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Spectre Camera – intermittently magical camera app

Developer: Chroma Noir
Price: $3/£3
Size: 15.2 MB
Version: 1.1.1
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Spectre Camera

Developer Chroma Noir prefers its camera apps clean and focused. Previous effort Halide was a super-sharp all-rounder that gave you finer control over your shots without cluttering the UI.

The developer’s second iOS effort is an even more honed affair. Spectre Camera zooms in on a single aspect of photography – long exposure shots – and finds three distinct uses for the technique. It lets you paint futuristic light trials, smooth out moving water, and remove interlopers from your scenery shots.

Light trail shots require practice and a steady hand

But what’s interesting here is how Spectre Camera executes these tricks. Rather than throwing a bunch of complicated controls at you, it instead employs AI to automate the process. All you need to do is determine how long you want the exposure to be, be it 3, 5, or 9 seconds, and then hold your iPhone as still as possible.

That latter element is key here. One of Spectre Camera’s most impressive claims is that you can perform these long exposure tricks without a tripod. To help you in this regard, you get a little green target gauge that tells you how steadily you’re holding the phone.

The tidy UI tells you when your hands are ‘Steady’

In practice, this works only some of the time. It’s undoubtedly possible to take usable long exposure shots without introducing a tripod, but in our experience, you’ll want to steady your hand against a solid surface of some kind. Even then, it’s no guarantee of blur-free results.

Night time light trail shots can be impressive, but we found that they could just as easily devolve into smudgy, blurry messes. Similarly, we found that the app’s ability to remove people from your shots worked only intermittently.

Believe it or not, there was a person in the middle of this street

On many occasions, we found that the app would leave ghostly trails on the shots (like a spectre, you might say). With practice and repeat attempts, however, we managed to obtain nigh-on magical results that completely disappeared the unwanted person.

What you’ll soon come to realize here is that Spectre Camera’s advanced AI and streamlined interface don’t negate the need for good old fashioned skill, judgment, and practice. This is no fire-and-forget camera app, and you’ll still need to put real work and thought into composing your shots.

We can see what inspired the app’s name

It’ll provide you with clear and simple tips to get you started, and Siri compatibility for hands-free shots. But you’ll still need to master Spectre Camera as you would any new piece of photographic equipment.

Spectre Camera is so very nearly the app it sets out to be. It’s cleanly laid out, relatively simple to use, and it has the potential to offer genuinely impressive long exposure shots. It certainly beats the default iOS Camera for long exposure hijinks, but the results aren’t quite as reliable or consistent as we’d have liked.