Photography Apps for the Smart Phone, Part 1

Photo Jul 22, 9 37 42 AM

In getting back into things as I settle down into a new position that travels much less frequently, gives me more time with family and photography, I’d like to start off with a series of reviews on various photography apps for your smart phone.  We all should know the phrase “the best camera is the one you have with you” by now, popularized from the book of the same name by Chase Jarvis.  Because your camera phone is the one you almost always have with you, it helps to know how to use that and make the most of it.  So, for the next few posts I’ll be looking at a couple camera apps that can help you turn on the power of your camera phone!

Set My Cam – Pro


This is a pretty amazing app when you consider all the functions that are built in here.  First off, Roger (the developer) has included an extensive tutorial for each function to really help you understand the purpose of each.  He’s got 4 functions built in here:

  1. DoF – Depth of Field Calculator

Photo Jul 22, 9 37 42 AM




The Depth of Field calculator uses the details you enter for the camera lens, f-stop value, and subject distance to lens from the spinning wheel at the top of the screen.  Underneath, the app reports all the details you would need for your camera to take the shot correctly, including the focusing information, the DoF distance, and hyper focal information.  The navigation menu remains across the bottom as well.  If you need an explanation of the DoF, simply tap the Info button on the far right, and the tutorial section opens, not only to explain the concept to you, but also to show you what each of the numbers will mean when you navigate back to the DoF interface:

Photo Jul 22, 9 41 11 AM2. FoV – Field of View Calculator

The rest of the tools pretty much follow the same layout – where the tool allows you to calculate data needed to transfer over to your camera to get the best shot.  Each tool comes with a good intro explanation for what the function does, along with a drawing of the tool and short descriptor of each.  Here’s what the FoV tool looks like (though I was not able to get the whole thing on my iPhone 4s so I had to use Photoshop to overlay the two halfs on top of each other:


3. Motion

Photo Jul 27, 3 51 41 PM

4. IR Trigger

The IR Trigger detail is pretty cool – it allows you to use your iOS device to trigger the camera.  Unfortunately, it cannot receive the image back as it is a one-way communication path only, but the function itself is pretty cool.  If you don’t have the trigger itself, the app is still useful in that you can calculate bracketing and other useful information:

Photo Jul 27, 4 06 41 PM

If you want to purchase a specialized trigger to connect to your iPhone, these can be purchased off his website at  They’re $20 a piece, and if you’re so inclined, may be worth the investment, but I opted not to go that route as I only wanted to review the app itself.

5. Flashlight

Last but not least, is the setup button (the second to last one across the bottom before the Info button).  This is where you would set your specific camera that you are gathering information for.  In my case, I was looking for the Canon 40D, the 7D, the G12, and the Nikon D3.  All were listed as available cameras, along with a litany of other ones.  It’s a pretty extensive library too, so odds are, Roger has your camera in there.  When in this portion of the app, you can toggle a flashlight on if the mood strikes you!  Kind of an afterthought in my opinion, but it’s there nonetheless.

Photo Jul 22, 9 39 48 AM


All in all, this is a pretty extensive app, and Roger took his time in creating the icons, the interface, and the tutorials.  I guess my biggest nit is that this isn’t really a camera phone app, it’s more of a companion app for your other camera.  That being said, as a companion app, I can really see how some people would get some incredible use out of this – even if only for the tutorials alone!  My other issue is that the app does seem to be designed for iOS only.  In looking at the details online, the developer reports support across several iOS devices, but none for the Android platform.  That is very unfortunate.  I am not sure if it’s because of the IR functions that he’s designed into it (which are pretty cool, yeah), but by and large this app is informational only – running calculations for various functions against charts that are available in other veins.  Is it a p.i.t.a. to reference other charts all over the place?  Sometimes I guess, but I don’t reference charts much anymore, and I certainly would not want to be limited to an iOS device to be able to have it all in one place.

The pro version runs for $5.99 in the market place, but not sure I’d buy it even for all that it does, primarily because of it’s place in photography.  It’s a learning and reference app more than anything and without cross-platform support, I can’t justify the expense.


Want your own photography app reviewed?  I’ve got three more coming this week, but am open to other suggestions on apps to review.  If you’ve tried any of these apps or have your own thoughts, feel free to chime in below.  Remember, it’s your voice that drives the direction of discussion!

Got your camera glasses on?


It always pays to keep your camera glasses on, even when you don’t have a camera right in front of you.  While talking with the folks after our furniture finally arrived last Friday, I was taking a break from unpacking (we’re still not done!), and walking around the exterior of the property.  After nibbling on some ripe raspberries (yes, we have raspberry bushes in our backyard, along with black raspberries, golden berries, Asian pear trees, and a couple other ones I am not 100% on yet), I started to head inside when I saw this bush:

camo-2Normally, a little movement from a bush means the wind is blowing but some movement wasn’t quite right, so I glanced again, and sure enough – something appeared once I changed my angle of view:


A praying mantis!  Now these guys aren’t that rare, but it’s always intriguing to find one because there is something quite surreal about their appearance.  He was tucked pretty deep inside these wisps of the bush too, and the edges were kinda sharp.  That being the case I didn’t want to dive in and disturb him too much, but I couldn’t help myself from at least trying to get off a shot that showed those cool beady eyes and his angular body:


As always, I was just not equipped as I wanted to be to get something better, and something about respecting the environment and it’s citizens called out to me, so this was the best I could get.  Quite an amazing difference from what was there at first glance, eh?!  The teachable moment here:  always keep your camera glasses on!

The Final Push

Living Room

Very exciting news in my little corner of the globe as we’ve finally closed escrow on our new digs!  It happened Friday, so naturally Saturday and Sunday were spent college-style, huddled around boxes and crates eating take-out while we move our grips into the house.  I’ve now done 3 moves since starting this website:

1.  South Carolina to Colorado

2.  Colorado to Ohio apartment

3.  Ohio apartment to Ohio house

Now, some of you may not count the apartment, but when there’s physical exertion involved, I count it and there was substantial sweat equity this last weekend to complete our portion of Phase 3!  Now, granted, we are still sleeping on an air mattress since the remainder of our stuff is in storage (due in this coming weekend where I play the role of supervisor rather than the manual labor for a change!), but I count us as moved in.  Nothing amazing photographically to speak of here, just a few documentary photos to share the experience, lest ye all think I’ve forgotten photography!