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Posted in Reviews on May 08, 2013

Olloclip review

Olloclip review

Brief Olloclip review

By Matt Glastonbury, accomplished Mobile Photographer, providing great tutorials and App reviews. Matt is an independent blogger who acts as a Contributing Editor to Ink361. (Add Matt on Google Plus)

Olloclip recently sent us one of their three-in-one lens combos to try out. The olloclip slides over the iPhone’s rear camera, allowing you to adjust it to fish-eye, wide-angle, or macro. Mia and I have been using these lenses for a couple of years now and have found them to be a great addition, and must-have, for our mobile photography kits.

We tested:
Olloclip for iPhone 5, and some of the photos are from the olloclip iPhone 4S

Things we love:
Well made
Easy to use
Affordable
Versatile
Better than the competition
Macro
The iPod adapter

Things we would like to see:
Less lens distortion on the outer edges
Available for popular Android phones
Macro focus-range not so extreme
An app that helps to correct some of the distortion.

The lens I make the most use of would have to be the Macro. (This can be used by twisting off the wide-angle lens) While it’s not as good as using a DSLR Macro, it certainly, very easily, brings the world of Macro Photography to any iPhone user. For many, that’s a wonderful introduction to a different way of taking photos that they have never been able to try and may never would have.

In some circumstances the fish-eye is an awesome way to capture a lot in the photo that wouldn’t normally be possible, but I find the wide-angle is the best for every day photography. See the top top three images. TL is the straight iPhone shot. TM is the wide-angle, and TR is the fish-eye. This gives you a good idea of how much more each of the lenses can give you.

Olloclip review

Concluding.. We’ve been using the olloclips since the iPhone 4, and love the extra capabilities they bring to our smart phones. The build quality is great, the customer service (when you loose a lens cap!) is excellent, and spare bits are available. All things considered, the olloclip lens system is terrific to have in your pocket when you need to get in REALLY close, or want to squeeze a lot of wide-angle into your shots. We take them out with us all the time, that way they’re are available for those interesting shots.

They get a big thumbs up from us!

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Brief Joby tripod review

By Matt Glastonbury, accomplished Mobile Photographer, providing great tutorials and App reviews. Matt is an independent blogger who acts as a Contributing Editor to Ink361. (Add Matt on Google Plus)

Joby recently sent us some smartphone tripods to try out. One word: fantastic! Mia and I have been using the GripTight tripods, and mounts, daily, now for a few weeks and have felt a lot more comfortable placing our iPhones in precarious positions. We’ve popped our new GripTight Mounts on the normal tripods too, which helps with taking shots that require more height than the GorillaPods can offer.


We tested:
GripTight Mount
GripTight Micro
GripTight GorillaPod
GripTight GorillaPod Magnetic
GripTight GorillaPod Video


Things we loved:

Really well made
High quality materials
Affordable
Flexible
Versatile
Magnetic feet (some models)
Fits most smartphones
Light weight
Pocketable


Areas for improvement: The Micro could come with a key ring, but apart from that I have nothing to add to these already mature, well made, products.

My favorite GripTight GorillaPod was the Video model because it has a swivel handle to smoothly control tilting and panning when making videos, it’s easy to control when taking stills, and it has the magnetic feet too. I also absolutely love the GripTight Micro and have attached the little foldable tripod to my key-ring! You can’t beat a tripod that’s always with you, and your phone.

One last very cool thing I would like to say about about these babies is, the ability to get your lens really close the surface it’s standing on. The Micro can get you right down super-low. We’ve even been using them to get down to bird-level, set the timer, move away from the phone, and throw food in-front to capture the wildlife closer than you could ever get when holding the phone.

Concluding.. we already own other GorillaPods for small, (pictured right) and DSLR, cameras and have been using those for years and never had a problem. Having tried quite a few different solutions I’ve always found Joby’s to be the best, hence my recommending them now and in the past. You simply can’t go wrong with any of Joby’s products, especially if you’re a mobile photographer.

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Posted in reviews on April 10, 2013

APP REVIEW: KitCam

Brief KitCam Review By Matt Glastonbury, an independent blogger and accomplished Mobile Photographer who acts as a Contributing Editor to Ink361, providing great tutorials and App reviews. (Add Matt on Google Plus)

This review is not going to cover everything, it’s a review from my perspective and what I personally like and use. This is not meant to be a comprehensive, feature by feature article discussing all aspects.

KitCam is one of those Camera apps, for iPhone, that has lots of hidden features. The app has so much, you can use it daily for weeks and keep discovering new things.

Pros:

  • Separate lockable focus and exposure tools
  • Real-time photo info display
  • Master image
  • Inbuilt editor
  • Lenses and Films
  • Continuous shooting
  • Live FX preview
  • Exposure Compensation
  • White Balance compensation
  • 1:1 square shooting
  • Timelapse
  • Library Back-up through iTunes
  • Export to PhotoForge2
  • Easy access to Exif data (photo info)
  • FTP backup
  • JPG or TIFF Master Files

Cons:

  • No adding in Copyright info into Exif data
  • No selective folder backing up of files through iTunes
  • No FTP backup of Master photos
  • High storage requirements

I’ve been using it three months now and have completely switched over to KitCam after being a huge fan of ProCamera for a long time. I fell in love with ProCamera because of the 1:1 shooting mode, the superior exposure and Focus control and also the ability to load my own copyright info into each photo automatically. I didn’t really use the inbuilt editor a lot but found it to be quite good when I did. Since moving across to KitCam I have used their inbuilt editor more and more, so much that I barely use Snapseed anymore. For the extra control that I may sometimes need, I then open the photo from KitCam directly to PhotoForge and edit further there.

If there is just one reason to get KitCam, it would be Non-destructive editing. This is fantastic.. It’s just like Lightroom, you can edit away, and shoot away with your chosen settings, then always go back to the original.

KitCam uses the concept of masters and edits to manage photos. A master is the unchanged photo captured by the camera and an edit is the result of choices you made in your personal settings (like WhiteBalance, Square format, a film or lens effect) when taking your photos. When you take a photo with KitCam, a master image is automatically created. KitCam will save the original/master and also the version you saw in the viewfinder when you took the photo. The internal editor (called Shot Editor) manages this image data for you to ensure that you can always alter any setting as many times as you need while still maintaining the best image quality possible.

Non-destructive editing means you are always making new additional edits based on the master/original, and in Snapseed, you are always losing quality because each time you save, you are re-compressing the file and changing the orginal again and again.

APP REVIEW: KitCam

Here’s a quick demo of how cool non-destructive editing is:

Step 1: My original, wonky, shot.

Step 2: I hit Edit in KitCam, and chose the rotation tool, which let me finely tune the exact angle, in here I can also drag the composition up or down to suit my preference. Remember, it’s editing a copy of your master file, so even though I shot in square format, I can move the photo around because the Master is a 4:3.

Step 3: I added a film effect.

Step 4: The saved result of the edits made from steps 1-3.

Step 5: After closing the app, I later decided I didn’t want to use any effects. So, I re-opened KitCam and re-pressed the same film to remove it, essentially going back to a previous version in my editing workflow. KitCam lets you clear all your edits, and go back to the start, at any time. This can even be done after restarting the app!

Step 6: The result after some fine-tuning of the Contrast, Saturation, Brightness and Levels.

So, you can see here that I edited and saved, then went back in and re-edited. That’s something no other camera app has that I’m aware of, and it’s this ability to always pull data from the Master file and re-edit as much as I like without loss of quality, that really impresses me about this third-party camera.

Concluding… In my opinion, this is the best camera app available for iPhone photographers today, and it’s a must-try if you like to have the ability to always go back and make changes. Be warned, it is very space hungry, especially if you set your Master files as TIFF format. If you’re like me and you love to keep a lot of photos on your Camera Roll, you may need to delete more regularly and backup the Master files through iTunes frequently.

Another BIG THUMBS UP from me!

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Posted in Reviews on April 03, 2013

APP REVIEW: PRO HDR

Brief Pro HDR Review By Matt Glastonbury, an independent blogger and accomplished Instagrammer who acts as a Contributing Editor to Ink361, providing great tutorials and App reviews. (Add Matt on Google Plus)

Ever looked at a beautiful flower with a gorgeous sunset or sky behind it and pulled out the phone to take a shot only to find the camera is seeing something that is very different from what your eye is admiring? That beauty just turned to a silhouette! Well, with HDR, you can capture the lighter background, and the darker foreground, and blend them together.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Pro HDR (v4.5.1, from eyeApps LLC, available on Android and iOS for $1.99) lets you capture two images; one exposed for the lighter areas of your scene, and another, exposed for the darker areas. It then automatically aligns, and blends, the images, giving you a single HDR photo.

Pro HDR extends the dynamic range (refers to the ratio/differences between the brightest light you can capture in a scene and the darkest light you can capture in the same scene) of your camera and produces great results in the right situations. Pro HDR has two modes, one automatic, and the other manual, letting you choose your own exposure levels by dragging blue squares around the scene. It also has the option of loading your own photos taken with any camera app, and that’s what interests me the most—full control over my exposures. I talk about that, here, in my MOBILE PHOTOGRAPHY - Multiple Exposures for HDR tutorial. Regardless of what mode you use, the best thing about this app is that it allows you to capture scenes with high contrast, and also create some wonderful effects.

Pros:
Allows you to capture photos that simply aren’t possible with one exposure. Separate exposure/focus control Basic adjustment tools Great alignment/repositioning Timer Great auto contrast Ability to load other photos taken by other camera apps Location data

Cons:
Exposure and focus are not completely separated Only loads two images, love to see the ability to load more exposures. Not all image output is the same size No mid-tone adjustment or advanced adjustment tools Out of date filters. No re-alignment tool. No full resolution support.

I have been using Pro HDR for over a year now and it’s my main go-to app for scenes with difficult lighting that have little movement. You can really get the bright parts of a scene to be properly exposed and at the same time you can blend in the dark areas without under-exposing them. I’ve taken some screen-shots and posted the results so you can see for yourself.

Tip: When you change to manual mode, you will be able drag two blue squares around the screen to set the two exposures for your two photos. Remember, the last square you drag will set and lock the focus, this is a very handy feature.

Here, I held the phone upside-down to get the lens on the same level as the flower, (that’s why the app’s interface is around the wrong way) then I moved the blue squares to measure the light for my two exposures—one on the flower, and one on the sky. One the left, you can see Pro HDR took a light and a dark version and then blended them together at bottom left.

APP REVIEW: PRO HDR

Tip: If you edit and load your two exposures taken with manual camera apps, into Pro HDR, you can sometimes get even better results.

Concluding… I’ve tried most of the other HDR imaging apps and have always returned to Pro HDR because it seems to get the most natural results, has the best blending-alignment, and lets you load photos from your camera roll. If you want to improve the capability of your mobile camera, and even capture very difficult, high-contrast shots, then I suggest you go and buy Pro HDR.

Really looking forward to where eyeApps takes this app in the future..

Big thumbs up from me!

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Posted in Reviews on March 21, 2013

App Review: Snapseed

Brief Snapseed Review from a daily user. By Matt Glastonbury (Matt on Google Plus)

Probably the most popular and widely used photo editing app on a mobile device, would have to be Snapseed by Nik Software, Inc., Version: 1.5.1. (Available on Android and iOS) Since Google’s purchase of Snapseed, you can now have a serious photo editor on Android and also upload directly to Google+, which is really great to see. I’ve been quite disappointed to see the lack of support for the Android platform over the past 12 months, but that seems to be changing SLOWLY.

Snapseed is a real go-to app to get things done quickly and easily and is really suitable for beginner to advanced users. If you want to adjust, crop, rotate, and fine-tune your images quickly, and easily, then Snapseed is for you.

I’m not going to discuss every single feature here, I’m just going to speak from the point of view of someone who has been using the app daily for over a year and give you a quick run-down on what I mostly use Snapseed for. I like to keep things relevant, short, sweet, and to the point, rather than go over everything.

Here’s the pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Very versatile
  • Lots of features
  • Free
  • Interesting adjustable filters
  • Selective adjust
  • Center Focus and adjustable Vignetting
  • Black and White fine-tuning
  • Tilt-Shift
  • Preservation of location data
  • Ambience Tool
  • Detail enhancements
  • Ability to choose from camera roll, copy and paste directly into the app.

Here’s the cons:

  • No undo (If, you are like me, and you need to go back in time, and undo, after experimenting, you end up with 5-20 versions of the same photo saved in your camera roll, because you keep saving different versions of the same photo in-case you need to loose new adjustments.)
  • No history (This is one of the biggest things I would like to see in future updates)
  • No RGB or tone levels
  • No eraser
  • No layers
  • No Ambiance or colour adjustment on Selective Adjust
  • Color is missing the finer controls that are available in the Black & White tool
  • No zoom to carefully make edits or crops
  • No noise reduction

My thoughts overall.. I love it, despite all the shortcomings, it’s been by my side for over a year, and I still use it every day. If you take photos on your mobile and don’t have it, you’re honestly missing out. Snapseed gets a 4 out of five from me.

Here’s some thoughts on apps you could check out, other than Snapseed:

What would I recommend using with Snapseed? AfterLight (formerly AfterGlow), Photo Toaster, PhotoForge2, Photoshop Touch, Filterstorm.

If you find Snapseed too difficult what’s easier to use? Camera+, Griditor.

If you find Snapseed too restricted, what’s more advanced? Photoshop Touch, Filterstorm, PhotoForge2

Here, I’ve done a small work-flow on how I used Snapseed to edit an iPhone photo that’s not quite right:

Here, I’ve copied the image from the camera roll and pasted it into Snapseed, (I love this feature!) then turned down the Ambiance, and Brightness, and also boosted the Saturation.

App Review: Snapseed

Here, I’ve gone straight to Selective Adjust since the hand is now too dark, and I’ve added the tool to certain areas to brighten them a little. I then cropped and rotated.

App Review: Snapseed

Finally I’ve gone into the Center Focus tool and removed the blur, darkened the outside, and brightened the inside a little to create a lovely Vignette. I also moved the tool down to make the sky look a deeper blue, then saved. Note, the output options to Google+ too, this works really well.

App Review: Snapseed

Here, you can see the before and after, and how quickly and easily we arrived at great improvements. Download it now, it’s free!

App Review: Snapseed

Concluding.. I’d love to hear from you, and get your impressions on Snapseed. I’m happy to answer questions you may have, and would love to hear your favorite tips too.

Happy enhancing!

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