Earlier this week I tested MPro, a new camera application from developer Toshihiko Tambo. This app is designed for serious monochrome photography and from all accounts, looks very promising.
MPro offers the ability to save ones image as a TIFF file, an advantage over JPEG, since saving to TIFF one achieves an uncompressed high-quality digital file. This means your images will be to be clearer, sharper and without any data loss as you would have with JPEG compression. However you can still choose to save only as a JPEG or combination of TIFF and a low resolution JPEG.
One of the first things that greatly impressed me was the interface. Not only is it easy to navigate, I had a complete overview of all functions and settings with only one tap on the menu button.
Screen image of MPro main menu
Further more, by tapping on any category, the menu shrinks down to just that category, exposing most of the image to be photographed on the screen. One can then go ahead and tap any of the desired changes and see in real time as to how a certain format, fill-light (torch), tone, filter or type setting will appear.
Another wonderful feature is having the app’s brief and straightforward documentation being accessible on the main menu. Most apps either bury it or simply not make it available on the iPhone and you are left to your own devices. Not MPro, their documentation is only a fingers tap away.
The one thing taking getting used to, is MPro’s focus and exposure functions. With most other apps, I am use to a single and double tap or a long tap for exposure and a short tap for focus. With MPro the center point is designed to be both exposure and focus. When making your focus adjustments, you point to the area of focus, press the ‘F’ button to lock. This step is repeated but now for the exposure and you then press the ‘E’ button to lock; now reposition and compose your image and take the shot. When using the iPhone on a tripod, this method proves cumbersome and time consuming, since you just lost your composition.
I hope that in future updates MPro will address the issue and offer an additional method. I would like to suggest a dual system set in the menu; one for standard, current method and an alternative, custom. Custom would be using the tapping method; long tap for exposure and short tap for focus to address the location area of exposure and focus. This then is followed by tapping the menu button ‘F’ and ‘E’ to lock the respective setting.
There is also a very nice feature I was not aware of until after my field trip and one I could have certainly used, since a number of my images were not in focus. You will need to go to your iPhone’s Setting to make the following adjustment. Once there, turn on the ‘sound’ feature for focus, this will give you a short audible beep when the app has completed focusing and you then can go ahead and take the exposure. Not only a useful function, I believe essential in making sure you’re getting sharp pictures.
It should be noted that if you plan on any post production edits, make sure to use a program that does not compress the image, and at the moment I cannot think of one iPhone/iPad application that does not convert the original image file from TIFF to JPEG. This is a serious handicap for iPhoneograpers. As soon as post production application developers realize that files captured and saved in TIFF need to be processed in TIFF, we have to resort to using Photoshop on our laptop/desktop units.
Still, it seems that 2012 is the year in which application developers finally have begun to realize that the iPhone is being taken seriously by professional photographers and used not only in the creation of fine art, but also to cover news events. See my post on Photojournalism GoodPak earlier last month.
With MPro, serious iPhoneographers finally have the tools to begin taking better monochrome pictures. Though this app is an excellent start, there is still room for improvements. It is now up to us photographers to provide MPro developer with our feedback, suggestions and any special concerns we might have, so that we are able to obtain the very best image from our iPhones.
All sample images were taken with an iPhone 4S, using MPro and no post production edits other than adding a white border. MPro settings were TIFF; tone: normal; filter: none; and type: flat. No flash or torch was applied to any photograph. Format settings was either 4:3 and 1:1 respectively.