ProCam 3 - Serious Photography & Video on the iPhone

In the early days of the iPhone and the App Store, app developers started developing apps that added or enhanced features on the iPhone's already-pretty-good-for-a-cell-phone camera. Soon, the term "iPhoneography" was coined and a phenomenon was born. The world where you could fit a camera AND a computer for editing and sharing photos in your pocket took root. As the technology and image quality progressed, rather than carrying a larger camera or a point-&-shoot, many people decided that it made more sense to rely on the smartphone cameras they were already carrying and ditched the weight of a larger camera.

The built-in camera app has been upgraded progressively and does have some more flexibility with controlling the exposure. It's still more intended to function like a basic, point-and-shoot, easy-to-use camera that does most of the thinking for you.

Experienced photographers, however, like to have maximum control over the exposure. Sometimes, this need is essential since a limited camera is frustrating to use when you are trying to use all aspects of your creativity and technical knowledge of photography to capture the image you envision. While the camera in the iPhone does not have an adjustable aperture (f-stop setting) it does have shutter speed and ISO settings that can be changed.

For photographers at this end of the spectrum, ProCam 3 is a valuable app to learn. The app comes with so many features and layers of control, it would be difficult to capture all of them in one article. At the highest level - it's a full-featured photography suite with video, still photo, and editing tools. On the video side, it was one of the first apps to offer 4K video recording on the iPhone* with an in-app purchase. While the iPhone 6S & 6S Plus have native 4K video, this is still very handy for those who have an iPhone 5, 5S, or 6/6 Plus. On the photo side, it is one of the most flexible camera apps available, offering full manual control (including manual focus). And as an editor, it can replace many other apps with its color filters, kaleidoscope and tiny planet effects.

For the sake of brevity, this article will cover three key features for photographers who want to have more control over their images before the shutter is pressed. 

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1
Full Manual Exposure

Paul Marsh

 The built-in camera app was updated in iOS 8 to include what is essentially exposure compensation. You can tap on the screen to set focus and exposure and then swipe up to make the image brighter or down to make it darker. Many other apps have allowed for more detailed control over the exposure, even in earlier versions of iOS. ProCam has allowed for full ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, and white balance control in all of its iterations. And in the latest version, all of these settings are easy to adjust quickly by using the toolbar just above the shutter button. 

2
Manual Focus

Paul Marsh

 In many cases, tap-to-focus on all camera apps works really well. The ability to tap the screen to set which part of an image to focus on results in great images. And many camera apps allow you to separate focus and exposure. ProCam 3 takes this further and allows you to have complete control of focus manually. When you tap the area you want to focus on, the default slider setting is to change focus on the slider. When you adjust the slider, a circle appears and enlarges the area to give you precise focus. Once you select focus, you can lock it in and make further adjustments to the exposure. 

3
Long Exposure / Slow Shutter Speed / Light Trails

Paul Marsh

New to ProCam 3 is a shooting mode that simulates the effect of using a long shutter speed to smooth motion and light. There are other dedicated apps for this effect (LongExpo Pro & SlowShutter, for example). But ProCam 3 adds more control and, in version 6.5, manual control for ISO, exposure compensation, shutter speed**, focus, and white balance.

Since these images are usually created with a camera on a tripod, often it can be challenging to get the image level and steady. By turning on the horizon level display and grid in ProCam, you can see when your image is level by looking for the yellow indicator. And to keep things extra stable, you can attach your headphones and use the volume button as if you had a mechanical cable release on a traditional camera. 

Conclusion

ProCam 3 is a very powerful app with many features and options. All of these things work together to give the photographer serious control over an image taken with an iPhone. This article is just a super basic introduction - to learn more about what it offers, visit the app's web site: www.procamapp.com. You can also follow the ProCam tutorial Instagram feed @procamapp_tutorials. *via resizing the video 17% larger to match the 4K resolution. **On a DSLR or other camera with a physical shutter, the effect is created using actual shutter speed. The iPhone camera does not have a physical shutter, so "shutter speed" in reality is something controlled by software. In this case, app developers manipulate the image to simulate the slow-shutter-speed effect at capture. This shutter speed is one variable that can be manipulated to control the overall exposure in ProCam 3.

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