Camo

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS - Ja­son Cross

Price: £34.99 (inc VAT) from fave.co/32bVV2V

Every Mac (other than the Mac Pro and Mac mini) in­cludes a built-in we­b­cam, which Ap­ple calls a FaceTime cam­era. And every sin­gle one, with­out ex­cep­tion, is to­tal rub­bish. They top out at a pal­try 720p res­o­lu­tion, with the ex­cep­tion of the iMac Pro’s 1080p model. Res­o­lu­tion aside, they pro­duce video

that is grainy, blotchy, un­der­ex­posed and with hor­ri­ble dy­namic range. This is weird, be­cause Ap­ple also makes some of the best cam­eras you can buy on a phone or tablet. The iPhone and iPad’s cam­eras put not just Ap­ple’s crummy Mac we­b­cams to shame, they out­shine any we­b­cam. Even the front-fac­ing iPhone cam­eras.

En­ter Camo, a handy util­ity by Rein­cu­bate that turns your iPhone into a Mac we­b­cam. It’s not the only method of do­ing so, but it may be the best. With the steep price of £40 per year, it’ll cost you, but it’s less than buy­ing a new we­b­cam (and be­cause it’s soft­ware, it’s not sold out like all the good we­b­cams are).

THE BEST WE­B­CAM IS THE ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU

Now that mil­lions of peo­ple who are lucky enough to still have a job are work­ing from home, we’re all do­ing a lot more Zoom and Mi­crosoft Teams meet­ings than ever be­fore. Users who have never both­ered to use the built-in cam­era on their MacBook are sud­denly re­ly­ing on it mul­ti­ple times a week.

That’s one good rea­son why de­cent USB we­b­cams are per­pet­u­ally out of stock these days. In­stead of buy­ing a new we­b­cam, you can buy a piece of soft­ware that turns your iPhone into one.

The iOS app is free, but is just a con­nec­tor to the Mac app, where all the magic hap­pens. The free Mac app is lim­ited to 720p res­o­lu­tion and only the stan­dard wide or selfie cam­eras on your iPhone, and you can’t dis­able the an­noy­ing wa­ter­mark. If you can live with it, it’s al­ready go­ing to be a much bet­ter so­lu­tion than any cam­era built into any Mac.

A one-year li­cence costs £39.99, but lets you re­move the wa­ter­mark and opens up 1080p video, all the cam­eras on your iPhone, and a whole mess of use­ful set­tings. You can ad­just shut­ter speed, ISO, fo­cus, tem­per­a­ture, tint, hue, mir­ror­ing, and more. It’s a sim­ple and in­tu­itive in­ter­face, and it’s all on your Mac – once you mount your iPhone into some sort of clip, you don’t want to have to change set­tings with it.

On the pre­vi­ous page is an ex­am­ple of the Camo in­ter­face.

You don’t have to know any­thing about cam­eras to quickly see where ev­ery­thing is and what it does; noth­ing is hid­den un­der nested menus. The pre­view shows you all changes in real time. And while it’s an­noy­ing to have your iPhone flash in your face, you can even turn that on and ad­just its level if you’re hav­ing a meet­ing in the dark.

Want to know how good it looks? The com­par­i­son shot right shows the Zoom meet­ings screen in iden­ti­cal light­ing with three dif­fer­ent cam­eras: the built-in FaceTime cam­era on my 2017 iMac, a Log­itech C920 and my iPhone 11 Pro with Camo.

It’s not even close. To beat your iPhone as a we­b­cam, you’ll need to use your DSLR, which can be an ex­pen­sive

propo­si­tion. Your iPhone will get a lit­tle warm while us­ing Camo, as Rein­cu­bate does as much pro­cess­ing as pos­si­ble on the phone side to re­duce the load on your Mac.

VERDICT

Camo is sim­ply one of the most fullfea­tured, easy-to-use and de­light­ful ways to rec­tify the ab­so­lutely ter­ri­ble Mac cam­eras with the iPhone you’ve al­ready got. It doesn’t yet work with ev­ery­thing, but the com­pat­i­bil­ity list is long and grow­ing. Odds are, it works with what you need it to work with.

If I had to gripe about some­thing, it would be the fact that it cur­rently is only a cam­era, and does not pull au­dio from your iPhone’s mi­cro­phone. That fea­ture is on the road map and should be avail­able in an up­date soon. Also on the road map: 4K res­o­lu­tion, Win­dows sup­port, sup­port for Por­trait mode, chroma-key­ing, re­duced iPhone power con­sump­tion and Wi-Fi pair­ing.

Even with those fea­tures, the £39.99 price seems steep. That would be a rea­son­able price to pay as a one-time fee, but a one-year li­cence feels like it should cost half as much, or even less.

The Camo in­ter­face is sim­ple and straight­for­ward with lots of use­ful con­trols.

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