Halide for iOS Review: An intuitive camera app which offers a lot of control and some neat features

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posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 1:00 PM EST

 
 

The built-in camera app on iPhone is fine for many purposes, especially for capturing quick shots. However, it does not offer the user much in the way of control. There are numerous third-party apps which aim to put the photographer in control of their iPhone’s built-in camera in ways the native camera app does not. A new app that fits the bill is Halide by Chroma Noir. The app is developed by Ben Sandofsky and Sebastiaan de With. Sandofsky is a former tech lead on Twitter for iPhone, iPad and Mac. Sebastiaan de With is a former designer for Apple.

I like having my iPhone with me for capturing shots while out and about. I don’t always want to carry my dedicated camera gear and the iPhone does a good job at capturing nice images in many situations. As a photographer, however, I dislike the built-in camera app on iOS because it doesn’t offer me control over my photos. I’m regularly on the hunt for new camera apps and Halide caught my eye last week, so I purchased it and have been experimenting with it.

 
A RAW image captured by Halide and then processed in Photoshop.

Halide includes numerous cool features including:

  • Intuitive gesture-based user interface
  • Manual focus and focus peaking
  • Manual controls over exposure, ISO and white balance
  • Live histogram
  • RAW image capture
  • Grid overlay and built-in level
  • Intelligent automatic mode

It is worth pointing out that focus peaking, live histogram and RAW capture features require an iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 or iPhone SE. The other features work on iPhone 5 and newer models.

The gesture-based user interface is excellent. The built-in camera app may not be versatile, but it is easy to use, and Halide achieves the same ease of use without removing control. The app is organized well, although you can reorganize buttons at the top if you so desire. Sliding up and down on the display adjusts exposure compensation and sliding down from the top of the screen brings up manual controls. It looks great and works well.

 
The user interface in Halide is very nice, especially the live histogram and gesture-based controls.

The live histogram works very well, but the focus peaking feature leaves something to be desired. Manual focus itself is fine and works well – although the iPhone’s autofocus works well in most cases, in my experience – but the focus peaking is not sensitive enough to be of much help when manually focusing.

Another issue I have with Halide is that it does not allow full access to your photos, but rather only shows the most recent image added to your phone’s Photos app. It’s annoying to have to leave the app to review multiple photos. For users who want quick filters, such as black and white, there is no option for that within the app.

Ultimately, Halide is a pretty good app with a great user interface and some neat features, but it does feel incomplete in its current state. Nonetheless, it’s a promising app and there’s a lot here to like. Halide is available now for $2.99, although the price will be increasing shortly.

Halide for iOS