Sunday, November 11, 2012

Android vs. iPhone: The Photographers Perspective

There are many articles on the net where people argue which platform is better, Android or iPhone.  Most of the time they are pointing out how one phone is bigger, or has more apps, or forgot to include NFC on their latest phone.  I thought I would try and point out some benefits of each platform from a Photographers perspective.  I am a long time Android phone user, and iPad tablet user, so I have experience and opinions on both.  I recently got the chance to play with an iPhone 5 alongside my Galaxy Nexus, which prompted this blog post.  Since my wife recently became a first time smartphone user (Galaxy SIII), I know that here are people out there who still haven't made the choice one way or the other.  Here are some of my thoughts on Android vs. iPhone, both great choices.  Since the Windows 8 phone is new, and I don't know a single person that owns one, I cannot speak of its' capabilities.  You'll notice that I'm somewhat biased towards Android, but you cannot go wrong with either option.

When I first got my Galaxy Nexus phone, I thought that the size was a little big.  Now, i wouldn't want it any smaller.  I was surprised when the iPhone 5 was released with such a small screen.  It is noticeably smaller.  When using certain photography apps, it is great to have just a bit more real estate.  I don't like having to pay for the same app twice on different platforms, but sometimes it is worth it.  For example, I always have my phone with me.  I don't always have my iPad with me.  Having some of the photography apps on whichever device I currently have is convenient, so I don't necessarily have a huge problem buy the same app twice.  Migrating to a Android tablet would resolve that issue for me.

The best camera is the one you have with you.  Sometimes this means that the camera on your smartphone is all you have, and you have to make due.  The edge to quality goes to the iPhone in this category depending on phone.  However, functionality goes to Android.  Android has been able to create panoramic images for years, while the iPhone 5 just got that.   I'm running the new Jelly Bean Cyanogen mod on my Galaxy Nexus, and the newest 4.2 Google Apps include an upgraded camera with Photo Sphere.  This is a multi-level panoramic camera built into the OS.

Widgets:  This feature alone will ensure that I never buy an iPhone.  Android is about flexibility.  Apple apparently likes its' icons.  Being able to customize the my Android home screen with Widgets to create a personalized interface sets the Android above the rival iPhone.


There are many great photography apps available for both the Android and iPhone platforms.  This is not a definitive list, just ones that I use.  Not all of these are available for both platforms.  Many times, the app is available on the Apple AppStore first before releasing an Android version, but not always.  There are a few of these that are only available on Android.  I'm sure that there are plenty of iOS apps that are not available on Android, but you will have to track those down yourself.  Total cost of ownership is also a topic of concern for Android vs. iPhone users.  There are tons of great free apps for both platforms, but I tend to find more on the Android market, as well as cheaper in some cases for the same app.  Not always, but many times apps are more expensive on the AppStore than in the market.

Other Recommended Apps:
The Photographer's Ephimeris
Google Play - $4.99
Apple AppStore - $8.99
TME is one of those apps you don't know you need, until you have it. It is designed to illustrate on a map where the Sun or Moon will be at any given moment. This helps plan for sunrise and sunset, and additionally moonrise and moonset for your photoshoot locations. TME also displays the phase of the moon, which is handy if you're doing star photography.
The Photographer's Ephimeris works great on both IOS and Android platforms, but shines when using it on larger tablets like the iPad. With the newest release of Apple IOS, TME utilizes the built in Apple maps. On the Android devices, it still uses Google maps. I have been using TME with my iPad since it was released, as it was not available for Android until recently. The availability of large screen Android devices like the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy SIII, and the Samsung Note II, along side the consistency of Google Maps, and a lower price point, you can't go wrong with TME on the Android.
Google Play - $4.99
Apple AppStore - $4.99
LightTrac is very similar to The Photographer's Ephimeris in function, as it displays the location of the Sun or Moon on a map at a given time and location anywhere on Earth. This app was also available on Apple IOS for a long time before it came to Android. I like the slider and being able to see the elevation of the Sun or Moon as you dynamically change the time. You probably don't need both of these apps, but I tend to use them both. Being able to predict the perfect lighting conditions for any given outdoor location make this a must have app on your phone or tablet.
Photo Tools Pro
Google Play - $2.54
This app is only available on the Android platform. There might be an equivelent app for the iPhone, and you're welcome to ironically use Google to find that. Photo Tools is a plethora of photography tools and calculators to help professional photographers with managing their shots. Although you can find free tools that do some of these individually, having them in one interface is nice. There is a free version of this app, but contains ads. Supporting photography developers for just under $3 is worth it.
Sun Surveyor (Sun & Moon)
Google Play - $6.49
Apple AppStore - $5.99
With some of the same features as LightTrac and The Photographer's Ephimeris, Sun Surveyor sets itself apart by using a 3D Compass, Augmented Reality to show where the Sun or Moon will be at any given time. Having the ability to visualize the altitude of the Sun or Moon is another great tool in any photographer's toolkit.
This is one of the only apps that I've found where the cost of the app is higher in the Google Play store than the Apple AppStore. I believe that the reason behind this is the availability of widgets, which you will not get on an iOS device. Having the sun or moon information handy without having to launch the app is fantastic. There are 9 widgets total, which are really just a couple of different widgets at multiple size options.
Google Play - FREE
Until recently where camera manufacturers are including GPS as part of the built-in camera functionality, you had to rely on a GPS Logger to capture latitude/longitude information to GeoTag your images. Basically, as long as your camera and smartphone times are synchronized, using this app will tell you exactly where you were when the image was captured. This uses standard GPX/KML data files, and there is some work on the back end to get the GPS data loaded into the EXIF information on your image, but you can't beat free.
LapseIt Pro
Google Play - $0.99
Most photographers tell you the best camera is the one that you have with you. Sometimes that means that you just have your phone, and that will have to do. LapseIt Pro lets you capture time lapse sequences using your built-in Android camera. It has a simple interface and will render the sequece for you.
TL-Plus / Automate
I stumbled on the the Gadgetworks website a few years ago and could believe that I was able to buy a fully functional pan and tilt rig for around $300. Additionally, you controlled this rig using an Android phone. Most of the other computerized rigs I saw were significantly more expensive, so I picked one up. It is great for setting up motion time lapse sequences, HDR photography, gigapixel panoramics, and intervelometer. It is only available on Android, and old-school Windows Mobile.
dSLR Controller Pro
Google Play - $7.99
If you own a Canon dSLR camera, dSLR Controller Pro is a tethered remote using your Android phone. You get live view which allows yout o set focus on a bigger screen, as well as trigger the camera remotely. Full control of your EOS camera using only a USB cable.
*** Notice ***
This requires an Android phone that has USB Host mode available. My Galaxy Nexus works, but not all Android devices allow this. You need a USB Host Mode Cable as well.
Eye-fi App
Google Play - FREE
Apple AppStore - FREE
Have a camera that uses an SD card? The Eye-Fi X2 Memory cards allow you to upload your pictures to a computer, tablet, or smartphone. There is a few seconds delay, but the images are transfered via Wi-Fi to your device. I personally like this for applications like Pole Aerial Photography, where I cannot be exactly sure what the camera is taking. I can use my phone to see the images within a few seconds to unsure that I'm geting the shot I want. Obviously, this requires an Eye-Fi memory card to work. It's also nice if you lazy, and you want to upload your images to an online strorage site automagically.
GoPro App
Google Play - Free
Apple AppStore - FREE
Similar to how the Eye-Fi works, The GoPro app allows you to connect via Wi-Fi to not only control your GoPro camera's functions, you get a near-real time preview of what your GoPro is seeing. There is a few seconds delay. The app will work up to 600 feet away, and is compatible with the GoPro wi-fi bacpac, as well as the new GoPro 3 with built-in wi-fi. GoPro is terrible at meeting deadlines, and have failed to release any of their products on time when they've posted a date on their website. They also have demonstrated that the iOS platform is their priority, but released their Android version on November 12th.
Slate It! beta
Google Play - FREE
Do you use your camera to capture video? Need a movie style clapper? Want one for free??? There is one for the iPad called MovieSlate that costs around $25, and potentially some other cheaper or free alternatives for the iOS platform. This one is functional and the price is right.
Studio Buddy
Google Play - $4.99
Strobe / light / camera lighting diagram app to help plan or document your shoot. Drag and drop objects around the pallette to show how you lit a subject. There is a Lite version of this app.

Other Recommended Apps:
  • Easy Release (Apple and Android) - Model and Property Releases
  • iScout Location (Apple) - Location Data
  • Photo Buddy (Apple) - Depth of Field Calculator, Sun and Moon Phase
  • DOF Calculator (Android) - Depth of Field Calculator
  • Sundroid (Android Widget) - Sunrise, Sunset, Moon rise, Moon Set Info

1 comment:

  1. Android is such a very nice technology for now its very good idea
    to write an article like yours that was very good i have a
    smart phone online store
    i need to write some blogs so i can boost my sales in my online
    store atleast i have a idea now thanks for you.