Review: ProCamera App for iPhone with HDR, RAW and Low Light Mode
I first stumbled upon ProCamera a few years ago looking for a camera app that would allow me to set shutter speed and ISO manually. I was used to shoot in A-mode using my DSLR. A-mode basically means that I set the aperture manually and the DSLR would choose the ISO and shutter speed automatically.
That’s when I found and started to use ProCamera as on of my regular camera apps. Not only does it offer a manual mode to adjust shutter speed and ISO manually, but it also has priority modes where you set either shutter speed or ISO manually and the other setting is automatically determined by the app.
Over time, the developers continued to improve ProCamera. They added an HDR shooting mode and even a dedicated mode for low light iPhone photography and so ProCamera became what it is today: A pro camera app for the iPhone that works equally well as a point and shoot camera app and as a camera app offering a vast range of manual and semi automatic controls and settings.
In this ProCamera review I’ll introduce you to the basic features, concepts, user interface and a recommended way how to learn to use the app.
The name “ProCamera” is well chosen. I can adjust all aspects of the iPhone camera with this app. But still, I can use it as a point and shoot camera app if I want. So here’s what you can do with ProCamera app:
- Set exposure and focus separately
- Lock focus and exposure
- Set exposure compensation from -7 to +7 (basically fine tuning the exposure)
- Shutter and ISO priority mode; Set either one manually and let the app chose the rest. Perfect for difficult light
- Set flash on/off/auto
- Complete manual mode
- Rapid fire mode; take lots of photos in a short period of time. Perfect for getting the perfect shot of subjects in motion.
- Adjust white balance
- Anti Shake shutter release. This will trigger the shutter release only if you hold your camera still.
- Tiltmeter to show if you’re phone is level; no more crooked horizons
- Save photos as JPG, TIFF or RAW.
- Self timer up to 30 seconds (compared to only 10 seconds of the stock camera app)
- Primary and secondary shutter release buttons. I love this one!
- Different HDR shooting modes (3 shots, 5 shots, manual modes, low light HDR mode)
- Special low light modes for low noise photos in low light
- Volume button shutter release
- Full Screen trigger
- Automatically embed copyright info in each shot
- Record Video
- Selfie Mode
- Support for switching iPhone 7plus wide angle/zoom and to dual mode
- 4 different composition grids
- EXIF viewer that’s also available from the photos app
- Automatically add copyright EXIF to each shot
- Stores geo location including heading (!)
- RAW development
- Editing function for brightness, contrast, exposure, saturation, color temperature, sharpen, curves
That's quite an impressive feature set, isn't it?
The ProCamera User Interface
At first impression, the ProCamera user interface may seem cluttered. 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”. In the above screenshot it's set to "Anit Shake". If you've set it to "Self Timer", taping and holding the self time shutter release will bring up a slider that you can use to adjust the time for each shot.
ProCamera Low Light shooting modes
ProCamera has dedicated modes for low light photography. I’ve written an entire post about this mode. Those modes basically take a number of shots and combine them into a bright and low noise photo. More is in the review of ProCamera Low Light Modes.
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 modes. But that rquires some paractice.
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. For now, I'll cover the settings for different shooting modes.
Tap the menu icon at the right at the bottom of the screen.
Depending on the selected shooing mode, you'll see less 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.