Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gorillacam Review

Developer: http://joby.com/gorillacam
Available: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/gorillacam/id342972390?mt=8

If you're into the world of photography, then you've likely come across a Gorillapod in the wild before. Its a small and very flexible tripod that has become very popular in recent years. It's make, Joby, brings us this iPhone app: Gorillacam. This app is essentially a new interface for you iPhone camera with extra functions and settings that could be integrated by software. Installing the app from iTunes puts a separate Gorillacam shortcut on your home screen so this app won't replace or change your iPhone's default camera interface. Starting the app enables the camera and, like the default interface, displays a full screen viewfinder a bottom edge overlay.

The default interface is simple enough. There's a shutter button in the center, a shortcut to your photo albums on the right, and access to settings on the right. Parallel to the left edge is also a digital zoom bar. For the most part, everything is where it is in the default iPhone camera interface. Digging into the settings however is where the meat of this app is.

Poping up the settings reveals a wealth of new features.
At the top you've got a timer. Enabling this puts a second button left of your shutter button that allows you to set the delay of the timer. Pretty much ever useful time interval is there starting with 3 seconds up to 90. Second you got a time-lapse feature. This allows the camera to take a number of pictures over a certain time period automatically. This feature is mutually exclusive with the timer and selecting it will also put a new button left of your shutter for specific settings. With this you can choose the number of shots you want your phone to take in total and the time between each shot. Very simple and intuitive.

A very handy feature included in Gorillacam is anti-shake. This uses data from your iPhone gyrosensor to help counteract camera shake. Three sensitivity levels are available for this but I see no real reason not to have it on the max all the time. This feature is also mutually exclusive to the timer and time-lapse but that shouldn't be a problem because if you use those features, you'll undoubtedly have to have the phone on a tripod anyway.

For screen overlays, there's both a bubble level and a rule of thirds grid which are handy if you want perfectly level horizons or want to potentially reduce the amount of cropping you'll need after to get the composition you want. Finally there's a setting that will allow you to activate shutter by tapping anywhere on the screen and a toggle to set your shutter to a three shot burst. This is not very useful giving the extremely low 1 fps of the camera. The camera won't refocus between shots either so sport or actions shots aren't really its purpose.

Along with these features are a host of new universal settings. If you're low on storage space you can change the size of taken photographs to 1600x1200 or 800x600 resolutions. These work by re-interpolating a full-size image rather than using less effective pixels from the sensor so image coverage won't change. There's a separate setting to downsize only the emailed version of the picture which is thoughtful to say the least. Additional settings to toggle are the zoom bar, the location of the zoom bar, and the countdown alarm.

Selecting the photo-albums shortcut brings you to your pictures directory. The layout is similar but not equal to the iPhone default photo viewer layout and there are some bugs with the iPhone 4 preventing pictures from rotating. Viewing a picture allows you to email it to someone instantly with the option in the upper right corner. The picture will be automatically attached for you so you'll just have to fill in the address etc. This uses the iPhone's default mail interface so everything is the same. Again very handy.

There is only one real downer in this app and that's that it does not yet support HDR, video, and the iPhone 4's led flash. It won't be replacing your iPhones default camera interface just yet but is certainly an app worth to use in parallel. This isn't the only app of it's kind that adds these features but it is definitely one of the most complete. It's professionally made with a clean interface and sensibly placed settings. Everything you can't do has a reason (ie. enabling time-lapse and anti-shake at same time) and everything you can do can be done easily. Beyond the photo-albums, I've come across no bugs in this app at all so I would say there is no reason not to have this app. After all, it's free!

Runs on iOS 4.1: Yes
HD for retina display: No
Price: Free
Overall rating: Excellentsavesavesave

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