Artist’s Viewfinder 6.0 Released

The latest update to the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder is now available on the App Store. There’s a lot that changed under the hood, while the time-tested user interface remains the same.

Familiar on the surface, new beneath.

Version 6.0 inherits the FastPath imaging engine from my Technical Camera app. It handles live view, capture, encoding, decoding and display – with higher performance, less memory consumption, and extended metadata capabilities, like copyright information and GPS altitude. Previews embedded into RAW captures are now full resolution, as well as black & white and distortion corrected when you use those settings. And the DNG files support wide color and comply with the TIFF/EP specification (that is, have a full resolution preview and a low resolution thumbnail) for better integration into professional workflows.

Similarly, protective metering and our own auto-exposure calculation component makes an appearance here. The latter is responsible for the Auto ISO feature, which makes the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder way more usable in low light conditions, landscape photographers usually find themselves in. Just flip the Allow Slower Speeds switch on.

Lastly from display related things, selectable frame rate (20/25/30Hz) is also available in the Mark II (it’s in the Advanced sub-menu). This replaces the former Power Saver display processing mode, 20Hz being recommended for power saving. 25Hz is here to avoid interference artifacts with indoor lighting running on 50Hz mains frequency.

On the usability and convenience front, Smart Function Key assignment is now available via a long tap on the button you want to assign. The album for auto-export can be selected from a list of existing albums, and the Catalog Viewer displays the last captured view. Haptic feedback (on devices having this feature) and sounds can be turned off, so that you can operate the app in complete silence. All these bring Artist’s Viewfinder in parity with the advancements we made in Technical Camera.

As usual, this release is full of new cameras, backs and wide converter profiles. You can find the complete lists in the release notes.

Version 6.0 is a free update for existing Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder owners. New user can purchase the app from the App Store. The app is also available in the Photographer’s Toolkit bundle, which contains the Mark II, Technical Camera and ShutterCount Mobile, for a price less than Artist’s Viewfinder and Technical Camera would cost purchased separately.

The updated Viewfinder Handbook is also available now.

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. And of course peaking can be disabled completely.

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 Available Now

Technical Camera is available now on the App Store!

Quite a few users reported that pre-orders did not work on iOS 10.3, and they unable/unwilling to update to iOS 11 because of several reasons. So we provide a 2 day introductory price period, until June 14, 9:00AM CEST.

To get started with the app, I recommend to read my how-to posts. More of them is on the way.

Enjoy!

Technical Camera : Wide Converter Support

There are occasions when the iPhone camera is not wide enough. A handful of companies (Moment, olloclip, Schneider, Zeiss – just to name  a few) realized that this is an issue, and started making converter lenses that let you shoot wider. These lenses fall into two categories: 1) well corrected for distortion – like the Moment or Zeiss, and 2) uncorrected.

With the latter group you have severe barrel distortion. We started experimenting with these lenses for use with the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder back in 2013. The barrel distortion basically made them unusable for simulation purposes, so we came up with a solution that’s unmatched even five years later. Maybe because it needs a lot of effort and is quite costly to implement.

The technology behind the solution is real-time distortion correction, and the associated thing in both Artist’s Viewfinder and Technical Camera is Wide Mode.

Let me show it in action before going deeper (veteran Artist’s Viewfinder users can skip this, as it’s exactly the same thing you’re used to in that app).

The top/left half of the image is what you get when attaching an uncorrected converter lens. The lower/right half is what you’ll end up after turning on Wide Mode.

This kind of correction is really important if you want to take architecture or real estate pictures – it may separate an amateurish looking image from a professional looking one.

Since distortion correction is done in software, edges of the resulting image may become soft. This is more pronounced with wider (0.5x-class) converter lenses. One possible mitigation (depending on planned image use) is using JPG Half or JPG Quarter image size for your album.

To use a converter lens with Technical Camera, you need to tell the app which lens you are using with the Wide Converter item in the menu. This will select the appropriate correction profile and conversion factor. We make dedicated profiles for each supported converter/phone combination (this is why it’s a costly endeavor). The list of profiles is continuously expanding, so if you miss something, please let us know.

We also measure the exact conversion factor for the profiles (which is usually more conservative that manufacturers tend to advertise). In Technical Camera this number is used for displaying Framing Previsor corners correctly.

But since we can’t cover every single lens on the market, there’s another neat thing: you can create a “custom converter” yourself. Since the process is exactly same for both apps, I’m not going to replicate here what I wrote about this feature when it was introduced in Artist’s Viewfinder – but I recommend you to read that post.

Ok, you have a converter selected. The lens is already attached to the phone. What’s next?

You have to activate Wide Mode. This is done with either the WIDE icon among camera options (accessed by tapping the circle icon in the corner – shown below).

Wide Mode icon on Camera Options

Or by assigning the Toggle Wide Mode (W) function to a Smart Function Key and operating that key.

That’s it. Until you turn Wide Mode off, the viewfinder, saved JPG images, and even preview images saved in RAW files will be distortion corrected.

All functions (exposure, focus, etc) operate the same way in Wide Mode, with the exception of digital zooming, which is disabled.

Technical Camera is available for pre-oreder now on the App Store, at a 30% discounted price. It will be released tomorrow.