Halide Macro Mode First Look

Halide Macro Mode First Look

Having tried out the new Macro Mode in the Halide app, though it takes some patience, the results are good, admittedly this is on an iPhone 13 Pro, with the latest camera tech, but the feature is available on previous iPhone models too.

My first impression on using Macro in Halide is, it can take some trial and error to dial in the right focus, this might have been because I was adjusting manual focus more than I needed to, this is how it's meant to work:

Entering Macro Mode, smart things start to happen in Halide. To begin, Halide examines your available cameras and switches to whichever one has the shortest minimum focus distance. Then it locks focus at that nearest point. You can tap anywhere on screen to adjust focus; unlike our standard camera mode, we configure the focus system to only search for objects very close to you.
If you’d rather adjust focus by hand, we increase the swipe-distance of our focus dial so you can make granular adjustments down to the millimeter. To nail that focus point, Focus Peaking draws an outline around the sharpest areas of your image.

Next time, I'll use tap to focus more and make any adjustments after that, which seems the way to go. While I did have some shots out of focus, Halide helps you work out what is in focus using a feature called focus peaking, which highlights the in-focus area but it can still take a few tries when adjusting the focus area with the dial.

I compared some shots with the native camera app with its macro feature for the same subject, having more control of the focus, helped Halide to get the shot I was after, as shown below, while in the native camera app, the central part stayed out of focus even with six attempts.

The overall experience was good, it takes a bit of getting used to, the interface, how to focus and how to compose a shot, how close to get etc. but that's half the fun, to learn this new perspective.

I did notice some images didn't save to the camera roll, you find them in the Rescued Images area in the app where you can restore the images. This happened without warning and is annoying, it's an issue Halide has had for some time that they can't seem to crack though I am sure a lot of effort has gone into this and has been improved.

The above two images were taken with Halide around Hyde Park with a modest breeze, as you can imagine they were taken very close to the subject, almost touching the flower at times it seemed. They haven't been edited, I noticed Halide, which I'd changed to use HEIC today, saved both a HEIC and a JPEG for each shot, if you use an app like Metapho, you be easily able to see them both.

This is explained in the Halide blog, the Neural Macro feature produces an upscaled cropped macro image, with a full 4k resolution JPEG at either 2× or 3× magnification, the is available for iPhones made in 2017 onwards, so that explains the JPEG, which is shown above.  

The HEIC image is the un-cropped version, so if you ever want the original, non-macro image opening it up in the iOS Photos app, tapping Edit and Revert, will change it back. You can see the un-cropped original image below.  

This has been my third Halide article in a day, all focused (hmmm) around this latest update:

iPhone Macro with Halide on all models

Is Halide worth it?

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