Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: ProCamera for iPhone

I'm big into the hobby of photography, and have been for years.  I own a lot of good DSLR equipment (bodies, lenses, flashes, remote timers, etc) and use it to obtain the best quality that I can when I'm out shooting.  You can see some of my photos here:

Some time recently though, I got tired of hauling around all of that heavy equipment in a separate backpack and migrated to using a high quality Canon compact camera on more and more occasions.  Stick it in my pocket and away I go.  And even more recently, I've been subscribing to the photography adage that "the best camera is the one that you have with you", which would be the camera on my iPhone 5 that I always carry with me.  Apple's new TV commercial captures the essence of this point nicely.  You can see it here:

My problem with the native iPhone camera app is the lack of control that I have over it.  It's designed for simplicity and ease of use, and it excels at that.  It has the HDR and Panorama functions that are quite handy, but beyond that there's nothing in terms of user control for creative photography.

Photographers know what photographers want, so enter the plethora of iPhone camera apps designed to provide more functions than the built-in Apple camera app provides.  I don't know how many camera apps are in the Apple App Store, but there are a lot.  Some top examples that I've used and like include Camera+, Camera Awesome, and Kit Cam.  All of them include some handy unique features and built-in editing capabilities that keep me using them periodically for special needs, but I was still on the hunt for the perfect all-around camera app.  And then I found it!

The name of my favorite advanced iPhone camera app is ProCamera, and their website is located at this link:

Here are some things that I really like about this app that make it stand out above the rest and help to satisfy my creative shooting needs when I feel like pushing my iPhone to its limits to make a special shot:

  • Separate exposure and focus lock controls.  A must for creative image control.  These are also available when shooting video, which is huge!  This is the only app that I know of right now that offers this.
  • Continuous focus during video
  • Image stabilization
  • Video stabilization
  • Histogram display.  Handy to see when you're pushing the limits of the lighting...
  • Shutter speed and ISO displays.  Handy to understand what you're dealing with so you can compensate if necessary (e.g., steady the camera for a shot with a very slow shutter speed).
  • Separate shutter buttons for taking a stabilized shot or a regular shot.  Stabilization sensitivity is user-controlled.
  • Quick-button switching between camera and video
  • Auto ISO boost for getting better shots in dark situations.  Great feature!
  • JPEG compression level control
  • Rapid and HighSpeed shooting modes
  • Pro Lab is a full suite of color and exposure correction editing tools that are very handy to have on-board within the app and are easy to use.  There are also Pro Cut (a cropping utility) and Pro FX (some color and lighting presets) but I don't use either of these too often.
  • .....and more!
...and of course the app has all the standard photo app features like grid overlays, self-timer, level, sharing to social media sites, etc.

As you can see, there are a lot of features to expand your creative horizons, but the nice thing is that the interface is designed to keep most of it out of your way until you want/need it.  Nice job!

The app has performed flawlessly for me over time and has therefore earned a place on my home page for rapid access.  I still use the built in Apple camera app to shoot panoramas and HDR, but other than that.....this is my go-to photo app on the iPhone.  Well worth the few dollars that it costs, and highly recommended!

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