As a mobile photographer I experience my own preference towards certain photography genres evolves throughout the years. No doubt this come as a result of the knowledge I’ve been acquiring, from other people’s works that had inspired me and from the influences my friends (that I got to know along the way) have on me.
Since mobile photography was a new thing for me, I tried to experiment with several genres and to stick with them in various degree of success. But if there is one thing that I’ve been fascinated about ever since I came across it and later became my main preferred style of shooting is the Street Photography (and its siblings Candid, Human Interest and Journalistic) .
This most probably because I live in one of the most diverse city in the world. London gives you a sense of buzz – full of life. The city is a ‘Cultural Melting Pot‘. Unlike other cities in the UK, and probably most cities in Europe, London’s dwellers are very diverse. You can find people from all sort of corner of the world, all kinds of races, ethnicity, colours and languages here. Needless to say, it’s a heaven for Street Photography
So what’s the best tool to capture this diversity?
I’ve tried many camera apps. I tried one that came with iOS and many more . But despite of new camera apps appearing in the App Store almost on weekly basis, the only one that I keep coming back to and my favourite Street shooter of all time is the ProCamera.
So what makes ProCamera so good in taking Street Photography? To answer this question let’s ask first what would be required from a Camera app to be a good Street Shooter? Here are what I think are required from a camera app to be considered as a good street shooter:
1. It needs to be quick. Street photography often involve a scene that happens very quickly, a specific moment in time which makes the shot unique.
2. Now, since this unique moment can happen at anytime, we don’t usually have the luxury of fiddling with either Focus or other camera settings like Exposure or White Balance. So a good camera app would be one that enable photographer to set this up in advance.
3. Finally, and for me probably the most important factor, the app needs to help the photographer to be as discreet as possible, especially for Candid shots. It’s no good to take a discreet shot when you have to hold the mobile in front of you to take it.
So considering those points above, ProCamera app most certainly fulfils all of them and it’s doing it better, in my experience, than any other competitors.
Let’s have a look in more details what Pro Camera has enabled us to do:
1. Fastest Shutter Release.
I found that ProCamera has one of the fastest Shutter release in the market. In newer iPhone versions (5 or later), the speed difference with the stock camera app might not be so great. But if you own an older version, the speed difference is pretty obvious.
Furthermore, ProCamera has also a built-in Rapid Fire mode (A.K.A Burst Mode) where you can take continuous, full-resolution burst shots as long as you hold your finger on the shutter button.
Yes, I know that the latest iOS 7 has added Burst Mode to the stock camera app. But ProCamera had already had it for a while. Again, if you, for some reason have not or will not upgrade to the latest iOS, ProCamera is one way to go to gain this particular functionality.
Finally, ProCamera has also introduced HighSpeed Mode. This is similar to the Rapid Fire mode, but much quicker, albeit it will save the result of the shots in a lower resolution (640×480).
2. Advanced Camera Controls
ProCamera was one of the first camera app replacement that introduces separate Focus and Exposure controls. This means that you can set your Focus and Exposure independently from each other. There is more. Not only that you can set these two individually, you can also lock them! Once they are locked, focus and/or exposure, will stay as they are even if you point your viewfinder (your mobile) somewhere else!
This is an important functionality for Street Photography, because more often than not, we can’t afford to have different value of Exposure when we point our mobile to different object on the street. We need a constant Exposure value, the one we would like our shots to have, for all the shots we take. The same as Focus lock. Often when we shoot on the street we already know the distance between us and the object (based on experience and our shooting style) so that we can lock the focus and be sure that our shot will be sharp for most of the shots. Locking the Focus also helps to reduce the time to take each shot because the camera would not need to refocus continuously.
In addition to these two functions, ProCamera also has White Balance (AWB) Lock feature. White Balance is a photographic value to determine the colour temperature of your photos. You would normally see the effect of this inaccurate white balance when you take a photo indoor where artificial lights are used (tungsten, halogen, etc.), which makes your photos appear to be more yellow. Outdoor too, often your photos appear to cast colour to be more red or blue.
With the AWB Lock feature, you can set the White Balance value to a pre-determine temperature, usually by pointing the camera to a white paper, and lock it. This way you will get the same White Balance for all your shots even if you point your mobile to different object.
3. Full Screen Trigger
In most camera app you would take a photo by tapping on the shutter button. This is no good for Street Photography and even worst for Candid where discretion is the norm. Yes, I know that a good Street Photography is the one that directly ‘engage’ with the object, in which case discretion is the least of your problem. But if you are, like me, still learning the path and not comfortable yet to take full frontal picture, discretion is a must.
ProCamera help us with this by introducing the Full Screen Trigger functionality. This means that instead of using the shutter release button, you can use the viewfinder as the shutter release. In effect tapping anywhere on the screen will take a photo!
This is very helpful if you adopt the ‘Shot from the hip’ style of taking street photos (this is my main style), as you don’t have to remember and fumble around your screen to find where the shutter button is located, which can result of you missing the shot.
And since you most probably would have locked your focus and exposure (and optionally your AWB), you don’t need to care anymore about them, and just ‘focusing’ (no pun intended) on getting that unique shot!
By now if you haven’t convinced yet, these are just a subset of functionalities that ProCamera has to offer, there are more great features that really set it apart against the rest.
Let me mention some of them here:
1. Anti Shake: Take picture only when you can get a steady shot.
2. Self Timer: 0.5 up-to 20 seconds countdown to take a shot.
3. Virtual Horizon: Helping you to take a straight photo.
4. Live Shutter Speed, Exposure, and Histogram: the live indicator will change accordingly as you point your viewfinder around. The Live Histogram feature in particular is the best, and even the mighty DSLR doesn’t have one.
5. One of the best Video Recorder in town: includes features such as Auto or Manual Video Focus, Video Stabilization, Video Zoom, Select Video Quality, Capture still photo while recording.
6. Plus you also get a full editing suite (Pro Lab) to edit your Brightness, Contrast, Exposure, Saturation, etc; a Cropping, Straighten and Rotate tool (Pro Cut); and a generous amount of Filters (Pro FX).
7. As usual you can share your photos to the usual suspects including Instagram. But ProCamera adds one more sharing target which they call ‘Exhibition’. This normally would be some type of Photography event, competition or challenge run by ProCamera’s partners where you can submit your photos to participate.
You can see how easy it is to love ProCamera. Personally I use it almost exclusively for all my shots.
Finally, there is not a better time to get and to try ProCamera yourself because in conjunction of their special iOS 7 release of the successor of this app, called ProCamera 7, you can get ProCamera for only £0.69!
Also if you are an iPad User, there is a special ProCamera HD edition for you which includes Snap Trigger feature that lets you decide where the control bar is located on the screen. Unfortunately this one is not Free, but you can still get it from the App Store (£2.99).
So what are you waiting for? Get it now!