Apps – Smartphone (& DSLR?)

Software & Hardware – they are blending together. Where does one stop and the other begin? This post begins a series on smartphone apps. What do they bring to the table to set smartphones apart from DSLRs?

Previous posts in this Smartphone vs DSLR series have highlighted differences between these two camera options with smartphones coming up short if image quality is important to you.

  • It’s not all bad news for phone cameras though  — even if they can’t take the same clean images as full frame cameras.
  • Smartphone cameras often have software apps that can create unique image making options – thus overcoming some of their physics-limited hardware shortfalls.

Some food for thought:

  • Smartphone & DSLRs are, at their heart, computers (with light as an input)
  • That said, photography apps aren’t limited to smartphones. Why should they be?
    • Does your DSLR do multiple exposures? Those that do use software (apps).
    • How about in-camera editing, B&W, image overlays, HDR? Apps again!
  • Virtually any smartphone app could be duplicated in a DSLR
    • The main thing the Nikons, Canons, et. al., lack is the motivation
    • Maybe if they offered an application development interface for third-party developers, we’d see some exciting changes in the DSLR world

Smartphone cameras come with basic built-in feature sets that are, as previous posts noted, constrained by their lens and sensor.

  • Within these constraints, the built-in software controls image capture
    • Depending on Make/Model the capture might be limited to point & shoot
      • or – could include HDR, panoramas, and more
  • Add-on photography apps extend the camera’s built-in repertoire
    • These apps number over 10,000
    • Their quality ranges from outstanding to junk
    • This series will examine representative samples – lots of posts to come

The photo apps can be divided into two basic categories:

  1. Capture (camera replacement)
    1. These apps extend, or improve upon, the camera’s built-in functionality
    2. Their job is complete once the captured image’s file is written to memory
  2. Post-processing
    1. Some of these apps perform functions like Photoshop or Lightroom
      1. Their job begins after an image is captured and stored in memory
    2. Others do PP tricks & magic limited only by imagination
      1. These typically turn a photo into something non-photo-like
  3. Some apps are a hybrid of the first two
    1. These typically ask for the source of the image – Camera or memory?
      1. If camera, they assist with the capture & then provide P-P options
      2. If memory, they jump straight to the P-P phase
    2. Jack-of-all-trades, Master-of-none is an apt description for most of them

In the next post we’ll look at category #1 – camera capture apps. To illustrate what these look like, here are three screenshots from my iPhone.

The first is the iPhone’s camera as provided by Apple


The next two are from my favorite camera replacement app, the 645 Pro MkIII

The first screenshot shows a “simplified” 😉 display of the app’s control options


The next display option shows current capture settings


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