Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Useful photography apps for your Android smart phone

These days there is an APP for everything. So I began to wonder if there were any handy photography utilities that might be convenient to have with me at all times. Two items that immediately came to mind were a light meter and manual flash calculator. I sometimes take my old film cameras out for fun and carry a small Sekonic light meter with me. Having an accurate meter APP on my phone means I could leave the meter at home. On occasion an hand held light meter reading could be helpful even with my DSLR or mirrorless cameras, especially in situations where I think the light is fooling the through-the-lens meter.

The Lightmeter APP shown here with one of my favorite walk-around film cameras, a Nikon SP rangefinder. When the "Measure" button is lit, as it is in this photo, it means the incident meter is reading continuously. Turning the button off will lock the exposure setting. 
I use these apps on a Samsung Note 4 and find they work perfectly. I'm sure similar APPS must also be available for iPhones. If anyone has found an APP that works well with the iPhone or another Android app you have tried and like, please share your experiences in the comments area at the end of the post.


This app worked perfectly on my Samsung Note 4 in both the incident and reflected modes.  I did not try it on any other smart phones so I have no idea of how compatible it might be.

The reflected mode is read through the phone's camera, while the incident light is read by the light sensor on the face of the phone. To test the accuracy I used a real Sekonic light meter alongside the phone app. In all cases the reading were identical.

The Lightmeter APP comes in two versions, a free version with ads and a paid ($2.69) version with no ads but with several added adjustments features, such as an alternative drop-down ISO chooser, a vibrate-on- measure feature, both incident and reflected EV fine tune calibration scales, and a low limit EV test.

With the paid version of the Lightmeter APP it is very easy to calibrate the meter to synchronize with a control meter -- in this case a small and very handy Sekonic L-308S I usually carry with me when shooting with film. On the pull-down menu (tab on top of screen) adjustment sliders are available for both the incident and reflected modes to +/- 4EV. As you can see above, both meters are reading exactly the same in their incident mode -- pretty impressive for a $2.79 APP. 

The button on the top right switches the meter from incident to reflected. A lever on the bottom can be moved right or left to zoom the reflected reading area. Pressing the large bottom "Measure" button allows the incident meter to read continuously.

On the left the meter is set up for incident reading with the "Measure" button lit indicating a continuous reading of the light. On the right the center circle shows what the reflected meter is reading. It is being read through the camera and the area can be zoomed by sliding the bottom knob to the right. The ISO dial is changed by sliding your finger up or down on the meter. On the paid version a drop-down ISO menu is present in the upper left of the screen and is a bit more convenient to use. The red "I/R" button on the upper right toggles the meter between incident and reflected modes.
-Incident light metering (needs light sensor on the phone)
-Reflected light metering (needs camera, not all phone cameras are compatible)
-Spot measure if camera has zoom.
-Support for all screens, including extra high resolution.

Manual Flash Calculator 2:

Manual Flash Calculator 2 is a handy free utility APP for determining subject distance when using photographic flash in manual mode.

The calculator is straight forward and easy to operate with sliders for Aperture, ISO, Power, and EV.  Simply enter the flash guide number on a separate screen and dial in any of the variables, and the distance will change accordingly. What I like about this APP is that it is simple to use, and always accessible on my phone

Key Features:
• Aperture range F/1.2 to F/22
• ISO range ISO50 to ISO6400
• Flash output from 1/1 to 1/128th
• Flash exposure compensation to +/- 5.0 EV
• All settings available in 1/3 stop intervals

Showing the different screens. The two on the far right is where you can set the guide number of your flash and choose either meters or feet. The screen on the left is the actual calculator with sliders to adjust the settings.  It couldn't be any easier. 

1 comment :

  1. Take a look at
    for an app that can also work with flash lights