Mobile Applications

One of the things I thought profound is the rise of smart phones. When the iPhone came out, suddenly, we had a cellular phone that was capable of producing pictures as good as, if not better than any point and shoot camera I ever used. And it didn’t take long for competing platforms and manufacturers to at least attempt to catch up.

While it is not very likely for smart phones to replace DSLR’s anytime soon, point and shoot cameras find themselves in a difficult position. DSLR’s have become cheaper and MILC’s have slowly earned popularity over the past few years. With phone cameras improving their image quality and the emergence of smartphone hybrids, the niche for point and shoot cameras is apparently becoming smaller. It’s reached a point where I can now say that, after I just broke my last point and shoot camera, I would rather look into buying a new phone with a better phone camera than what I have now, than buy a new point and shoot camera.

However, what really caught my attention was not the phone camera themselves, but the multitude of applications that eventually proliferated. When MMS 173 was last offered in early 2011, there were already a handful of applications and references available through iTunes. Unfortunately, the iPhone was, and perhaps still is, a luxury afforded by a select few among students. Google Android was only starting to gain ground with Froyo. But there were hardly any applications beyond and simple editing software and analog emulators. Mid-priced Android phones only started to appear in the market that year, as well. The bottomline is that mobile photography applications were hardly more than novelty items. As far as this course was concerned, this was a topic that only merited a couple of minutes in an optional virtual class session which hardly anybody attended.

Times have changed since then.

Today, there are so many things a photographer can benefit from just by having a smartphone in his or her pocket.

1. Light Meter Tools  (Android)

Alternate: Photo Tools (Android), Photobuddy (iOS)

All-in-one packages such as light meter tools provide an array of guides you will find useful, notably light meters, a manual exposure calculator, and a depth of field calculator.
2. Sun Surveyor (Android and iOS)

Alternate: Sun Seeker (Android)

A must-have for landscape photographers and outdoor videographers, when your phone is properly calibrated, Sun Surveyor accurately tracks the position of the sun and moon by superimposing a compass and projected pathway over Google Maps or through augmented reality over the phone’s camera live view .
3. DigiReview – Cameras & Lenses (Android)

Alternate: too many

References and reviews abound. All you need to do is search for them. This particular app provides a slew of reviews of a wide array of cameras and lenses for your perusal.
4. Camera FV-5 (Android)

While I hesitate to include third party interfaces in this list, Camera FV-5 bears the distinction of fully tapping into the capabilities of your Android phone’s built-in camera by making available DSLR-level controls. Of course, your phone hardware is ultimately the limiting factor in the available options (the app allows shutter priority mode, but not aperture or full manual in my phone). This app has the potential to be even more powerful as mobile phone technology continues to advance.
5. CamRanger (iOS)

Alternate: DSLR Controller (Android)

In the event that you have a camera that is supported and possess the necessary additional hardware, it is now possible to take control of your DSLR remotely using your mobile phone. Unfortunately, as I am not one of those people with the necessary additional hardware, I cannot speak from my own experience.