ProCam: A Great Camera App that Shouldn't be Missed

This article is targeted at anyone wanting to do “fun” things with the cameras of their iDevices, including creating time-lapse videos.

In my latest article on making use of the zooming in videos, I've already reviewed the zoom capabilities of a recently-discounted camera app in AppStore, ProCam ($1.99). In that article, I recommend against using it for video shooting on lossless zoom-capable devices if you plan to use the zoom.

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However, the app is otherwise excellent. While it doesn't have truly groundbreaking stuff (for example, a quality panorama stitcher or HDR algorithm of its own), it still provides an excellent interface for almost everything available via the API—and more. For example, it's one of the very few AppStore apps able to burn in not only time and date, but also reverse geocoded location data. 

Photo & Video Stamping with Reverse Geocoded Data

Here is an example of reverse geocoded data, with not only the usual latitude and longitude data in the EXIF header, but also the location burnt in the image itself:

Note that reverse geocoding is pretty coarse. When the exact EXIF-based location data is used for proper reverse lookup with, say, Google's API, a much more exact, human-readable location can be found. The app only burns the country and town name into the image—and nothing else. And while it can also stamp videos with reverse-geocoded strings, it's static; if you shoot a multi-hour video and move quickly between towns (on a train for instance), the title won't change. This, along with the fact that you can't burn in simple coordinates, makes this feature pretty useless for functionality like that of UbiPix.

It does allow for burning in time and date in the images, something VERY rare with iOS apps.

Time-lapse Videos

I've very thoroughly tested the time-lapse video functionality on various devices, all with different export resolutions and time-lapse delay settings, running for at least half an hour on all of them and found it excellent and reliable.

The only problem I faced was on a non-jailbroken iPhone 5 running 7.0.2. After shooting over a hundred full-quality test images in burst mode, time-lapse mode started to show me -11830 errors:

Killing the app or even restarting the iPhone didn't help this. I needed to completely remove and reinstall the app to get rid of the problem. If you encounter the same problem, do the same.

You can even add any kind of audio to the exported time-lapse video (no need to do this on the desktop), as is shown in the following settings menu screenshot:

This is also pretty much unique among iOS apps.

Low-light Shots

In my recent article on ProCamera, I showed how much better night and low-light shots can be if you decrease the shutter speed (while, of course, avoiding shooting handheld). The app also supports decreasing the shutter speed up to 1 second, which is also mentioned by the in-app help when first switching to night mode (see the main mode setter on the bottom):

Then, you'll be able to pick the right shutter speed from the mode-specific menu annotated below:

In addition, it allows you to set an automatic delay to avoid shutter-icon-tapping-induced camera shake. You may also want to increase it from the default zero. I've annotated this setting in the following screenshot:

Unfortunately, few other night mode-capable apps are able to do the same.

Faux Exposure Compensation

As has been explained in section 4. What about KitCam? of my dedicated Exposure Compensation and Bracketing Bible, it's simply impossible to properly “dial in” an exposure compensation on iOS. The camera programming interface just doesn't allow it. Some app developers therefore provide faux exposure compensation interfaces mimicking that of other mobile operating systems like Android, Windows Phone, and Symbian. So do the developers of ProCam, in photo mode:

(tap the icon in the lower left corner, here annotated by a green rectangle, to access this menu)

Do NOT assume the faux exposure compensation will work the same way as proper exposure compensation. If, for example, you turn it up to get a proper, noise-less shot of the shadows (while letting the highlights burn in), the app will only do post-processing and simple shadow lifting to emulate exposure compensation. This means the shadows will be noisy. The case will be the same in the opposite direction: to reduce burnt-in highlights, if you under-expose the images by dialing in a negative exposure compensation, you'll have a much harder time getting a properly exposed, non-burnt-in image with this faux exposure compensation than with a proper one.

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<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>