You may get a chance to try the app for FREE by signing up for the giveaway. Five lucky winners will receive promo codes. Winners will be selected by random draw on Thursday, September 10th at 7:00 p.m. PDT. Just leave a comment on this post to enter the draw.
The app sells for $2.99 in The App Store.
DS: My name is Dotan Saguy. I am the founder and CEO of Lifelike Apps, Inc. But I’m also an avid photographer.
Although Lifelike Apps has developed other applications the focus of this interview is on your latest app, Red Dot Camera. Please tell me what inspired the development of this manual camera app for the iPhone.
DS: I’ve been a serious amateur photographer for the past 20+ years and recently have fallen in love with street photography. So after using Nikon SLR's for many years, I migrated to rangefinder style equipment. I shot Fuji mirrorless cameras for a while and eventually it became my gateway drug to Leica. I’ve been shooting a Leica M Monochrom for the past year and absolutely loving it. That’s what inspired me to design Red Dot Camera: I wanted a rangefinder style manual camera I could always have with me for the many times I don’t have my Leica around.
How does Red Dot Camera differ from other manual camera apps already available?
DS: Before designing Red Dot Camera, I tried all the manual camera apps available in the App Store but I didn’t like their user interface. I wanted a Leica-like experience. A Leica M camera doesn’t have better specs than other cameras. It’s all about the simplicity and intuitiveness of the shooting experience. So I designed Red Dot Camera to look and feel like a Leica M rangefinder.
What is the magnified patch feature and how does it work?
DS: Part of making the experience Leica-like was to have a great manual focusing experience. So I decided to dedicate an oversized portion of the iPhone screen to a manual focus ring that falls under your right thumb when holding the iPhone and looks like a real lens focus wheel viewed from the side. When you slide this virtual focus ring up or down a magnified patch appears in the middle of the viewfinder screen area to show you precisely how you are tuning the focus. Alternatively you can tap anywhere in the viewfinder area to autofocus and then fine tune the focus manually if you want to.
For someone who has never used a traditional camera, are there instructions included on how to use the various settings?
DS: Red Dot Camera is a very intuitive app but there are instructions in the help section for people who have never used a manual camera. It’s actually a great camera both for serious photographers who want control as well as for people who want to learn photography. You can play with all the settings and immediately see how they affect your picture. There’s no better way to learn photography but to experiment!
Do you have some image examples that show the difference using Red Dot Camera vs. the native Apple iPhone camera?
DS: It’s a myth that better cameras take better pictures. People tend to say: "that’s a great picture! You must have a really good camera”. But some of the best pictures ever made were shot with very basic cameras. Look at what people like Henry Cartier Bresson, Elliott Erwitt or Robert Frank were able to shoot with cameras that by today’s standard would be considered very basic in features and hard to use. What makes a difference is the experience of the photographer and how comfortable they feel with their camera. I’d rather not show people pictures I took with Red Dot Camera because it would be irrelevant to what each person can do with the app. What I can say is that people who have always shot in fully automatic mode will become better photographers and much more creative ones too by using a tool like Red Dot Camera.
What are the future plans for Red Dot Camera as far as features or improvements?
DS: I designed this app with very few post processing features so the next step may be to add filters, effects, etc. But I want to hear real users' feedback first before launching into creating features they may or may not want. Leica has added very few features to their cameras over the years and I appreciate the simplicity of their cameras. My personal experience is that when a camera has too many features you tend to only use a fraction of them and the ones you don’t use slow you down as you constantly have to re-learn them. I am a strong believer in “less is more” when it comes to camera features.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
DS: A Leica M with a 35mm prime lens costs about $6000 today. With Red Dot Camera’s $2.99 price tag, I’m hoping to democratize the "rangefinder style” experience so more people can get a taste of it. One of my favorite photography quotes is: "The best camera is the one you have with you” so this puts Red Dot Camera at an advantage even compared to much more expensive cameras. I can’t wait to see the images people create using Red Dot Camera!
UPDATE: Congrats to the five winners:
Dian Nicholette Jeon