Superburst review: at last, a decent burst shooter alternative to SnappyCam!

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by Menneisyys2, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    In another thread ( ), I, as a photo / video / iOS programming pro, promised I'd review the recently-released "Superburst" burst shooter app. ($0.99, )

    Now that I've had (finally!) some free time, I've purchased and very thoroughly tested it (version: 1.0). The results are VERY good.

    Basically, it records an M-JPEG video at full resolution. If you followed the development of my oversampled video recorder tweak, you already know sampling the sensor at a steady 30 fps can't be done on any iDevices, not even the 5s. This is why the full-res video is “only” 11-12 fps on the iPhone 5. VLC's file inspector, showing all this info, is as follows:


    I've made some serious image quality comparisons. After all, M-JPEG video is known for overcompression. Fortunately, not in this case. A 57-second test video, consisting of exactly 644 frames, I've shot only took 1.86GiB. A little bit of maths: 1864410972 bytes / 644 frames = 2,895,048.09 bytes / frames, which does mean the video-level JPEG quality isn't at all bad. Actually, upon visual inspection and thorough comparison to the app's output to that of the regular Camera client has proved there are no more prominent JPEG artifacts in the output of the app than in that of the stock Camera client.

    Two full-res ISO12233 resolution chart examples of this (make sure you select and download the large originals for a close inspection!)

    stock Camera client:


    The video is directly accessible via any file explorer tool (iExplorer, iFunbox etc.) capable of browsing the Library folder. A shot of the file system:


    Note: I've annotated two of the original video files by red rectangles. You can just transfer this video to the desktop if you want to grab frames from it instead of the UI of the app.

    Advantages over the stock burst mode of the Camera app:

    - Speed. MUCH-MUCH faster. On the iPhone 5, when shooting at full res, about five times faster.

    - Constant flash on. As it's recording video and not true shots, it uses constant flash if you want to – unlike with the burst mode of the Camera app, which deactivates even the lower-intensity video flash when shooting burst. (And the “Flash burst” mode of the Burst Mode jailbreak tweak doesn't help this.)


    - As it can't decrease the shutter speed at not even to 1/15 (after all, it's shooting video), in low light, the stock Camera app may deliver much brighter / better images, even if it has considerably lower framerates. (Of course, if you plan to shoot moving subjects, 1/15s will deliver hopelessly motion-blurred images.)

    - the stock Camera app is constantly recording not only GPS, but also direction (compass) data into the EXIF header of the files – and makes sure it's always updating it. Not so with the app, which only records the GPS position of the starting camera position and no compass data at all. (Actually, this is pretty much understandable as Apple hasn't directly implemented a way of easily and in a standardized way storing variable GPS / direction data. I've published several hardcore (geek-only) articles on this; see for example ). That is, if you want to use your iPhone as a sports camera with constantly updated GPS / direction info, you won't want to use this app.

    All in all,

    highly recommended if you have iOS7. Much-much superior to, say, the Burst Mode jailbreak tweak and delivers even better results (faster framerates) than SnappyCam. The latter “only” delivers about half the framerate at full resolution on the iPhone 5 running exactly the same hardware / firmware. Please see for my exact benchmark results.

    Note: I'll try to repeat the tests on the other major iPhone models and publish them too.
  2. Menneisyys2 thread starter macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    Another cons of using the app is skewing because of the lack of a hardware stutter while shooting video, unlike with the case of even burst photos. (As is the case with most electronic shutter solutions.) Please read for more info on what image skew really is.

    This means if you want to shoot very fast-moving subjects, Superburst may deliver considerably less pleasing results because of the subjects' skew than anything still shooting-based, including the stock burst mode of iOS7, the Burst Mode jailbreak tweak or even SnappyCam. When you shoot for example quickly moving kids, this, on the other hand, won't be an issue.

    Let me show you some real examples of the comparative image skew of Superburst (or, for that matter, anything that uses video for action shooting) and the stock action shooting mode of iOS7.

    This is one of the many shots using the stock Camera:

    (original: )

    As you can see, there's almost no sign of any kind of image skew.

    This is the output of Superburst when quickly panning from left to right:


    (original: )

    And in the opposite direction (note the opposite direction of the image skew!)


    (original: )

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