Top 10 Apps for Photographers – 2016

by Sean Setters
Today I’m going to update my "Useful Photography Apps for Android" (circa 2013) to include a few new apps I’ve come across over the past three years. I’ll also be including the apps from my original post so that all of the apps appear in the same post.
All of these apps are designed for use on Android devices. However, if you’re using an iOS device, don’t worry. Many of the apps listed here have iOS versions, too, or else comparable apps can usually be found in the Apple App Store.

Lenstag Android

1. Lenstag (Free / $ 19.00 annually for Lenstag Pro) [iOS version]
Lenstag offers “free, easy theft protection for all your cameras and lenses.” Here’s how it works:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Enter the gear you own and their serial numbers.
  3. Take pictures of the items’ serial numbers and upload the images to verify ownership.

If your item(s) is/are missing or stolen, Lenstag will create a public webpage with the relevant information (gear/serial numbers) which will be found if anyone searches for the gear online to verify it hasn’t been stolen.
Granted, the protection is only helpful if a potential buyer does a preventative, online serial number search, but… it’s a free service and can’t hurt. Plus having a central location for all your serial numbers is a nice resource to have on hand.
Lenstag also offers free customers access to a standardized model release and a DMCA takedown notice (*.docx files). For $ 19.00/year, the Lenstag Pro service allows access to many more customizable documents and enables a $ 500.00 reward benefit if your gear is stolen.

Color Temp Meter Android

2. White Balance Color Temp Meter ($ 0.99)
Spectrometers – devices used to analyze the color of light – are expensive. I often need a ballpark figure for the color of ambient light in a scene in order to properly gel my flashes or otherwise determine the closest setting on my variable color LED lights.
While I don’t think the app is as precise as the devices I linked to above, it does a good job of giving me the ballpark figure I need to find the right colored gel (or LED light color setting) for a particular scene.

Light Pollution Map Dark Sky Android

3. Light Pollution Map – Dark Sky (Free / $ 7.99 Pro version)
For anyone planning to do night sky photography, this app is for you. The app displays which areas have the least light pollution so you can make the most of your starry night captures. The Pro version gets rid of the ads, features higher resolution maps, cloud overlays and the ability to save your favorite locations. While certainly more expensive than the typical app, I thought it was worth the cost of the Pro upgrade.

Exposure Calculator Android

4. Exposure Calculator (Free)
Even though I’m a huge fan of Swiss Army knives with their ability to tackle a huge variety of needs, I also enjoy it when a something does just one thing extremely well. And that’s exactly how I would describe Exposure Calculator. The app is useful for calculating exposures when ND filters are used. While calculating the exposure required when a 2-stop ND filter is used, the calculation gets more complicated as the filter density goes up. Of course, you could do the calculation in your head as you mount your 10-stop ND, but… why bother?
Note that development on this app has ceased. It may not work with newer devices.

Lightroom Mobile Android

5. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – (Free w/ CC subscription) [iPhone / iPad versions]
While I have yet to fully utilize the capabilities of the Lightroom app (like editing on-the-go), I usually keep the last wedding I shot synced with Lightroom Mobile so that I can show potential clients the kinds of results they can expect if they wish to hire me.
If you’re an Adobe Photography Plan subscriber, this app is an easy recommendation.

DOF Calculator for Android

6. Depth of Field Calculator (Free / $ 1.91 for No Ads)
If you’ve ever used DOFMaster online, then you will immediately understand the usefulness of this app. Plug in your variables such as camera sensor size, focal length, aperture and subject distance and the app will calculate how much depth-of-field you can expect (total / in front of and behind the subject) and the hyperfocal distance when using those specific variables.

gps4cam Android

7. gps4cam ($ 2.99) [iOS version $ 3.99]
gps4cam allows you to geotag your images using your phone or tablet’s GPS. Just start the app, put the mobile device in your pocket (or bag) and head off for your photography adventure. The neat thing about gps4cam is that your phone and your camera’s dates and times don’t have to be synchronized in order for it to work. The program uses a QR code (the last image captured should be the QR code) to properly synchronize the track log with the times that the images were captured. Download the free gps4cam Desktop Client on the gps4cam website.
While this app’s relevance has diminished recently with many newly released Canon DSLRs featuring built-in GPS, there are still quite a few that do not and this app can provide GPS-tagging functionality at a very fair price.

The Photographer's Ephemeris Android

8. The Photographer’s Ephemeris ($ 4.99) [iOS version $ 8.99]
The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a fantastic app that can show you where the sun and moon will be in the sky for any specified date, time and location. I often use the app when planning potrait sessions to determine the optimal session time according to the position of the sun in the desired location. It’s also incredibly handy for planning landscape photography trips, too.
Be sure to also check out the free web app for easy desktop viewing.

Easy Release Model Releases Android

9. Easy Release – Model Releases ($ 9.99) [iOS version]
Easy Release – Model Releases is an app I have used many, many times. The app generates model or property releases on your phone. You simply fill in the details (Shoot Name, Location, Date, Subject Info, etc) and a release is automatically generated. Once generated, signatures using the phone’s touchscreen are required to complete the process. Once complete, a PDF of the release can be emailed to the Photographer and/or the model/property owner. The releases generated by Easy Release are approved for use by Getty Images, iStockPhoto and Alamy (among others).

Canon Camera Connect Android

10. Canon Camera Connect App (Free) [iOS version]
There is a good reason why I’ve listed the Canon Camera Connect app last in this list and why the screenshot above wasn’t taken directly from my phone (like the others above). I don’t actually have the Canon Camera Connect app installed because none of the Canon DSLRs I use feature built-in Wi-Fi, so I cannot attest to how well it works first-hand. With my W-E1 Wi-Fi Adapter on preorder I look forward to adding the capabilities of the Canon Camera Connect app very soon. The two ways I currently control my camera using a mobile device – CamFi and my own DIY battery-operated Wi-Fi router paired with DSLR Controller – require me to have the camera’s compatible USB cord on hand as well as requiring another battery to be kept charged.
Using the W-E1 and Canon Camera Connect app with my EOS 7D Mark II should prove to be a simpler, easier-to-pack solution that should provide much (but not all) of the same functionality as the solutions requiring a separate device. If you already own a Wi-Fi enabled Canon DSLR, or else have the W-E1 (when available) and compatible camera, installing the free Canon Camera Connect app is a no-brainer.
Well, those are my selections for the most useful apps for photographers. Do you have any suggestions to add to the list?

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