As any fule knows, digital camera image quality has never been purely been about piling on the megapixels, with other factors such as sensor quality, sensor size and the all-important optics all playing a part.
The iPhone comes with a fairly rubbish camera, and there’s no shortage of camera apps promising to improve things for frustrated snappers, like CrowdCafe’s 7.0 Megapixel Camera app.
The app claims to use a ‘unique algorithm’ developed over months to produce superior quality, “smoother, more detailed and overall better looking” pictures from all iPhone models.
There’s a fair smattering of standard features on offer for your 59p, including a countdown mode, time-lapse, ‘instant review and send’ and the ability to snap standard, 5MP or 7MP pictures by tapping anywhere on the screen.
The real selling point, however, is the claimed ability to upgrade your lowly iPhone into a beefy seven megapixel job.
The website advises that we’d be unlikely to see the differences on the small iPhone screen, so we grabbed a load of shots at both standard 3GS and 7MP resolutions and compared them on our desktop monitors.
The acid test
After opening up both images and viewing them full screen on our 1920 x 1080 LG monitors, out first impression that there was no real difference at all.
In fact, everyone in the office thought that the lower resolution version was marginally better, as it had better overall exposure (the 7MP version seemed slightly overexposed).
We’ve reproduced both test pictures below (reduced to 580px and sharpened in Photoshop).
Taking a closer look
Determined to see if there was actually any point to the app and any validity to the claimed improved performance, we zoomed in closer.
The 7MP app certainly produces bigger files sizes – you can see the difference produces in these 100% crops – but are they any better?
Again, we saw no real improvement, so we tried blowing up the lower res image in Photoshop so it matched the 7MP version.
Surely now we’d see some differences?
Nope. Bugger all. In fact, to our eyes the blown-up smaller photo at the top still looks better than the 7MP app version below.
Determined to give the app a fair go, we tried a series of shots, and each one had the same disappointing results.
Unless there’s an over-riding reason for outputting larger sized files from your iPhone, you’d be better off sticking with the standard camera and saving that 59p for a nice choccie bar.
You’ll get photos every bit as good by using the regular iPhone camera, and if you simply must blow them up larger, there’s loads of on-line services that can do the job for free, like the amazing Photoshop clone, Sumo Paint 2.0.