Due to aggressive physical dimension constraints, smartphones are never truly going to be able to match DSLR cameras when it comes to image quality or just the sheer number of customization options available to them, at least on a hardware level. However, you can achieve some of the effects of a DSLR-quality image with software. If there’s one place where smartphones are arguably better at than DSLRs, it is the software running behind the scenes. We recently came across Tadaa SLR for iOS. The app does two novel things: it allows you to achieve a shallower depth of field than you physically can with your camera, and you can ‘tap to focus’ on foreground vs. background after you’ve taken the photo – similar in concept to Lytro’s light-field camera.
I was honestly quite reluctant to test the app, as it sounded too gimmicky, but the actual results turned out to be surprisingly pleasant!
For testing purposes, I placed three objects at successively closer distance to my iPhone 4S: a Samsung monitor at the back, followed by a Google mug, and then a Microsoft Touch Mouse. Before taking the photograph, I focused the camera on the mouse to get the shallowest possible depth of field from the hardware.
After roughly highlighting the mouse (Tadaa successfully detected the mouse’s edges so I didn’t have to precisely highlight it), the app tastefully blurred out the background, giving the illusion of a much more shallower depth of field. I could even virtually adjust the ‘aperture’ of my camera to change the depth of field setting. In addition, there are options for changing how blur is applied, the range of its application, highlights, bokeh effect, and more. You can also apply filters, but I would leave that to better filter collection apps like VSCOcam.
Once everything is said and done, the photo is saved to your Camera Roll automatically and you can upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Tadaa’s own tightly-knit, Instagram-like social network.
I am genuinely impressed with Tadaa SLR. Used in combination with the stellar camera on the iPhone 5S and high-quality photography apps like Instagram, VSCOcam, Flickr, and Camera+, Tadaa SLR can truly give your photos a distinct DSLR-like quality.
Tadaa SLR is available as a free app for iPhone and iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later. Highly recommended for mobile photographers.
Do you use any special mobile apps to make your photos pop? What do you think of Tadaa SLR? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.
If you’re looking for a similar app for Android, check out AfterFocus. The app is also available on iOS, but isn’t free, unlike its Android version.