iPhone Life magazine

REVIEW: new fully-fledged iPhone / iPod touch Camera app enhancer CameraTweak

UPDATE (09/Oct/2012): an iPhone 4-specific article is HERE.

Original article: You may have used the excellent third-party AppStore apps Camera+, 645 PRO, SloPro, Better Camcorder (see THIS for more info on the latter two) or FiLMiC Pro (quick review & tips). Or, for that matter, my (iOS 4-only) video enhancer tools for the iPhone 3GS / 4.

You may have noticed apps in the AppStore all offer their own interface as they are not allowed to directly add additional interface elements, buttons etc. to the stock, built-in Camera app. My previous tweaks don't do this either – they need to be run before starting Camera to set your video recording preferences.

The $1 (that is, cheap) CameraTweak is the first app that doesn't suffer from these problems. It adds a new icon in the lower button bar of the stock Camera app coming with the app. It's via this icon that you can access most of its advanced features like video resolution, still timed shot etc. setting. As with all powerful tweaks, it's only available on jailbroken iPhone / iPod touch models running iOS5+ (don't even try installing it on the iPad!).

Basically, it has most of the features the above-mentioned apps offer: timer mode and time lapse mode in stills mode, resolution and frame rate setting in video mode and exposure & white balance locks in both. (See the complete feature list below, in the Cydia screenshots, or on the official Cydia page) It's highly recommended. Below, after the Cydia / GUI shots, I present a long, video-specific compatibility report (the photo tweaks worked just fine).

 

 


(Cydia info pages)


(The additional controls in stills mode; note that the white balance lock icon is hidden beneath the new icon bar!)


(The additional controls in video mode; it also has white balance locking)

1. Test results: the iPhone 4S

Being the latest still-jailbreakable model (as opposed to the newer but non-jailbreakable iPhone 5), I've very thorougly tested the latest version of the tweak on the iPhone 4S. This entire section discusses the results. The other two sections discuss the iPhone 3GS and the iPod touch 4.

1.1 720p 60 fps

As the iPhone 4S is capable of recording true 60 fps footage in 720p (that is, 1280 * 720; the resolution currently selected in the last screenshot above), I tested it very thoroughly.

Unfortunately, as with both SloPro and Better Camcorder (again, see THIS for a complete elaboration), this tweak doesn't allow for utilizing the full vertical resolution over anything 30 fps. That is, only use 720p60 (or, again, anything over p30) if you don't mind the significantly worse vertical resolution. (As this mode doesn't use pixel binning, the horizontal resolution isn't halved.)

1.2 Frame-per-second changes in 1080p modes

In 1080p, I've thoroughly tested the lower-fps video shooting as well. 1, 15, 20, 24, 25 and, of course, the stock 30 (29.97) fps worked OK. 5 and 10, however, didn't – they recorded a footage with around 0.6 (true) fps.

Still in 1080p, as you may have already guessed based on my earlier writeups, anything over 30p results in a recording that has no video at all, only audio.

That is, the only nonstandard framerates you should use in 1080p mode are 1 fps or anything over 14.

1.3 Lower resolutions

Lower resolutions (720p, 960*540, 640*480 and 352*288 as opposed to the native 1080p) didn't exhibit resolution problems like halved resolution.

Note that NONE of these modes were able to record at anything over 30 fps – it seems to be only working at 720p.

1.4 Non-16:9 video modes

It seems the aspect ratio icon (the rightmost one in video mode) has absolutely no effect on the recording on the 4S – the phone will record exactly the same 16:9 and 4:3 footage in 960 / 1280 / 1920 and 352 / 640 modes, respectively, as without enabling / touching it, regardless of this setting.

The only effect I could find was displaying semi-transparent regions on the sides to show what will be cropped out of the edited footage, should you later crop off the two (1920-1440)/2=240-pixel-wide leftmost / rightmost areas during post processing to make your originally 16:9 footage truly 4:3; that is, 1440*1080.

2. Test results: the iPhone 3G S

On the 3GS,

- you can't use higher framerates as 30 fps in the native VGA or the (only available other) 352*288 resolution.

- as has just been hinted on, only 352*288 and VGA can be used.

However, other tweaks seem to work OK.

3. Test results: the iPod touch 4G

- all resolutions up to 720p can be used – but, of course (the sensor not having more pixels than 720p), not the 1080p.

- no higher framerates than 30 can be used.

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Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.

Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.