Lux Optics, the company behind the popular iOS camera app Halide, has announced the release of Halide Mark II, a second-generation camera app for iOS that’s the culmination of more than 18 months of work.
Halide Mark II is an entirely new app with a revamped interface designed from the ground up to make a more a user experience that is simple to use, but rich in professional-level features for those who want to get the most out of their iPhone photography.
Halide Mark II has the same exposure control and focus gestures as before, but has further refined the experience with additional interface elements. Now, when manually adjusting focus, a new Focus Loupe will appear in the center of the screen that zooms in to help ensure you get focus just where you want it. When you let go, the Focus Loupe will disappear and show the usual overlay so you can compose your shot.
The manual exposure controls, including ISO and shutter speed, have also been moved and are now accessible with a quick swipe from the right-hand side of the screen. The app keeps its interface minimal, but when tapping on an icon, a text description of the tool or setting you’re adjusting, as you can see in the below GIF:
With Halide 1.0, you were given the option to see both Color and Luminance histograms to ensure you achieved just the right exposure. Well, as with most things in Halide Mark II, both of these have been updated with option to make the overlays smaller on the screen. Also new is the ‘Color Zebras’ feature, which breaks down three separate color channels — red, blue and green — into individual waveforms with zebra stripes that will appear if certain colors are clipped in either the highlights or the shadows. This ensures that no matter what color the scene you’re composing is, you can ensure you’re not clipping the highlights or shadows for any three of these channels.
If you’re using the histogram, waveform or zebra tools while in fully-manual mode, where you adjust the ISO and shutter speed, things get even more powerful thanks to a new feature Lux Optics calls XDR Analysis. Rather than using the post-processed 8-bit data other camera apps do to display the waveform and histogram data, Halide Mark II uses the full 14-bit Raw data, in real time, to calculate the exposure. Although Lux Optics says it has a more in-depth post in the works on the technology behind XDR Analysis, it sums it up like this in its blog post:
’Consider that video of the Golden Gate Bridge from earlier. Your histogram, analyzing 8-bit data, might think the sky is clipped. If you saw that in your zebra stripes, you’d say, “It’s over exposed, I should go down turn things down a bit.” In fact, the cloud are not over exposed in the RAW, and there’s no need to turn down your exposure. By under exposing, you’re now going to lose details in the shadows!’
|The redesigned image reviewer now shows more accurate metadata information and allows you to view both the Raw and JPEG/HEIC image with a toggle between the two buttons.|
Halide Mark II also features ‘Coverage,’ a new capture mode that takes two photos — one with Smart HDR 2/3 and Deep Fusion, and one in RAW. This gives you the benefit of having a more robust Raw file to work with in an editor as well as an instantly sharable JPEG or HEIC file to share with family and friends. Also new is ‘Instant Raw,’ a feature within Halide Mark II’s image reviewer that uses a 17-step process powered by onboard machine learning to instantly create a sharable image from an iPhone Raw file.
If all of these new features, settings and modes seem confusing, don’t worry. To complement the new app is a built-in 10-day course that will not only show off the features of Halide Mark II, but also teach a number of photography concepts along the way through examples.
As Lux Optics explains at the conclusion of its introduction blog post, it’s decided to make Halide Mark II an entirely separate app from Halide 1.0; one that’s free-to-download with a one-week trial and two options for continuing to use the app after the one-week trial is up.
After spending time talking with current users of Halide, as well as beta testers of Halide Mark II, the Lux Optics team decided to offer both a one-time purchase option in addition to an annual subscription option, both prices of which were based on the suggestions of users. A one-time purchase, which will include all future updates and features, costs $30 at launch and will go up to $36 after the introductory offer. Subscriptions will start at $12/year with a limited $10/year introductory offer that will lock you in at $10 for the life of the app.
Users who have already purchased Halide 1.0 will get Halide Mark II for free and have a year’s membership comped to their account.
You can download Halide Mark II in the iOS App Store and find out more information on the Halide website. For a full run-down of all the new features and updates, check out Lux Optics’ thorough introduction blog post.