What’s New With Moment Pro Camera For iOS 17, and Why Should I Care?

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iOS 17 brought a lot of behind-the-scenes upgrades to the camera system – some large, some small – but together they constitute a notable improvement. Here’s an overview of the new features we brought into Pro Camera, and how they can make photography on iPhones even more convenient.

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1. Responsive Capture

With iOS 17, Apple introduced a few new technologies that allow photos to be taken much faster – improving shot-to-shot time while maintaining the highest possible quality. We’re happy to announce that these have all been implemented in our Pro Camera app – download or update here!

Why does this matter?

These features are best suited for action shots and spur-of-the-moment captures. They improve results in two somewhat subtly-different ways:

  1. Zero shutter lag: At the time you press the shutter button, what you see in the viewfinder is now what you’ll see in the captured image. The result is now limited only by your reflexes rather than being subject to processing latency as well.
  2. Capture pipeline improvements: After an image is taken, the camera system is much faster to “recover” and be ready to take another. This reduced delay means you can take more images of a moving subject faster, hopefully acquiring a frame that contains the action or composition you want to capture.

We’ve made these two features available automatically, but there’s also a third optional feature: fast capture prioritization. If you want to ensure you don’t miss a shot, you can opt-in to this behavior (called ”Prioritize Faster Shooting” in our app settings). This will temporarily increase shutter responsiveness at the expense of slightly reduced image quality.

How does it work?

Responsive capture pipeline

Before iOS 17, an image had to be fully processed before the next image could be taken. Now, two new features work together to mitigate this latency. Responsive capture allows multiple photo captures to operate simultaneously, rather than waiting for one to complete entirely before taking the next photo. Further, with deferred photo processing, some of this processing can occur in the background, freeing up resources for use in grabbing new images.

Zero shutter lag

As of iOS 17, your phone maintains a circular buffer of incoming sensor data while the camera is active. When you press the shutter button, the camera system can grab frames from the past (just before you pressed the button) to merge together into a single high-quality image, rather than only capturing frames after you press the shutter button. This means you capture the subject as it was when you decided to take a photo rather than in the state it was after pressing the shutter. For any audio geeks out there, this feature is conceptually similar to retrospective recording.

Fast capture prioritization

When the camera detects faster-than-average shutter presses, it can choose to temporarily reduce photo quality (i.e., turn off Deep Fusion and other processing) so that images take even less time to be saved. The system is ready to take another photo that much quicker.

For more technical details, see the WWDC session here.

Real-world results

Overall, the difference is striking; you can see the results below. We compared two phones: a brand-new iPhone 14 Pro running iOS 16 and an older iPhone 11 Pro running our iOS 17 update. Both had the image quality set to the highest possible setting, and both had “Prioritize Faster Shooting” turned off, so they took maximum-quality images the whole time. Despite its weaker processor, the iPhone 11 could take many more photos in a shorter period. Meanwhile, the iOS 16 device was left playing catch-up: it kept trying to take images slowly, even after we stopped pressing the shutter button.

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How is this different than burst mode?

The key here is the resulting image quality. Burst mode is extremely fast, but while you can get a ton of images in a fraction of a second, they don’t have the “magic” that makes iPhone photos look so good. The features introduced with iOS 17 allow for fast capture while maintaining the highest quality processing.

Are there any trade-offs or caveats?

Yes, as with many iOS camera features, some may be disabled in certain circumstances. For example, any manual camera adjustments (shutter speed, ISO, etc.) will cause some responsive capture features to be turned off temporarily. However, this doesn’t matter too much – full manual control is mutually exclusive with extra processing like Deep Fusion anyway, so photos with manual settings are already fast to capture.

Anamorphic de-squeeze and distortion correction will also disable deferred photo processing, as we need to be able to apply these post-processing steps directly when an image is taken.

How does this relate to RAW and ProRAW capture?

Traditional RAW capture is actually extremely fast already, as it pulls data straight from the sensor with minimal processing. For that reason, these features have little to no effect on the speed of RAW capture. On the other hand, ProRAW does include some extra processing and definitely benefits from these new features.

How does this interact with the “Photo Quality” setting?

Great question! Even previous app versions came with three photo quality settings: Quality, Balanced, or Speed. The new features really only matter when you use the “Quality” or “Balanced” options. Remember that anything other than “Quality” may disable Deep Fusion and Smart HDR.

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2. New Widgets

iOS 17 also introduced interactive widget functionality. While we didn’t need the new features directly, we took this as a sign to upgrade our widget offerings.

Lock Screen Widgets

We now offer multiple ways to access Pro Camera straight from the lock screen:

  • Quick launch: a shortcut to open the app in its current state
  • Preset widget: launch the app and load a specific preset of your choosing
  • Capture mode widgets: quickly access the photo, video, slow shutter, or timelapse modes
  • Camera widgets: open the app with a specific camera pre-selected (0.5x, 1x, 3x, or selfie)
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New Preset Widget

We also added a home screen widget that allows you to access up to 3 of your favorite presets from the same widget, rather than having to make an individual widget for each.

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3. Other Improvements

Gallery HDR display

Our gallery now lets you view images in full HDR, like in the stock Photos app. This lets you truly appreciate the full dynamic range that iPhone cameras can capture. Of course, we also allow you to turn this off: just toggle “Display HDR Images” in settings.

Bug fixes

Some users may have noticed a long-standing bug with manual exposure: when adjusting the ISO, the shutter speed could sometimes fluctuate from the value you initially set. You may have even noticed this in some other third-party iOS camera apps. We’re happy to announce that this issue no longer affects the Moment Pro Camera! We have also significantly reduced the app size.

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