Obscura 4 Offers More Control and Features than Native iOS Camera

Three iPhone 14 models show the Obscura 4 app in use.

The Obscura 4 camera app is out now, and with it comes a host of new tools and updates, along with a new pricing system.

First released in 2015, Obscura is an app that lets smartphone photographers make the most of their gear. The last big update, Obscura 3, came out last year and focused on adding powerful features (which this version builds on), a library update, and better overall performance.

“Obscura is a camera aimed towards pros and photography enthusiasts, but designed with everyone in mind. I put a lot of thought into making controls that are intuitive, ergonomic and delightful,” app creator Ben McCarthy says in a release. “I try to keep everything within reach of your thumb, so whether you’re hanging out of a tree, or carrying a bag of groceries, you can still get the most out of Obscura.”

The Obscura 4 app shows the library interface.

Despite the power behind the iPhone’s camera, the default app is a very on the rails experience. While users can now change some settings like the exposure, it does not come close to the fine-tuning capabilities of an SLR camera.

For those who have already used Obscura 3, the next iteration will serve as an update to their existing app, rather than a new app to download. They will also have all the options already in Obscura 3, which fall under the Obscura Extra tier. Obscura 3 users will also get a cheaper $5 price for the first year, should they choose to upgrade. While Obscura is free to download, users will need to pay for the new premium features under the Obscura Ultra tier.

Obscura 4 app

The big difference here is how pricing works overall. Previously, Obscura versions had their own separate apps and a pay-up-front model. Obscura 4 launches with a yearly price, but it should also mean no more downloading a new app each time there is a big upgrade. McCarthy says he has no plans for a monthly option at this time. Now through September 11, Obscura 4 will be discounted to $8 a year before jumping to the standard $10 annual price, though there will be a free trial option at that point.

Various file types of shown in a menu on the Obscura 4 app.

Both Obscura Extra and Ultra users get a number of features, including integrated Portrait Mode and Live Photos, video recording, multiple aspect ratios, filters, custom app themes and icons, 48MP capture, manual white balance and exposure, and RAW and ProRAW capture, among others. Obscura Ultra specifically has Dual Reticle Mode, which allows users to set separate points on the viewfinder for focus and exposure. Optional Exposure Clipping Highlighting shows which parts of the image are under or overexposed through the viewfinder.

The app also got a makeover with the update. Camera controls appear over the viewfinder in bold text, allowing changes to be seen without looking away from a subject, and Quick Settings are now labeled rather than relying on icons. The exposure dial now uses 1/3 increments to mimic a dedicated camera better. And to keep up with Apple’s now-standard multi-camera setup, the zoom and focus controls have swapped places, which Obscura says puts “more emphasis on the controls for zooming and changing cameras.” And manual control still works for single-camera models.

Metadata of a photo is shown in the Obscura 4 app.

Further, Obscura will now have iPad support, which was present for the second iteration but not for Obscura 3. Using the app with an iPad will also include keyboard support with keyboard mapping and a design that translates almost seamlessly from iPhone. The Apple Watch app got a bit of an upgrade, too, and a new icon.

There seem to be a ton of new features added to the Obscura 4. As McCarthy puts it, “There are, of course, a million little changes throughout the app, more than I can list, and more than you would care to read, I’m sure. But I hope that they’re felt as the app gets used, and they sum up to a truly great experience.”

Image Credits: Obscura