I’ve posted repeatedly about the importance of understanding how to take manual control of your camera in order to make images that are properly exposed and focused. Whether you are using a professional DSLR, an advanced full-frame mirrorless ILC, a compact point-and-shoot, or the camera built into your smart phone, there is no way you will get consistently acceptable results if you leave the camera’s settings to its auto mode. See this post for an overview: Post on Beyond the Auto Mode.
For the past two days I have been testing an iPhone app called “ProCam 4”, which is by far the best iOS camera app I’ve ever used. Like the “Manual” camera app that I’ve been using for years, ProCam 4 allows the manual selection of ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and focus distance (note that the iPhone camera’s lens has a fixed aperture, so F-stop cannot be manually set). Also like the Manual app, ProCam 4 allows images to be captured using RAW mode, which has a great many advantages over capture in JPEG format (see this post for more information: Post on RAW Capture). And both of these camera apps display a histogram to assist in setting exposure properly.
But ProCam 4 offers far more functionality than does the Manual app or any other iOS camera app I’ve tried. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite additional features:
- Shutter Priority: You can choose an exposure mode in which you select the shutter speed first and the app will set the appropriate ISO.
- Exposure Bracketing: You can shoot a series of four shots at different exposures to increase the likelihood that one of them will be at the best exposure for the lighting conditions. The series of shots can also be combined using HDR tools found in Lightroom, Photoshop, and other editing software into a single image with a higher range of tones from very dark to very bright.
- White Balance: You can adjust white balance in the app, which is often preferable to having to adjust it in your RAW files during post-processing.
- Virtual Horizon: The display can show you when the horizon is level.
- Slow Shutter Options: You can select long fixed shutter speeds as well as bulb mode to keep the shutter open for as long as you’d like.
- RAW+JPEG: You can choose to store the image in both RAW and JPEG formats.
- Editing Options: This app provides many advanced in-camera editing tools and filters.
With all this incremental functionality, your little phone’s camera begins to behave a lot like a more advanced standalone camera. While the iPhone’s camera, with its small sensor and its tiny fixed-aperture non-interchangeable lens, still cannot compare to a professional or enthusiast DSLR or ILC camera, the results using ProCam 4 are vastly improved compared to using the phone’s native camera app. At $4.99 to purchase via the iTunes Store, this app is a great buy and a serious enhancement to the iPhone’s built-in camera.
You can find the ProCam 4 app here: ProCam 4 app.
What app do you use to control your phone’s camera? What do you like and dislike about it? Please share your thoughts here.
Want to read more posts about photography gear? Find them all here: Posts on Gear.