Mattebox: The Closest Thing the iPhone Has to Manual Focus

The iPhone camera is pretty spectacular. I have a few point-and-shoots in my house and they all suck compared to the iPhone. But they do have one thing the iPhone's native camera app lacks: the focus-lock shutter control found in fancier point and shoots. Mattebox fixes that.

What's it do?

Mattebox's wonderfully minimalist controls are based on the Konica Hexar, an iconic 35mm point-and-shoot that's easy to use, but does't skimp on image quality. The app has a two-step focus-then-shoot feature. Hold the button down to lock focus and exposure, slide it to take a photo. Now you can create those depth-of-field images you've been faking with Instagram. After you've taken your photo, a suite of image processors lets you adjust exposure, white balance, saturation, gamma, and vignette. And once you finish adjusting an image, you can save those settings for future images. Basically, you're creating custom filters.

Why do we like it?

If you've ever tried to get the iPhone to focus on an item, only to have it refocus itself before you hit the shutter, you need Mattebox. But it's also more than that; the care taken to craft this app is amazing. There's one touch white balance to go with ISO and focal length indicators. The exposure adjustment includes automatic highlight recovery. The app also features 32-bit per channel linear light rendering. Which is awesome. I would like support for flash photography though. The developer consciously left this out of the app because he wanted users to focus on taking advantage of available light. But I would at least like the option of using a flash with my photos. Regardless, I want to hug the developer of this app. Well maybe not hug, but definitely give him a high five.

Mattebox: The Closest Thing the iPhone Has to Manual Focus

Mattebox

Download this app for:

The Best

Design, control

The Worst

No flash support