Probably the biggest headline is that RitchieCam can now take full-resolution 48MP images! If you have a Pro or Pro Max version of an iPhone 14 or 15 (with a 48mp 1x camera), it’s now possible to capture a richly-detailed high-res picture. In order to do this (for those with a compatible device), select the Gear icon, then tap 48MP Capture to enable. By default, 48MP is disabled. When enabled, RitchieCam will save a 48MP JPEG or HEIC (depending on which format you have selected), plus a 48MP RAW file if that is also selected.
While this new option is definitely wonderful, there are some important considerations that must be mentioned. First, 48MP full-res slows down the camera significantly, and especially if you are also saving a RAW file. If you need to be quick, 48MP should probably be disabled. Second, the image is not pixel-binned, which means that dynamic range will be impacted, and high-ISO pictures won’t look as good. If the scene is particularly contrasty and you are concerned about highlight and shadow details, or if it is a dimly lit, you probably want to take advantage of pixel-binning, and get a standard 12MP image instead. Third, 48MP takes up a lot of storage space on your device, so you might want to use 48MP sparingly and thoughtfully.
One example where 48MP makes a lot of sense is when you are shooting in the 65:24 XPan aspect ratio, which cuts out half of the resolution. Cropping out half of 12MP is a bit crippling. It’s plenty of resolution for internet viewing, but prints are limited to 6″x12″, or perhaps 9″x18″ if you’ve got a clean, sharp picture that won’t be viewed too closely (but that’s definitely pushing it). Now, with 48MP, you have a ton of fine details, and can print 18″x36″ if you want. I think the XPan aspect ratio is the big winner with regards to the high-resolution option, but anytime that you think you might want to make a large print of the scene, and the lighting situation allows, you may want to consider enabling 48MP Capture.
There are some other great parts to this update. Photos captured with RitchieCam can now be viewed, shared, or deleted straight from the App—this is a first step in a bigger plan, so it’s definitely not finished, but finished enough to include in this update. The HEIC format has been fixed, and is once again available. We found the bug that Apple included in iOS 17, and circumvented it. It was a needle-in-a-haystack situation, but thankfully it was found and fixed, and you can use HEIC instead of JPEG if you’d like. There are also some small efficiency improvements and bug fixes that you’re not likely to notice (but maybe you will). A lot of work went into this update.
We’re not finished, though. A lot of other great features and improvements are being worked on right now, most of which will be for all iPhones (regardless of whether it has 48MP or not). I’m not sure when the next update will be ready, but it shouldn’t be all that far in the future, so stay tuned!
You might or might not have noticed the recent RitchieCam 1.6.1 update. The App Store description states, “Temporarily removed HEIC format on certain operating systems until a future RitchieCam update.” So what’s going on?
There’s a weird bug on iOS 17 that affects RitchieCam. While iOS 17 isn’t officially out yet, the Beta test version is available today. Sometime between two and three weeks from now, Apple will make iOS 17 available to all compatible iPhones (which will be most), and your phone might even automatically update itself to the new operating system overnight as you sleep. It’s uncertain if Apple will fix the bug prior to publicly launching iOS 17 in mid-September.
The weird bug only affects HEIC format, and not JPEG. Photos captured using the HEIC format on RitchieCam display strangely like a double-exposure, as if the picture is offset and enlarged over itself with a 50% opacity. If you share the images (text, airdrop, email) to a non-iOS 17 device (for example, an iPhone with iOS 16, or a computer) it displays normally, but on iOS 17 phones, it displays super weirdly. HEIC images captured with the standard Apple camera app don’t seem to have this issue.
I don’t know what exactly is causing the problem, so I don’t yet know how to fix it. It’s been reported to Apple, so I’m hoping that when iOS 17 is released next month, they’ll have fixed whatever it is that they did to cause this issue, but I have no way to know if they will or not. If not, I hope to get to the bottom of it and have HEIC working properly again soon.
The temporary fix that RitchieCam version 1.6.1 provides is simple: disable HEIC on iPhones that have iOS 17. If your iPhone has iOS 16.6 or older, there’s no change for you. Whatever you have selected, whether HEIC or JPEG, will work as normal. But if you have the iOS 17 Beta, or the public version when it is released soon, RitchieCam will default to JPEG, and HEIC will be unavailable for you to choose. I’m really sorry if this causes any trouble. Hopefully it will be short-lived, and HEIC will be available in the near future for iOS 17.
I also want to say “thank you” to everyone who reported this issue to me. Your feedback allowed this temporary fix to be made available before the new operating system rolled out to the masses. I really appreciate your help!
Photography is moving in a clear direction, and it is unedited. Let me explain.
There’s a new photography trend on the iPhone. Instead of using the front-facing camera to take selfies, people are taking screen shots of the preview from the selfie camera. Why? What’s the difference? The pipeline for the image preview and the actual photographs are different on the iPhone. Most notably, Apple applies an HDR processing to the exposure (but not the preview), which creates a less-contrasty picture. If you are going to apply a filter to the photo and edit it, having a flatter starting point makes sense; however, if you are not editing, one might prefer the more-contrasty image preview. Aside from that, it can be frustrating that the preview doesn’t match the photograph.
My RitchieCam iPhone camera app uses the same pipeline for both the image processing and the preview, so it doesn’t have this issue. The preview you see will be the picture you get. No need to screenshot, which produces a much-lower resolution image. Those using my camera app (instead of the native iPhone app) won’t need to go through the hassle of the screen shot (plus cropping out the non-image part); instead, they’ll have better quality pictures with an analog-inspired aesthetic to post to social media.
Of course, we’re not talking about photographers here, but snap-shooters, as I doubt that anyone who would self-identify as a photographer is taking screenshots instead of using the camera. It shouldn’t be surprising that they’re uninterested in picture manipulation, and just want good results without fuss. Maybe they don’t know how to edit pictures, and the idea of doing so is very intimidating, so they have no interest in learning. It could be that they don’t want to spend their time with picture editing, and just want to share (either through text or social media) their snaps quickly—the easier the better, but the pictures still need to look decent. Others don’t edit because doing so seems less authentic; Photoshop is a bad word, and picture-manipulation equals people-manipulation. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of photos captured across the world are by amateurs, so their opinions, preferences, and trends do matter.
For the advanced-hobbyist or professional, surely photo manipulation is a requirement, right? There’s a growing movement towards reduced (or even eliminated) photo editing. First, the less time spent sitting at a computer equals more production and/or more time with friends and family. For a lot of people, for every hour out with a camera photographing means two hours in Lightroom or Capture One fiddling with the RAW files; if those two hours can be reduced by 50% or more (especially more), that’s a huge win! Second, shooting camera-made JPEGs affords the advantage of knowing exactly what you’re going to get before even pressing the shutter. Don’t like what you see? Simply make a few quick adjustments until you do, then take the picture. Not having to pre-visualize in your mind the finished photo, but seeing it right there in the viewfinder in real time, is a game-changer for many. Third, getting great (often analog-like) results straight-out-of-camera can be a much more fun photographic process, especially if you don’t enjoy sitting for hours at a computer post-processing pictures.
I used to shoot RAW and edit, but thanks to Fujifilm cameras and Film Simulation Recipes, I now use unedited (or sometimes lightly-edited) camera-made JPEGs. I will crop or straighten when needed, which is the majority of my post-processing; occasionally I will adjust the brightness a notch, but very rarely do I manipulate any further than that. Most of my pictures are unedited, even to a strict definition. This has changed my life, no hyperbole! My post workflow takes minutes instead of hours, which has made me a much more productive photographer while simultaneously improving home-life, because I can now spend more time with my wife and kids. That’s amazing!
For example, on a recent trip to the California coast, during the downtimes—such as while at lunch, as a passenger in a car, or at night before bed—I transferred the JPEGs from my cameras to my phone, cropped if needed, and uploaded to cloud storage. A few minutes here and there meant that, by the time I got home, my workflow was essentially already complete. For most photographers, once back home the work would just be getting started, with many hours sitting at a computer.
But, but, but… surely the unedited camera-made JPEGs are not good enough for serious photography, right? You couldn’t do true professional work like this, could you? You can’t print very large and still look stunning, can you? Actually, yes—you can! I know because several successful professional photographers have told me that this is how they now do their paid work. You’d be surprised by just how many are doing some or even all of their pro photo work completely unedited or just lightly edited.
It’s not just photographers who benefit from a simplified workflow, but clients. Because of social media, people often desire to have a quick turnaround on their professional photographs. The newlywed couple doesn’t want to wait two weeks for the wedding pictures to be done, and in fact their parents wished for them that very day! If you can deliver the images quickly, you have a clear advantage over your competition.
In fact, Fujifilm X-Photographer Nathalie Boucry told me about two recent corporate events where the client wanted the photos as the event was happening! Periodically, every so many minutes throughout the day, she would download the straight-out-of-camera images from her camera to her phone, then upload them to a cloud location that the client had access to. As the event was happening, they were able to share the pictures to their social media accounts. Delivering real-time results to the client is going to be the future of event photography. Nathalie was able to do this thanks to the Film Simulation Recipes that she had programmed into her Fujifilm cameras.
Whether it is professional, hobby, or snap-shooting, photography is slowly and stubbornly moving towards less editing. It is easier and quicker and more fun, the disadvantages of it are disappearing, and the stigmatization is dissipating. More and more, people want great results without fuss. Editing is no longer a requirement, especially if you have gear that will deliver solid out-of-camera pictures, such as Fujifilm cameras or the RitchieCam app.
The next battle will be AI. Technology allows one to simulate a photograph with a string of words, or add to an image what wasn’t there—all with a similar ease to shooting camera-made JPEGs. It will come down to authenticity. I believe that as tech pushes us towards an augmented or even fully artificial reality, society will push back with an equal and opposite force towards the genuine. People will generally prefer authenticity over artificial, but it will be a divide. Camera makers should carefully consider how to move forward through all of this, and how they can improve their straight-out-of-camera experience. Fujifilm has a clear advantage, which materialized in the recent explosion in demand for the X100V. A simplified workflow with less editing or even no editing is the future of photography, and the future is now.
There’s an easy way to get a filmic look from your iPhone!
I set out to help my wife, Amanda, get a filmic look from her cellphone images. Her “main” camera is a Fujifilm X-T4, but she also shoots quite a bit on her iPhone 13 Pro; her interest in photography and videography began with the iPhone. The filmic aesthetic is highly sought after, but not always easy to achieve; however, I found a good way to get it on the iPhone, so read on to find out how you can do it, too!
What exactly is a filmic look? I would describe it as a cinematic film aesthetic. Think stills from a motion picture, or photographs captured with cinema film that has had the Remjet layer removed. This wasn’t an attempt to mimic any specific movie or emulsion, but just achieve a general filmic look through cellphone photography—make it seem less digital and more analog-like, except without all of the editing that is traditionally required. As a mother of four and behind-the-scenes Fuji X Weekly cohort, Amanda is quite busy, and doesn’t have time for extensive editing, so post-processing pictures could not be a prerequisite for achieving a filmic aesthetic.
I’m sure the Sandmarc case isn’t the only one that allows you to use filters, but it is the one we got, and so far it seems to be a quality product. It works well and is reasonably inexpensive, so it’s easy to recommend. It did take a fall; while the case kept the phone safe and undamaged (which is great!), it did leave a noticeable mark on the case itself. Another note: Sandmarc has their own line of filters—including a diffusion filter—but we used the 20% CineBloom because I already own it for my Fujifilm X100V. I personally really like CineBlooms, but the brand of diffusion filter doesn’t really matter all that much, I don’t think.
On the iPhone 13 Pro, you can attach the filter over the main 26mm camera or over the telephoto 77mm camera, but not over the ultra-wide 13mm camera. You can only use it on one camera at a time, so it does take some of the convenience out of using the iPhone for photography—not only do you have to carry the filter, but also screw it over the correct lens. Not a dealbreaker for this method, but certainly a limitation that one should be aware of.
The camera app that Amanda uses is RitchieCam, which has filters inspired by film, crafted to have an analog essence. Designed with a one-step philosophy, RitchieCam produces photos that are ready to be shared or printed the instant that they’re captured. RitchieCam was recently enthusiastically endorsed by Leigh & Raymond Photography as their favorite iPhone camera app—it was one of their five suggested ways for achieving a film look on a digital camera. RitchieCam is my very own camera app; download it for free today from the Apple App Store!
I said that the 20% CineBloom was key to getting a filmic look because diffusion filters take the digital edge off of digital pictures. It blooms the highlights and softens the shadows more like negative film. Also, diffusion filters have been a cinematographic tool long before they were popular for still photography, so the aesthetic produced by these filters is inherently filmic. Below is an example of what a diffusion filter does to an image. I chose this particular set because the difference is obvious; oftentimes the effect is a little less apparent, especially if there is not a bright light source (such as the sun) in or near the frame. The strongest CineBloom is 20%, so if you find it to be too strong, consider the 10% or 5% options instead—sometimes subtlety is preferable.
Below are some of Amanda’s pictures captured with her iPhone 13 Pro using RitchieCam and the 20% CineBloom filter, made possible by the Sandmarc case and filter adapter. Combining RitchieCam with a diffusion filter produces images with a filmic quality, and, because editing isn’t required, this process works well for those who don’t have time to post-process their pictures, or who only want to do quick adjustments.
This year I’ve had the opportunity to visit five different National Parks! I love going to National Parks to experience the wonder of nature. They’re great for photography, and they’re great for the soul. Anytime the opportunity arrises to visit a National Park, I jump at it. In winter, I traveled to Arches National Park in southern Utah, Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah, and Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming. In spring, I visited Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah and Hot Springs National Park in central Arkansas. These are wonderful locations that are worth the effort to experience!
While my main cameras are Fujifilm—such as the X100V and X-E4—I also use my iPhone for photography. Chase Jarvis famously coined, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” He was specifically stating that if your cellphone is your only option, then it’s the best option; however, I would go a step further and say that your cellphone can be used in conjunction with your main cameras. Why? Your phone might have a different focal length than the lens on your camera (versatility). It’s quicker and easier to share the pictures from your phone (convenience). You don’t have to think about the settings (simplicity). Your phone is more easily portable—you can have it with you when your camera isn’t as practical to bring along (compactness). It doesn’t have to be either your camera or your phone—it can be both, and I used both on my visits to these five National Parks.
Of course, when I photograph with my iPhone, I use my very own RitchieCam App, which is a streamlined camera app with no-edit filters. RitchieCam is intended to help you capture everyday moments—including those that happen while visiting National Parks—more beautifully while maintaining simplicity (anyone can use it, not just photographers). The app is free to download and use—becoming a RitchieCam Patron unlocks the app’s full capabilities. If you have an iPhone, be sure to download RitchieCam today (click here)!
I utilized RitchieCam on my iPhone to photograph these National Parks, and so did others in my family: my wife (Amanda), my daughter (Joy), and my son (Jonathan)—they used RitchieCam, too! While most of the pictures in this article were captured by me, there are a few that they took. After our visits, it’s a lot of fun sharing our photos with each other. We all love going to National Parks, and being able to share the photographic experiences—thanks to RitchieCam—makes it even better.
Arches National Park — Utah
If you love unusual rock formations, Arches National Park in southeastern Utah is the place for you! Protruding from the high-desert sand are massive red rocks, which form bluffs, pinnacles, balancing acts, and (of course) arches. There are over 2,000 arches within the National Park, which is the highest concentration of stone arches in the world! Several movies have had scenes filmed in this National Park, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Thelma and Louise, and Hulk, among others.
Arches National Park is a great place to visit anytime of the year; however, it can be extremely crowded in the summer (not to mention hot), so the winter is my favorite season. It snowed while we were there—a somewhat rare occurrence, although it does happen at least a few days each winter. I loved photographing the park blanketed in white snow, but it melted quickly, and was mostly gone by the end of the day. While we only spent one day in Arches National Park, we made a lifetime of memories there.
Canyonlands National Park — Utah
The day after our Arches visit, we went to the nearby Canyonlands National Park. While Arches can get packed with people, I’ve never seen a crowd at Canyonlands—I’m sure it happens, but I’ve always found plenty of solitude. The Colorado River goes through both Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon, and they’re both on the Colorado Plateau—both are indeed natural wonders, and there are certainly some similarities between them, yet each offers a unique experience for visitors. Picking a favorite National Park is a difficult and unfair endeavor, but Canyonlands is without a doubt one of my top picks—maybe not number one, but definitely top five.
The reason why Canyonlands was on Day 2 and not Day 1 of our National Parks adventure is because it was closed the day prior due to the snowfall. A dusting of snow in Arches was a blizzard in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands, which sits about 6,000′ above sea level, and about 1,000′ higher than the terrain below. Thankfully, by the time we arrived, most of the snow had melted, and we had a fun day hiking, taking in the incredible canyon views that this park offers.
Bryce Canyon National Park — Utah
In southwestern Utah is Bryce Canyon National Park, which is known for its vibrant red hoodoos. While I’ve visited the nearby Zion National Park a couple of times, I had never made it to Bryce Canyon until this last spring. Wow! I was really missing out—Bryce Canyon is absolutely incredible! It’s a National Park that everyone should experience at least once, if they can. While Zion is quite nice, too, if you only have time for one or the other, I would go to Bryce Canyon.
The elevation of the park varies between 6,600′ and 9,100′ depending on where you’re at. Despite “canyon” in its name, Bryce Canyon is technically not a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters. To really experience the park you’ll want to put on your hiking shoes; however, don’t expect an easy trail, as the paths are often steep and full of switchbacks. It’s completely worthwhile, though, and, if you are physically able to do it, I highly recommend going down a trail or two while you’re there.
Grand Teton National Park — Wyoming
The Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming is an amazing sight to behold! I had been once before—in late-spring several years ago—and this was my first winter visit. Unfortunately, the park was much less accessible this time, due to snow. Jackson Hole is a ski destination, so there were lots of tourists, but most of my favorite photography spots (that I was hoping to return to) were closed. I would say that it was disappointing, but when you view the towering range, despite the conditions, it’s impossible to be disappointed—it just made me eager to come again in a different season.
Within Grand Teton National Park are eight peaks that are over 12,000′ above sea level. The location of Ansel Adams’ famous Snake River Overlook picture is well marked and (normally) easily accessible—I had to hike through some knee-deep snow to get to it on this trip. Definitely worth seeing, but perhaps winter isn’t the best time.
Hot Springs National Park — Arkansas
Perhaps the strangest National Park I’ve ever experienced is Hot Springs National Park. Located in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas, this park is free to visit (although the observation tower has a fee to access), but there’s not much to see. You can self-tour one of the bathhouses (which is now the visitors center). There are a couple of rather-ordinary springs that you can view—unfortunately, most of the springs are oddly capped with metal encasements. There are some trails that twist up a hill (along with a road), and at the top is a tower, which offers breathtaking views of the southern Ozarks. None of it comes close to the grandness that I have come to expect from National Parks, or even many state parks.
I was surprised by the beauty of this region. I liked Hot Springs. The National Park was a good place to spend a few hours. But I left wondering why in the world this was a National Park, because it doesn’t seem like it should be. It’s worth visiting if you’re in the area (and the area is worth visiting), but I wouldn’t make a special trip just to see Hot Springs National Park. Still, we had a good time, and made some family memories, and that’s what really matters.
There are 63 National Parks in America, and someday I hope to visit them all. It will take years—probably a lifetime! Five in one year is a good lot, and maybe the opportunity will arise to visit even more before January rolls around. I hope so. And if I do, not only will I bring my Fujifilm cameras, but my iPhone, too.
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
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.