Technical Camera : Focusing

Technical Camera provides there focusing modes: Continuous AF (the default), Single AF, and Manual Focusing.

In automatic modes focus is calculated for the AF point (the whitish circle, marked with 2 on the screen shot below), which you can move by tapping the screen at the desired position.

Focusing controls

In Continuous AF the app continuously updates focus. The focusing/focus lock key (indicated with 1 on the screen shot) displays FL in this case (as in Focus Lock). Tapping the function key will lock focus, which will be re-engaged again when the lock is turned off by tapping the key again.

In Single AF mode (which you activate by turning off the Continuous AF option in the menu) focusing is only engaged if you tap the screen to relocate the AF point; or tap the focusing/focus lock key (which changes its title to AF in this focusing mode).

You can hide the AF point when focusing is not in progress if the circle happens to interfere with your vision. Just set the Show AF Point preference in the menu to During AF Only.

Manual Focus is initiated by the vertical drag gesture. The gesture is described in the Exposure Control post, so if you haven’t done so, I recommend you to read it now. In Continuous AF mode it activates focus lock as soon as the beginning of the gesture is detected (that is you tap and hold the side of the screen assigned to manual focusing). You need to re-engage Continuous AF by turning the lock off.

There are two things that become active during the focusing vertical drag gesture: focus peaking and the focusing distance indicator. Both will turn off as soon as you lift your finger from the screen.

The screen shot above shows how the app looks during manual focusing. Black and white mode is also active, because it’s easier to see the colored peaking this way. In real life black and white mode is not turned on automatically during manual focusing.

You can choose the color of peaking via the menu, since no single color suits all situations. The available choices are green (the default), yellow, white and magenta.

The focusing indicator is the vertical bar displayed on the left side of the AF point (see the magnified screen shot on the right).

The white dot in the track indicates the position: the higher the point the farther the camera is focusing. There’s no scale, though. Apple warns developers that the distance values iOS provides can’t be mapped to actual distances in meters or feet, so a scale is missing for this reason.

As parting tip, let me share how I use manual focusing. Lifting your finger from the screen might change the device’s position and thus the focusing distance. To avoid this situation, you can take a picture while your finger is on the screen during manual focusing. I usually do the focusing with my right index finger, and tap the shutter button with my left thumb.

Technical Camera : What’s Coming?

Technical Camera is available for a few days now, and I’m exceptionally glad to see how much people like it. Feature requests and questions also began pouring in, so I think it’s time to talk about what’s coming (and what’s not).

But first let’s talk about the concept. Technical Camera is designed to be a sleek, efficient (dare I say minimalistic?) app, and we absolutely want to keep it that way. That’s why people immediately fell in love with it. We carefully design, evaluate, prototype each feature that goes into our apps. And most of the time do it several times to find the best approach. This is how we always did it. With the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder, Kuuvik Capture, and now with Technical Camera. But this means that we have to draw a line for each release, otherwise we’ll eternally develop something that never sees the light of day.

The very first release of Technical Camera contains what we and our beta testers found essential for professional use. Of course the planned and working-on-it feature list is much longer, but had to draw that line. And now we’re listening to you, and asking you to let us know what’s missing that is important to your work.

So while in general we do not comment or make promises on future features, I’m going to mention what are the most requested features (in order of number of requests) that we plan to add into future (free) updates of Technical Camera.

1) Flash is number one by a huge margin. And while we still feel that the best way to improve mobile photography is to avoid using flash, there are numerous technical uses where we also feel the need. So it’ll come!

2) White balance control.

3) Self timer. This is actually a part of a broader feature group we’re working on, but let me keep it as a surprise.

4) Exposure sequences. We are working on a new exposure sequence controller that is destined to go into all our future photography apps. Technical Camera is one of those waiting for that module to get completed.

It is equally important (if not more important) to talk about what’s not coming. There are two sub-categories here: “never gonna happen” and “undecided”.

While one should never say never, this category is where we feel that a feature clashes with the concept and core principles of the app. Or with our opinions on the world. Selfies, video, live photos, fancy filters, editing, AI-servants-doing-what-one-should-learn are in this group. So don’t ask for these. There are other apps out there doing these very well. Especially professional video capture.

We are undecided on HDR and pano mode.

There’s one more thing I should mention. Some people even asked to replicate functionality X from app Y. That’s never ever gonna happen. Under no circumstances. First, because we respect the intellectual property of other developers, and second, because we strongly believe that we can do it better for our users.

So let us know what you miss, and what problems you face in your photography workflow to be able to make Technical Camera an even better fit for your needs!

Technical Camera : Highlight & Shadow Alert

Highlight and shadow alert is a very straightforward feature of Technical Camera. As the name implies, it warns you when highlights are going to be blown and shadows are about to go detail-less black.

Highlight alert in action

For example, the red highlight alert indicates that the Sun in blown on the image above. I also used Black & White mode as the alert is more visible this way, but of course the feature works with color images. The shadow alert’s color is blue. Both alerts operate on the luminance information of the image.

You can turn these alerts on and off either via screen options (tap the rectangle in the corner, then use the exclamation mark icon – shown in this post), or by assigning the Toggle Highlight & Shadow Alert (HS) function to a Smart Function Key and using the function key.

Of course the warnings are displayed on the live viewfinder image only, they are not saved into final images.

I find these alerts indispensable for shooting on an iPhone, because it tends to overexpose images and blow highlights.

Technical Camera is available now on the App Store, at a 30% discounted price until June 14, 9:00AM CEST.