Photography Apps for the Smartphone, Part 2

Earlier this week, I started diving back into active blogging with a review/write-up of a smartphone app called SetMyCamPro.  You can read more about it here, but I’d like to continue the theme of some photo app reviews, because the best camera truly is the one you have with you, and for most of us, that happens to be the camera built into our phones.  With practice and a photographic eye, you can get some pretty excellent images from these cameras.  Case in point, here’s one I got of an Ohio sunset just a few nights ago:

Ohio Sunset
Ohio Sunset

Granted, not going to win any contests, but something worth remembering for me.  Anyway, enough of the shot that I took, instead it’s time to dive into the second App I am reviewing here on the blog.

I actually reviewed this app before but it was part of a promotional giveaway article for the vendor – and it’s called Easy Release!  The concept is pretty simply – use your phone, ipod or iPad screen to generate a model or property release, have the individual sign from your touch-sensitive device (which most phones are these days anyway), and you’re done.  It’s a handy app to have for those “on the go” kinds of shoots where it’s not in a studio, or something last minute.  For those, you’d probably want to have a more professional setup in place with actual pens and papers to have clients sign off on.  (In addition to an event contract, licensing and usage, and much more.  In fact, I have a two-Ebook combo that gives you all the paperwork you need to get started in photography, including model releases (adult and minor), event contracts, and a how-to guide…you can get it here for only $30:

Add to Cart

Now, for those that prefer the digital mobile on-the-go style of releases for your business, then let’s dig into Easy Release!

On downloading it, the first thing you’ll want to do is configure add an image or logo of your business to your device – this is to add it to your logo/branding to the header that will be used when emailing a copy of the signed release to your clients! (Yes, that’s right, you can email them a copy right from your phone!)  If you want to set up multiple brands, the option is there from their Pro Pack (only $3.99), but if one is enough, then you are set with just the base one in the app.  Enter your logo, the company name, and your contact info, and that’s all you need:

Photo Jul 31, 8 11 23 AM





The rest is pretty straightforward – you’re simply selecting the release type (model or property), taking the image, and then the most tedious part – where you enter all their contact information, including phone, address, email, and other pertinent data.  For my own two cents, I wish they would add the option of making an audio recording of this data for later transcription so you can get to the signing quicker.  I’ve gotten fairly proficient at creating these, and actually used it on more occasions than I can count off the top of my head – probably in the scores by now (that’s 20’s for those speaking in layman terms!  LOL).

You can check out the app on the iTunes or Android Google Play stores here and here.  No commissions to be had by me here, so feel free to either buy or go another route, but I think this is the benchmark that any digital model release has to stand up to, because these guys are top notch!  This is, of course only my opinion, so I’d like to open the floor to others.  What are your experiences with Easy Relase?  What about alternatives?  Are they cross-platform supported like this is (Android and iPhone)?  I know it’s a bit pricier than the average app, but for a working professional, the cost does seem justified to get something this robust and portable.

To that end, I am also open to suggestions for additional apps to review.  I’ve got 3 more in the bank, but that doesn’t mean we can’t re-visit later if needed.  Throw your suggestions for other apps in the comments section too, and I’ll add to the list!  Have a great weekend everyone and keep on shooting!

It’s Not A Mirrorless, but…

Canon G12

The Canon G12 is nothing to sneeze at!

Canon G12

So, with a ton of travel coming up in the next several months – at last count it was 11 states in 6 weeks! – I really needed to find a more portable solution than my aged Canon A590 IS.  While it was a great camera in its day, the shutter lag, and lack of controls, etc have put it out to pasture.

The previously un-announced mirrorless entry for Canon notwithstanding, the decision was made to go with the Canon G12.  I chose this camera for a couple reasons, among those being the inclusion of a hot shoe, expanded ISO, aperture, and shutter capacity over prior generations of cameras, and an MP count that is on par with my 40D!  Rather than bore you with the now old-school approach of “unboxing” the camera, I figured today would be a good day to show you something I found rather interesting right off the bat – the new “double dial”:

The Double Dial

This double dial feature allows me to quickly adjust my settings between C1, C2, Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priority, and other creative modes , as well as control ISO settings all with the same index finger…major kudos already for Canon here.  I wonder if a mirrorless camera would position things similarly?

The other feature that I already knew about but was particularly giddy to try is the hot shoe with my flashes.  No surprises, it worked!  Equally enamoring is the fact that my vendor-neutral triggers (courtesy of my good friend Kerry Garrison over at CameraDojo) worked seamlessly as well!

The Hotshoe

A few test shots from the camera should be forthcoming…rather today is merely to share the news, and to help illustrate that with any new camera, it helps to learn where things are first.  My canoe trip this year to upstate NY will be replete with a more compact photo setup, primed for capturing even more and better shots than my previous 3 years!  Suffice to say, the gear has me excited again!

Where is Canon’s Mirrorless Camera?

Canon has been an industry leader in the photography world for a long time.  Heck, for the longest time they’ve been a part of one of the most intense debates in the photography industry (Canon vs. Nikon), remember those?  That being the case, when mirror-less cameras hit the scene a few years ago, the expectation is that either one (Canon or Nikon) would release one, and then the other would come out with something newer/better/cheaper/faster…whatever.  It’s how the consumer market is guaranteed that competition will always exist, which means better technology, cheaper prices, and improvements will never really stagnate – as long as we thrive for it, and being the gear hounds we are, how can we not?

So, when Nikon came out with a mirror-less camera we all waited with baited breath to see if and/or when Camera would drop it’s hat into the ring.  Yet, it hasn’t come.  In the interim, other vendors saw the opening, and seized the day.  So much so that there have been podcasts, blog reviews, and articles galore extolling the various pros and cons of each vendor out there.  Take a look at the laundry list of mirrorless camera vendors and their options on the marketplace:

  • Nikon:  J1 and the V1
  • Sony:  NEX F3, NEX 5N, and NEX 7
  • Samsung:  NX20, NX210, and NX1000
  • Panasonic:  Lumix GX1Xs, Lumix GX1KS, Lumix GF15K
  • Leica:  M9, and M9-P
  • Olympus:  PL1, PL2, P2, PL3, PM1, P3 (All from the PEN line)! and the OM-D5
  • Fuji: X100, X10, and the XS-1

That’s a full 25 variants of mirror-less cameras to choose from seven pretty respectable vendors.  The prices all seem to be relatively in the same bracket ($500-$1200), and the ideas are the same:  SLR quality images without the bulkiness of the mirror needed for traditional SLR camera bodies.  The result:  high image qualities and more compact sizes.  Along with these new form factors arises the opportunity to re-invent the entire product line.  The vendors are lining up, as are the consumers, so the only question that remains is:  Where is Canon?

Don’t get me wrong – I can totally understand the idea of “getting it right the first time”, and if Canon is digging their heels in to make the EIS gear (electronic Imaging System versus the EOS line, which is electronic optical system) the best thing since sliced bread, then so be it.  By the same token, I am also of the ilk that one can only “sit on the pot” for so long.  It’s time to bring it out, and Canon looks to be poised to do just that.  The first word on the street was that Canon was going to announce this new device in May.  When that date came and went, the rumor-mill started churning again, and folks started thinking the technology (or at least a hint of it) was revealed in the 650D in June.  But now, with June pretty much in the books, July seems to be the month of choice (why am I not surprised…?)  Most are picking July 24th to be the date.

So, you have to at least give a nod of respect to Canon for putting the photo world to it’s knees (listening for the rumors to reveal themselves).  So, where is the camera now?  Undoubtedly, the device is already in the hands of some of the industry notables like Vincent Versace, the DPReview crew, the PDN crew, and others out there (how many “crews” are there anyway?  Is it me, or could we stand to do with a few less crews?  LOL).

We wait with baited breath…

What will it likely be?  There’s been tons of guessing about MP counts, frame rates, lens mounts, and all the rest of the stuff.  But when push comes to shove, I can tell you with nearly 100% certainty that I will not buy it!  Why not, you ask?  Because while it may be the first in the Canon lineup, it’s still the first!  First generations of any new product line are likely going to be riddled with flaws.  Let’s face it – the first release of any new product line uses the consumers as the beta testers.  We report back (unwittingly I might add), on what we like, what we don’t like, what works, and what doesn’t.  Then the next release comes out, ostensibly deemed a “pro-sumer” line, which is inevitably followed up by a “professional” line.  Heck, even CanonRumors themselves, acknowledged that is likely to be the case!

Nevertheless, I sit here with baited breath, just like everyone else.  What will the masses say when it does eventually happen (because with the popularity of mirror-less cameras, it’s no longer a question of “if”, but “when”)?  Who knows.  Are you waiting?  Gonna pounce?  Or are you happy with your own gear?  Remember, as a sage author once said:  “Gear is Good…but vision is better”

Have a great weekend, happy shooting, and we’ll see you here again next week with more articles, photos, and nuggets of inspiration!