Heads-up – KitCam offers extensive options and services. In an effort to be thorough and comprehensive, this review will cover most of them in detail. As a result, this article will run a bit longer than usual.
The market for iPhone applications has become somewhat of a gift and a curse. While it is amazing – the immense number of applications available to iOS users – it can sometimes make finding the app that’s just right for your needs a bit challenging. So when we arrive at a place where we are comfortable with the suite of tools we are using to capture and process images on our iOS device, it is difficult to make changes – to leave that comfort zone. But somewhere deep inside, we will always be driven to browse the App Store ‘just in case.’ Well, if you’ve been paying attention to that little voice the past week or so, it’s about to pay off. KitCam by Ghost Bird Software is the camera replacement application you’ve been praying for.
If you know anything at all about Ghost Bird Software, you know that they have demonstrated extensive knowledge of a photographers wants and needs with the release of their popular post processing application, PhotoForge 2 – an application capable of accepting and processing even RAW formatted files up to 20 MegaPixels. If you don’t know already, that’s super-impressive. Ghost Bird’s newest application, KitCam, is equally impressive. After spending a little over a week with the application, it quickly became evident that the development team took everything they had learned from PhotoForge 2 and applied it to KitCam. It’s beautiful, easy to navigate and, most importantly, it features non-destructive editing. If you are unfamiliar with this term, simply put, it is the ability to make and save changes to an image without altering or destroying the original file. That means at any given time, you can revert the image back to its original state. Real James Bond-type stuff.
So what is it that makes KitCam a worthy replacement for your current camera application? KitCam can be as simple as you’d like or advanced as you need it. On one hand, it’s perfect for composing basic snapshots – beginners will fall in love with its simplicity. On the other, it’s an advanced system for composing and editing complex images – perfect for the enthusiast. Its controls are in abundance, always accessible, yet manage to stay out of the way when you need them to.
Controlling Your Exposure
KitCam offers extensive control over the images you create – the most simple and straight forward of which is focus and exposure control. Users can easily adjust their focal point or exposure by tapping the screen, using two fingers, in camera mode to reveal the manual controls for each. Adjusting is as simple as sliding the corresponding tap target around the screen until you have arrived at your desired exposure. Both settings can be locked as well. If you need bit more control, KitCam has an exposure compensation feature ranging from −2 to +2 as well as manual white balance settings. Both are accessible by tapping this icon from the bottom toolbar.
Opposite the exposure compensation button, is a settings icon which puts a wealth of goodies at your fingertips. Advanced features like a histogram, composition grids (think rule of thirds, golden proportion etc.) and even a level for ensuring your horizon is straight. For a truly unique composition, KitCam also enables its user to choose their own aspect ratio and preview the changes live – select from 4×3, 1×1, 16×9 or 3×2. If you are shooting video, aspect ratios are replaced by film resolutions such as 288p, 480p and 720p. If you own a shiny iPhone 5 you will see 1080p as an option as well.
Shooting Modes & Settings
Continuous shooting makes certain you never miss your desired image. Perfect for sports or precious moments that you know are coming, but can’t pin down the exact timing. High speed burst is also an option here so long as you don’t mind compromising quality for the faster frame rate. Images resulting from high speed continuous mode are VGA resolution, like that of the forward facing camera. Likely to pass as acceptable in a few cases, but not the way you want to shoot on a regular basis.
Setting a timer to fire your shutter is great for many reasons. Two of the more popular reasons would be avoiding camera shake and including yourself in group images. Unlike some applications that limit timer options to 2 or 5 second timers, KitCam lets you easily customize the length of the timer up to 10 seconds. You can even select “Torch Countdown” which will fire your flash to alert you as you get closer to the shutter release.
Hands a bit shaky? Not able to gauge whether your photographs will be blurry based on how still you were able to hold your phone? Let KitCam solve this problem for you with its stabilizer function. Your snapshot will only fire once the device has been held reasonably steady for a few seconds. This ensures sharper images.
Multi-Expose & Multi-Shot
With the Muti-Expose option, you can shoot up to 6 images to overlap one another in the same frame – mimicking the results achieved in film photography when a single frame of film is exposed more than once. What’s more is that you can apply different settings to each frame beforehand and/or edit each frame individually after the fact. Here’s a sample image of my daughter that I shot using the Multi-Expose feature.
The Multi-Shot feature is similar in that it let’s you capture several images to include in a single frame. However, with this option, you can shoot no more than 4 frames which are subsequently arranged as a diptych. Here are the options available for shooting diptychs using KitCam.
Multi-Expose and Multi-Shot are both easy to understand and execute.
KitCam ships with a time lapse feature. If I attempted to explain how time lapse can be used to your benefit, we could be here all day. I’ll give you the short version. Time lapse is a way of placing automated – in this case – intervals between your images. This is also the way that stop motion animations are created. If you are unfamiliar with the possibilities of time lapse photography, search Vimeo for some truly amazing examples.
Lenses, Films and Frames
Let’s face it, since the popularity of Instagram has skyrocketed, photo filters are all the rage. They take a lot of flack but in essence they are no more than presets for the mobile processing studio. With KitCam’s non-destructive editing, choosing a filter, lens or frame does not “lock you in” or define your final image. Filters/presets are great starting points for processing your images.
There are 10 lenses, 24 filters and 15 frames available with your initial purchase, all of which are tastefully executed and can be combined with one another for endless options. Additional packs are available for $.99, but are not necessary to reap the benefits of the application. If you do decide to upgrade, packs can be tried/previewed before purchase.
Lenses, filters and frames are all accessible while shooting and can be changed on the fly. Changes made to any of the aforementioned are applied instantly via Live FX Preview – see the effects as you shoot. If you end up with a combination you do not like, but you like the image, filters can be removed or replaced in post process. So, not only do you get non-destructive editing, but no commitment capture as well.
Image Editing/Post Process
From your KitCam library of images, you can select individual frames for editing. KitCam keeps the basic user and the advanced user in mind as the app provides adjustments ranging from quick and easy to detailed and more deliberate.
Starting with quick and easy – users will find the easiest adjustment to make is none other than auto adjust. It’s a “one click to a better image” setting. You can get a bit more detailed in your approach with KitCam’s cropping, straightening, and rotation tools. The same filters, films and frames available when shooting are available from the edit menu as well. You will also find exposure compensation and white balance tools at your disposal.
If you are looking for a bit more control, tap the button labeled “Pro” located on the right side of the bottom toolbar. As you might have imagined, Pro indicates manual controls for everything. Brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance, levels and sharpness are all available and easily adjusted to your liking. Color balance and levels can even be adjusted by individual color channels such as red, green or blue. It is here that I am reminded of PhotoForge’s extensive controls and the influence they must have had on the development of KitCam. Though not every image we take calls for such fine tuning, it is nice to have the option available to us. In the past week, I found myself using the Pro tools at least once a day. Provided you understand a bit about what it is you’re tinkering with, you can get some great results.
Using DropBox to back up photos? iCloud? Your own server? KitCam can sync to any one of them. Once you have successfully set up your connections, you can select options for auto archiving photographs taken with KitCam – a fantastic feature. I use the heck out of it, syncing every photo to DropBox and bypassing my photostream (intentionally so) altogether. It’s the ideal set up for me since I hate to crowd my photo libraries with thousands of images. I shoot, get home to WiFi, auto archive and delete the local files. Could not be easier or more efficient.
From the settings menu, you can set up popular services like DropBox or Flickr to auto archive images, as previously mentioned. Additionally, you can link a folder from your own server via FTP for auto upload. To save on data, make sure you tick the “WiFi Uploads Only” option. Sharing options are similar, with the addition of Tumblr and Facebook.
Whether a novice or an enthusiast, KitCam’s offering is a great one. It covers most every need you could possibly have, streamlining the entire process of iPhoneography. KitCam is a steal for just $1.99 on the App Store. It has replaced my preferred camera application and secured it’s spot in my dock.
images taken and edited with KitCam for iPhone
In photography, a diptych is a pair of photos that work better together than separately. Often they are presented in a hinged, matching pair of frames. An example might be a portrait of parents on one side of the diptych and the couple’s children on the other. ↩
Additional sharing options are available, such as Twitter, email, export to PhotoForge2 & Send Picture Postcard. ↩
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