Review: ProCamera App with DSLR-like features (Upd. Jun. 2019)
ProCamera app is my favorite iPhone camera app and I've been using for years! I originally bought it because I looked for a camera app that offered manual ISO and shutter speed setting plus an ISO priority and shutter priority mode that I needed.
So here's my updated review of ProCamera app as of June 2019.
ProCamera App features
If I'd mention each and every single feature of the ProCamera app, this list would be just huge. The app is called ProCamera for a reason! Here's a list of the features that I use quite frequently:
- Dual Lens support with support for manual lens switching. Great for combining a Moment 2x Tele lens with the 2x zoom lens of the iPhone.
- Manual controls for ISO and shutter speed plus ISO and shutter speed priority modes.
- Lock focus and exposure independently from each other
- Manually set exposure compensation from -7 to +7 (basically fine tuning the exposure)
- Volume button shutter release that's required if you want to use a Bluetooth remote shutter release
- Support for shooting and saving RAW photos.
- 4 different composition grids.
- Primary and secondary shutter release buttons. I love this one!
- Self-timer up to 30 seconds (compared to only 10 seconds of the iPhone stock camera app)
- Rapid fire or burst mode; take lots of photos in a short period. Perfect for getting the perfect shot of subjects in motion.
- Tiltmeter for perfectly leveled photos
- Anti-Shake shutter release that will trigger only if you hold your camera steady. Great for low light photos.
- Dedicated Apple Watch app that works as a remote trigger. Great for low light photos.
- A today widget that displays the time of the sunset, sunrise and blue hour.
- Different low light modes to capture great shots even in low light. I‘ve upload some sample photos if ProCamera Lowlight mode in my review.
- Shoot in HDR using either full or manual HDR settings
- New as of May 2019 is the automatic perspective correction that I've reviewed in a separate blog post.
Plus a lot more features, that I don't use that much and therefore can't really talk much about, like filming with ProCamera, the private lightbox, full-screen trigger and so much more.
Here's one of the first shots I took with ProCamera in Bratislava, Slovakia using the HDR feature.
Before I talk about the user interface of ProCamera app, I'd like to highlight a few features that I'm quite enthusiastic about:
Manual lens selection
If you switch from wide-angle to telephoto-lens in the iOS camera app, some algorithm decides if the app uses the optical lens or stays with the wide angle lens and only uses digital zoom.
The ability to really select the lens is a great feature, especially as you can combine the telephoto lens of the iPhone with the Moment 2x tele for almost 4x optical zoom.
Manual modes and priority modes.
Procamera has different shooting modes. The fully automatic mode left aside, you can use either manual mode or one of the priority modes, which are:
- Shutter priority, where you set the shutter speed manually and ProCamera determines the best ISO setting
- IOS priority, where you set the ISO mode manually and let ProCamera select the shutter speed. I use this one quite often to photograph inside buildings, where you usually have a little less light than outside. In this mode, I set ISO as low as possible and then use the anti-shake shutter release to get a sharp shot even with a little longer exposure time.
Anti-Shake shutter release
Combined with ISO priority, this is truly a killer feature. If you press the anti-shake shutter release, ProCamera will only trigger the shutter, when you hold your camera perfectly steady. You can manually set the sensitivity of the anti-shake time in settings -> stabilization.
I took the above photo in manual mode with ISO set to 25 and the shutter speed set to 1/15th. With anti-shake shutter release, ProCamera waited until I held the camera perfectly stable and only then triggered the shutter release.
ProCamera Low Light shooting modes
ProCamera has dedicated modes for low light photography. Those modes basically take several shots with different settings and combine them into a bright and low noise photo. Great if you want to take photos in a really dark environment.
Pro Camera HDR modes
My feelings and experience are a little mixed about HDR, and I don't use it that often. Especially in scenes with e.g., a bright sky and a dark landscape, the automatic modes failed several times. So I'm using more the manual HDR modes. But that requires some practice.
The ProCamera User Interface
At first impression, the ProCamera user interface may seem cluttered, but once you've used it for a while, it seems pretty logical. The developers have invested quite some time to optimize the user interface for photographers.
So, let's start at the bottom area of the screen.
It contains a link to the (1) camera roll, (2) mode selector, (3) primary and (4) secondary shutter release, and (5) settings.
Tap the mode selector (2), and a new panel will appear that contains all the shooting modes of ProCamera app. Slide left and right and tap to select the shooting mode. Depending on the selected shooting mode, the main shutter release (3) will change. In the screenshot above, it's set to low light mode. You can adjust the order of the shooting modes by force pressing on supported iPhone models and then drag a shooting mode around and order them to your liking. My order is set to match the modes I use most: Photo; LowLight+, HDR, LowLight, Video, and Selfie.
If you own an iPhone 7plus, you'll see a "1x" and "2x" selector to select different zoom modes. But be careful. Those zoom modes work like the ones from the stock camera app; selecting 2x does not necessarily switch to the zoom lens. It just tells the iPhone that you want to take a zoomed shot, and if the iPhone software determines that a digitally zoomed 2x shot will look better, then it will use the wide lens and zoom digitally.
But ProCamera wouldn't be a pro camera app if it would not offer a switch to make sure you use the zoom lens. I'll talk about that in a minute.
ProCamera has two shutter release buttons (3) and (4)). The primary one is the big one in the middle that matches the currently selected shooting mode. The second one can be set to either Anti Shake or to Self Timer.
If you've set it to "Self Timer", taping and holding the self-timer shutter release will bring up a slider that you can use to adjust the time for each shot.
ProCamera app has dozens of settings in two groups; settings for different shooting modes and the app settings itself. I'll start with the shooting mode settings.
Tap the menu icon at the right at the bottom of the screen.
Depending on the selected shooting mode, you'll see fewer options than in the screenshot above. Each setting here works as a toggle switch. If a setting is white, it's turned off or set to auto. If it's green, it's enabled. Tap any item to switch between different settings or to turn it on/off. Recommendation to get started
ProCamera comes with so many things it's difficult to get started, so here's my recommendation to get started:
- Start in "photo" mode and learn how to set focus and exposure manually. Then switch to manual and to priority modes and learn how to use them.
- Continue with "Low Light Modes". Check my review for an introduction on how to use them.
- Experiment with HDR modes. Try manual HDR modes.
As the name of the app suggests, ProCamera app is a truly professional camera app that really pushes the iPhone photo hardware to its limits. In the beginning, the number of features may seem overwhelming, but once you've used the app for a while, you'll get the hang of it.
I've tried many different camera apps over the years, but ProCamera app was and still is, in my opinion, the best camera app for iPhone Photographers and, as always, you can get ProCamera App right from the App Store.
Are you already using ProCamera App? How's your experience? Sound off in the comments below.