Review: Analog Camera for iPhone

The built-in camera app of the iPhone does a good job. We have tap to focus and intelligent exposure. If you want to focus manually and change exposure levels, then you’re out of luck. A camera app, which includes those features, could understandably end up with a pretty complicated user interface. Fortunately, that isn’t the case with Analog Camera, from the makers of the popular to-do app Clear. Manual focusing and exposure levels are only a few swipes away.

Analog Camera opens with an animated tutorial video, which is just as well because its minimal user interface doesn’t give many clues. That’s a good thing as long as you’re the sort who enjoys minimalistic designs, who isn’t?

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The camera interface is presented on top of the photo gallery. A quick downward swipe dismisses the camera and takes you to the photo gallery. This vertically scrolling grid of thumbnails is split into two: the camera roll and your iCloud photo stream. Switching between the two just needs a vertical swipe. Given the two dimensional dynamics of this interface, it took me a while to get my bearings. The key is to look at the bottom of the screen, where each gallery is clearly labelled.

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Tapping the camera icon, or swiping upwards (reversing the earlier gesture) will bring the camera interface back. The camera interface has an animated tutorial too as its features are deceptively complex. By default it is fully automatic, it will focus and set exposure levels for the central region of the sensor. Tapping once on the screen will replace the square target sight of the automatic mode with a combined circular and square target sight. This can be dragged around on the screen, and the camera will focus and expose for whatever you have placed the square target on.

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The viewfinder in Analog-Camera is a square, and at first I assumed this was just a cropped view and that I would get a full 4:3 ratio image, but no, the images captured by this app are 2292×2291 pixels.

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A two finger tap reveals the secret weapon of Analog Camera. That is two targeting sights! Moving the circular target around sets exposure for whatever it is placed over, and focus is controlled by moving the square target. This dual control mode gives an incredible amount of freedom and control. In the past, both with point and shoot stand-alone cameras and even Symbian smartphones, that control has been there, but through menus and slide bars. Analog- Camera gives something that is almost as in-depth but far more intuitive and quicker to use than other more technical camera interfaces I’ve used. However, it is missing features such as ISO sensitivity and white balance.

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Once you’ve taken a photo, you can open it from the camera roll or photo stream (within the Analog Camera app), when you do you are presented with several tiles. A three by three group offers several Instagram-like filters. The others are intended for sharing to social networks and other apps installed on your device.

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Overall, Analog-Camera offers great value for money if you want a camera app that lets you be more creative and have more control over the final image. The only thing that stops me from suggesting this as a full-on replacement to the built-in camera app is the 1:1 aspect ratio of captured images.

➤ Download link ($0.99)

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