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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Long exposure photos on an iPhone: Spectre app tested

from 9to5Mac

Long exposure makes for cool clouds, waterfalls, light trails, and can even make people disappear!

iPhone photography has gotten better and better, to the point where I now happily use it as my primary camera. There are, though, some areas where a dedicated camera still gives significantly better results, and long exposure photos is one of those.

Spectre is an iPhone app which aims to close that gap, performing photo-stacking trickery to simulate photos with exposures of up to 30 seconds …

Long exposure photos: What and why

Most photos use a very short shutter speed – the time the sensor is exposed to the light, and therefore the duration of time captured in a photo. This would normally be at least 1/60th of a second, and typically much faster than this.

That’s generally a good thing. A still photo aims to capture a single moment in time, so you need to freeze any movement, without any motion blur. A short exposure allows you to do this.

But there are times when you want the opposite – that is, to capture blurred movement.


Spectre is an app created by Sebastiaan de With, an ex-Apple designer, and the developer behind the well-known iPhone camera app Halide.

It was first launched back in 2019, and made freemium last year. The free version limited you to three seconds, while upgrading to the paid version gives you exposures of up to 30 seconds – which is what you’ll need in most cases.

Unlike most iPhone camera apps giving access to manual controls, Spectre is extremely easy to use, with very few settings. You simply select your exposure duration (3s, 5s, 9s, 15s, or 30s) and whether light trails are on or off.

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