Best iPhone and iPad photography apps
7th Jan 2012 | 11:28
The best tablet and smartphone apps for photographers
HPR-Solutions Longtime Exposure Calculator
Longtime Exposure Calculator
Price: Free/ Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
Long-exposure photography fanatics will know that an ND filter can be essential when it comes to extending exposure time for those all-important open shutter shots.
Longtime Exposure Calculator by HPR-Solutions is a free iPhone, iPad and iPod touch app that enables you to dial in a projected shutter speed to one column and then 'add' an ND filter as graded in both f/stops and filter names (eg 3 stop or ND8) in the other column. The app then calculates the adjusted exposure.
While it is, in part, possible to TTL meter with an ND filter attached to the front of a camera's lens, the results won't always be accurate, and there's a point where things get so dark that it's not possible - especially with in-vogue super-dense filters. Having an off-camera calculation method such as this makes it quick and easy to figure out exposures without so much as needing to put those brain cells into overdrive while scrawling workings-out on paper.
The Longtime Exposure Calculator app has exposure in-put values that range from 30 seconds to 1/8,000th of a second, which encompasses the range of even a professional DSLR.
The ND filters list is detailed too, covering from ND2 (1 stop) all the way down to ND1,000,000 (20 stops) and even puts in useful references for filter stacking, such as '2x ND8' or 'ND2 + ND3' to enhance that connection with reality.
A variety of filter types that could be dragged and dropped to create customised user stacks would improve the app, although this could complicate things for the more casual user.
On the downside, this app isn't going to be particularly helpful to film users, because it doesn't take into account film types or reciprocity failure (which varies depending on which film you're using).
The app also resets when it's exited (even with iOS 4), which means you'll have to remember the given exposure value. And, seeing as that can range from 1/8,000th of a second all the way up to a year, there could be a lot to remember if you have a lot of filters.
Hey, it's a free app, so it's hard to complain. Longtime Exposure Calculator performs a calculation task, and it does it well.
TappyTaps Geotag Photos Pro
Geotag Photos Pro
Price: £2.49/ Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
Geotagging is the process of adding latitudinal and longitudinal geographic information to an image's metadata, and has seen a sharp rise in popularity of late.
In part, this rise in popularity due to the number of GPS-enabled smartphones and other connected devices. Yet there are very few cameras with such technology, and there's not a single GPS-enabled DSLR (granted the Sony A55 and Alpha 77 may be half-exceptions, but there SLTs).
While there are other dedicated GPS accessories to add to your camera, the potential cost incurred from adding these can be extortionate – Nikon's GP-1 module, for example, retails for just under £200.
Geotag Photos Pro an app designed to track your location and then make the data available to apply to external (ie not the iPhone's camera) images. The app can track your current location using GPS and, assuming the phone and camera's times and dates match (this is essential), the Geotag Photos Pro desktop computer software makes it easy to connect the phone's GPX file (located via iTunes) to your folder of photos.
Accuracy settings determine whether new tags are made for every 10m through to 1km of movement, and the Autologging feature can add a new GPS location upon every movement or once every hour – it's up to you.
A free 'Lite' version of the app is available, albeit without Autologging enabled (bar a free eight-hour trial).
It's a shame there's no way to directly sync the phone to the camera itself, as a dedicated GPS accessory will immediately sync data to a shot. This is a slower workaround but, while applying the metadata to images may take a few more clicks than a dedicated GPS accessory, it's a process that can work in a matter of seconds.
Think of it this way – those extra few clicks could save you hundreds of pounds. That's none too bad in our books. We were tempted to award it five stars based on cost alone.
Viewpoint Photography DOFMaster
Price £1.49/ Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
The app is able to calculate the hyperfocal distance – that is the closest distance a lens can focus on an object while maintaining acceptable sharpness to infinity – based on the type of camera and lens combination being used.
Different sensor sizes and focal lengths will pronounce depth of field in different ways, and for landscape photographers with focus-depth window lenses, this is often an essential tool to ensure accurate manual focus is made for the sharpest and most resolute final shots.
To calculate hyperfocal distance in your head is no mean feat. Break down the mathematical equation into approximate English and hyperfocal distance equals ((focal length squared) divided by (aperture value multiplied by the circle of confusion limit)) plus focal length. Thankfully, there's an app for that!
DOFMaster has a decent enough array of cameras listed in its Format list, although rather than extensively listing each and every camera model, the brands tend to be generalised by sensor size.
Film, DSLRs, Cinematography and Circle of Confusion (by inches or millimetres) are the four main divisions. For compact cameras, the Compact Digital selection is vague given the variance in sensor sizes – although there are 1/2-inch and 2/3-inch sizes available in the 'Cinematography' bracket.
Lens focal lengths range from 3mm to 1200mm, and aperture values from f/1.0-f/64 will encompass all but pinhole photographers, while the Focus box can accept seemingly infinite values by feet, inches, metres or centimetres.
DOFMaster may not be able to take on board characteristics of specific lenses, but the criteria it does offer provides a decent overview of what knowledgeable photographers will be looking for.
Specific to high-end photographers, you'll find you get a lot of use from this app if you're one of them.
RoadTour OutDoors Great Britain
OutDoors Great Britain
Price £1.99/ Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
OutDoors Great Britain by RoadTour, with national parks Ordnance Survey maps, is an ideal app for walkers and hikers, with an obvious overlap for landscape photographers looking for known walking routes throughout the UK.
The basic £1.99 app comes with a pre-loaded 1:250K map of Great Britain, but for 1:50k scale Ordnance Survey downloads you can pay anything from nothing (for one or two maps only) up to £29.99 (for a full county, which is around 600MB of data).
The National Park OS map costs £11.99, while regional maps for the South East England and North East England cost £9.99.
Where this app beats traditional mapping is in its tie-in to your iPhone's GPS. It's possible to track your exact location, and even create your own routes in real time.
Better still, head to everytrail.com and it's possible to download other users' GPX files to import maps from fellow walkers, although you'll still need the (pay-for) scale map download for that associated area to reap the benefits at a decent, close-up scale.
Without the need for an internet connection (Wi-Fi and 3G will make no odds to performance, because they're not used), once the map data is downloaded it's ready to go.
Despite the accuracy of OS Maps (we're talking the standard Ordnance Survey with keys and interest points – not the paved roadways of Google Maps), there's not a distinct photographic angle here. Teaming up with fellow photographers to share pictures, locations and routes is something that can, in part, be achieved without requiring an app in the first instance.
It's a useful app for landscape photographers whether they are planning a shoot, out with a camera or reviewing and keywording images.
Crookneck Consulting The Photographer's Ephemeris
The Photographer's Ephemeris
Price £5.99/ Available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad
The Photographer's Ephemeris by Crookneck Consulting will be a godsend of an app for forward-thinking landscape photographers who want to organise photo shoots based on when and where light will fall.
At its most basic, the app for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Macs or PCs uses Google Maps to show projections of sun and moon rise and set paths. But it can do so for any date and time of year, down to the nearest minute.
This can produce an accurate map of where light will fall and at what time, all wrapped up in a visual package where you can zoom in anywhere around the globe (well, anywhere that Google Maps has been) to view basic maps or actual terrain.
But that's not all, and here's where the app gets that bit more advanced: Knowing that objects can easily fall in the way of the light's path, Ephemeris also takes on board altitude.
By acknowledging your current (or projected future) position, a secondary drop pin can be placed onto surrounding objects to assess their height in relation to the sun or moon and whether light will be blocked. If it does, then you may want to tweak the clock and/or location to work out when you should be at your chosen location for the best possible results – meaning it's possible to calculate when to be at your destination.
There's very little wrong with The Photographer's Ephemeris. The only tweak we'd like to see made is for a more social build – one where it would be possible to share your perfect location and times with fellow app users, and attach associated pictures to bring on a more visual linkage of shots taken in specific locations.
On occasion, Google Maps' terrain view won't zoom in to a desirable level either, but that's outside of the app's control. Otherwise we're very impressed with this excellent app on our iPad 2, despite the fact the desktop version for Mac and PC can be downloaded for free.
Future Publishing Teach Yourself Photoshop
Teach Yourself Photoshop
Price £11.99/ Available for iPad
Teach Yourself Photoshop does what it says on the tin. Less interactive and very much video tutorial-based, the app is far more accessible than a DVD approach because it can run right alongside your computer on an iPad while you imitate processes onscreen.
It's even possible to download the images used in the tutorial to your computer (not to the tablet, however, because the Zip format isn't compatible) in order to feel more immersed in the editing processes taking place.
With 10 main categories each broken down into six videos (that's 60 videos and hours of tuition) the bite-sized chunks are easy to digest and it's simple to pause or rewind sections to pinpoint specific frames, should you ever need a quick refresher.
George Cairns' narration is clear, easy to follow and never patronising. He talks through the basics at a Photoshop Elements level, to raw processing in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), up to more advanced techniques in the latest Photoshop CS5.
Full topic titles include Photo Editing Basics, Getting Started With Raw, Improve Exposure, Master Selections, Get To Grips With Layers, Retouch Your Photos, Solve Common Problems, Black and White Made Easy, Digital Darkroom Effects and Organising Your Images.
The videos show good quality reproductions of the Adobe software, although the occasional cutaway does look over-compressed from time to time.
If you want a taster of what the app is like, then the first chapter of videos are available online to give you an idea of what's on offer.
We like it, but there are more interactive approaches available elsewhere – this is more DVD-like than other apps.
Liked this? Then check out Best apps for your new tablet or smartphone
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