Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spectre Camera 1.0

Sebastiaan de With (MacRumors):

Spectre is a computational shutter for iPhone that allows everyone to take brilliant long exposures.


By default, Spectre uses AI to analyze the scene and automatically pick the appropriate mode. If you’re shooting a beach scene, it will blend shots for great smooth water. A lively cityscape triggers light trails blending.


Long exposures typically requires setting up a tripod and meticulously stabilizing your camera: but don’t fret, Spectre requires no extra equipment. Spectre’s AI stabilizes your shot for you, allowing up to 9-second long handheld long exposures.

Previously: Halide: One Year Later.

Update (2019-03-05): Nick Heer:

The thing I like most about this app is how easy it makes long exposure photography. It has never been particularly difficult — I think it’s one of the first things people try their hand at when they discover how to change their camera’s shutter speed — but Spectre makes it far simpler. You can even do long exposures in bright daylight without mucking around with shutter speed and ISO.

This is one of those apps that, I think, is worth having around even if you use it rarely.

Ryan Jones:

Spectre is still cruuuuuising at #1 Paid App. I did not expect that, it’s very niche. Due to design?

Based on the little I know and correct me if I wrong but #1 Paid is ~$20k/day?

= $100k over 5 days

Update (2019-03-06): Ryan Jones:

Spectre went from $1.99 → $2.99 and probably ~doubled their revenue.

Went from Top Grossing #1,000 to #500. That kinda stings, should have been $2.99 all along probably.

Previously: Raising Prices Lifted App Revenue.

Update (2019-04-02): Ben Sandofsky:

People use Halide for manual control, but once the shutter switches from hardware to software, you lose that control. For example, RAW no longer works. (We’ll go into this and other issues in part 3 of this series).

Even if users would make those concessions, dialing in the right settings requires a lot of trial and error. We’d need a new mode with extra buttons and dials. We were on a path that would compromise Halide’s streamlined experience. There’s a fine line between generosity and bloat.

This got us thinking, “What if we build another app?”

Update (2019-04-12): Sebastiaan de With:

I love this aspect of long exposures on cameras, so I really wanted maintain the delight of selecting an exposure time and the corresponding satisfaction of the tactile camera controls. Having an unlimited or huge amount of exposure times would add incredible complexity to the app, though.

In early tests, we simply limited it to three options. We even named them Short, Medium, and Long (S, M, L) — but eventually decided to maintain the camera metaphor by showing the actual exposure times of 3, 5 and 9 seconds.


Unfortunately, making you choose between modes greatly complicates the experience. Most people — including me, a ‘serious’ photographer — would be happier if the camera simply did the right thing and made the choice for them. Until very recently, that notion was a laughable fiction.

Enter Machine Learning. We trained a neural network to recognize situations that generate beautiful light trails, such as such as fireworks, light painting and city streets — just to see how feasible it would be as a method to greatly simplify the user experience.

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