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 : 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!