Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting the most out of ClearCam

When I partnered with Occipital earlier this year to bring ClearCam to the App Store, one of the primary reasons was that I was completely frustrated by how many poor pictures I took with my iPhone - even my iPhone 4. Sure, a lot of them came out great, but a lot didn't. The real problem was that I couldn't get myself to the point where I actually trusted the camera to capture the moment.

What's most interesting to me, as the developer, is that all the hype around ClearCam has been about Enhanced Mode (generating sharper images with less noise and much higher resolution - up to 11MP). Don't get me wrong, I use and love enhanced mode for those once-in-a-lifetime photos, but the fact that it takes time to process means I don't use it for everyday shooting. So for that reason I thought it might be appropriate to create a blog post about how and when I use the different modes of ClearCam.

Quick mode I think seems pretty boring to most people. It captures a handful of photos and keeps the best. Big deal right? You can do that yourself! At the same time, it's one of the best tricks I know to get great photos on my iPhone consistently. Why? In the past, the way I'd get good photos is by taking a bunch and then later deleting the bad ones. The problem with that is that I didn't always do it because it was a pain. If I took multiple shots every time, and had to go through my photos and delete the bad ones every time, it wouldn't happen. ClearCam's quick mode is perfect for me for a couple of reasons:

1) Every time I take a photo, it is the best of a burst. By design, you can't do worse than the stock camera, and by our testing, you'll usually do much, much better. By using Quick Mode as your default, the quality of your pictures will go up dramatically - at least they do for me.

2) Blurry photos on the iPhone are a common occurrence. Why? Because the shutter on the sensor stays open to get enough light in and any movement in the scene can cause blur. This can be due to shaking the camera, but it can also occur if the subject in the scene is moving. Anti-shake sensors deal with the camera shaking, but for me trying to photograph my crazy 1 year old, it did nothing. She moves constantly. Quick mode analyzes the scene rather than the camera shake so it will only keep the shot where she was reasonably still (i.e. the clearest shot).

I use quick mode for almost all my iPhone photography. And I've bought and tried almost every other app out there. There are some good ones, but none that let me start with the best picture possible besides ClearCam. If it doesn't work for you, email me at twoteethtech at, and I'll invest some energy in the app to make sure it does.

Enhanced mode is good too - 11MP on your iPhone 4!?!? It's been validated as being legit at this point. We have many incredible reviews you can google. At the same time, it's a complete pain in the ass for me - it takes too long to be useful as a mode for everyday shooting. Keep your eye out for tweaks to make that mode easier to use.

Finally, when comparing ClearCam with the stock camera or your favorite photo app, keep a couple of things in mind.

1) If you compare two identical photos, make sure you zoom in on the detail. That's where you'll see the difference.

2) Any old app can take good pics in great light. To really see where ClearCam performs optimally, try taking some photos without perfect light and comparing.

The app is shaped by feedback from our users. Please email me at twoteethtech at with your input. I want better pictures from my iPhone/iPod and I know you do too.

Thanks for your support!

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