It was just two weeks ago that I posted my review of ProCamera version 2.95 from daemgen.net. I found it to easily be one of the top full function camera replacement apps in the App Store, but as with any app, there were a few areas for improvement. Well, ProCamera version 3.0 hit the App Store last Thursday, and it is definitely a major step forward.
One of the features that I really liked about ProCamera in my previous review was the concise, but feature-packed screen layout. All of the necessary photo and video functions were easily understandable and accessible. Normally I would be wary of a major change to a winning formula, but version 3.0’s redesign of the camera interface screen makes a good photography app even better.
Interface from Version 2.95
New Interface in Version 3.0
As you can see from the before and after screenshots, Mr Daemgen has done a really nice job of adding features without cluttering the screen or toolbar and without detracting from the experience. The most notable interface addition in ProCamera 3.o is the ability to switch from Photo Camera mode to Video Camera Mode from the main screen with the touch of a button. It only took one extra click into a menu in version 2.95, but having both the photo and video modes right on the main screen is more intuitive, and mirrors what users are used to in the native Camera app.
As with version 2.95, you can access the Anti-Shake camera shooting mode directly from the toolbar. However, the Timer Mode has been removed by default to make room for the new Photo/Video toggle button, which is probably a more commonly used feature for most people, and was a common request in user reviews for previous versions of the app. Now when you want to access the Timer Mode, you can turn it on from the arrow button menu on the right of the toolbar.
Once it is turned on, it replaces the Anti-Shake mode next to the main Camera Shutter/Video Start button on the toolbar.
While I am personally a big fan of being able to fire the camera shutter by tapping anywhere on the screen, with the new update to ProCamera you have a choice of using the center button on the toolbar to take pictures, as well. You are even given the option to turn off the full screen shutter in the Main Menu and go with the button alone, if you so choose.
Again, this addition brings ProCamera parallel with the native Camera app for the features that both share, which helps to reduce the learning curve for new users.
I also love the new setting that allows you to enable the Anti-Shake Mode for use all of the time when using the screen to fire the camera shutter. I use Anti-Shake on the medium setting for a lot of my pictures anyway, so having it accessible with a tap anywhere on the screen is a nice touch. Also, if you set ProCamera up this way, you can leave the Timer Mode enabled on the toolbar in place of the Anti-Shake Mode, and have all of the app’s functions on the main screen all of the time. The only issue I had with the new Anti-Shake screen lock is the fact that it isn’t carried over to the Camera Shutter button. It is just a little confusing that it works everywhere but there, in my opinion. In a future version, I would like to see daemgen.net either tie the Anti-Shake to the shutter button in this mode, or add an additional setting in the menu to toggle it on or off.
One of the few complaints that I had in my original review of ProCamera was the lack of polish in the Video Camera mode. The button layout wasn’t very intuitive and it was difficult to tell when you were actually shooting video. Now in version 3, this issue has been completely resolved. By tapping the Photo/Video toggle button to the left of the main shutter button, ProCamera enters the Video Camera mode.
The Camera Shutter button then changes over to become the Video Start/Stop button. Like the native Camera app, you now have a single button to start and stop shooting video. A red on/off indicator takes the place of the Photo Camera mode’s Anti-Shake or Timer mode button, which gives you the universal standard video shooting indicator that the previous versions lacked. Kudos to Mr Daemgen for cleaning this up and making the Video Camera interface much more intuitive.
Another cool addition to the Video Camera mode is the easy access to different video shooting modes. From the arrow button menu icon on the left of the toolbar, you can now choose between High Definition, High Quality, and Low Quality shooting modes.
This is a helpful feature if you need to lower your video’s file size for emailing or posting to YouTube or Facebook while on the go. Note that the High Definition mode will only be available on the iPhone 4 and 4th Gen iPod Touch.
The biggest of the additions to ProCamera in version 3 is the new Album and Studios feature. I found this area to be a little lacking in version 2.95, especially when compared to some of the stand-alone photo editing software available for iOS.
With the new upgrade, not only is the original Photo Studio, now called Pro Lab, greatly improved, but you also have two additional editing interfaces: Pro Cut and Pro Effects. The Pro Lab is set up much the same as the original Photo Studio from ProCamera version 2.95, but is definitely a big improvement.
You still have the row of icons along the right hand side of the screen that open up into sliders for editing. The available editing functions now include Brightness, Contrast, Software Flash, Color Balance, White Balance, and Auto Contrast Enhancement or Full Automatic Photo Enhancement. The editing functions held over from the last version work pretty much the same. As for the new features, I am not a huge fan of the automatic adjustments, but the White Balance adjustment is definitely a welcomed addition that can help to salvage some poorly lit and colored photos.
While I mentioned the relative lack of features in the ProCamera’s previous version of Studio in my initial review, my main issue with it was the confusing undo function. If you hit the undo button after making changes on the edit sliders, the picture reverted back to its previous state but the sliders did not, which I found pretty confusing. Fortunately, this small issue was addressed, and the edit sliders now return to their previous positions when you use the undo button. You can also reset each slider individually by tapping the black circle at the right hand side of the slider. These changes make editing in Pro Lab much easier and more intuitive than before.
The second section of the newly redesigned Studio is Pro Cut.
This area gives you the ability to control the size and positioning of your photos. You can fix picture tilt, crop at several different aspect ratios, as well as rotate, flip, or mirror your photos.
While the functions work well enough, the first run of Pro Cut could use a little more refinement. The main issue I had is that this mode automatically assumes that you want to crop your photo. When you open one in Pro Cut, there is a crop window set at 1296 x 968 in the center of the screen. If you are just looking to fix a photo slightly out of tilt, or rotate it 180 degrees, unless you expand the crop window to the full size of you photo, your final product will automatically be cropped along with whatever other changes you make. Pro Cut would be a little more user-friendly if the crop window was either turned off, or set at the full size of the edited photo by default. It would also be nice to have buttons on the crop slider to expand the crop window back to the full size of the photo, and to toggle cropping on or off.
Another issue with Pro Cut is the apparent lack of landscape photo support. I realize that the natural way of holding any phone is in portrait, so a lot of pictures snapped with phones get taken this way. However, the natural way of holding a camera is the exact opposite, and I know I personally snap most of my iPhone pictures in landscape orientation. Unfortunately, none of Pro Cut’s cropping presets are currently compatible with landscape orientation, which really limits its usefulness for me right now. Pro Cut is certainly functional and a nice start, but hopefully we will see a little more refinement added in the next update.
The last section of the updated ProCamera Studio is Pro FX, a filtering and effects package, and it is pretty impressive for a first effort.
It comes with 32 different selections organized into four categories: Colour, Vintage, Special, Retouch. We see some of the usual suspects here, like Black and White and Sepia filters. There are also some others, such as Invert, Marylin, and Alien, that are fun to play around with, but not exactly practical for everyday use. There are also some filters in the bunch that are great for making quick photo touch-ups. The Fix Yellow, Fix Blue, Auto, and Cool filters are are very practical for fixing common iPhone photo issues very quickly and with little effort.
Despite whatever shortcomings the new Studio features may have, they are still very capable. As you can see from these before and after photos, I was able to redeem this picture taken outside at night with the flash turned off.
Before Photo Studio
After Photo Studio
I was able to cool the reddish-orange tinge by using the Cooler filter from the FX tool, and the color adjustment slider from the Pro Lab. I was also able to add a little brightness, as well. Using the Pro Cut tool, I was able to crop my 5 megapixel iPhone 4 picture down a little, too (Note: For some reason WordPress’ photo uploader crunched the size of the Before pic down more than the After, but the real Before pic is actually bigger). The end result isn’t perfect, but considering how bad the original photo looked, ProCamera’s new and improved Studio did a nice job.I am definitely excited to see how these Studio tools grow and improve in the future.
While it isn’t perfect, version 3 of ProCamera still packs a pretty big punch. The interface changes take something that was already a strong point of ProCamera in earlier versions, and make it that much better. The enhancements to the Video Camera mode are also especially welcomed, and the wholesale improvements and additions to the Photo Album and Studio are as good as the developer said they would be leading up to this release.
Sure, there is still room for new features, such as digital zoom in Video Camera mode and HDR, Burst and Sports modes in the Photo Camera mode. There are also new areas that could use a little more polish, such as the Pro Cut area of the Photo Studio. However, with its full feature set and the fact that its main competitors are either stuck in limbo waiting for updates, or completely gone from the App Store, ProCamera now stands alone as the top full featured camera app available for iOS. At $2.99, it is a must own if you want more power for your iOS photography needs.
ProCamera from Daemgen.net is available for $2.99 in the App Store here.
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