Damn you, Indecision!

Down with low-res iPhone photos (for the most part)!

WTH? So now my only recourse is to crop the black boxes off of the photo and make it even smaller before reprocessing in any other app. Gee, thanks.

My second low-res gotcha was more my fault, but I would still like for this app to be updated with higher-res output.  I went out to the Alviso Marina park after running an errand and decided to take some abstract macro shots of the “famous” driftwood that’s out there (inside joke, sorry). On a whim I decided to use the Pinhole Cam app with the overexposed color film option. I *loved* the photos it produced! 

Great color and textures, almost made each photo look like actual film photos (not as soft/dreamy as real pinhole photos, but still). Imagine my dismay when I realized the photos were only 640x640px! So much for printing them out at any kind of substantial size. *sigh*

The third low-res fiasco happened when I updated Camera+ and was playing around with burst mode. I was mightily impressed by the rapid-fire shooting mode, but I think in the very back of my mind I thought there had to be a catch. In fact there was — burst mode drops your photo res to 640×480! GAH. Once again I had taken some cute photos of Pixel in this crinkle Santa hat toy I’d just bought, but had left Camera+ in burst mode, even though I didn’t need burst mode. Proceeded to edit one of the photos with Camera+ new filters, did a bit of tweaking afterwards in Filterstorm and was surprised how fast it processed the “large” photo and saved the results. 

Surprise, the photo I edited was 480×480 (since I had cropped it into a square)! GRRRRRRRRR…

The incident with Pinhole Cam was basically my fault. I just didn’t remember that its output was that small. I can go back to the driftwood and take more macro shots of it with other cameras or other apps. I hope the developer updates the app to have higher-res output because I do love the effect it gives to photos, especially the overexposed color film. 

As for Camera+, the developers should’ve made it clear SOMEWHERE that using burst mode drops your resolution down. I looked back at the revision notes in the App Store and the menu in Camera+ itself and didn’t see anything mentioning 640x480px. Feel free to correct me if I missed something. I mean, I’m not faulting them for making the mode itself, because with just about any camera that isn’t a DSLR, a really fast burst mode involves dropping the resolution down in order to speed up capture and saving. I know there are times when speedy capture could be more important than full resolution. However, not everyone knows this, and even more tech-savvy people can forget about the trade off, perhaps thinking that somehow Camera+ is doing some high-tech magic to save full-res photos in burst mode (NOPE). 

However, the thing with 100 Cameras in 1 and similar apps really gets my goat. Is it really so difficult to save off the full-res original when someone takes a photo from your app, or at least offer a menu option for doing so? ShakeItPhoto and many other photo apps do. It astounds me when a photo app released now doesn’t do this. It’s simply lazy programming. I know that the lower-res output of 100 Cameras is done specifically so that the effects processing is fast enough that you can swipe through all the previews and see the changes instantly. But not offering at least an option to save original, filterless photos taken within the app is just sloppy. An app like CameraTAN has options for 800px, 1200px, and original res so you as the user can choose whether it’s more important to have quick processing previews or slower processing at full resolution. Give me the option, don’t just assume I prefer speed over quality.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate all apps that only have low-res output. I like Instagram despite its low-res output. The community behind it is what appeals to me. I see it as a Flickr built for iPhone photos, though many people like to game the Popular board by uploading non-iPhone shots processed to the hilt in Photoshop, Lightroom, etc…. *rolling eyes* I would definitely prefer outputting a full-res filtered photo to my Camera Roll and saving the smaller version on their site to save the servers, though. And there are other apps that need to limit resolution to avoid incessantly long processing times (like many pano stitching apps). Other apps like Magic Shutter actually use the video camera so their resolution is limited to 1280×720 maximum. 

I understand the technical trade off and I appreciate that developers are trying to do cool stuff with the cameras that are pushing the technological boundaries. But when I take a cool photo of a fleeting moment and realize that it’s smaller than 1MP, that is infuriating, because a) I can’t replicate the photo later, and b) it is an absolute waste of the iPhone 4’s 5MP camera. In the case of Camera+, I guess I won’t ever be using burst mode for anything because it’s too easy to forget that you’ve left it in that mode. I actually may not be using it to take photos anyway because I don’t like needing to manually save photos to the Camera Roll. Pro Camera works better as a stock camera replacement. (I do like Camera+’s editing effects, though, so I’ll continue using those.) Otherwise, I guess the lesson to be learned here is if an app has the option of importing photos from the Camera Roll, ALWAYS do that, because then you can be sure you at least have a full-sized, unedited original to fall back on.

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