Manual for iOS gives photographers DSLR-style control in a well-designed app

The default camera app on iOS 8 is basic by design and it works for most people. But if you’re a serious photographer who cares about adjusting every setting, you should check out a new $2 app called Manual, which takes advantage of new camera access hooks in iOS 8 to allow the user to control settings like shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and exposure.

Manual won’t be for everyone. For your basic friends-and-family shots, the automatic settings provided by the default apps (as well as other photography apps) will produce reliably better results. But if you have the time and skill to dial in the proper settings, Manual gives iPhone photographers the ability to approach maximum picture quality with fine-tuned settings more often associated with DSLRs.

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Manual is a well-designed app. On professional-level cameras, there are a variety of different dials and buttons needed for access to the various picture settings. But that complexity doesn’t translate well to a touchscreen, so instead of sticking all the settings in menus, Manual decided to fit most of them on the image preview screen.

On the bottom of the app, Manual provides surprisingly easy-to-access settings for ISO and shutter speed. To change those settings, simply tap on the number, and you’ll get a scrolling dial which will let you select your preferred value. If you simply want to have the app select the right values, keep your finger pressed down on the setting and Manual will pick what it thinks the right value is. Along the top of the app are buttons for flash, white balance, and exposure bracketing. Many photographers will appreciate the attractively designed live histogram as well.

The app even lets you select settings like ISO for the front-facing “selfie” camera. There’s enough cool new camera interface concepts here that I’d be surprised if other apps aren’t taking notes.