RitchieCam Update!

B&W Fade Filter — XPan 65:24 Aspect Ratio

I just released RitchieCam update 1.2.0! If you have RitchieCam on your iPhone and it didn’t update automatically, be sure to manually do it right now. If you have an iPhone but don’t have RitchieCam, go to the Apple App Store and download it today!

For those who don’t know, RitchieCam is an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. There are 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. It is intended to be simple enough to be useful for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, and robust enough that even seasoned photographers should find it satisfying. Visit RitchieCam.com to learn more. Also, be sure to follow RitchieCam on Instagram!

What’s new in this update? There are three new features: drag to switch filters, 65:24 aspect ratio, and straight-down level indicator. Each one of these is discussed in detail below. There are also several small improvements and refinements, which will mostly go unnoticed—the most obvious is the enlarged EV +/- switch, hopefully improving its ease of use. Many other features and improvements are in the works, but it takes time to bring them to fruition, so be patient if this update doesn’t include what you were hoping it would—for certain, many great things are coming down the road.

Let’s take a look at the three new features!

Drag to Switch Filters

There’s a new way to select your desired RitchieCam filter even faster—simply drag your finger across the viewfinder! If you are a RitchieCam Patron, far-left is Standard Color, far-right is Dramatic B&W, and the 16 other filters are in-between; otherwise, left is Standard Color, middle is Analog Color, and right is B&W Negative. This is a quick and fun way to get to whichever filter you want to use, or to see which filter might be the best fit for the scene.

The video above is a screen-recording I made using this new feature. Just picture a finger dragging across the screen, left-to-right. I was trying to be slow and smooth, but this is a snappy function, so it is as quick as you are—you are in control of how fast or slowly you swipe through the filter options.

Drag-to-switch is a new way to find and select filters, but the previous methods still work as they always have. I think a lot of you will prefer this new method, but it is completely optional, so nothing changes for you if you like your current process; however, if you ever wished that there was a quicker way to switch filters, now there is!

65:24 XPan Aspect Ratio

Analog Color Filter — XPan 65:24 Aspect Ratio

The 65:24 aspect ratio was made popular by XPan cameras, a joint venture between Fujifilm and Hasselblad. I received a lot of requests for this aspect ratio, so I am happy to announce that it is now an option on RitchieCam! You can capture panoramic pictures straight from RitchieCam, no cropping required.

Currently there are six aspect ratios to choose from: 4:3/3:4, 5:4/4:5, 1:1, 3:2/2:3, 16:9/9:16, & 65:24/24:65. The panoramic 65:24 ratio can be challenging to use, but also highly rewarding, producing cinematic feelings that are only possible by going wide—give the XPan ratio a try today!

Dramatic B&W Filter — Xpan 65:24 Aspect Ratio

Level Indicator for Straight-Down Photography

If you ever do product photography that requires you to shoot straight down, it can be difficult to get the camera level. I’m always off by a little, tilted slightly one way or another. But RitchieCam is here to help!

Now, when the phone is flat (parallel to the ground), the gyroscope activates a white and yellow plus that, when aligned (indicated by the yellow plus as the only one visible), lets you know that the phone is level, not tilted in any direction. This feature is always on, so anytime the phone is flat when using RitchieCam, the pluses will appear. Some of you might not ever use this, but for some of you this is a really big deal.

Level
Tilted

RitchieCam Filter Intensity Trick

iPhone 11 — RitchieCam App — Instant Color 3 — 30% Intensity

As Chase Jarvis coined, the best camera is the one that’s with you—sometimes that’s your cellphone. Whenever I use my iPhone for photography, I always use my very own camera app: RitchieCam. Designed with a one-step philosophy, RitchieCam produces photos that are ready to be shared or printed the instant that they’re captured.

I partnered with Sahand Nayebaziz to develop RitchieCam. I worked with Sahand on the Fuji X Weekly and Ricoh Recipes Apps, so we already had established a great working relationship even before beginning work on this camera app. Sahand uses Fujifilm cameras, and sometimes his iPhone, for his photography.

Sahand and I were talking recently when he mentioned that his favorite RitchieCam filter is Instant Color 3 set to about 30% intensity. I have always used 100% intensity. Even though I put this feature into the app, I had never used it personally, other than testing it out when it was being developed. I thought that some would appreciate it, so it was important to include it.

The three-slider icon (between the star and gear) opens the Filter Intensity slider. All the way right is 100% and all the way left is 0%. I like to use 100% on all of the filters, but that’s to be expected because I created the filters. You might prefer something different, so you can customize the intensity to fit your tastes.

I thought that there’s some potential for creativity with this feature, so I began to experiment with it. First I tried Sahand’s suggestion of Instant Color 3 at 30%, which did in fact produce good results (see the picture at the top of this article). Then I played around with the other filters at various intensities.

B&W Fade Filter set to 70% intensity

I found the three black-and-white filters in particular can produce interesting results, because they become muted-color filters when set to about 70% intensity. Of the three monochrome options, my favorite filter to adjust the intensity of in order to create color pictures is Dramatic B&W. Set to about 70%, the Dramatic B&W filter makes for wonderful muted-color photography. I was actually very impressed with this, and spent a couple of days shooting the Dramatic B&W filter set to about 70% intensity.

Here are some examples:

Dramatic B&W Filter set to 70% intensity
Dramatic B&W Filter set to 70% intensity
Dramatic B&W Filter set to 70% intensity
Dramatic B&W Filter set to 70% intensity
Dramatic B&W Filter set to 70% intensity

The RitchieCam App has 18 filters (15 color and 3 B&W), but the potential aesthetics that can be achieved using RitchieCam is much greater because you can adjust the intensity of each filter, and that adjustment changes the look—at least a little, and sometimes a lot—which gives you even greater creative control over your pictures.

If you have an iPhone and you haven’t downloaded the RitchieCam App, go to the Apple App Store right now and do so! Then play around with the Filter Intensity slider and see what fun things you come up with. Let me know which filter is your favorite, and what intensity you use. If you find something especially interesting, I’d love to try it myself.

RitchieCam Shoutout by Leigh & Raymond!!

Leigh & Raymond Photography (formally known as The Snap Chick) dropped a video with a wonderful shoutout to my RitchieCam iPhone camera App! You’ll find the video above—RitchieCam is mentioned at about the 11-minute mark. Wow! Really, wow! I’m speechless. Thank you, Leigh and Raymond, for your kindness and support!

For those who don’t know, RitchieCam is an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. There are 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. It is intended to be simple enough to be useful for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, although it is robust enough that even seasoned photographers should find it satisfying. Visit RitchieCam.com to learn more. Also, be sure to follow RitchieCam on Instagram!

If you have an iPhone, download RitchieCam from the Apple App Store today!

Here are some photographs that I recently captured with the RitchieCam App while visiting California’s central coast:

Classic Color Filter
Classic Color Filter
Color Negative Low Filter
Analog Color Filter
Instant Color 3 Filter
Instant Color 1 Filter
B&W Fade Filter — XPan 65:24 Aspect Ratio Coming Soon!

Review: Moment Tele 58mm Cellphone Lens

This review of the Moment Tele 58mm cellphone lens is long overdue. When I started developing the RitchieCam iPhone camera app about a year ago, I figured it would be a good idea to get some external lenses for my iPhone 11, which would come in handy when needing to capture the example pictures. While there are a number of companies that offer lenses that can be attached to your cellphone, the Moment offerings stood out to me as the “better” option, so that’s what I chose.

To use Moment’s lenses, you must also use their phone case, because that’s how the lenses mount to your phone. They have a case for many phone makes and models, so there’s a good chance there’s one available for your device. The case is good quality, and has survived nearly a year of heavy use and abuse. I cannot tell you how many times that I’ve dropped my phone and thought it was done for, yet it survived unscathed, without even a scratch! While I’m sure there are cases that offer more protection, I’m pretty darn impressed with how good the Moment case has been.

One cool thing about the Moment case is that it has the “MagSafe” stuff built-in. I have this tripod-mount accessory that attaches to the case (via magnetism), which has come in handy a number of times. It’s a really good method to mount your cellphone to a tripod, if that’s something you do. There are a number of other accessories that you can buy that also use magnets to attach to your case, but the only one that I personally have used is that tripod accessory.

I had never used an external lens before with a cellphone, so I was definitely a novice when I started—I didn’t really realize how it all worked. On my iPhone 11 case, the lens mounts only over the main camera. The iPhone 11 has two rear facing cameras: 1x (26mm full-frame-equivalent) and 0.5x (13mm full-frame-equivalent). The Moment lenses cannot mount over the 13mm lens, only over the 26mm lens.

I have two Moment lenses: 18mm and 58mm. The Moment lenses are actually “conversion” lenses, and the millimeter numbers don’t actually mean anything. The 18mm is a 0.5x wide conversion lens, and the 58mm is a 2x tele conversion lens. Using the 18mm lens on the 26mm camera actually makes it 13mm, which is the same focal length of the second camera. In other words, the 18mm lens is pointless for the iPhone 11; however, I’m sure it makes sense for other cellphones. The 58mm lens makes the main camera 52mm, which is a very useful focal-length. The focal-length that these lenses will be on your cellphone depends on the focal-length of the cameras on your cellphone (either times by .5 for the 18mm lens or times by 2 for the 58mm lens). Clear as mud? I think if Moment had simply called the one lens 2x teleconverter and the other .5x wide-converter (instead of using millimeter numbers) it would save a lot of confusion. As you can imagine, the Moment Tele 58mm lens is the one that I used by far the most.

Initially I was disappointed by these lenses. I think my expectations were significantly askew. I figured that I’d be impressed by the image quality when using these lenses vs. not using them; however, the image quality will never be greater than that of the lens permanently attached to your cellphone. These lenses won’t improve on what the manufacturer installed on your device. Instead, what you get is either a longer or more wide-angle focal length without a loss in image quality. It’s much better to use the 58mm lens than “zoom by cropping” (a.k.a. digital zoom). The image quality produced by these lenses is determined mostly by the image quality produced by your phone.

iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “Instant Color 3” – Arches NP, UT

The reason to use the Moment Tele 58mm lens is to double the reach of your built-in cellphone lens without degrading the image quality (or, if it does degrade the image quality, it’s extraordinarily minimal and not really noticeable). That’s what this lens does, and it does it well. It doesn’t do much else, so keep your expectations in check.

When I carry the 58mm lens with me, I get three focal-length options on my iPhone 11: 13mm (using the 0.5x camera), 26mm (using the 1x camera without the Moment lens), and 52mm (using the 1x camera with the 58mm lens). Those are all excellent focal-lengths to have available. While I prefer to use my Fujifilm cameras over my cellphone, as Chase Jarvis coined, the best camera is the one you have with you, which is sometimes my cellphone. When I do use my cellphone for photography, I appreciate having the Moment Tele 58mm lens, because it affords me additional flexibility.

I said two paragraphs ago that this lens “doesn’t do much else” which isn’t completely true. There’s a small amount of pincushion distortion, which, when combined with the distortion in the iPhone 11 camera, can do some weird things to straight lines when photographing brick walls. The solution: don’t photograph brick walls. There’s also some interesting lens flare that shows up sometimes (see picture below), which I personally like, but maybe you won’t, depending on how you feel about lens flare. The Moment lens is also softer in the corners than the 1x iPhone camera.

iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “Faded Film” – Canyonlands NP, UT

The build quality of the Moment Tele 58mm lens is excellent, made of metal and glass. It has six elements in four groups, and the glass has multi-layered anti-reflective coating. It comes with a lens cap and carrying bag. The lens is small enough that you can easily take it with you, although when attached to the phone, it’s unlikely that the phone will fit into your pocket (unless you have particularly large pockets).

I have used the Moment Tele 58mm lens for nearly a year now. It’s not an essential cellphone accessory, but it’s certainly nice to have around. I found the lens and the Moment case (that you are required to have in order to use the lens)—plus the tripod-mount accessory—to be useful to me. If you do a lot of cellphone photography, you might want to take a closer look at these Moment products, and consider if they might be useful to you, too. Like a lot of things in the photography world, these products are not cheap, but if you think you’ll use them regularly, they might very well be worth the cost. The best place to find these products is on Moment’s website.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Moment Tele 58mm lens B&H
Moment MagSafe Tripod Mount B&H

Gallery:

iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “Vintage Kodak” – Arches NP, UT
iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “Sunny Day” – Canyonlands NP, UT
iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “Instant Color 3” – Canyonlands NP, UT
iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “Standard Film” – Canyonlands NP, UT
iPhone 11 + Moment 58mm – RitchieCam App – “B&W Fade” – Arches NP, UT

What is RitchieCam? It’s an easy-to-use streamlined camera app intended to bring one-step photography to the iPhone. You’ll find 18 analog-inspired filters so that you don’t have to edit your mobile pictures if you don’t want to. I think you will appreciate the app, yet it is designed for anyone and everyone with an iPhone, and not just photographers. You can read all about it at RitchieCam.com. The app is intended to be a useful free tool, yet for $9.99 (USD +Tax annually) you can unlock all of the filters and features for the best app experience.

Thoughts on Apps & App Development

Since I have three apps now—Fuji X Weekly, Ricoh Recipes, and RitchieCam—I’ve been asked by several people for advice on app development. I’ve also been meaning to discuss some of the things I’ve learned, because it’s interesting, and maybe it’s useful information to a few of you. I’ve hesitated to write this as it might seem like a boring topic—perhaps even controversial or offensive at times—and unrelated to Fujifilm, but I truly hope that by the end there’ll be something for you. I write from real-world experience, but I’ve also researched this fairly extensively over the last year-and-a-half (including reading several books on the topics), so I’m not making this stuff up.

I have received a lot of criticism over the pricing structure of my apps. There are three options: free, freemium (the app is free, but there’s a fee for some features), and premium (not free). Within freemium and premium are three options: one-time fee (to unlock everything), à la carte fees (pay individually for this or that), and subscriptions (reoccurring monthly or annually).

One-time fees used to be the most common, but are much less so now. Why? Apps used to be popular for a season, then the next trend would make them irrelevant, so the life cycle of apps was typically pretty short, usually two years or less. Nowadays apps have a much longer lifespan—often a decade or even indefinitely—so the one-time fee model makes no sense. You wouldn’t buy a vacuum cleaner and expect it to be up-kept and improved upon by the manufacturer for years to come—not without additional fees, anyway—but people expect that from apps and software. Apps that use this model are abandoned as soon as new customers become less frequent. There are numerous apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store right now that succumbed to this fate. In my research I came across countless apps that hadn’t been updated in years, where the most recent review was two years old, and it was begging the developer to update the out-of-date app. This model is good for short-term projects, but is not good if you want an app to be around for years and years to come, because as soon as the financial motivation dries up, the app is neglected and abandoned.

The apps that use à la carte fees are often gaming and dating apps. You pay to unlock something, such as a level redo, puzzle hint, or something like that. This can be affective, but you have to be careful because if not done tastefully it can come across as scammy. People don’t like paying “hidden” fees around every corner.

So that leaves us with the subscription model, which is a win-win, and allows the app to continuously improve into something greater over time. This is best-case for the developer because it ensures continuous resources, and best-case for the customer because it ensures the app will improve regularly over time and not be left abandoned. More and more apps are going this route, and it is now the most common model. It’s all rainbows and roses except for one thing: many people don’t like subscriptions in general, and some people passionately oppose it with all their heart, as if it were some great evil.

Premium apps are good if you can get the word out. It can be tough to gain traction, because most people don’t want to pay for things, so they won’t buy it. That’s why freemium is often preferred. Here’s the thing, though: 95% of people will use the app for free, and only 5% will subscribe—it’s actually more like 8% on Apple and 2% on Android (yes, this is true!). Apple users are much more likely to spend money on apps than Android, but either way we’re still talking about small percentages. That also means that 95% of people will pass on premium apps. With freemium, for 95 people who are using it for free, they’ll tell others, which will lead to 20 new users, and one of those will subscribe. That’s why a lot of developers choose freemium over premium—it’s a little easier to gain the traction you need to be successful.

Now let’s talk about free apps, or even the “free” aspect of most freemium apps. There are two sayings: there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and if you aren’t the customer than you are the product. Both are true. In addition to all of the time I put into creating, maintaining, and improving apps, there’s a real cost that I pay out of pocket. In fact, each time one of my apps is opened on your phone, I am charged an extraordinarily small fee, which does add up. Just because you are not paying, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t paying on your behalf. That lunch might be free to you, but it isn’t free.

If you aren’t willing to be the customer, app developers turn you into the product. They sell you ads or—much worse—sell your data. Ads are annoying, but a lot of people are willing to put up with them in exchange for something being free. For app developers, unless you have millions of users, ad revenue doesn’t add up into anything more than pocket change. The real money is in data harvesting. Companies want to serve personalized ads that are highly affective, and they need to know everything about you in order to do this. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry because it works, and, because of this, you unknowingly spend much more than the cost of an app subscription. That’s the cost of being the product.

Here’s the creepy part. If I were to harvest data with, say, the RitchieCam app, I could know so much about you. If I have access to your GPS, I could know where you live, and, comparing that with Zillow, I could know more-or-less how affluent you are. I could track where you work, and, referencing Google maps, could know what industry you are in. I could know where you shop. I could know where you eat out at. I could know where your kids go to school. Since I have access to your camera and library, I could deduce the size of your family, your family’s genders, who your friends are, if you have pets, I could read the text on your screenshots. I could do all of this and so much more. Rest assured that I do not collect or sell any data whatsoever, which isn’t particularly common, because I’m leaving money on the table. Most free and freemium apps are indeed collecting and selling your data, because there’s no free lunch, so they’ve turned you into the product for profit.

What I have said might sound farfetched, but it isn’t. In fact, what I pointed out was really just the tip of the iceberg. You have apps on your phone right now—apps that you regularly use and trust—that go well beyond what I described in the previous paragraph. Have you ever talked about something out-loud and five minutes later see an ad for it? Ads are highly personalized and targeted because your apps know so much about you, and companies pay big bucks for that knowledge, because it means even bigger bucks—your bucks—become their profits.

Again, I want to make it clear that none of my apps collect or sell data. It’s to my own detriment that I do this, but I do it for you because you deserve it, and it’s the right thing to do, even if it is rare. On my apps, you are never, ever the product. I “pay for your lunch” for you if you are using the apps for free, and I happily do that.

You might be surprised to hear this, but I am told frequently that I do not give enough away for free. I am told that I am selfish and greedy because I have the audacity to charge “so much” for things. I am told that my approach is wrong. I am sorry if you feel that way, but I deserve something for my work, right? Trust me, I’m not rolling in the dough or becoming wealthy from this. I have enough to put food on the table, a roof over my head, and take trips sometimes (adventures are often more worthwhile investments than gear), but I couldn’t go out and purchase a GFX system right now. This is to say that the perception of my compensation is often exaggerated and misunderstood—I’m doing alright, but if I were indeed greedy and selfish I could be doing better. The accusations are hurtful because they’re untrue.

There’s a lot that can be debated on what exact paths are the best paths. I chose the freemium model after much research and advice from others with experience within the industry. Some might disagree with that decision. I chose not to turn those using the apps for free into products. Some would say that’s leaving money on the table, and everyone else is doing it anyway. I chose the subscription prices for a reason—I’ve received a lot of criticism from that, and many “Monday morning quarterbacks” tell me that I got it all wrong, although the books I’ve read and those I’ve spoken with within the industry tell me that I am where I should be (I “got it right” thanks to all the research that wen’t into the decisions to begin with, but there’s always different paths and varying philosophies). As Abraham Lincoln stated, “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” In other words, nothing that I do will make everyone happy, but I hope that many people find my apps to be helpful and worthwhile tools. I hope that most of those who subscribe find it to be worth their money, and that they don’t feel ripped off or swindled—that they’re good values for what they deliver. Not all will feel that way, though, and that’s just the way it is.

For those wanting to create an app, you have to know that, no matter how much research you do, and no matter how much of your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears you pour into it, there are some who won’t like it and some who will criticize your decisions. Mean and hurtful things will be said about you. You can’t make everyone happy, and you have to know that and accept that, but if you do what you believe is right—especially if you’ve done extensive research—you’re going to make some people happy just for the fact that you did it. The tricky part is figuring out how to maximize happiness and minimize the dissatisfaction, while also being fair to yourself, because you deserve satisfaction and compensation for your time, money, and hard work that you poured into it. It’s definitely a difficult and precarious balancing act that has to be regularly analyzed and addressed, and perhaps adjusted if needed.

I know this lengthy article has nothing to do with the regular content of this website, but I hope it is helpful for a few of you, and that most of you got something out of it (even if it is simply awareness of what your apps are doing behind the scenes). I didn’t write this as any sort of complaint or “woe is me” statement, because I don’t mean it that way whatsoever. I am quite happy with what I’m doing, and I know that it is helpful to many of you—it is even having an impact on the photography continuum, something I never imagined would happen! I’m really honored and blessed to be a part of this. I’m extraordinarily flattered and humbled if I’ve impacted your photography in some small way. It really is my pleasure to do all that I do for the Fujifilm community. With all of that said, I think it is important to be authentic, which means being vulnerable, and sharing this information is one way to do that. Perhaps somehow this was a meaningful article for some of you, and maybe it was worth your time today to read, even if it wasn’t about Fujifilm cameras.

Fuji X Weekly App: Android Apple
Ricoh Recipes App: Android Apple
RitchieCam App: Apple