SynthCam Simulates Low Depth of Field on the iPhone

By Wesley Fenlon

With a little love and some computational photography, your iPhone shots will look classier than ever.

Smart phone cameras have a serious case of DSLR envy. Phone manufacturers have been cramming as many megapixels into their phones as possible, but the sensors still can’t replicate the awesome depth of field effects of a real camera. Until phone grows more sophisticated, where do we turn? To software, of course.

iPhone photography apps are a dime a dozen (or 99 cents a dozen) on the App Store, but SynthCam holds real promise. Designed by Stanford professor Marc Levoy, the app uses computational photography to simulate a shallow depth of field for iPhone photography. 

The ten seconds or so it takes SynthCam to create a composite image poses other advantages. Because it tracks what’s in the background, passers-by or moving objects will disappear from your images. And because the phone can capture an image for several seconds, in low-light conditions you’ll get more light exposure and a picture with less noise. Want to see it in action? You got it. 
 We hope SynthCam’s computational photography influences appmakers--and device makers--to step up their game with camera software. If stock phone cameras came with more powerful software from the very start, we’d be one step closer to doing away with point-and-shoots for good. SynthCam is only 99 cents on the App Store.