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Colour photography isn’t for everyone, and so if you prefer seeing the world through a monochromatic lens, an app for the iPhone aims to make that possible. If only it worked well.
A recent arrival to the Apple App Store, “Camera Noir” is a camera replacement app designed to do sort of what the name suggests.
If your French is a little rusty, “noir” translates to “black”, and these days — especially in the English language — the word “noir” is often used as a way of describing monochromatic images shot in a heavy black and white styling.
Now let’s just get this out of the way: your iPhone will predominantly capture images in colour, but it does have a filter for black and white, and it in fact has three: normal, tonal, and noir.
From the iPhone’s point of view, mono is a standard monochrome filtration style, tonal is a flatter take, and even Apple’s own “noir” version is a black and white filter with an emphasis on deep blacks and more contrast.
But what if you want even more contrast, and what if you want a bit of granularity to the photos you take?
For that, developers Vintage Noir hope you take a gander at an app it has been working on named “Camera Noir”, which it claims as the “most powerful black & white photo editor in the App Store”.
A bold claim, Camera Noir allows you to capture images using a monochromatic viewfinder complete with shutter speed control, manual focus (if needed), and light control via ISO, and more, with the ability to forget about all colour and capture imagery as if you had a roll of Kodak TMAX or Ilford BW400.
If you don’t know what those are, they’re rolls of film, though if we’re honest — and we are — Camera Noir doesn’t seek to replicate the tonality or granularity of either roll, instead allowing you to see what the developers believe black and white should behave by.
After you capture an image, Camera Noir wants you to click on the image in its editor, and you can even load images captured by other camera apps from the iPhone, including those shot by the default camera found inside the phone.
Regardless of what you capture the image with, Camera Noir’s editor includes presets from the developer designed to emulate film, and you can tweak these as you want to, increasing the contrast, pulling back on brightness, controlling the noise, and even deciding how much colour filtration is in the photo.
That’s one you might not know about, but can play with, as colour controls change how an image performs in black and white. If you increase the blue and green in a black and white settings, skin tends to get darker, with the texture coming out, while pulling back on this and increasing red tends to light skin up.