Over the past couple of months I’ve been researching all the applications that can be of use to digital shooters using an Apple iPhone/iPod. Some I’ve come across are just plain silly. There’s an abundance of digital slates and depth of field calculators and photo editing software, many that are indistinguishable from each other. Quite a few iApps, however, like Chemical Wedding’s Helios Sun Position Calculator, really stand out as essential tools for the professional and are worth mentioning.
- Chemical Wedding Helios Review by Jay Holben, Videography.com, August 2009
Here, I’m going to introduce you to a number of iApps that will aid in your digital endeavors. These virtual tools for your proverbial tool belt will further your shooting education.
Created by Ben Syverson, Catchlight is a play on the ubiquitous iPhone flashlight (which merely turns the screen bright white so that it may be used as a light source) that allows the user to color calibrate that light to a number of preset color temperatures from 2,500°K to 10,000°K. In addition, users may custom create any color in the iPhone spectrum and save that color for later use.
What’s the use of such an application? In today’s world of über-low-light shooting and ultra-sensitive cameras, the light from the iPhone/iPod is significant enough for fill light, eye light, product lighting and even a key light. You could also use Catchlight as a custom “gray” card to bias the white balance for a given scene warm or cool—although I would advise thorough testing before trying that in the field.
Catchlight is easy to use, intuitive and effective. There is some concern about different native white points on the iPhone 2G or 3G and iPod touch, but Ben is currently researching the differences and working on a new version. Look for 1.5 to come out soon! In addition, it’s important to know that protective lamina and cases are not optically clear and will bias the base color of the iPhone or iPod screen.
Ben Syverson Catchlight, 0.1MB, iPhone/iPod touch, $2.99
A secondary application that is very similar in concept to Catchlight is LightSource. It isn’t as flexible, you can’t dial in your own colors, but LightSource has 18 presets divided into three categories: Illuminants, Fluorescents and Gaseous. These are not designated color temperatures, but, rather, somewhat innocuous estimation matches for candle, tungsten 40W, tungsten 100W, halogen, carbon arc, sunlight, overcast sky and blue sky in the Illuminants category. There are six different settings for Fluorescent (warm, normal, cool white and full spectrum), including two amusing ones: “grow light” and “black light” (although it has no UVA or UVB and will not cause retroreflectance). Gaseous has four settings: mercury vapor, sodium vapor, metal halide and high-pressure sodium. It’s 1/3 of the price of Catchlight, but much less flexible.
Pixelexip LightSource, 0.2MB, iPhone/iPod touch, $0.99
Photo fx is an application from Tiffen that earned our Black Diamond best new product award at this year’s NAB. It’s basically an iApp version of Tiffen Dfx and allows the user to apply myriad Tiffen digital filters (the ones and zeros versions of Tiffen’s phenomenal glass filters). Whether you’re importing images or taking photos with your iPhone camera, you can apply any number of filters, from Tiffen’s Pro-Mist to cross-process and bleach bypass to lowcon and ultracon. The effects are stellar, as one would expect from Tiffen. They’re good for pre-vis applications, to communicate your intentions to your team, or just to spice up your photos.
The application is intuitive and easy to use. In addition to the extensive range of filters and effects in Photo fx, there are two optional filter sets: Color fx and Portrait fx. Color fx includes 14 filters for $0.99 and Portrait fx includes 15 filters for $0.99.
Tiffen Photo fx, 4.9MB, iPhone/iPod touch, $2.99
Much in the same vein, the Mill, an effects company with locations in London, New York and Los Angeles, offers a take on photo editing with a much more high-end slant. Mill Colour starts with a number of preset looks: golden, print, cross-processed, chocolate, noir, instant, 70s, milky, promo and bleached. From there, you have refined controls over lift, gamma, gain (RGB controls for each) and saturation. Many users will find the extraordinarily high-resolution control of these final four attributes rather tedious, as you have to swipe the scale as many as a dozen times before you see a significant change in the image, but professionals will respect this fine adjustment as the kind of control available in a color suite. Certainly not an application for the casual user.
The Mill Colour, 2.1MB, iPhone/iPod touch, free
iSee4K and Pocket DIT
iSee4K and Pocket DIT are two applications aimed specifically at RED One users, and they’re so similar that I can talk about them in the same paragraph. Each application allows the user to calculate depth of field, frame rates, REDCODE storage and workflow (data transfer times). iSee4K also incorporates a field-of-view calculator. Both tools include options for 2K, 3K, 4K and 4K HD as well as RC28 and RC36 algorithm options. Both applications are easy to use and flexible. The iSee4K interface was slightly more pleasing to me, but that’s a very minor distinction. What’s best? Both applications are 100 percent free.
Edward Watkins iSee4K, 0.9MB, iPhone/iPod touch, free
Clifton Production Services Pocket DIT, 0.5MB, iPhone/iPod touch, free