Why iPhone RAW is a Big Deal

iOS 10 brought the capability to get the RAW image data from the camera and save it as a DNG file. It elevates the quality of iPhone images to a whole new level (for those who care). The following image tells it all.

Click the image for actual pixels display on non-Retina screens

Click the image for actual pixels display on non-Retina screens

On the left is how the iPhone renders the image, on the right my version converted from DNG and tweaked to taste in Capture One. Both show the actual pixels (100% magnification). Red areas are the overexposed parts. The images were captured as RAW+JPG in the upcoming Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder 5.0, so they represent the exact same moment.

With shooting RAWs you can avoid most of the pitfalls of iPhone image processing (I know them from experience):

  • Over-sharpening, which ruins images with already high contrast edges, such as tree branches against the clear sky.
  • Excessive noise reduction – usually on an unnecessary level, even at ISO 25. You know, the blotchy look at 100% which looks downright ugly.
  • Unrealistic color. Apple processes the images for punch, which is good for making your friends envious on social networking sites, but is a problem when you want to actually use them (the images, not your friends) as real photographs.
  • Sometimes overdone light falloff correction. You know, when the sky is brighter in the corners than in the center.

You also get more headroom for recovering overexposed areas (they are also better by default because of the lower contrast), but on the other hand you need to correct corner light falloff by hand.

To my eye the difference is so large that I won’t use JPGs any more when I’m photographing with the iPhone (which happens a lot, since it’s always in my pocket). No, they are not challenging DSLR (or even large sensor point and shoot) quality, but are way more usable than the JPGs.

Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder 4.7 Released

IMG_0050My Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder app is now available on the App Store.

The major new feature is the ability to create a custom wide converter, on which I posted recently.

Other than this, we have added support for a few newly released cameras:

• Canon ME20F-SH
• Fujifilm X-T2
• Hasselblad X1D-50c
• Pentax K-70
• Sony A6300, SLT-A68

This is a free update for existing Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder owners.

As you can see on the left, we offer upgrade bundles for former Viewfinder Basic/Pro/Cine edition owners, so they can upgrade for a reduced price.

Please note that if you have ALPA eFinder II, the custom wide converter feature, as well as the new cameras are only available if you also purchased the Camera Pack.

ShutterCount on iPhone and iPad

My ShutterCount app is now available on iOS!

It runs on 64-bit devices running iOS 9 or later (that is: iPhone 5s or later, iPod touch 6, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later, iPad Pro).

Since Apple does not provide a way to control a camera via USB from an iOS device, ShutterCount Mobile relies on Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection and thus supports cameras having one of those. Either built-in, or utilizing an external Wireless File Transmitter.

So at the moment it will work with the following Canon EOS cameras: 6D, 70D (using built-in Wi-Fi); 5D Mark III, 7D Mark II (using WFT-E7 transmitter); 1D X, 1D C (using built-in Ethernet or WFT-E6 transmitter).

Feature-wise it is equal with the Mac version – besides a simple reading it sports history logging, with the ability to copy the logs into Apple’s Numbers or Microsoft Excel. Plus you can access these logs through iTunes file sharing.

Because of the network connection required to the camera, you’ll need to do an extra step before the reading – pair the app and the camera. ShutterCount relies on the camera’s more advanced EOS Utility connection mode (and thus will not work with the simple smartphone connection mode). Mind this when establishing the connection.

I’ve recorded a short video showing the entire pairing and reading procedure between an iPod touch and my EOS 7D Mark II. The camera is connected through a Canon WFT-E7 transmitter using an Ethernet cable to our office network, while the iPod is connected to the same network via Wi-Fi.

Towards the end of the video I make three test shots and power cycle the camera to show the updated shutter count. Note that the camera needs some time to register itself on the network, and that pairing needs to be done once – the next time the app will automatically recognize the camera.

This automatic connection remains in effect until you either pair the camera to another app (Kuuvik Capture for example), turn off the network connection on the camera, or quit (I mean force quit, pressing the Home button is not enough) the app on the iPhone/iPad.

You may want to read my previous post on Canon EOS camera pairing and the ShutterCount FAQ for additional pairing tips.

ShutterCount Mobile is available on the App Store for $2.99 / €2.99.

Viewfinder 4.4 with 3D Touch and iPad Pro Support

Version 4.4 of the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder is now available on the App Store.

Besides the usual bunch of new wide converter profiles and cameras (detailed in the release notes), the two main new features are 3D Touch and iPad Pro support.

I already wrote about 3D Touch home screen Quick Actions in a sneak peek.

On the iPad Pro front, the app now takes advantage of the entire, huge screen. User interface elements remain the same size as on all full-sized iPads. This is to let the content occupy the majority of the screen real estate.

vf-ipad-pro

We also checked all the wide converters we have on the Pro, and were able to mount the Moment wide lens (both the iPad Air 2 and iPhone 5s clips fit). So this version adds support for the Moment wide lens/iPad Pro combination. More wide converters will be supported as their manufacturers come out with iPad Pro compatible versions.

Speaking of wide converters. Schneider is lagging behind again with iPhone 6s/6s+ support. We were able to use the 6 case on the 6s, so that’s in this release. But there’s no 6s Plus case yet.

Version 4.4 is a free update for existing Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder owners. Users of former Viewfinder Basic/Pro/Cine editions can upgrade for a reduced price.