iPhone Life magazine

Excellent Camera app ProCamera 7 released; Original ProCamera Gone Free & Shouldn't be Missed

ProCamera (free at the moment) has always been one of the apps I recommend for generic shooting. While it lacks specialized stuff such as image stitching algorithms like panorama or true HDR shooters, it's still a very decent user interface built around Apple's Camera application programming interface (API), allowing for the manual configuration of almost all features configurable via the API. For example, it supports extending the shutter speed from the default 1/15 second minimum up to 1 second, making it possible to take night shots of far better quality and exposure than you otherwise could with the Camera app.

A brand new, iOS 7-only version of ProCamera, ProCamera 7 ($0.99 intro price), has just been released. As I was perfectly happy with the old version and the current (significant) discount will end soon, I decided to review the new version promptly so that you can also see whether the app is worth purchasing before the discount is lifted.

 

Features that make this app great:

First, let's see some of the excellent features even the old version had which are painfully missing from the stock Camera client of iOS, even as of iOS 7 and the latest-and-greatest iPhone 5s.

For example, here's a night shot (taken at my summer cottage in central-Finland this July) shot with 1/2s:

(as always, click the thumbnail for the full-sized, full-quality image.)

And here's the user interface (UI) of the old version used when shooting the above shot:



(note that the icon behind the pop-up menu shows “1/2s”, denoting the shot will be made with the shutter speed of half a second).

The stock Camera client only allows for shutter speeds equal or higher than 1/15s. No wonder the exposure of the same scene but with the stock Camera app is far darker:

Lifting the shadows of the latter, underexposed, stock Camera shot, of course, results in major noise creeping in:

By the way, this was the configuration I used in the Preview app of OS X 10.8 to lift the shadows:

Of course, night photography is only one area in which this app excels—particularly now with version 7. By the way, in this flickr set you can find a lot more night test shots of the same scene. As soon as I have some free time to finally make my iOS photography article series ready, I'll publish a full article on night shooting too, also explaining how all these shots should be evaluated. 

 

Problems with the old version

No matter how excellent the old version was, it was severely hampered by the absolutely illogical GUI. Even I, a hardcore computer and photography geek, found the old version very hard to learn. For example, without reading the manual of the app, I wouldn't have ever thought you need to keep the shutter speed icon (annotated below) depressed for at least a second for it to activate the 1s shutter speed (the longest possible on iOS):



The interface of the new version is far more logical: in of the three main modes, in the Night mode only, you can directly select the shutter speed you want to use (annotated row at the top):



And this was only one aspect of how hard-to-learn and handle the old version was.

 

New features of version 7

1. 60 / 120 fps video recording

In addition to the much more logical and easier-to-use UI, the new version also has some excellent features not present in the old version. The most important of them is true, high-speed video recording.

Back in the pre-iPhone 5s days, I published several articles on shooting 60 fps videos on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, on both iOS 5 (on the 4S) and iOS 7 (on both models). 

ProCamera 7 makes use of the high-speed recording of compatible models: the iPhone 4s, 5, 5c, and 5s. Unlike SlowCam, it exports 60 fps video to the Camera Roll without converting it into a 30 fps one.

Enabling 60 fps shooting on iPhone 4S, 5, and 5c, and 120 fps shooting on iPhone 5s is easy. After changing the main mode to video, fire up Settings (red rectangle below):

and select the resolution icon (annotated by a blue rectangle above).

In the resolution submenu, select the rightmost one titled "HD max fps" (annotated by red):

Now, you'll be returned to the main (Video-specific) menu; the next icon on the right (annotated by red below) will automatically be changed to "max fps framerate":

From now on, shooting will use the maximum framerate.

I've uploaded a 720p60 file shot on the iPhone 5, should you want to check it out.

2. Much faster full-res burst shooting (on the iPhone 5)

The new version has an excellent burst mode: on the iPhone 5, it produces 67 fps at full res for around 100 images; after that, with bursts of about 45 images and around 1 sec pauses between them. The older app only delivers between 2 and 3 fps under exactly the same circumstances (iPhone 5 running on 7.0.2)that is, at about half the framerate.

 

Problems with the new version

1. No histogram

Probably the biggest problem is the lack of histogram. If you must use it, you will want to stay away.

2. No built-in QR reader

If you need the built-in QR code reader of the previous version, you won't find it any more.

Here's the main mode changer of the new version, with a Night mode icon instead of the previous QR icon:

Note that the new mode changer can be dragged to the left or right, just like that of the main mode changer of the iOS 7 non-iPad stock Camera app.

Nevertheless, the AppStore has several free QR readers so you don't lose much. After all, the QR module of the app doesn't have anything extra compared to most other QR readers. A screenshot showing the post-QR reading menu:

3. Videos will always be geotagged

The switch to disable geotagging in Settings only disables adding coordinates to stills, not to videos:

Should you want to publish a video file without any kind of recompression but also without any location data, you'll need to disable the app-specific location service in the system-level Settings menu (under Privacy > Location Services):

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Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.

Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.