Version Reviewed: 3.0.1
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
I own a pretty expensive digital camera. The problem I have with it, however, is that, unlike my iPhone, I never have it when I need it. If I don’t genuinely forget to bring it to family gatherings, events, etc. I disingenuinely “forget” to bring it, because I don’t feel like having to deal with the hassle of ensuring the batteries are charged, adjusting all those crazy settings, then downloading all the pictures I took to my PC. What a pain! Why should I have to subject myself to a higher megapixel rate when I already have my 2.0 (that’s right, 2.0) megapixel camera, which also happens to be a phone and a video camera, already with me. I can take all the pictures I want and do with them what I wish, whenever I wish, without having the afore-mentioned hassles. It’s simply easier to make the most out of my iPhone, since it’s always with me.
That said, it’s painfully obvious, based on the number of photography-based apps currently in the app store, that Apple’s native camera is, for lack of a better word, lacking. Developers continue to create applications that provide features the iPhone’s camera currently lacks, but few turn it into a complete, feature-rich, self sufficient, stand-alone digital camera. G700 – 1st Soft Camera, developed by Shiningworks, does.
Shiningworks currently offers the G700 and G400 Pro camera applications, designed for both iPhone users and photographers, in the app store. G700 is an all-in-one camera app, with more than 20 features/add-on functions integrated into it, such as (pseudo) Flash, Auto Focus, Zoom, Burst Mode, Timer, Voice Trigger, etc. G400 Pro contains all the functions of G700, but its framework provides for a more efficient/faster user experience. Both mimic the look and behavior of a real digital camera and essentially contain the same features, but this review will focus on G700.
The G700 application claims to bring many of the advanced features found with digital cameras to your iPhone. G700 further distinguishes itself by adding features such as geographic location with date/time and a map view tag to each photo, instant social network photo sharing capabilities, a slide show mode you can view using your choice of music, 8x digital zoom and the capability to edit and share photos on/from your phone. Essentially, when it comes to features, G700 is like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at a post-fight celebration: Loaded and it only takes one button to set either off.
G700 uses the iPhone’s built-in auto-focus, as well as its tap-to-focus feature and saves photos directly to the iPhone’s Camera Roll. Saving takes a second or two longer than the iPhone’s camera to save the image (which can be extended, based on your resolution setting), but that’s to be expected with a third-party app. I also noticed that the viewing plane, when using G700, is slightly smaller than the iPhone’s, due to its digital interface superimposed around the edges of the screen so, in theory, you can fit a little more into your picture when using the iPhone. Not a big deal, but worth noting.
As mentioned above, G700’s interface consists of a digital camera overlay superimposed onto the iPhone's camera view plane. From this main screen, along the top of the interface, users can toggle between the application's two primary modes: Camera, where users actively adjust the mode's settings to affect the picture, prior to taking it and Playback mode, where users can edit, delete, view and share their images once they're taken.
In Camera mode, users can turn the camera off, which produces a cover that slides upward, over the majority of the interface, protecting it and its users from taking pocket pictures. The cover contains a Library button that, when pressed, provides 5 different themes users can choose from, to customize the look of their camera. In the upper, right corner of the interface is the 8x zoom feature, designated by a double-tab bearing a W on one side (wide) and a T on the other (telescopic).
Along the left side of the interface is a Flash button, an Anti-Shake button with adjustable level of sensitivity, a Sound trigger button, with adjustable level of sensitivity and a Timer button which, when depressed, gives its user 5 seconds to jump into the picture, lest he/she ruins the photo with a nice, big blur.
Along the right side of the interface is a burst mode button, which allows users to take a single picture or a 3-picture burst, the snapshot button, the Date button, which superimposes a Date stamp on the image and a Geo button, which uses your current location to geo-tag your images.
Alongside the Geo button is a non-descript button which serves as the settings button. In settings, users can adjust sound and vibration, photo resolution (800x600, 1600x1200 and 2048x1536), opt where to save images to, select/modify Grid settings, adjust Date format, select geo-tag and date font color, choose Camera On/Off Mode (Auto or Manual), choose to hide or display Photo Sharing Status, reset social network accounts (Facebook, Flickr, Picassa and Twitter) and open the built-in user manual.
In Playback mode, users can turn the camera on and off, just as in Camera Mode and scroll through all the photos they've taken, as well as those on their Camera Roll. Along the left side of the interface is a Filter button, which allows users to apply various filters (a total of 13) to their picture(s). The Flash button allows users to apply 1 of 3 Flash filters to their images, transforming darkened images into well-lit photos, devoid of shadows.
A Map button allows users to view their geo-tagged photos and pressing Slide initiates a customizable slide show of user photos (including all photos on the Camera Roll), allowing users to set their own music to the slide show. A rectangular icon located opposite of the Filter button allows users to Sync any/all photos to their Camera Roll and/or delete them. The Share button above allows users to share their pictures using Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, Twitter and Email. The Settings button is also available in Playback mode, in the same location as Camera Mode.
Taking photographs with G700 is fun and easy. It's intuitive interface provides users with a venue that is easy to use and packed with features/options. Using the Camera Mode's Flash option didn't really provide much of a difference in well-lit/dimly-lit environments, but using the soft Flash option to edit photos in Playback mode made a huge improvement. The picture on the left was taken as-is, with no Flash editing. The picture on the right was edited, using G700's soft Flash feature.
Sharing and geo-tagging photos using G700 is also intuitive and simple. Its many filters greatly enhance images and image resolution, much like size, really matters. I took a photo using all three resolutions and the 2048x1536 allowed me to zoom in up to 9 times and still clearly see the details of the image. Using the digital zoom, however, is dependent on the user's ability to remain still. As long as you have hands like The Waco Kid, you can zoom up to 8x with no problems, but G700 senses even the slightest movement. Using the Anti-Shake feature helps immensely in this situation, as well as many others. Moreover, users can adjust the sensitivity level of the Anti-Shake feature, so if the notion of taking photos frightens you to the point of trembling, you can set the Anti-Shake sensitivity accordingly. Using the 3-picture burst also helps in this area.
G700's generous variety of visual enhancements, combined with its other editing (filters, flash and vignette) and sharing features, such as instant photo editing, instant sharing and Thumbnail View, which enables users to view, share, delete and sync multiple photos, turn your iPhone into a powerful digital camera capable of doing many things most advanced, stand-alone digital cameras can't.
Overall, I really couldn't find any meaningful flaws with G700, except two: The Date stamp, while present on the screen while capturing an image, doesn't transition to the taken photo. While this isn't a big deal for me, Shiningworks needs to address this and fix it in future updates. Also, I couldn't get the sound/voice activated trigger to work.
G700 - 1st Soft Camera is a remarkable application, combining the features/elements found in most standard digital cameras and incorporating the iPhone's auto-location capabilities to add location-based features, turning your iPhone into an advanced digital camera possessing features standard digital cameras are not capable of providing. That said, I highly recommend this app to photography enthusiasts as well as weekend warrior photographers. Priced at only $1.99, it's a quality photography app that works as advertised and has earned a spot next to my iPhone's native camera icon.