The Daily App: Dblcam -- Two Cameras Are Better Than One
Using both iPhone lenses at once is like violating the laws of physics -- you just can't do it. But with Dblcam, you can come close. It's a fun plaything for rabid mobile photography. But is it a one-trick pony? That depends...
What's the App?
Dblcam, free for iOS, has a twist: you can take pictures with both front- and rear-facing cameras almost simultaneously. The app then combines them side-by-side into one landscape shot. The developers are the guys behind Printstagram, a popular Instagram-printing service. Dblcam is a cool concept, and you can make some interesting juxtapositions. When you think of photos, you tend to see what's in front of you, but adding that second lens lets you capture off-screen space for a fuller sense of the moment.
Want to capture that stunning mountain? Sure, you snap a normal photo, but why not take both sides of the slope and create a pyramid-like range? It's a nice way to manipulate otherwise ordinary-looking shots for an interesting twist. But I think the best part is using a bit of imagination to craft humorous situations. Not only can take that scenic sunset in front of you, but you can snap a photo of yourself standing at the lookout point among the hordes of tourists. It's that off-beat irony that I find most enjoyable.
It's neat, but the execution of this nifty idea is a bit tricky. In truth, there's no way for both cameras to work at once, so framing each half of the image is a complicated dance: first you frame the image from the front lens, then you hit a button to frame the rear-facing camera -- so you can't see both at the same time and have to oscillate between the two views to find a happy medium. You'll have to switch back and forth, and it's tedious.
It works best with vertical stills. I wish there was a way to flip horizontal images within the app -- one of the halves always ends up upside-down -- but there are no editing tools within the app. You'll have to use another app to adjust brightness, contrast or other attributes. Another problem: the quality difference between the two iPhone lenses. No matter what model you have, the front-facing camera takes lower-quality photos, and in some Dblcam pics, the difference is enough to ruin the entire picture: you get a sharp, vivid shot on one half and a grainy mess on the other. Again, since there are no in-app controls, you can't focus or otherwise adjust the images -- what you see is what you get. As a result, Dblcam works best in the bright and sunny outdoors, so don't try to use it in the club.
You'll Want It If...
You're a shutterbug that loves to play with all the creative aspects of the iPhone. Mobile photography has grown into a hobby and art form all its own, complete with a cottage industry of fun apps. If you're into novelty and challenge, Dblcam is a fine addition to your growing stable of photo apps -- just don't make it the only one in your arsenal or you'll be disappointed.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
The simple truth: the use of both cameras is Dblcam's only real feature, so it's not really a full-fledged photo app, but more of a novelty and toy. It's a fun toy, but you'll only play with it for as long as you find it amusing. You'll likely find it limited, so make sure you also have apps like Incredibooth, Cinemagram and Retrica Pro.
Beyond its lack of function, there are a few issues: the interface sacrifices usefulness for hipster minimalism -- I like to swipe to delete a photo, for example, instead of bouncing to another screen to do it. Overall though, if you're creative, you'll enjoy exploring your conceptual possibilities. They say hindsight is 20/20, but in this case, foresight is too, just with a lower-resolution. ♦
Categories: Photography | The Daily App