Joby are manufacturers of the Gorillapod, a one-of-a-kind bendy tripod that attaches to pretty much anything, allowing you to make full use of your surroundings for the best shot. The company has now released the Gorillamobile for iPhone 4, which is simply a sturdy case that secures the phone and a Gorillapod that’s perfectly designed to support the latest Apple smartphone.
Frame X Frame is free and a Gorillamobile is not but this isn’t to say that Frame X Frame is useless without one. If you’re handy and able you could probably fashion a tripod out of a Google search and common household items.
The Feature List
There’s no shortage of App Store offerings that promise to reinvent the way you take pictures on your mobile device. Joby’s Frame X Frame makes some pretty bold claims in its app description, suggesting that “this will soon be your go-to iPhone camera”.
The list of features is impressive enough and sure to make anyone who’s been wanting a little bit more from their iPhone camera tempted. As well as much-needed image stabilization, Frame X Frame adds some exciting modes such as time lapse photography and stop-motion to your iPhone’s capabilities.
There are also a couple of other enhancements designed to take the pain out of blurry and hard to get shots. Level mode is designed to line up a perfectly straight shot, 3-shot Burst offers a chance to review and pick your favourite and Press Anywhere allows you to take a shot by simply touching an area to focus on.
On top this you’ve got geotagging, which adds location data to the EXIF data stored in your image and accessible documentation and tips for getting the best pictures out of your iPhone. Not bad for free, but how does it handle?
To get the most out of simple pictures, anti-shake will help reduce the likelihood of blurring and is probably the most useful of all the standard features. Unfortunately this mode cannot be used with three shot burst on, and the potentially useful spirit level is rendered completely useless whenever you’re shooting in landscape mode as it only works portrait.
In addition to this, the other on-screen display icons do not detect the change either. Whilst it doesn’t make that much difference, it is a standard feature on pretty much any photo app these days (including Apple’s own built-in effort).
Press Anywhere was a surprisingly useful feature, with absolutely no lag on the camera’s display when taking a shot. Enable it, touch anywhere on screen and all you get is a shutter noise while the app quietly saves your image to the camera roll.
Zoom is accessed via the small (and quite hard to press) magnifying glass icon on the right. At all times the modes you are currently using will be indicated via icons on the viewfinder. Much like the default iPhone camera your camera roll is easily accessible from the bottom left and you can choose to use both front and back facing cameras.
Time Lapse & Stop-Motion
These two are arguably the most enticing features, though unfortunately there are some issues.
Selecting Time Lapse mode from the Frame X Frame menu first prompts you for the number of shots you’d like the movie to comprise of (with a maximum of 5000) and the interval at which these shots should be taken. Once you’ve chosen your settings, prop your camera in the position you’d like it to stay for the duration of the film, hit the shutter and sit back.
Now this is where I’d love to go on about how easy it is to turn these images into a movie, much like the app description: “Stitch together your Time Lapse images into a Stop Motion video with the simple touch of a button”. Except on image 130 (of 150) Frame X Frame crashed. When I resumed the app it had forgotten entirely what I was doing and reverted everything back to defaults.
So I tried it again with a smaller timelapse, this time no crash. I was left with a number of JPEGs and simply could not find the option to turn images into a movie. Not entirely what the description promised! The images aren’t useless of course, but it’s manual work on a PC that you might not fancy.
Luckily stop-motion does work, with the option of manual and automatic frame advance (auto is timed, for those with little patience). This is actually really quite fun, and somewhat saves Frame X Frame from the pits of App Store hell. You can also use this for time lapse movies, though it will destroy your battery.
It is a shame about the problems as Frame X Frame has so much promise but is ultimately flawed in its execution (at least in this version, 1.0.1). No photography app should feature a spirit level that only works in portrait mode, that’s dumb. Better implementation of timelapse mode is needed, as are bug fixes and a good polish. Saying that, with everything working properly it could one day be the best free iPhone photography app out there.
Then again stop-motion is really good, and you’ll probably have tons of fun coming up with random animations and videos. Think about it Joby – you’re far more likely to shift a few tripods if your app worked as advertised, so how about an update?
Have you tried Frame X Frame? Have you bought a Gorillamobile? Let us know in the comments below.