Slow Shutter Cam for iPhone

Slow Shutter Cam sample image

Slow Shutter Cam
Version 1.1
Price: $1.99

Rating 4 stars

Bottom line: The excellent motion blur effects make this app worthwhile despite not supporting full resolution.

Slow Shutter Cam for iPHone[UPDATED 10.19.10 @14:45]

Slow Shutter Cam by Cogitap Software is an app that simulates control over exposure and shutter speed. The long exposures and slow shutter effect can be used to compensate for low-light situations. Where the app excels, though, is its ability to create some really superb blur effects.

Slow Shutter Cam does not actually change the shutter speed of the iPhone’s camera, which is fixed. Through software magic, it mimics the camera effects available with a variable shutter.

The app has some flaws, but it also creates some really great effects that I’ve seen no other app produce. It’s one of those rare photography apps that creates effects that few others are capable of, and it does it easily and with better results.

It’s a fairly straightforward camera. There’s a setting to use the iPhone’s entire screen as a big-button shutter release. There’s an available countdown timer. There are seven available shutter speeds — 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and 25 seconds. Select the shutter speed and release the shutter to get your shot. The iPhone photographs for the specified time. There are two separate audible beeps to indicate shutter “open” and “close.”

By duplicating the slow shutter speeds and various “Bulb” settings from a film camera, Slow Shutter Cam can be used to create some incredible motion blurs and light trails. You can now create true motion blur shots in-camera on your iPhone. The camera works in both normal and low-light situations. You can easily create light trails in-app.

Although apps like the excellent FocalLab do a good job of recreating motion blur, shooting a motion blur in-camera produces better results. FocalLab simply blurs everything from the center of your image. Slow Shutter Cam only blurs what moves in your frame.

slow shutter cam-low light image

Slow Shutter Cam: low light photo

By disabling the Shutter Priority setting, you can push your iPhone’s low-light capabilities. Using the longer shutter speeds, the app can “grab more light” from very dark scenes. There is an +/-2EV exposure compensation setting to help adjust further under low light conditions. The app itself performed well in low light, but due to the limitations that the iPhone’s camera produces a lot of noise under low-light situations, I was less pleased with the results I got from using the app in darker conditions. Images got very noisy pretty quickly, but again, this is a limitation in the hardware itself. It takes some experimentation to get colors looking decent. It wasn’t easy to get the camera to see the colors I was seeing in low-light situations.

It’s not a full resolution app. Maximum image size is 1024×768 — not ideal, but usable in many situations. You can make good quality prints of about 4″x5″ and larger prints with acceptable quality. I’d like to see this increased in a future update, but I suspect that this app is already pushing the CPU power of the iPhone, especially the slower 2G and 3G models.

Slow Shutter Cam artifacts

The image quality itself isn’t ideal. Examining the images in Photoshop reveals some artifacts and pixelization that look like the app performs image interpolation to get to 1024×768 pixels. These artifacts are barely noticeable in images with lots of blur, which is the purpose of the app. But, they are pretty apparent, though, in areas of the photo that don’t have blur. The app’s medium resolution and the issues with pixelization are things you should consider before purchasing this app.

[UPDATE: The new 1.3 update addresses the resolution issue. The app now supports up to 1440×1920 pixels on an iPhone 4 — quite a nice bump in size, and definitely a usable resolution. =M= ]

A tripod isn’t necessary but having one handy is nice to help stabilize the iPhone and get sharper details in the non-blur parts of your images.

I’ve seen a few other slow shutter apps available, but none appear to work as easily or as well as Slow Shutter Cam. For me, despite the flaws and shortcomings of the app, I like the blur effects enough to give it four stars, the “I like it a lot” rating. The ability to easily create impressive motion blur effects make Slow Shutter Cam a good app to have in your iPhone’s camera bag.




Related links: FocalLab