Ob­scura Cam­era 4

Sim­plic­ity is the name of the game with this cam­era app

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by DAVE STEVEN­SON

£3.99 FROM Ben McCarthy, ob­scu­raapp.com NEEDS iOS 10.0 or higher

You may feel that the iPhone’s point-and-shoot Cam­era app couldn’t get much bet­ter – or

sim­pler. For pho­tog­ra­phers, though, it lacks fine con­trol over things like ex­po­sure and fo­cus – must-haves for pro­fes­sion­als and am­a­teurs in chal­leng­ing light con­di­tions.

Ob­scura greets you with wire­frame-style con­trols, and your first im­pres­sion will be that sim­plic­ity has been pri­ori­tised over power. How­ever, there’s a lot go­ing on un­der the sur­face. As with iOS’s built-in Cam­era app, you can tap any­where in the frame to set ex­po­sure and fo­cus, but hold a fin­ger on Ex­pose and a cir­cu­lar con­trol pops up, en­abling you to ad­just ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion be­tween +1 and -2.5 stops.

The fo­cus con­trol works sim­i­larly: tap it once to set fo­cus au­to­mat­i­cally, or hold down its but­ton to ad­just fo­cus. Use­fully, Ob­scura uses fo­cus peak­ing – high­light­ing parts of your shots to show you what’s fo­cussed.

There are fur­ther con­trols that sur­pass what’s avail­able in Ap­ple’s own app: man­ual con­trols for ISO to boost or re­duce ex­po­sure, and but­tons for con­trol­ling shut­ter speed. Used to­gether, these con­trols come in very use­ful for shooting fast-mov­ing ac­tion, where a de­lib­er­ately high ISO and a fast shut­ter speed are ideal. There’s also the op­tion to cap­ture raw and JPEG files at the same time.

Swipe dreams

Ob­scura uses a some­what fid­dly se­ries of swipes to pro­vide ac­cess to ad­di­tional man­ual con­trols – ad­justable white bal­ance pre­sets, a rule-of-thirds grid over the viewfinder, and an ar­ti­fi­cial hori­zon to help you line up your shots straight are all avail­able.

You can swipe across the main viewfinder to add live fil­ters to your shot; swipe the thin con­trol bar to re­veal ad­di­tional con­trols; swipe the bot­tom of the screen to choose from 27 built-in fil­ters. How­ever, this sys­tem of swip­ing isn’t per­fect, as you need to be fairly pre­cise to get the ges­ture to do ex­actly what you want, al­though over­all the ef­fect is more of a mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tion than a ma­jor us­abil­ity bug­bear. That said, we no­ticed only by ac­ci­dent that tap­ping the mid­dle of Ob­scura’s con­trols pro­duces a pop-up menu that en­ables you to shoot raw pho­tos or Live Pho­tos, or pre­view a live fil­ter.

If you’re a purist pho­tog­ra­pher who of­ten finds your­self lament­ing your iPhone’s lack of ‘proper’ con­trols, Ob­scura of­fers a pow­er­ful, if slightly fid­dly, range of op­tions.

Ob­scura has con­trols that sur­pass the fea­tures of Cam­era, such as man­ual ISO and ex­po­sure

Ob­scura Cam­era of­fers pho­tog­ra­phers plenty of flex­i­bil­ity, with man­ual ex­po­sure con­trol, fo­cus peak­ing and more.

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