Apple’s iPhone: can an app turn it into a camera for pros?


posted Monday, April 30, 2012 at 2:44 PM EST

The 645PRO app icon. Image provided by Jaggr. Click for the 645PRO website!If you've been around photography for any length of time, you'll doubtless have heard some variation on the truism that it's not the camera which makes the photo, it's the photographer. The theory is that a real pro can get a great photograph no matter what gear he or she is using. A new iOSapp from Belgian developer Michael Hardaker takes this theory and runs with it, claiming to turn Apple's iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S into tools suitable for professional and serious amateur photographers. (Of course, if you take the theory to its logical limit, a real pro should have been able to get the shot regardless; even a pinhole camera should have sufficed. Perhaps there should still be an element of the camera in the equation, after all!)

645PRO's interface, with the 'Classic' theme enabled. Screenshot provided by Jaggr.

645PRO's interface, with the 'Classic' theme enabled.
Screenshot provided by Jaggr.

The new app, which debuted a little over a week ago, is called 645PRO, and aims to present a more camera-like user interface, rather than one that feels like a computer program. The viewfinder display is shrunk somewhat, providing room around the edges for a variety of pseudo-dial, slider and button controls much like those you'd find on a real digital SLR, along with a generous info display that spans most of the screen width. The dials give access to a variety of aspect ratios and image styles, referred to as swappable backs and film looks, respectively. There are also two overall themes, which are known as bodies in the app's parlance.

An introduction to the 645PRO app's features.
Video provided by Jaggr / Vimeo.

645PRO goes beyond simply putting a pretty, photographer-friendly face on the iPhone's camera, though. It also offers features not present in the stock iOS 5.1 camera app, including readout of shutter speed and ISO sensitivity (the camera's aperture being fixed, of course), a choice of multi-zone and spot metering modes, white balance locking, an adjustable self-timer, adjustable JPEG compression, and even the ability to avoid compression artifacts and film looks altogether. This last doesn't save in raw format, but it does provide a losslessly-compressed TIFF file, maximizing out-of-camera image quality and providing the next best thing to a real raw file. There's also a live histogram function, letting you get a fair idea of whether your exposure is good before you capture the shot.

So... what do you think? Can software alone turn the iPhone into a useful, photographic tool for pros? Or perhaps you think it already merits that description, even with the stock camera app? Have your say in the comments below!

(via Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights)