ClearCam for iPhone

A Couple of Classic iPhoneography Apps Get Surprising Updates

Occipital ClearCam for iPhoneClearCam and Vint B&W, two of iPhoneography’s oldest apps got surprising updates this week — surprising in that they were even updated at all. I’d seriously thought that both apps were end-of-lifed and I’m glad to see any development continue on both of these.

I’ll be covering Vint B&W in a separate post. The ClearCam update isn’t groundbreaking any more than it was were when it was brand now, but it’s gotten performance enhancements, bug fixes and now works nicely on the latest iPhones and iOS. Keep reading for more! >>>

ClearCam image size

ClearCam – When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be Big

ClearCam by Occipital is a camera app that promises clearer, sharper and sometimes larger images from any iPhone. It claims to eliminate the blur without “missing the moment”. It does so without waiting for an anti-shake setting to kick in. It claims to take clearer, sharper pictures with twice the resolution in enhanced mode.

Quick history lesson. ClearCam predates the App Store. Originally, it was only available in Cydia on jailbroken iPhones for about $10. ClearCam JB really did some amazing things to images — sharpening, enlarging, reducing noise. It created very impressive results on an old, muddy, noisy original iPhone camera.

It still does, even on the new 8MP iPhone 5. ClearCam is a camera app that shoots in two modes. Quick Mode shoots four exposures in rapid succession, analyzes them and saves the sharpest, clearest one to your camera roll.

That’s pretty cool in itself, but where the magic happens is in Enhanced Mode. There, ClearCam shoots six exposures quickly then stores them to a queue for you to later perform alignment and enhancing. The end result will be a great looking 18MP image shot with your iPhone. This workflow gets you back to shooting in about 6 seconds on an iPhone 5.

Enhanced Mode is not very fast, but it does some amazing things to your image. It’s a two pass process. First, the six images are automatically aligned. Then, they are combined and enhanced. This function preserves the detail and sharpness while minimizing the noise. Both of these functions need to be started by the user. I’m not sure why they have never been automated, but my hunch is that there is that the iPhone’s CPU is being asked to do a lot of work and it’s best for the user to choose when that’s done, rather than be at the mercy of the app.

Enhanced images are huge — 18 MP on an iPhone 5 and 4S. They are still sharp and vibrant. Even at the larger size, details look crisp and free from the pixelization of upsampling. There are no halos like those found in multi-image HDR photos. Images shot with ClearCam are sharp, vibrant, and BIG. Because of the number of exposures Enhanced Mode requires, it’s best suited for static subjects. Quick Mode, however, is ideal for capturing the best exposure of a moving subject.


ClearCam sample image showing detail area

ClearCam test image, detail

ClearCam 18MP test image, detail

Apple Camera 8MP image, detail

Apple Camera 8MP image, detail


Click to enlarge the two sample images above. The Apple Camera enlargement really shows the image breaking up and pixelating much more than in the same area from the ClearCam image. That clarity comes at a size premium, though. Each 18MP Enhanced image will use about 9MB of space on your iPhone, compared to the 1-2MB of the images from Apple’s Camera.

ClearCam works great on the new iPhones, but where it can really work some great magic is on devices with older or lower-resolution cameras. ClearCam can dramatically improve the quality of everyday photos from an older iPad and iPod Touch — the devices with the very low sub-2MP cameras. While it won’t perform miracles, shooting with ClearCam not only increases image size from these low-res devices, it also visibly improves image quality, helping to minimize the muddiness and noise that are characteristic of these cameras.

The previous update broke on my iPhone 4S. This update works smoothly, quickly and flawlessly on my iPhone 5 running the latest iOS.

I’m really glad to see ClearCam back in the App Store. I asked Jeffrey Powers from Occipital about the future of ClearCam. He answered “If the public reaction is good and sales improve, we have a lot of other fun ideas up our sleeve.  :)”

Once again, I recommend ClearCam if you are interested in taking supersized iPhone photos. The image quality you will get in-camera is unparalleled. If you own an iPad or iPod Touch, this is an essential purchase. It’s the single best camera app you can buy to easily improve the quality of your camera.

ClearCam is on sale now for a limited time for $0.99. It’s normally $1.99. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, iPad (4th generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini and iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular. Requires iOS 4.3 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.