645 PRO’s image development options—UPDATED

A striking feature of 645 PRO for iPhone is the wide range of image output—or “development”—options it provides. These give mobile photographers a great deal of control over their image quality, but they may seem a little daunting or confusing at first glance. So let’s take a thorough look at them and see how they are managed.

Using the default settings, 645 PRO provides four development options:

  • HI-Quality JPEG
  • MAX-Quality JPEG
  • Hi-Quality JPEG +TIFF
  • MAX-Quality JPEG +TIFF

When you first load the camera app, the first option on this list is selected. Many mobile photographers may never want to change this, as it produces great-looking photographs that have been processed using 645 PRO’s unique, subtle Film Modes with an output quality that’s higher than that offered by the bulk of apps on the market.*

The four options are indicated by a tell-tale on 645 PRO’s LCD display. Here they are in order:

(The big number in the middle is there to tell you how many photographs are currently being developed and saved.)

If you want to move between the core development options, here’s how: just tap and hold the top button on the Control Panel to the left-hand side of the app (it has GRID written above it, explaining its primary or “tap” function, and an image of a flask of development chemicals below it, to explain its secondary or “tap-hold” function).

After a second or so, you will see the LCD tell-tale cycle through the available options as shown in the image above. Just lift your finger off the button when you reach the one you want.

What the four options do differently

As previously mentioned, the base development setting on 645 PRO gives you HI-Quality JPEG files that have been processed with 645 PRO’s different Film Modes to give you color or B&W photographs that have a true “film look” and are suitable for online use or printing in standard sizes. The file size will vary from image to image depending on the choice of Back (or image format), but also depending on the content of the image. This is because the image has been compressed as part of the JPEG saving process to create a relatively compact file that doesn’t take up too much of your iPhone’s storage and is manageable for online sharing.

The down-side of JPEG compression is that it modifies your photograph in order to make it take up less physical space. While that’s not an issue for most people in everyday use, the “artefacts” that are introduced can be problematic for some, especially if they are planning to view the image on a large, high-resolution monitor or create a large print.  That’s where the second option comes in: 645 PRO’s MAX-Quality JPEGs have the JPEG compression dialled down to zero, which means there should be no visible artefacts. There’s no free lunch, however—the resulting files are typically three or four times bigger than their HI-Quality equivalents, which means they can eat up your iPhone’s available storage and they can be a bit unwieldy for online sharing, especially on slower cellular connections. So you should certainly choose this option if you think you’re likely to need the extra image fidelity, but do be aware of the repercussions.

The next two options again give you the choice between HI-Quality and MAX-Quality JPEGs, but they also save a second version of the file to your iPhone. This is a TIFF that is as close to an unprocessed RAW image as you can get from an iPhone. Jag.gr calls it a “developed RAW—dRAW” TIFF, as it is equivalent to a RAW file from a DSLR that has been “developed” into an industry-standard TIFF using the camera manufacturer’s RAW-processing software, or a third-party tool such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

This unprocessed image has not had 645 PRO’s Film Mode processing applied to it, nor is it cropped to reflect any Back selected. It is simply the iPhone camera data, saved with no alteration at all in an uncompressed TIFF. It is therefore ideal for photographers who want to have the maximum possible control over their own processing, typically in a desktop environment. If that doesn’t describe you, then you maybe shouldn’t be saving TIFFs! Because, again, there’s no free lunch: the TIFF files are often over 20 MB in size and, with the standard settings (although there is an alternative…), they are not saved straight to Camera Roll and are accessible only from with 645 PRO itself via iTunes File Sharing.

Managing TIFFs in 645 PRO

If you keep the standard settings and choose to save TIFFs, you can manage these files from within 645 PRO. Press the Review/Share button to view the images saved on Camera Roll. If you have any TIFFs saved you will see an icon to the top-left of the display. Press on this to manage your TIFFs:

You will then see a list of all saved TIFFs ordered by the date and time they were taken (each TIFF filename is a date-stamp, in the format YYYYMMDDHHMMSS). You can press the Edit button to delete any files you know you want to remove (or simply swipe the row from right to left to reveal the delete button). You can also tap on any file to view it and to manage it.

When you are viewing a file, you can choose from three buttons in the bar above it. You can:

  • Delete
  • Copy to Camera Roll
  • Open In…

The first option is pretty self-explanatory. So is the second (although it’s worth stressing that the file is copied to Camera Roll, not moved there).

The third option lets you open the TIFF in any app installed on iPhone that advertises to the system that it can work with TIFFs. Depending on the apps you own, you will see different options here, but they may include image editing apps and also cloud services such as Dropbox. If you do have an app such as Dropbox installed, this is a great way of copying your TIFFs between devices and also sharing with other people.

If you’ve finished managing a TIFF and no longer need it in 645 PRO’s private Documents folder, do remember to delete it afterwards—TIFFs are big files and can quickly chew up your iPhone’s storage if you’re not careful!

Managing TIFFs in iTunes

If you keep the standard settings and choose to save TIFFs, you can also read them from your iPhone (and delete them!) using iTunes File Sharing. To do this, connect your iPhone to your computer, and open iTunes. Select your iPhone on the menu to the left and then (after iTunes has completed the connection process), click on the “Apps” menu option at the top of your iPhone’s page in iTunes:

Scroll down the Apps page until you reach the section headed “File Sharing”. To the left of this is a list of apps with 645 PRO probably—since the apps are listed alphabetically—at or near the top. Click on 645 PRO, and you will see a list of the TIFF files you have saved.

Now select the files you want to save (their filename is a date-stamp using the format YYYYMMDDHHMMSS, to help you identify which file is which), and click the Save To… button at the bottom of the file list to select the location to which you will save your files for later processing.

There’s also a button for adding files, which isn’t relevant for 645 PRO (although it’s very handy for, say, copying PDFs into the Kindle app). Strangely, there isn’t a button for deleting files, but you can still do so—and should, once you’ve copied over your files, to save space on your iPhone! To delete files, first select the files you want to delete and then press your computer’s Delete key. You need to confirm that you do actually want to delete the files, but then they’re gone.

Saving TIFFs to the Camera Roll

If you prefer, you can save your TIFFs directly to the Camera Roll alongside your JPEGs. Some people find this much more convenient—especially if they want to edit the TIFFs on their iPhone using one of the few processing apps that can accept TIFFs as input. Others prefer not to have two similar files stored in the same place, and also like the faster saving of TIFFs to 645 PRO’s private Documents folder.

To save TIFFs to the Camera Roll, you need to open up the main iPhone Settings app which you’ll find (unless you’ve moved it!) on the first screen of your iPhone’s Springboard (home page). Scroll down until you see the settings for individual apps, with 645 PRO generally at or near the top (thanks, once again, to the list being sorted alphabetically). Open up the app’s settings and—among other options—you can choose to direct the saving of TIFFs to the Camera Roll:

Turn this on and return to 645 PRO. Note that it does take longer to save TIFFs to the Camera Roll, partly because the actual process is less efficient than saving to 645 PRO’s private Documents folder, but also because—due to restrictions imposed by the Camera Roll—the TIFFs are compressed before they are saved, which takes a second or so.

However, don’t worry about quality! TIFFs (unlike JPEGs) are compressed using the LZW algorithm, which is a “non-lossy” algorithm (JPEG compression is “lossy”). In other words, it makes the file-size smaller without affecting the image quality at all. The uncompressed image that you edit is identical to the never-compressed image saved to 645 PRO’s private Documents folder.

Q-Mode—the quick option

However, 645 PRO’s development options don’t stop there. You also have the ability to engage Q-Mode, by double-tapping on the Mode Selector to the bottom right-hand of the app:

When Q-Mode is selected, 645 PRO’s Film Mode processing is not applied to any JPEG image, nor is any cropping (only the 645 Back is available). The resulting images lack the benefits of the Film Modes, but they do provide a more native starting-point for iPhone photographers who prefer to manage their own development processing on the iPhone itself—where the majority of tools can only process JPEGs as input. Again, there are the same four development options of HI- or MAX-Quality JPEGs, with or without TIFFs—the two-file option being useful for those who want to process the “unmolested” image once with iPhone apps and again on the desktop.

Saving only TIFFs

What if you only want the TIFF file? Again, 645 PRO can help you out. You have the option—when Q-Mode is selected—of saving only TIFFs if one of the “+TIFF” development options is selected. Again, this is accessed through the main Settings app:

The default setting is “JPEG+TIFF”, but you can change this to “TIFF only”. Again, this only affects shots taken when Q-Mode has been activated.

You decide what’s best for you

You’ll have noticed that you only need to go to the main Settings app for “set and forget” settings—fundamental changes to the configuration of the app that you’re unlikely to change, as they reflect core ways in which you choose to work. The changes you need to make when shooting—perhaps because of the differing demands of a specific shoot or even an individual photograph—are all available “on camera”, making it easy for you to choose the right development option at the right time.

With such a breadth of development options, 645 PRO helps you to control the technical quality of your iPhone photography more than ever before. Even if the default option of producing HI-Quality JPEGs is nearly always the most appropriate for you, it’s really nice to know the alternatives are there!

* Interestingly, the built-in Camera app that comes with your iPhone delivers images with a higher technical quality than most third-party apps (roughly equivalent to 645 PRO’s HI-Quality JPEGs). It seems that Apple doesn’t use the “standard” processing techniques it documents for third-party developers!