iPhone stock camera
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Role: Graphic design, user interface design, logic design, prototyping, etc.
Duration: 3 weeks
Type: App optimization
Is iPhone the best phone in 2020? That depends. But is the image quality that comes out of iPhone the best 2020? That might be true.
On October 13, 2020, Apple announced its new iPhones. The revolutionary improvement made iPhone the best phone camera in the world again. Apple also released an update for creators who want to have more control over photos - Apple ProRAW. Apple ProRAW is a raw format photo like what professional cameras have. With Apple ProRAW, creators have higher flexibility to manipulate photos than the normal ones. From this action, we can foresee that Apple intends to pay attention to professional creators.
I am a professional photographer and I know cameras. We as creators always want to know what setting we have in a photo. iPhone’s stock camera app is great. It definitely gave us more choice after the Apple ProRAW release.
But is that enough for us? Should the stock camera app give us more professional settings? What can the app improve?
Here are 3 content creators. All of them own multiple professional cameras and have been shooting photos and videos for years.
Recently, they have deeply tested the new camera app on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Let’s hear what they have to say.
Although the stock camera app is good enough for most people, there are limitations that creators don’t like. In this section, we will be discussing 5 features that the stock camera has. If you don’t understand those terms, I have put a simple explanation for you. The first 3 features are the core computational technology that the stock camera app has.
iPhone compose 9 images to sharpen details. There is no indication when it kicks in.
High dynamic range. With HDR, your face won’t be dark and the sky won’t be blown out. There is no indication when it kicks in.
When the light condition is not optimized, Night mode kicks in with a longer exposure. This makes images cleaner and more clear. Users can choose to turn it off.
Apple’s special RAW file. Unlike the normal Raw file, it contains the result of the computation, including the 3 features above
The only way to do long exposure is when the Night mode trigger is triggered. The waterfall photo below is a long exposure effect. Normally it take a lot of professional gears to take.
Here is a comparison on the Normal photo mode and portrait mode. The purpose of this chart is to show the limitations that the stock camera app has.
To conclude, ProRAW is not working on the portrait mode, therefore, we can’t get a raw file with a shallow depth of field. Other features have constrains on different lenses and we can't fully control.
Why don’t we just use the 3rd party app to gain full control of the camera? The chart reflects the reason.
As we can see, the 3 major computational technology on the stock camera app are not supported by the 3rd party apps.
Those killer features helped most people to shot beautiful photos without further editing. Even manual control is the ultimate feature we want, but we are giving up the benefit that we had in the stock camera app.
The new design intends to give users more control options so that users can get their desire result. Meanwhile, users shouldn’t worry too much about the setting. In case users miss important moments.
The design principle might be the most important part of this project. Without rules, the design won’t make sense. There are 3 principles I will follow with the new design.
No Manuel control
As you can see, I didn’t mention terms like aperture, iso, and shutter speed because most users don’t understand that.
This principle has confirmed in the interview of Jon McCormack - Vice President, Camera Software Engineering at Apple.
“As photographers, we tend to have to think a lot about things like ISO, subject motion, et cetera,” McCormack said “And Apple wants to take that away to allow people to stay in the moment, take a great photo, and get back to what they’re doing.”
- Jon McCormack
He explained that while more serious photographers want to take a photo and then go through a process in editing to make it their own, Apple is doing what it can to compress that process down into a single action of capturing a frame, all with the goal of removing the distractions that could possibly take a person out of the moment.
Follow the original design
The design will be focusing on new features. I will follow the up-to-date camera design style, such as font and graphics. I will try to follow the Apple Human Interface Guidelines and make use of a similar icon style.
Easy to use
Although the new design of the professional mode is for a small portion of people, anyone can understand how to use it by simply play around with the app.
1. RAW → PRO mode
Originally, users can activate the ProRAW button in the setting, here we change the “RAW” to “PRO”
Tap to activate the Pro mode
2. RAW switch
The ProRAW can be active in the pull-up menu. The reserve setting for the ProRAW is off. Anyone who needs more data for post-editing can activate it.
Swipe up to see the options
Tap to activate the ProRAW
3. HDR switch
Users can choose to force start the HDR or turn it off. The reserve setting for HDR is Auto.
Tap "HDR" to see options
This is when the HDR is on
4. Long exposure
Long exposure is available. There are 2 ways of long exposure.
1. When the light condition is good enough, the iPhone takes multiple images and stack them together. It’s not typical long exposure but has a very similar effect.
There will be 4 stops at this situation: Off, 1s, 3s, Max.
Max exposure time depends on whether the camera is on a tripod (iPhone has the algorithm for this, it’s been using on the Night mode), it could be 5s or 10s. The reason why set the max as 10s is because the massive image data computation costs a lot of battery life. 30s would be too long.
2. When the light condition is not optimal, Night mode will replace the long exposure. Instead of the original 3 stops: Off, Auto, and Max, I will put one more stop: Long, between Auto and Max. The range of auto is normally 1-2 seconds. “Long” will the 2-5 seconds. Max works the same as before.
Knowing these 2 ways helped us to set stops of the long exposure mode. But users don’t have to know.
Slide to set exposure
Exposure time appears on the top
Max exposure could be 10s
5. Adjust aperture
There will be an option for users to adjust the aperture to get the effect like portrait mode.
Slide to active the feature
Adjust the aperture
Since we have 3 more options in the pull-up menu, we may want to remove some of the irrelevant options such as "Aspect ratio" and "Filter." These 2 options can be used in the post-editing process and don’t affect the photo shoot.
About Deep Fusion
We don’t know when Deep Fusion will be activated. Since this is a good algorithm for most photos, we will leave the decision to the system.