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ProShot (iOS) review: Advanced camera controls, with frustrating features

Despite some confusing controls, ProShot takes great shots and will give you a better understanding of advanced photography tools.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani

Jason Cipriani

Contributing Writer, ZDNet

Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.

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4 min read

ProShot for iOS ($2.99, £2.29, AU$3.79) is a camera app built for capturing the best photos possible using advanced controls, but you have to know what you're doing.

proshotpromo.jpg
6.8

ProShot (iOS)

The Good

ProShot puts adjustment tools near your thumbs where you need them. Live changes show up in the viewfinder so you know what you'll get when you take the shot.

The Bad

Focus and zoom controls are easy to mix up. Your phone goes to sleep when you use the time-lapse tool. The time-lapse output is individual photos rather than video.

The Bottom Line

ProShot is a worthwhile purchase for precise manual controls within easy reach, but you'll be lost at first without prior photography knowledge.

Before iOS 8, developers could only create photo apps with access limited to snapping a picture. This is why we got so many photo filters apps initially -- developers couldn't access the inner workings of the camera itself. Now that Apple has given over more control to developers, we're seeing more apps like ProShot that give you controls for manual exposure, focus and other advanced functions.

The only problem is, if the developer doesn't outline how all these features work, only advanced photogs will know how to use them.

ProShot puts manual controls where you need them (pictures)

See all photos

Getting started

There's no setup required with ProShot. Launching the app after installation prompts you for location access, then gives you the choice to view a guided tutorial, view a field guide or begin using the app.

The automated tutorial walks you through eight different aspects of the app, from adjusting manual controls to selecting automatic mode and fine-tuning a focal point. The field guide is like a overlay of the app, with arrows pointing to the various onscreen controls.

Navigating the controls

The main screen, like most camera apps, is the view finder. Adorning all four edges of the screen are various controls. Holding your iOS device in a landscape orientation puts the exposure adjustment along the bottom, with the shutter button, mode selection, capture setting and focus controls to the right. Along the top is where you can switch between 16:9, 4:3 or 1:1 size ratio for the photo. And on the left is a button to view your photo gallery.

When you select one of the controls, its options are placed atop the view finder in a semi-transparent box. Even with a bright background, I was still able to see the controls and select what I wanted without issue.

I found the location of the controls to be placed within easy reach of either thumb, even on the iPhone 6 Plus. This allowed me to adjust a photo on the fly, without forcing me to frame, adjust, then reframe a shot.

On a few occasions I would attempt to adjust the focus, which is done via a slider located next to the shutter button, and inadvertently trigger the zoom control. To zoom, you place your finger anywhere on the screen and slide it up or down. Up zooms in, down zooms out. It's the same way you control focus, only the focus control apparently requires a very precise touch. It would have been better to have a well defined area for zoom, with another for focus.

Making adjustments

The entire point of ProShot is to bring professional-grade adjustments to a photo app on iOS. For example, if you're going to take photos of a child running through your back yard, you'll want to set the shutter speed to a fast setting. Conversely, if you're taking a low-light still photo, a slower shutter speed is ideal. The stock iOS Camera app doesn't allow for these types of adjustments, leaving you to either take a burst photo and select the best of the group, or live with a blurry photo (in the case of a child running).

The ability to make an adjustment in ProShot and immediately see the viewfinder reflect the changes, is an invaluable teaching tool. It's the same behavior you'd find in an expensive camera, except in this case you only spent a few dollars on an app that runs on your smartphone.

Capture modes

With ProShot you can adjust the rate at which burst photos are captured, time-lapse duration, video quality, frame rate and set a timer for the all important selfie (or group shot).

In testing the various modes I found the time-lapse feature to be a disappointment. After placing my iPhone on a tripod, I set ProShot to capture a photo every 5 seconds for 5 minutes. After the first minute, my iPhone's screen turned off (as it's supposed to when not in use). I unlocked my phone and found ProShot was still capturing photos, but the screen went black again a minute later.

The second time my phone went to sleep a minute later, however, ProShot stopped capturing photos as part of my time-lapse. But instead of alerting me to this issue, I unlocked my phone to find an alert asking me to review the app (unlucky, but annoying). In comparison, using iOS 8's native time-lapse mode in the Camera app leaves the phone unlocked with the screen on until you stop capturing the time-lapse. Hopefully the developers of ProShot will fix this in a future update.

Even after all of that, instead of creating a short video out of the time-lapse captures (as Apple's Camera app does), ProShot saves each one individually to your Camera Roll -- clearly not ideal.

Conclusion

ProShot is one of many new apps in the App Store that takes advantage of iOS 8's new camera controls. It has a nice interface, keeping controls where you need them on the sides of the screen. But with the lack of good descriptions for each type of adjustment, the live updates to the viewfinder when you change a control are the best method for learning what each control does.

I did have some problems with the focus and zoom controls, but with some practice I was able to make them work. If you're looking for good time-lapse shots, though, I would stick with the regular iOS Camera app.

Photographers who are well-versed in making adjustments with a real camera will appreciate the added controls on an iOS device, but beginners will definitely be lost at first. Still, the precision controls and live viewfinder make for a good, low-cost photography learning tool.

proshotpromo.jpg
6.8

ProShot (iOS)

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 7Interface 7Performance 6
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