LOS ANGELES — As a photography lover, I’m always carrying around one or two cameras. There’s the camera on my phone and there’s a dedicated camera in my bag, often a light high-quality point and shoot. For big days, I often find myself stuffing my Canon Digital Rebel along with two lenses, a flash and tripod into one bag, because despite its weight, an SLR system still provides the best clarity and manual features for serious photography.
With its new 5-8 megapixel camera, the iPhone is now competitive in clarity for most shots. But with just a few options to control flash and digital zoom, it’s lacking in terms of manual features. Mattebox, a new app from Chicago-based Ben Syverson, aims to solve this problem.
The explanation video is a little hokey — “My goal was simple: I wanted to create the photographer’s mobile camera.” — but it does a great job of explaining the app’s features, inspired by the iconic Konica Hexar. Using the iPhone’s touch screen, it simulates all the functions of a professional SLR, with manual ISO, white balance and exposure. The site’s gallery features some of the stunningly clear, precise shots possible with the app (though the corresponding Flickr group shows that quality varies widely by photographer).
At $3.99, the app costs slightly more than Hipstamatic and Instagram, but substantially less than the average SLR. While you can’t try out a free version, you can fiddle with a simulation on the site.
Mattebox is no SLR-killer but combined with the retina display it will certainly have me thinking twice about lugging around my larger camera everywhere I go.
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