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Outback Photo Handbook: Cameras

Apple iPhone 4/4S Photo and Video Fun

review note diary by Uwe + Bettina Steinmueller


iPhone/iPad Apps for Photographers

Pro Camera Top iPhone camera app iPhone
6x6 Our favorite square photo app iPhone
FiLMiC Pro Gives you the right control to shoot videos iPhone
Bracket Mode Allows to shoot two bracketed exposures iPhone
8mm Vintage Camera Simulates old 8mm video iPhone
almost DSLR Great for video in locking exposure, focus and WB iPad 2 and iPhone
Fotopedia Heritage Shows great photos of many world Heritage sites. iPad/iPhone, free
Hipstamatic Emulates the fun using 80th plastic camera iPhone + addons
(review note below)
Camera+ Essential iPhone camera extensions iPhone + addons
(review note below)
finePhotoShow Portfolio application by Bettina + Uwe Steinmueller iPhone/iPad, free



Note on image processing:

The iPhone 4 does not support RAW so we have to live with the JPEG images out of the iPhone.

All images are also treated with our DOP Contrast Plus, DOP Highlight Resolver and DOP Optimal Sharp scripts.


12/01/2011 Great introduction to the iPhone app Filmic Pro (via)

I think the iPhone is a nice platform to learn movie making and story telling. Filmic Pro is right now the premier iPhone video recording app for us (our note on Filmic Pro).


11/30/2011 Pro Camera App

Pro Camera is a premium camera app. Pro Camera presents itself very clean and yet has most of the wish list features.

Pro Camera UI

Top Features: Separate focus and exposure points (in expert mode), virtual horizon (you can see the tilt in the above photo), Anti shake (waits till the iPhone is stabile via gyro), Auto White Balance lock (important for video), rapid shooting mode, video support, some editing features and excellent map Integration.


Map View

Wish list: Properly sorted album list

Verdict: Excellent camera app (right now our standard)

App Store Link

11/27/2011 Photo Stream Gotchas

There is a major pitfall with Photo Stream:

Devices push the full resolution images to Photo Stream (e.g. iPhone 4S 3264x2448), but they download an optimized (whatever that means: optimized for display maybe) resolution depending upon the device for viewing.

iPhone and iPad get max 1920x1440 pixel wide images from full 4S resolution photos. Mac iPhoto/Aperture get the full resolution images from the same Photo Stream.

Why does it matter? Lets assume you shoot photos on the iPhone at full resolution. Now you get these photos in your Photo Stream on the iPad (great image exchange you think). When you start editing on the iPad you may not even realize that you don't work on full resolution original images. Same is true if you edit photos from the Photo Stream on the iPhone.

The idea is likely to save bandwidth and memory for the mobile devices. But on the other side it cripples the usefulness of the Photo Stream (maybe we could have an option in the future).

Here is an official Apple link (Look under "What resolution are my Photo Stream Photos"). Yes, "optimized" for display (iPhone and iPad don't really need more for this) but not optimized at all for editing.



11/19/2011 Hipstamatic supports now iPhone 4S resolution

Hipstamatic was updated for the iPhone 4S and supports now 2448x2448 as max resolution.



11/11/2011 6x6 App 2.04 allows to use the Volume+ Button as Shutter Release

You have to enable this feature in the settings. We use the 6x6 app to shoot square images with the iPhone 4/4S. Please also read: Fake Hipstamatic Photos.


11/01/2011 Filmmic Pro now supports 4S with 1080p

Filmic Pro now supports the iPhone 4S at 1080p. You need to use the 30p frame rate to make use of the camers image stabilization.

Filmic Pro is our video app of choice.



10/31/2011 Fake Hipstamatic Photos

We use the 6x6 app to shoot square images with the iPhone 4/4S.


10/27/2011 Our first iPhone 4S Video

All video shot handheld with iPhone 4S (Apple camera App) at 1080p.

- Downsampled to 720p in FCP X
- Software stabilized in FCP X
- Edited in FCP

We used the iPhone ear phones as the remote.


10/25/2011 Our first iPhone 4S images

The iPhone 4S has a better camera:

- Better WB
- More Detail
- More open shadows
- Not as over saturated as the iPhone 4

We used the 4S from a friend but hope to have our own soon (hard to get right now).

10/19/2011 Get a Grip on your iPhone: Gymbl Pro

The iPhone camera is likely the most used camera on the planet. But holding the camera is a shaky mess. For many still photos this maybe ok but not for video or panoramas. Here the company YOUBIQ created an innovative solution: the Gymbl and the Gymbl Pro (for iPhone 4 and 4S).

The Gymbl Pro comes with three parts:

Case, Grip/Mini Tripod, Tripod Adapter

Attaching the grip/mini tripod to the case is fast and easy. The Gymbl can function as:

  • iPhone Grip

  • Table Top Tripod

Vertical and horizontal position

The key idea behind the Gimbl was to help creating panoramas. That is why the iPhone camera lens is close to the nodal point if used vertically.

If you think that you get a nice case and a very versatile light grip the Gimbl is a good value with great engineering.


10/12/2011 What iOS5 has in stock for Photographers

Today iOS5 was released and implements some improvements for photographers (don't mean the iPhone 4S with 8MP here).

  • By double clicking the home button you get a new button for direct access to the camera app:

Click on this button and the camera app opens. This is nice by maybe it would be even more useful if you could link this button to any camera app of your choice.

  • The most important change to us is that you can now take the photo by pressing the volume button. This way the camera shakes less when you take the photo. Camera+ had implemented this feature quite a while ago and was then rejected from the store because it violated the app store rules. Of course Apple can change their own rules any time :-). We need to wait till all the other photo apps implement this feature.
  • The camera has now an AE/AF lock. But there is only one area for both functions. There are some applications that can do better and have separate areas for these locks (and even WB lock extra). This is half baked here.
  • Some may like the iCloud Photo Stream and save their images in the cloud. This is not for us because it only syncs on the Mac with iPhoto.
  • The is finally a dedicated Video app where you can find your videos like on the iPad.

09/15/2011 olloclip Attachment Lenses

We covered some attachment lenses before but they were not designed just for the iPhone (which resulted in some vignetting). The olloclip™ attachment lenses are designed specifically for the iPhone 4.

The olloclip is very easy and fast to attach to the naked iPhone 4. There is no vignetting seen in the final images. The olloclip features 3 lens options in one product.

  • About 180 degree fisheye (on side one)

With Fisheye

Fisheye with Hipstamatic

  • Wide Angle (on side two)

Wide Angle

  • Macro (you have to unscrew the wide angle adapter part on side two)

Macro shot (vignetting added in Photoshop)


We found the image quality very good for attachment lenses.

Holding the iPhone 4 is a challenge and the naked iPhone 4 is even more difficult to hold (feels so slippery). Best you use some sort of grip. Right now we found three usable solutions:

  • The glif: Holds well but not sure about rapid movements
  • The Zacuto iPhone Point’n’Shoot: is a kind of must have if you shoot video anyway. We also use it for the GoPro and some P&S cameras.
  • Case used by the Steadicam Smoothee (see below)

Overall the olloclip is beautiful designed and a lot of fun to use.


9/2/2011 PhotoAppLink

PhotoAppLink is not an application but an app integration platform. We hope many apps follow this platform to make editing and handling of images on the iPhone more a real workflow.


9/1/2011 FiLMiC Pro

For video it is essential to lock:

  • Focus (no focus hunting)
  • Exposure (no exposure changes during pans
  • WB (no WB changes on pans

FiLMic Pro provides just this.

You also can chose the frame rate:

The latest version also allows to save to the Camera Roll. Our video app of choice.

If they would cooperate with DollyCam we would get a killer video app on the iPhone.


8/28/2011 Fly your iPhone: Steadicam Smoothee

With the Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee the original inventors of the Steadicam created a solution for the iPhone. It comes with a mount iPone case (4 and 3 are supported with different cases) and is very easy to setup. The design is based on the Steadicam Merlin which is a top pro Steadicam for smaller video cameras.

Instructed by the master

This is a fun image because it shows me with Garrett Brown. Garrett instructs me how to use the Vest/Arm for the Steadicam Merlin. Garrett is the inventor of the original Steadicam and made film history (he received an Oscar for inventing the Steadicam). Handling a Merlin without the vest is hard because of the weight.


The Smoothee is very well engineered and works as expected.

Be aware that using any Steadicam needs a lot of practice. We are right now at the early beginner stage but our friend Peter iNova masters it very well. Watch this video here.

Also watch his "Low Mode" video here which is video 4 of his 4 part Smoothee introduction.


8/11/2011 Lens "Nuggets"

The fixed focal lens on the iPhone is clearly a limitation. Here are some inexpensive attachment lenses sold by Photojojo.

"iPhone 4 Disclaimer: our sticky lens rings don't play well with your sleek, well designed glass backing. But they work swell with a cover!" (quote from their web site).

We attached the provided magnetic ring to our current IP4 shell. This gives the lenses more distance to the built in phone lens. As a result we see some vignetting with all the lenses. That is why we often shoot in square format with the Hipstamatic or 6x6 apps (we like square).

Vignetting with the WA/Macro combo

The magnet is quite strong and holds the lenses just fine. We always tune a bit to get the lenses centered. Here is how we carry them in the field:

Like little lens "Nuggets"

These lenses are fun to use and also can produce very nice images. Here are some of our results.






We like these lenses a lot and the image quality is surprisingly good. With square format and Hipstamatic we don't want to miss them anymore.


8/2/2011 Bracket Mode

If you take photos with the iPhone in brighter light you will either suffer from blown out highlights or bad noise in the shadows - or both :-).

There are many HDR applications for the iPhone (including the Apple original photo app). We did not find any app that helped with freehand shooting because they either don't align or do not align well enough (at least with our shaky hands). We know that many iPhone shooters want to get the final result from the phone itself. We do not expect this from any existing camera and let alone the iPhone. So we would be willing to do the alignment and blending later in Photoshop CS5 to get the shot. Unfortunately all the HDR apps we used did not allow to save the original photos for later processing.

The more we are pleased to learn about the app "Bracket Mode". It allows to take two bracketed exposures and saves them to the Camera Roll.

Bracket Mode screen

As you can see the screen shows two squares for exposure readings. Bracket Mode will then take two exposures with these two readings.

The shot based on the darker square will result in an overexposed shot with lots of clipping:

Clipped overexposed photo

The shot based on the lighter square will result in an underexposed shot with blocked shadows (watch the noise hides in these shadows):

We plan to write about our more detailed workflow soon. Here is a brief breakdown.

  • Take the shots (see above)
  • Load these photos into CS5 as a Layer Stack
  • Now you need to align your images. Sounds hard, right? Fortunately we have done our homework in the past. This article shows how to use world class alignment in Photoshop CS5 (not earlier versions).
  • We put the overexposed (and now also aligned) layer on top
  • Create a blending mask with our Script DOP Luma Mask Pro with these settings and tune down the opacity (at about 20%)

Layer Stack

Finally we use some Shadow/Highlight and get this result:

Final result

We like Bracket Mode a lot. It does some essential work in a very simple way.

Some Sample Images

So far we are quite pleased with this app.


7/26/2011 Issues with the iTunes "iPod Photo Cache"

What is a cache? It is a way to optimize programming so that these programs act faster by storing data without recomputing them all the time new. In general you should never be really aware that there are these caches (if we would all need to know about disk and processor caches computing would be a messy life). We assume they just work. Unfortunately not all caches have this kind of quality.

Here is what happened. Recently I tried to sync my photos from a folder structure to my iPad and iPhone. I got strange messages that some of my pictures could not be synced because my iPad/iPhone could not display them. I could not find anything wrong with these images. Also iTunes was not even that helpful to provide a list of these "bad" photos but showed the name of only one. Then I checked in Google and after some longer research I found this article about the "iPod Photo Cache" folder. This cache stores all your images in the correct resolution for your iPads/iPhones. For no obvious reason this cache had gone bad. Just deleting this folder helped. The cache was rebuilt at my next sync.

My problem was solved but I still don't understand how iTunes could implement such a fragile cache. The problem is not that the cache got bad but that iTunes did not detect the problem.

You have to love all these caches :-).


4/4/2011 almost DSLR

We just started looking more into video with the iPhone. Right aways we found the following issues using the iPhone camera app shooting video:

  • No focus lock (focus hunting on pans)
  • No exposure lock
  • No WB lock
  • LCD does not show the full frame because the buttons hide some parts
  • No image stabilzation

almost DSLR

Except of image stabilization for video it solves all our problems:

  • Focus lock: Select Focus lock and tap to focus
  • Exposure lock: Select Exposure Lock and double tap to set exposure
  • WB can be locked
  • LCD shows the full frame because the buttons are implementd as HUD

Great little app.


2/22/2011 Camera+

Camera+ provides some camera handling extensions and also post processing.

Note: We do not care much about post processing on the iPhone as we always like to do this later in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. This does not mean it maybe interesting for you. We personally do not like to work with limiting tools on the iPhone if not essential.

That is why we concentrate on some iPhone camera extensions featured with Camera+.

1. Separate points for focus and exposure metering

This is a major feature and convinced us to use Camera+ instead of the built in iPhone Camera application.

The iPhone Camera application has only one measure point for exposure control and focus at the same spot. Camera+ allows you to have two different spots.

Preserving highlights but blocking shadows (exposure point touches highlights)

Open shadows but badly clipped highlights (exposure point in the shadows)

As you can see Camera+ allows much better control over the exposure because the focus point is rarely the best way to control also the exposure. This feature alone is worth for us using Camera+. If you underexpose to avoid highlight clipping you will of course get more noise in the shadows. We use Lightroom to reduce some of this noise. Having clipped highlights is not really an option for us.

2. Stabilizer release

The iPhone has an internal motion detector (mainly for games). This allows Camera+ to wait for an instant of low shake to take the exposure.

There are many more features in Camera+ we do not cover here.

Highly recommended!

Camera+ Website.

1/22/2011 8mm Vintage Camera App

What Hipstamatic is to stills photography is this application for video.

  • Lots of fun
  • A good way to learn how to create a short story

We think it matches well with a historic place like San Juan Bautista.

Note: We shot in one of the color modes because the B&W we used was too grainy for our taste. We then converted to B&W in Final Cut Pro 7.

Very cheap for so much fun.

8mm Vintage Camera iTunes page

8/15/2010 Importing Images from the iPhone 4 into Lightroom 3

Our iPhones are treated by us like all the other cameras. Normally we import all images from SF/SD cards into Lightroom 3. As you know the iPhone does not have any CF/SD cards but stores the images on the internal flash memory instead.

Note: Also there are no RAW files available. All images are stored in JPEG or PNG (mainly screen shots).

Here is our workflow with the iPhone and Lightroom 3:

  • Setting up the Camera Connection in the iPhoto Preferences. We enable the Image Capture application (we show later why).

  • Connect the iPhone via the standard Dock to USB connector
  • The Image Capture application opens and shows the images from the iphone (ignore for now)
  • Select import in Lightroom 3
  • The iPhone shows up in the list of source devices and we select it

Notes: In our case there is no preview thumbnail of the image ready for import. This is an image shot with Hipstamatic and they do not include a preview thumbnail in there rendered JPEG files. You also need to know that you cannot import PNG images into Lightroom because they do not support this file format. We think Lightroom should also support PNG.

  • The most important task for us on import into Lightroom is to rename the images. Here is our renaming template

As with all our other images we want the filenames to be unique for all images.

Note: Because we have two iPhones we have also two different import templates. One phone uses "IP4" and the other one "IP4B" as part of the renaming template.

  • Select the import destination

Normally we have a new folder for each shoot and camera. For the iPhone we plan to use a single folder per month.

  • Deleting images on the iPhone

We could let Lightroom delete the images on the iPhone but find this not to be good idea. Deleting images should always be done as dedicated step to avoid any image loss. Here are some of our considerations:

  • We only delete images from a card or from the iPhone once these images are imported and also at least copied to two different disks.
  • For the iPhone 4 we also leave the last shot image on the phone because otherwise the iPhone restarts image numbering again at 1 (we hope this is a bug and not a feature)

Finally we remove images from the iPhone via the Image Capture application. As said we leave the last shot image (image with the highest number) on the phone.

We select all images (except the last) and click the small red delete button to delete all the images on the phone.


For us importing the iPhone photos into Lightroom 3 works very well. This way the iPhones are well integrated into our normal standard workflow.

8/10/2010 More iPhone from our San Luis Obispo Trip

On our recent trip to San Luis Obispo (280 miles round trip) we took quite a few images with our iPhones. Many were taken using the Hipstamatic app (read more below).

iPhone 4 Sample Gallery

8/5/2010 Hipstamatic for iPhone

Hipstamatic is a cheap app for the iPhone (3 and 4). It kind of mimics the bahaviour of a cheap plastic camera from the early 80th (read history here). The creators of the original Hipstamatic were artists. Using the Hipstamatic is artistic fun at its best.

The main viewfinder

Lens Selection

Film Selection

We don't want to tell too much about the application handling itself because:

  • very easy to learn
  • Exploring Hispamatic is part of the fun

Here are some photos we shot with the Hipstamatic

The following photo is from the iPhone without Hipstamatc. But this post processing (using our Texture Bleding scripts) is clearly inspired by our Hipstamatic work:


Note: We always shoot at maximum resolution (1936x1936 pixels).

Somtimes we would like the Hipstamatic to act faster (especially at high resolution) but we also could argue that this slowing down is yet annother fun element.

Verdict: If you own an iPhone and love photography you need Hipstamatic. It is just too much fun to miss.

Official Hipstamatic App Page

7/22/2010 More iPhone 4 Photos in our Gallery

As mentioned before the iPhone 4 and Texture Blending work very well together. The above photo uses selective blending.

7/20/2010 Getting Started

For a long time we avoided to get an iPhone because we did not want to pay that much for the phone contract. But we also realized that the iPhone can be a lot of fun to use for photography. Finally with the iPhone 4 we swallowed the bitter pill and got an iPhone with contract. As said the reason is actually not the phone but the camera for stills and video. This also includes some applications that run on the iPhone and even enhance the fun.

The new iPhone 4 features a 5MP camera with a tiny sensor (better forget about shallow depth of field). Actually it features a front and back camera. There is not much control about the exposure but this is ok for a P&S phone camera.

iPhone 4 Camera UI

What is our fascination with the iPhone 4?

  • Small & light
  • With us all the time
  • We always like the challenge to get some nice work out of such an "underdog" camera
  • iPhone photos work very well with our Texture Blending

We plan to cover in future segments our personal workflow and some fun apps for the iPhone. We do all our post processing in Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5.

Here are some of our early images taken with the iPhone 4:

Not much post processing done here

Not much post processing done here

B&W conversion of the close up

B&W conversion

Texture Blended version of the image before

First Conclusion

We find that having fun helps our photography to stay creative. The iPhone 4 very much gets the photo gear out of your way and this is fun for us. Time will tell what we can do with the iPhone for our work but we think we are at a good start.






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