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vhoto_out1When it comes to capturing an important moment, camera-wielders are often given a terrible choice: video or still photos? A picture may say a thousand words, but video makes it easy to capture everything that’s going on. The two formats are usually mutually exclusive: while Apple and Google both offer the ability to shoot stills while recording a video, trying to do both at once often leads to mediocre photos and sub-par video.

That’s where Vhoto comes in: this iPhone app analyzes the videos users record within the app or import from their camera roll, and spits out still images from the recording that it thinks are worth sharing. Users can then choose from their preferred images, save them to the phone’s Camera Roll, and share them with a wide variety of social networks, including Instagram, Facebook and Vhoto’s own platform. Here’s a video that shows how it works:

The Seattle-based company, started by Microsoft Xbox and Activision vet Noah Heller and former Farecast CEO Hugh Crean, wants to let people have the best of both worlds when it comes to capturing an event.

vhotoa-app11In my testing of the app, it worked surprisingly well, easily pulling out a number of nifty stills from a few videos that I had sitting on my iPhone. It’s not an instantaneous process, but Vhoto finished processing each video within a minute.

Users of the iPhone 5s who enjoy its slow-mo camera will be able to take advantage of the high frame rate using Vhoto as well. The app easily processed a couple slow-motion videos I had of the family dog running down the hallway, including poses that I probably wouldn’t have captured if it wasn’t for the high frame rate.

Vhoto does come with a few drawbacks, most obviously the quality of the resulting photos. At a glance, the shots seem fine, but many of the poses that I wanted were out of focus or blocky. Compared side-by-side, the quality of the photos produced by Vhoto just doesn’t stand up to what my iPhone is capable of producing when I use it as just a straightforward still camera. That said, Vhoto gave me an opportunity to get photos that I wouldn’t otherwise have captured, which can make up for the drop in quality.

Unfortunately, Vhoto requires that users log in to the company’s social network in order to use the app. While that’s easy enough, it’s a frustrating speed bump. What’s more, I already have plenty of social networks with which to share my photos, and I’m not particularly interested in using yet another community when I already have Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Instagram.

Still, Vhoto provides a key service for anyone looking to take more and better photos, and it will definitely have a long-term place among my suite of photo apps.

Vhoto is available for free on the App Store.

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