you swipe over those lenses, the guides change to yellow to highlight the composition you’ll get if you switch to that lens.

If you’re already using the telephoto lens though, Halide will highlight the outer frame of the image to suggest you’ll get a wider shot, though it does not zoom the viewfinder out to show that composition until you lift your finger. You can see how the lens guides work from the screenshots I took at a local high school football field above and in this video:

Switching lenses in Halide.Replay

When you switch to the ultra wide lens, you’ll notice that not all the usual Halide features are available. Manual focus is missing and so is shooting in RAW. That’s because the new iPhone hardware and iOS and iPadOS 13 don’t support those features. Although the ultra wide shots don’t support RAW, Halide has included a ‘MAX’ option in place of the ‘RAW’ option, so you can get the most image data possible from your wide shots, which you can see in the screenshots below.

Ultra wide images are limited to MAX quality (left) instead of RAW, which is supported by the wide and telephoto lenses (right).

Ultra wide images are limited to MAX quality (left) instead of RAW, which is supported by the wide and telephoto lenses (right).

The Halide team says that the latest update also includes noise-reduction adjustments to the RAW images produced by the iPhone 11, but that they are continuing to fine-tune how that app handles RAW photos from the new phones as part of a more significant update that is coming next.

The latest update is relatively small, but I especially like the use of haptic feedback and lens guides, which make it easy to switch lenses when you’re focused on the viewfinder of the camera instead of Halide’s buttons.

Halide is available on the App Store for $5.99.


Halide Developer Ben Sandofsky Breaks Down How the iPhone XR Captures Depth Data

Ben Sandofsky from the team that makes the Halide iOS camera app has a detailed post on the iPhone XR’s camera and how Apple creates Portrait Mode photos with a single lens. Sandofsky walks through how Apple uses Focus Pixels to develop a rough Disparity Map and combines that with a Portrait Effects Matte to create Portrait Mode images.

The results have some advantages, but also distinct disadvantages compared to the iPhone XS’s camera. As Sandofsky explains:

It seems the iPhone XR has two advantages over the iPhone XS: it can capture wider angle depth photos, and because the wide-angle lens collects more light, the photos will come out better in low light and have less noise.

However:

…most of the time, the XS will probably produce a better result. The higher fidelity depth map, combined with a focal length that’s better suited for portraiture means people will just look better, even if the image is sometimes a bit darker. And it can apply Portrait effects on just about anything, not just people.

Although Apple’s Camera app can only take Portrait Mode photos of people on the iPhone XR, the upcoming Halide 1.11 update will combine the XR’s Disparity Map and Halide’s own blur effect to apply a similar effect beyond human subjects. Sandofsky admits that the feature isn’t perfect due to the low quality of the Disparity Map created by the XR, but the photos included in his post show that it can take excellent pictures under some conditions.

It’s remarkable what is being done to squeeze depth information out of the XR’s single lens and instructive to understand how the underlying technology works. It’s also apparent that Apple has made significant advancements since the introduction of the first dual-lens cameras.

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Halide Introduces Smart RAW for iPhone XS, Joining a Host of Other Improvements

Since its debut Halide has been one of the best manual camera apps available on iPhone. The month of September brought a number of challenges to Halide’s team though, thanks to all the photography work Apple put into iOS 12 and the iPhone XS. And in response, within the span of a few weeks Halide has receive two major updates: version 1.9 on iOS 12’s release date, and releasing today is version 1.10 featuring Smart RAW.

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Halide 1.8

Lovely update to Halide, my favorite third-party iPhone camera app, released today on the App Store. Among other improvements (such as an Apple Watch app and self-timer), I’m a fan of the new grid-based photo reviewer (try swiping down slowly on the grid to dismiss the view) as well as the advanced setting to prevent attaching location metadata when sharing a photo to social networks. I wish more apps offered an explicit preference like Halide does.

The focus on Accessibility in this release is also commendable:

We care deeply about Accessibility and have improved Halide with every update to make it easier to use for all users, but this update is our biggest push yet. With support for Dynamic and Bold Type throughout, VoiceOver support and many more enhancements. Even our 30 second timer option was included with Accessibility in mind, offering users with limited mobility more freedom to take photos.

That being said, we’re not done: this year we’ve worked with noted accessibility specialist Sommer Panage. She advised us on this release, and and helped set goals for accessibility in the year ahead.

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