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7 February 2013


Whimsical Productions has released its Cortex Camera low-light camera app for iOS for free today. The app takes a series of exposures and combines them into one image with less noise than a single exposure would yield.

Version 1.7 of the formerly $3 app is also a tidy 1.7-MB and compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It requires iOS 5.0 or later.


We installed the app on an iPad 2 and gave it a quick test drive.

On launch Cortex Camera asked for access to our photos and location information. We have no secrets.

There are a few options to play with:

Settings. Four options.

  • Alignment. You can turn alignment on or off. Apparently the app takes a series of images which it will auto-align before combining the images. If you happen to mount your iOS device on a tripod you can skip this step. Default is On.
  • Filetype. JPEG (default) or PNG.
  • Aspect Ratio. 16:9 (default) or 4:3.
  • Camera. Rear (default) or Front.

Pretty simple. A small camera icon on the bottom of the screen is your shutter button.

We took a shot using the built-in Camera app or our taboret and then we took the same scene with Cortex Camera.

A progress bar tells you Cortex Camera is exposing. Hold your device steady until it finishes.


Aspect ratios were different to begin with, Camera using a 4:3 and Cortex Camera a 16:9, although we could have changed that.

Resolution was also different. Camera took a 960x720-pixel image while Cortex Camera built a 2560x1440-pixel image.

The Cortex Camera image was also noticably darker, as our histogram comparison shows. That was a little surprising. But it's easy to adjust in any image editing software.

Histograms. Cortex Camera (top) rendered a darker image than Camera captured.

Below are thumbnails of the two images. Click on them to see the full-resolution image.



Cortex Camera

You do have to be careful to hold your device as still as possible during the long capture. We handheld this shot and wavered a bit during exposure. But the alignment process seems to have made up for it.

Of more concern is the dark rendering. That's easily fixed (say in Snapseed) but it the Cortex Camera app itself should really take care of that automatically.

Other than that, we thought the app did a very nice job, though.

Cortex Camera is available via iTunes or the Apple App Store.

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