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Review: Video Recorder with 30X zoom for iOS

As most iOS photo enthusiasts know, none of the Apple iOS devices have an optical zoom. Several apps provide a digital zoom, but zooming simply blows up the picture, making the pixels larger. The result, is a pretty crummy-looking larger version of what you'd see with no zoom. A new app, called Video Recorder with 30X zoom, attempts to beat that problem, but not very successfully.

The app is universal, and sells for US$1.99. It works for video or stills, and claims to be the best zoom app around. That may be, but it still falls short of what most photographers will expect.

The app has a clever slider bar across the bottom of the screen. You can slide from 1X to 30X easily, but the picture just does not hold up. Even with a 3X zoom, artifacts were pretty obvious.

The app doesn't save directly to the camera roll; it has its own library, and that's where I ran into more trouble. On an iPhone 5s, when I touched the library icon, nothing happened. I tried tapping, scrolling, holding down my finger; I even tried a couple of ancient Aztec prayers, but nothing worked. I put my iPhone aside and tried the app on my iPad. There, tapping the library icon did show me my pictures taken, and then the app promptly crashed. Sometimes it worked properly. Most of the time, the app expired.

Even if the app had worked, I didn't find the sample pictures I took of very good quality. The image began to fall part at 2X to 3X. 30X was just a blur of pixels.

Maybe some day, Apple will add a zoom lens for the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom does have an optical zoom lens and some third parties are making zoom lenses that will fit on the newest iPhones.

If those options don't appeal to you, avoid the temptation to use any kind of digital zoom. Just start walking toward your subject.

The Video Recorder app requires iOS 4 or later, and although it advertises it is optimized for the iPhone 5, I see a white bar at the bottom of the screen that makes me suspect it is not.

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