“Digital Negative” app review for iOS

UPDATE: The app had a recent updated so I gave it another try. They fixed the crashing and strange colour cast when shooting DNG files. Ok, so now that those two issues are fixed how does is it working out? Well, there is indeed an increase in captured dynamic range to be sure. I took a shot that had purposely blown out windows. When I tried to retrieve detail from the windows using Lightroom, low and behold I could pull back and reveal detail outside. But there are a couple of trade-offs for the increased dynamic range. First, the colour while greatly improved still seems to be a bit off. I think the developers have a lot of work to go on fixing this. Secondly, there seems to be way more “noise” in the files even in brightly lit scenes. I’m not sure if this is a side effect of the app or if this is the way the sensor is recording the information before any internal noise reduction is applied.  At this point it is irrelevant to which is at fault because the increased exposure latitude is not worth the inferior colour and increased noise artifacts.

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Cypress Innovations just launched their new app, “Digital Negative” and it’s touted as designed to specifically capture the highest quality images from the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch camera. Supposedly, it captures true uncompressed images that retain all of the information recorded by the camera sensor and writes these files as a .DNG or “digital negative”. DNG is adobe’s RAW image format for standardizing digital files. For $2.99 I decided to give it a go, but unfortunately I have to report that this app is majorly broken.

I checked with some others who have tried it and they too are reporting the exact issues I’m having. First, the app crashes after every shot taken. Secondly, while the app does seemingly write 30mb .dng files, they are completely non usable. I tried opening the DNG files in Lightroom 4, which they do open, but all of the files are pink and magenta and can’t be white balanced correctly, I mean not even close!  I’m not exactly sure what is going on but I’d wager the debayering algorithm that is supposed to make sense of the data from the sensor is totally flawed.

I’m really astounded that these developers have the nerve to release broken and buggy products thinking we should just be fine and accept it!  For the moment, this app is a complete waste of money. I did not try the TIFF functionality because that’s not the standout feature here. If you want good TIFF files try something like 645 PRO. What I’m looking for is truly uncompressed files and this app does not deliver on the promise. I will update this post as it develops.

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