obscura camera

Obscura Camera is an interesting camera app that aims to get the software out of the way so you can take pictures without worrying about how you interact with your iPhone camera and how you can get quick access to your most needed camera controls.

There is plenty of manual access to things like focus and exposure settings, or it can be completely automatic.

Specific features include manual ISO and shutter speed controls, focus and exposure lock, flash controls, 3 grid overlays (rule of 3rd, circle and square) and 9 filters. More filters are available as an in-app purchase, but the basic app is free.

The main idea here is every control is reachable with one thumb, and the app has achieved that goal cleanly.

Using the app is really quite easy. The control are white text on a dark background, and very easy to read, even in bright sunlight. The controls work in any iPhone orientation, appearing at the bottom of the screen in portrait mode, and to the left in landscape mode. When you are in landscape mode and rotate the camera 180 degrees, the control labels flip, which is a nice touch.

Filters can also be applied by dragging your thumb (or any finger actually) left and right. The filters are all pretty effective, and the developer sells more in two packages, one for $1.99, the other for $4.99. It’s nice to have the filters built-in, but I think most iPhoneograhpers will just edit in the app of their choice and apple those filters.

This app is just for taking pictures. Once the picture is done, there is no editing, cropping or adjustments possible. And no way to share it. I don’t consider that a minus, the app is dedicated to getting good pictures quickly and effortlessly, and it succeeds very well at that.

What the app brings to the table is a complete re-thinking of what controls should be presented to the photographer, in what format, where should they be onscreen, and how much dexterity is needed to get the picture you want.

Most of the GUI is pretty obvious, but you may not notice the filters unless you swipe the screen. A single tap puts your camera in auto mode, a double tap switches to the front facing camera. I expect most people will find this through experimentation. There’s no help included. I’m sure the reason is to keep the screen very clean, but some will undoubtedly miss the features the app has.

I like Obscura Camera. It does make me concentrate on the photo, without overloading me with controls. Still, I can’t help feeling Oscura is the perfect name for the app, because some of those features aren’t obvious.

Still, this is a recommended free app, and I think if you give it a try you’ll be a regular user. Developer Ben McCarthy has some sample images on his web site.

The app requires iOS 8 or later. It ran fine under iOS 9 beta, and it’s optimized for the latest iPhone hardware.


Download Obscura Camera

iphoneography, iphone photo, mobile photo, photo app, free download

App Store link: Obscura Camera – Ben McCarthy