Blux Camera for iOS: Innovative UI and Filters Make for Must-Have App

The app store offers a ton of camera apps for iPhone and iPad, but Blux Camera easily competes with some of the best camera apps available, including Camera+ or Camera Awesome, as it lets users take both high quality artistic photos as well as popular photos with filters that people enjoy using with their cameras today.

What makes Blux Camera great? First, the interface intuitively offers simple camera functions on-screen all the time. Notice the screen shot below. Overlaid on top of the image the camera sees, the user gets light opaque camera controls. The camera shutter button used to actually take a picture always sits along the left. Two sliders control the zoom function and image White Balance setting. For photography newbies, White Balance helps correct colors, as whites often become blue or yellow in strange lighting situations.

blux-screenshot

At the bottom right the user will see settings for the Blux Camera filters. More on that later.

In the upper left corner, notice the little blue icon. This engages the P.E.A.R feature. Here’s how the developer describes PEAR:

P.E.A.R. technology stands for Photographic Environment Analysis and Recommendation.  It includes a photographic assistant to analyze your environment and advise you every step of the way towards absolutely stunning photos.

Tap it and it spins, a blue line slides over the image, and then the app starts to show information about the photographer’s place. It uses location services to geotag the photo. It also finds weather data, which might help the photographer make decisions about how to shoot an outdoor scene.

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The interface doesn’t rotate when the user rotates their iPad or iPhone. This forces the user to keep it in the right direction, so the user doesn’t accidentally cover the camera lens with a finger.

There are more features than those listed above hidden just offscreen. Slide from the four edges to show more options and controls.

blux settings

Swipe down on the screen to show the settings box

Swipe down on the main screen to show the above settings hexagon. Swipe left or right to rotate between the six sides. Two offer settings and the other four include tutorial videos, contact info for the developer, links to get other apps from the dev and a screen to recommend the app to others.

Be sure to turn on the Shake to Reset feature, the last one in the screen above. It’s on by default, but this lets the user shake the iPad or iPhone to reset all settings to the default.

blux-picture controls

Swipe from the left side and the user gets the picture settings seen above. The four sliders control, from left to right, the following:

  • Saturation – intensity of color
  • Contrast - intensity of the difference between dark and light
  • Brightness – makes image lighter or darker
  • Hue – moves along color spectrum from blue to red

blux filters

Swipe from the right to left and get the filters and scene modes wheels. The user can also access the filters and scene modes from the button in the lower right corner of the main screen. Tap each circle on the wheel or tap the button in the lower right to see a live preview of the scene mode or filter. The filter names come from city names from around the world. See the samples below and more in the gallery at the end of the post.

azimuth:0.000000||elevation:-5.826546||horizon:0.019425

One of the Blux filters

azimuth:0.000000||elevation:-5.826546||horizon:0.019425

Another Blux filter sample

The filters give the images a unique color and hue. I prefer these filters over those in apps like Instagram or Camera Awesome.

Along with the filters wheel the apps shows the scene modes with things like Rainy, Sunny, Macro, HDR and more.

Swipe up from the bottom to show pictures already taken with Blux Camera. It will soon use iCloud to sync settings and pictures. See the option in the Settings box. Find an image and then share it using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr or Picasa by tapping the paper airplane button, or delete them with the trashcan. The sharing screen also lets the user tag the location and send it via email. A box lets the user give the photo a description.

A tiny icon in the upper left lets the user choose between the front and back camera. It also offers two other focus features. One simulates a horizontal tilt-shift feature. That’s the kind of advanced lens that makes people and cars taken from high above look like toys. For those who saw the movie The Social Network, the film makers shot the crew scene using a tilt-shift lens.

blux-depth of field

Blux Camera shot taken with Depth of Field simulation filter

The second focus settings simulates a narrow depth of field where the main subject stays in focus but the background gets blurred out, like the image above of my son. The tilt-shift and depth-of-field tools are tricky to customize so check out the tutorial to learn to use them.

Blux Camera does so much and it does it elegantly. This one earned a spot on my iPhone and iPad home screen, replacing Camera+ as the best camera app on iOS. Get it for just $.99 for the iPhone and for the iPad. No, it’s not a universal app, but $2 for both apps doesn’t seem outrageous. Each app is worth that much alone.

In the gallery of images below, you’ll find a number of samples of shots taken with the app as well as screenshots.

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