Apple’s latest iPhone has pretty much everything: GPS, iPod functions, Safari, Voice Control, Camera and so much more. The latest generation has also improved the camera capabilities of the 3GS and significantly improved its quality. However, the latest camera app from Apple still doesn’t go far enough and the fact that Camera Zoom v1.1 has been in the number one position in the app store is testament to that. Camera Genius takes what Camera Zoom has done, but adds a lot more value and function (even some great photography tips) for the same price (currently).
Similar to Camera Zoom, Camera Genius also has a digital zoom feature that works pretty much identically to the afore mentioned app. However, Camera Genius brings other missing and interesting features such as Sound Capture (more below), Anti Shake, Big Button, Guide lines and my favorite, Self Timer. Let’s look at each of these in further detail:
1. Camera Zoom. Similar to the app “Camera Zoom v1.1″, this feature adds a slider to the screen that controls the digital zoom of the app. Digital zoom can be adjusted easily by moving the slider. Unlike Camera Zoom v1.1 (the app), I didn’t have time to do any photographic tests to see if digitally zoomed images have any processing done to them to make them sharper. However, if it’s anything like what is offered by the other app, then this is a great feature.
2. Sound Capture. Enabling this function is not what you think it is. No, it does not capture sound with your photo, which is what I originally thought it was when I first saw it. Instead, it’s a new take on a self timer function. When this is enabled, the app will take a picture when the noise it hears reaches a high enough level. Or, in easier terms, if you setup your iPhone to take a pic then say “cheese!” the app will then take the picture. Like I said, it’s an interesting and fun twist on the self timer function. I like it.
3. Anti Shake. There have been several other camera apps in the app store that have implemented this same function in pretty much this same manner. How this works is, the app enables the accellerometer in the device, then waits for the vibrations and movements of the accellerometer to lower to a reasonable level then it will trigger the shutter. One addition that Camera Genius adds that I have not seen on other implementations is a shake meter. This gives you a visual representation of the shaking and vibrations that the device is subject to. Very cool.
4. Big Button. Big button is just that, it turns the whole screen into a shutter release button. So, if you’re like me and have a hard time finding the shutter button on the current app then this should help. Once enabled, just touch anywhere on the screen and your picture will be captured.
5. Guides. As a photography buff there is one thing that drives me crazy… crooked pictures. Camera Genius adds a full set of on-screen guide lines that you can overlay the liveview image with. Use the guides to level your shot against the horizon or simply help you frame your shot using the rule of thirds. Many digital cameras have the option to enable guide lines through their options menu and I’m happy to see them here.
6. Self Timer. Self timer is pretty self-explanatory if I don’t say so myself. However, this self-timer does go slightly further by allowing you to cycle through 2, 5, 10, 15, 30 second timer options.
7. Camera Manual. Unlike any other camera app I’ve seen, Camera Genius actually provides a “quick reference guide” of photography right wihin the app for easy access. The guide, or manual, offers eight highly effective (yet often overlooked) photographic tips from “focal point” to the “rule of thirds.”
I’ve installed many camera apps on my iPhones over the past year. In fact, I just barely got finished testing and using Camera Zoom v1.1 when I stumbled upon Camera Genius and I’m already writing this review. Since dSLR camera gear is so expensive, I take my addiction out on camera apps from the app store! However, there are few of these apps that are ever worth their value that you paid for it and few of them stay installed on my iPhone for longer than a day or two (and never get mentioned on AppChatter either).
While I’ve been very impressed with all of the useful functions of Camera Genius it does have a couple of minor drawbacks that I would love to see the developer improve or add. The first of which is the touch to focus function of the new 3GS iPhones. This is such an excellent addition in the new devices and I use it regularly. Unfortunately, touch to focus is not included in Camera Genius (apparently this is an SDK limitation). Second, the sound activated shutter is not sensitive enough. When we tested this out with the phone just a few feet away we were practically yelling before the picture triggered. So, while a neat little feature it is, the sensitivity needs to be slightly better to make it truly useful.
Camera Genius is, in large part, what Apples own camera app should have been. All of the missing features that I would like to see in the real camera app are implemented here (and even a few others). If you take a lot of pictures with your iPhone then I highly encourage you to look at Camera Genius, it’s, well…. Genius!
Note: Camera Genius was $.99 when tested, however the regular price is stated as $2.99.