ClearCam Is The Rapid-Fire Way To Clearer iPhone Pictures

We've reviewed a lot of iPhone camera apps.  Some, like Snapture, simply offer more features than the built-in camera software.  Others, like Night Camera, use the iPhone's accelerometer to help take steadier pictures in low light.  Still others, like CameraBag, lets you take a picture you've snapped and post-produce it to your heart's content.

Occipital's ClearCam also wants to help you take better pictures.  But it does so in a fairly unique way.  ClearCam takes six pictures in rapid succession (around 2.5 seconds), automatically picks the sharpest of the six, then — using that sharpest shot as a baseline — merges the frames together to generate a
super-resolved 4 megapixel image.  Jeffrey Powers, co-founder of Occipital, explains the underlying key to this merging thusly:

"To pull this off, it has to reliably line up
images with subpixel accuracy.  (In comparison, a panorama generator can
get away with relatively high alignment error)  As far as we know,
ClearCam is unique in the super-resolution category and unmatched in its rapid

Here's a typical iPhone shot:

This image described by iPhone, iphone jailbreak apps, clearcam, occipital, Clearcam_image0 

And here's the same view through ClearCam:

This image described by iPhone, iphone jailbreak apps, clearcam, occipital, Clearcam_image1 

Like most of the apps mentioned above, ClearCam requires a jailbroken phone, although Powers hinted that a "lite" version ("less the extremely rapid capture stuff") might be retooled for App Store submission.  It's available in both a full-featured US$9.99 release and a free edition that removes the QuickShot mode and unlimited photo queue size.

In anticipation of ClearCam's release, Powers sat down for a Q&A with the editor of

  • How
    long did it take you to develop your app?

    We started in early November, so it has been just shy of a 3 month development cycle.
  • Did
    you have prior experience with iPhone development?

    No prior experience.  However, the core of our app is cross-platform and
    written in C, and leverages our past experience in computer vision.

  • What
    is the average processing time to "stitch" pictures together — and is there any
    difference in speeds between 2g, 3g or old and new iPhone Touch?

    It takes a little while depending on how many images are successful candidates
    for fusion.  Typically 30-40 seconds for a good enhancement.
    Because it takes a while, we separated the capture and enhance steps.  You
    can capture several photos and enhance them at your leisure.
    If you need a clear photo very quickly, you can use QuickShot mode, where the
    sharpest of 4 photos is saved immediately to the camera roll.  You don't
    get the 4 megapixel enhancement, but this technique is still very effective.

  • Any other technical/non-technical details that you'd like to add?
    Yeah!  The iPhone camera, as long as it's clear of fingerprint smudge and
    held fairly still, is actually a great sensor.  Colors are typically
    excellent.  The problem is that it's just not very quick to capture, and
    it's a crapshoot whether you're going to get a good photo or a blurry mess, even
    in good lighting.  Once you've played with ClearCam, you'll have a lot
    more confidence in the photos you take with the iPhone.  As far as we
    know, it's the only app that actually judges image clarity, and the only one
    that employs subpixel techniques to sharpen beyond 2 megapixels.  The
    science behind it is pretty cool, and it'll only get better with future
    updates.  But as a user, all you need to know is that you're going to take
    clearer photos that will rival a pocket-sized digital camera any day.  So
    more than anything, ClearCam gives peace of mind about photo clarity.
    One last thing is that the multitouch UI is custom and technically supports
    infinitely scaled images.  We might take advantage of that for an
    interesting Easter egg in a future update 🙂

  Go ahead and try it out on Cydia

From developers of ClearCam: Red Laser – The First Accurate iPhone Barcode Scanner – Hits The App Store


See also:

This image described by iPhone, iphone jailbreak apps, clearcam, occipital, iPhone Wifi Printing

Hard Copy: How To Print Photos Wirelessly From Your iPhone

You've probably noticed by now that your iPhone doesn't come with a big honkin' parallel port jack. Or an admittedly smaller serial jack. Or a USB port. Or…aw, you get the picture (pun intended) — there's no hardware solution for printing your camerawork directly from your handset.


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