Top 5 mobile apps for photographers

By Leonard Goh (freelance writer/Singapore)

Rain or shine, these mobile apps can help photographers get the shot

Like it or not, mobile apps are here to stay. And, as the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. While most cameras these days are perfectly capable of capturing very good quality photos, some apps can further enhance the experience, whether is it through editing, calculating exposure or even telling you if the weather is fair for a good day’s shoot. Here are our top picks.

Snapseed

Snapseed is the ubiquitous app that any serious photographer should have installed in their mobile devices. The amount of control that it allows for editing is extremely in-depth. From controlling highlight/shadow details, adjusting the levels and contrast, fine-tuning of color, noise reduction and sharpening, Snapseed can do them all, and more.

If your photos are in the SD card, you can always use an adapter to transfer them to you phone or tablet, and launch Snapseed to get started.

The intuitive control also means that the learning curve is relatively mild; if you know how to swipe, pinch to zoom on your mobile phone, you can definitely use Snapseed.

The iOS and Android version differs in function. Snapseed for Android supports DNG RAW files and you can open, edit and export them as common file types such as JPG within the app.

Depending on devices, Snapseed can open and save up to a 20-megapixel image.

Download free for iOS here and Android here.

VSCO

If filters are your cup of tea (and if you don’t like Instagram’s selection), VSCO is your top choice. The filter library is constantly updated with new filters – some free, while others requires a small payment.

What most photographers really enjoy about VSCO is the fact that a lot of its filters emulate the color and look of popular films from Kodak and Fujifilm. Portra? Check. Velvia? Yes, there’s a filter to emulate the colors of that.

However, as VSCO did not license the name of the films from the manufacturers, you won’t be able to search for a “Portra” filter in its library. Instead, you’ll need to trawl through its library to find the closest simulation, assuming you know how it looks like.

As with Snapseed, VSCO allows you to import images from your card or camera and edit them.

Download free for iOS here and Android here.

Pocket Light Meter

This app is great for photographers who are using a mechanical film camera without a built-in light meter. It can be tricky to guess what’s the best exposure for a given scene. Pocket Light Meter will take the guesswork out for you.

Simply enter the ISO of the film loaded in your camera into the app, point it at the scene you are shooting and the app will give you a combination of shutter speed and aperture values to get the right exposure. You can also indicate if you’re compensating the exposure, and the app will automatically take that into consideration and calculate the best exposure value.

We’ve tried it and benchmark the exposure provided by the app against our digital camera. It is correct most of the time, though there are tricky lighting situations where the exposure differs by ½ stop or 1 stop.

Download free for iOS here. Android version costs S$0.99 here.

SetMyCamera

Modern camera bodies and lenses work in sync with one another to deliver the sharpest photos for you. But a lot of times, your choice of aperture may result in less-than-desirable effect, no thanks to depth of field.

SetMyCamera is a depth of field calculator that can tell you, depending on the camera and aperture used, which area of the shot will be in focus. This is very handy for photographers who have the luxury of time to set up their shot to capture the perfect image. Not to mention, film photographers will also find this app useful if they are using a manual focus lens and want to shoot using hyperfocusing.

Download free for iOS here.

AccuWeather

There are plenty of weather forecast apps in both the iOS and Google Playstore. Our personal favorite is AccuWeather. The simple and intuitive interface means that you get to see the crucial information first.

If it’s pouring outside, the app can even let you know how long more the rain will last.

What we also like about AccuWeather is that it provides the time for sun rise and sunset, perfect for those who are out to chase the “magic hour”.

Download free for iOS here and Android here.



Leonard Goh

Leonard is an advocate of photography in Singapore and also an educator in this field. He has served as senior writer for the now-defunct CNET Asia, before moving on to working for various camera companies in the business development and marketing capacities. He is also a co-founder of Platform, a not-for-profit photography initiative in Singapore which also published Twentyfifteen, a collection of 20 books to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (SG50).


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