Optimizing iPhone photo-taking speed, UIImagePickerController

| | August 8, 2015

I’m using the UIImagePickerController in my app. Has anyone used any optimization tricks for picture-taking latency? I don’t need to store them to the library. I simply want to capture the pixel data and destroy the image object after making a calculation.

Also, is there a way to hide the lens when it loads?

(Worst case, I could mask the lens on camera startup and mask the frozen image upon saving/calculating.)

EDIT: I’ve already set showsCameraControls = NO;. This hides the lens effect between snapshots, but does not affect the presence of the lens animation on camera startup.

One Response to “Optimizing iPhone photo-taking speed, UIImagePickerController”

  1. Are you wedded to the UIImagePickerController? As of iOS 4, AVFoundation allows you to receive a live stream of images from the camera at any supported video resolution, with no prescribed user interface, so there’s no lens effect and on an iPhone 4 you can grab an image up to 720p with no latency; on earlier devices you can grab a 480p.

    Session 409 of the WWDC 2010 videos available from here is a good place to start. You’ll want to create an AVCaptureSession, attach a suitable AVCaptureDevice via an AVCaptureDeviceInput, add an AVCaptureVideoDataOutput and give that a dispatch queue on which to pipe data to you. You’ll end up with a CVImageBufferRef, which directly exposes the raw pixel data.

    EDIT: Apple’s example code seemingly being missing, I tend to use approximately the following:

    AVCaptureSession *session;
    AVCaptureDevice *device;
    AVCaptureVideoDataOutput *output;
    // create a capture session
    session = [[AVCaptureSession alloc] init];
    session.sessionPreset = ...frame quality you want...;
    // grab the default video device (which will be the back camera on a device
    // with two), create an input for it to the capture session
    NSError *error = nil;
    device = [AVCaptureDevice defaultDeviceWithMediaType:AVMediaTypeVideo];
    AVCaptureDeviceInput *input = [AVCaptureDeviceInput 
                                        deviceInputWithDevice:device error:&error];
    // connect the two
    [session addInput:input];
    // create an object to route output back here
    output = [[AVCaptureVideoDataOutput alloc] init];
    [session addOutput:output];
    // create a suitable dispatch queue, GCD style, and hook 
    // self up as the delegate
    dispatch_queue_t queue = dispatch_queue_create(NULL, NULL);
    [output setSampleBufferDelegate:self queue:queue];
    // set 32bpp BGRA pixel format
    output.videoSettings =
                                 [NSNumber numberWithInt:kCVPixelFormatType_32BGRA]
    [session startRunning];

    That’ll then start delivering CMSampleBuffers to your captureOutput:didOutputSampleBuffer:fromConnection: on the dispatch queue you created (ie, a separate thread). Obviously production code would have a lot more sanity and result checks than the above.

    The following example code takes an incoming CMSampleBuffer that contains a video frame and converts it into a CGImage, then sends that off to the main thread where, in my test code, it’s converted into a UIImage and set as the thing inside a UIImageView, proving that the whole thing is working:

    CVImageBufferRef imageBuffer = CMSampleBufferGetImageBuffer(sampleBuffer);
    // lock momentarily, to get enough details to create a CGImage in the future...
    CVPixelBufferLockBaseAddress(imageBuffer, 0);
        void *baseAddress = CVPixelBufferGetBaseAddress(imageBuffer);
        size_t bytesPerRow = CVPixelBufferGetBytesPerRow(imageBuffer);
        size_t width = CVPixelBufferGetWidth(imageBuffer);
        size_t height = CVPixelBufferGetHeight(imageBuffer);
    CVPixelBufferUnlockBaseAddress(imageBuffer, 0);
    // create a CGImageRef
    CGColorSpaceRef colourSpace = CGColorSpaceCreateDeviceRGB();
    CGContextRef contextRef = 
        CGBitmapContextCreate(baseAddress, width, height, 8, bytesPerRow, colourSpace, kCGBitmapByteOrder32Little | kCGImageAlphaPremultipliedFirst);
    CGImageRef imageRef = CGBitmapContextCreateImage(contextRef);
    [self performSelectorOnMainThread:@selector(postCGImage:) withObject:[NSValue valueWithPointer:imageRef] waitUntilDone:YES];

    I’ve conflated the object that I use normally to receive video frames and some stuff from a view controller for the sake of example; hopefully I haven’t made any errors.

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