aE Camera Flash

aE Camera Flash

aE Camera Flash
Version 1.1

Updated: Bottom line: Avoid

Update 10/26/09: Originally, I gave this app a “Recommend” rating because I like the results and was hopeful that the developer would address my issues in future update. Unfortunately, other than leaving feedback in the app store (or possibly trying to phone them at their auto parts division), there’s no way to contact this developer. The app isn’t shown on their website, even though it’s at version 1.1. The email address for iPhone support bounces with a “User unknown in relay recipient table” error. I’ve tried several times over the course of the last few days.

While I like this app and feel that it offers unique results for the iPhone, right now I’m not feeling any level of commitment behind it from the developer. While I like how this app treats shadows and midtones, I feel that the image orientation bug is pretty major and without some feedback from the developer, I really can’t recommend this app any more until this bug is addressed.

My original review is below.

Of the flash apps I’ve tested, aE Camera Flash by BahnTech produces superior results for flash enhancement. According to the developer, the app was created with the input from an unnamed team which included a photographer, a director of graphic design for an unnamed international magazine, and a DSP expert from USC. Any time an app touts creds like that, I get leery.

Wow! I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

My flash app test images (click to enlarge)

My flash app test images (click to enlarge)

processed using aE Camera Flash

processed using aE Camera Flash

processed with aE Camera Flash 2

processed with aE Camera Flash

The color is good. The flash enhancement does an acceptable job with the highlights — better than most flash enhancement apps, although it’s not perfect. In the second test image above, for example, you can see some blown out highlights and loss of detail in the clouds. In this area, aE Camera performs better than many of the available apps, but still doesn’t handle some highlights as well as iFlashReady, FlashCam, or even Flash For Free. But when you also factor in shadows and midtones, I think the overall image enhancement of aE Camera is better than most.

Where I feel the app excels is handling shadows, 3/4 tones and midtones. It lightens the 3/4 tones and shadows without blowing them out. Overall image quality stays rich and not washed out. The app has an optional color normalizer that it applies images pre-flash, and I really think it makes a difference in the output.

The app has a built-in camera with a Big Button (full screen shutter release — always nice!) and you can also load and process images from your camera roll or image library.

Another nice touch is the separate jpg compression settings for saving and emailing. This allows you to email highly compressed yet lower quality images from within the app, while separately saving the high-quality version to your iPhone. The app does not downsample your images when it emails them, unlike Apple’s Photos app. aE Camera Flash is integrated with Apple Mail and your contacts and sends full-size 2MP images (or 3MP on an iPhone 3GS).

Unfortunately, in version 1.1, there are some bugs. I’d like to see these issues fixed and it would get an Excellent rating from me. It’s slow, very very slow. Everything this app does is slow except saving. I’d like to see them make the app do its magic faster. The crosshairs are centered in the visible area of the viewfinder. With the buttons on the bottom of the viewfinder, the crosshairs are not centered in the image as they really should be, potentially causing images that you shoot within the app to be off-center. Thankfully, the crosshairs can be turned off in the settings. Maybe tweak the algorithm to leave a little more in the highlights.

The biggest issue and one that’s a killer is that app changes the orientation of landscape (wide) images to portrait (tall) and vice versa. There’s no way to change this or fix it, either in the app or in Camera Roll. This is especially bad if you want to email an image that you took or processed with the app. What you get, what you import into iPhoto, what you email and what your our viewer will see is rotated 90° wrong.

Nothing can save a badly underexposed pic. As with all flash enhancers, don’t expect miracles.

The company that gave us Fingerprint Scanner actually produced an app with one of the better flash enhancement algorithms for the iPhone. Despite its bugs, the flash enhancement is really good and I hope they work out the bugs in the next release. aE Camera Flash has the potential to be among the best apps of its kind.


aE Camera Flash is $0.99 USD in the App Store.

App Store Link: aE Camera Flash