Owen WilliamsFormer TNW employee
Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.
I love camera apps for the iPhone. It’s my not-so-secret obsession. I have every filter that’s available in VSCOCAM. When a new camera app comes along and promises things like going “beyond the 8-megapixel sensor limit” of the iPhone, I’m intrigued.
Hydra is that sensor-busting app that’s being highlighted in Apple’s “best new apps” category for $2.99. I purchased it and took it out for a spin, thinking I’d be getting even more incredible photos out of my camera, but what I found was the complete opposite.
The app offers some distinct modes, such as HDR that bases itself on up to twenty images and a high-res mode that apparently produces up to 32 megapixel images. The first time I took a photo with Hydra in high-resolution, it came out like this.
The image above was taken on a mildly breezy day and the dog walked into the frame while the app was cycling through its 50 shots required. Figuring this was just a weird bug and excusing it because the dog moved, I pushed on with the app to try it another time.
The second result was… just as bad. Apparently the technique this app uses to merge photos means nothing can move.
Let’s give it one more shot. Just to be sure maybe I was doing this high-resolution thing wrong.
Now that we’re sure the “high-resolution” mode is a write off if anything in the photo moves, let’s take a look at the HDR. I took a number of photos with the iPhone default camera and the Hydra app to see what worked better. Behold.
If you hadn’t guessed already, Hydra’s HDR photos are on the right, with the stock iPhone camera on the left. Somehow, this app managed to take a camera that already takes great photos and turn it into a camera that only takes terrible photos.
There are a bunch more modes like “super-resolution zoom” and a low-light mode but if it’s effectively useless even in the best light. To be honest, it’s not worth spending any more time on this. I’ll be asking for a refund.
I’ll give Hydra credit; it says to only use many of its modes with “static and distant sceneries” but the problem is, if even a tree moves your photo will be ruined. It’s inexplicable that this is one of Apple’s “best new apps” today, but your mileage may vary.
If you enjoy taking photos, stick with something like VSCOCAM or the iPhone camera. Don’t buy this, unless you’re willing to struggle with things moving in your photos.
➤ Hydra [iOS]
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