iPhone Apps for Photographers

Most photographers love gadgets, which is why most camera bags have more than just cameras in them. Now you can add the iPhone to your bag. There are hundreds of applications for photography in the App Store. While many of these iPhone apps center on taking photos with your iPhone, I’ll restrict this article to the ones that help you shoot with a separate camera. Unlike most camera gear, iPhone app prices are low — about $1.99 on average — yet they can turn your iPhone into one of the best assistants you’ve ever used.

Because there are many apps that perform similar functions, I’ll break them into categories and choose my favorite in each category. I’ll also tell you of worthy alternatives in each category.

Calculators for Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Length
Once you take your camera off auto-focus, these calculators can help you control your depth of field for either maximum sharpness or a nice, creamy bokeh. For example, I use hyperfocal distance techniques when shooting landscapes. While it’s hard to choose a favorite from this crowded field (there are at least 25 apps in this category), I like Simple DoF Calculator ($0.99) because the wheel interface is easier to use than the sliders in some other apps.

If you don’t like a wheel interface, check out Focalc ($0.99), DOF Master ($1.99), and Bokeh (free). (Note that this is not the same app as Alien Skin’s Bokeh.)

Exposure Calculators
Whether you’re using a manual camera without a meter or want to get closer to a good exposure in a tricky situation, an app that can estimate a proper exposure for your scene type can be a big help. Exposure Calc ($1.99) lets you scroll through a list of lighting situations and gives you optimum exposure settings for each.

Photo Wise ($0.99) is also worth a look.

Sunrise, Sunset
Some photographers say that the best light for outdoor photography occurs only during a half-hour window just after sunrise or just before sunset. Trying to catch the magic hour can be tricky, but there are many iPhone apps to help you plan. One of my favorites is Sol: Daylight Clock ($0.99). I like the simplicity of this app, which you can set to show dawn and dusk as astronomical, nautical, or civil time notations. You can also save locations and refer to them quickly.

If you prefer more detail or want to see multiple locations at one time, try VelaClock ($3.99), which has a world clock; iEphemeris Pro ($1.99), which was built with astronomers in mind; and Focalware ($9.99), which is a very well-done but pricey app.

All-Around Assistants
When you want to save your pennies or simply dislike bouncing around from app to app, consider the Swiss Army Knife photo helpers. My favorite in this category is Photo Buddy ($1.99).

It’s a terrific app with a well-designed interface that includes sunrise and sunset times; exposure calculations based on scenes; an interactive depth-of-field and hyperfocal calculator; flash exposure calculations; a grayscale ramp to help set white balance in your photos; and more. If I could only have one of all the apps mentioned in this article, Photo Buddy would be my choice.

Another good all-around app is PhotoCalc ($2.99). Its calculators for depth of field and hyperfocal distance are good (though not as nice as the stand-alone apps), and it also includes flash exposure calculations; sunrise and sunset times; exposure calculations; and a reference section with information on films, filters, the zone system, and a glossary of photography terms.

GPS Taggers and Notebooks
Many photographers keep notebooks to record important information about photos they’re taking. In analog days, for instance, we’d record exposure information, although embedded EXIF data makes that a non-issue for digital shooters. But it can still be hard to remember the name of that medieval town in the south of France where you shot an amazing photo series. Or what if you find the perfect location for an upcoming shoot and, certain that you’ll remember where it is, don’t write down how you got there?

With the iPhone and one of the apps in this category, you no longer need a paper notebook. My favorite, EveryTrail (free), records your movements and adds geotags to reference shots you take with the iPhone. You can caption the reference shots, but even better is that EveryTrail uploads your path to www.everytrail.com, which then overlays the path on a Google map. You can even export the trip to Google Earth and fly directly to the geotagged locations.

Click on the image below to see a larger version.

EveryTrail works best with a 3G iPhone but is surprisingly good on a first-generation iPhone, also.

iAtlas ($3.99) places one of your iPhone reference shots on Google Maps, which is good when you’re scouting locations. If you don’t like typing, you can record a voice note linked to a geotag and an iPhone photo with Photojot Notebook ($2.99).

The iPhone doesn’t come with screwdrivers (yet), but it can take the place of some unexpected tools. iHandy Level Free (free) is a level that is indeed handy for aligning your camera on a tripod. To see an example of an older iPhone level in action during a photo shoot, go to “The iPhone as Photo Accessory.”

When you need to stay alert during a long period of time — for example, during a nighttime exposure — try INoSnooze ($0.99), which vibrates at set intervals.

Also for nighttime shooters is myLite Flashlight (free). You can set the intensity and the color. (I choose red so I retain some night vision.) It’s great for checking the settings on your camera — and for finding the lens cap you dropped somewhere!

If you’re feeling experimental, use myLite Flashlight to light your subjects, as Jeremy Amaral has in this wonderful Flickr set.

For Canon Shooters Only
Handi Canon guides ($0.99 to 1.99) are quick reference guide for Canon models 30D, 40D, 50D, Rebel XSi, Rebel XS, 5D, and the 5D Mark ll. Not only can you quickly get to the information you need, but you can take that dog-eared manual out of your camera bag.

I hope someone also creates iPhone guides for the most widely used Nikon models.

All That and Dinner, Too
The iPhone is a worthy replacement for many camera gadgets. Plus, you can use it to call for pizza delivery while on a shoot. Try that with more traditional gear!

Have I missed any apps you depend on when shooting with a separate camera? Click the Comments button below to share your favorites.

Posted on: April 20, 2009

Jennifer Wills

Jennifer Wills is the co-founder of W+W Design. She received a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and practiced architectural and interior photography in Philadelphia, later becoming a designer and art director in San Rafael, California. Prior to co-founding W+W Design, she spent six and a half years as production manager at McDill Associates in Soquel, California. Jennifer specializes in package design, production and printing. She has developed asset management systems to track and help update artwork for packages, and is expert at managing color for print. An accomplished photographer of products, people and locations, Jennifer’s sense of photographic composition shapes her graphic design.

17 Comments on iPhone Apps for Photographers

  1. This is also a great FREE app for a level. Just go to the app store to download for free.

  2. That’s a great selection of tools, I think it’s time get an iPhone.

  3. Awesome list. Thanks for sharing. I’ve linked to it on my blog at forensicphotoshop.blogspot.com

  4. I would like to do more free online certification programs

  5. Like most iphone apps, you use them once and forget about them.

  6. I found this app that is really helpful for rating the attractiveness of human faces using the iphone camera. http://www.tavshande.com/vanity

  7. Is there a way of storing images from canon cameras(2Gb card ) to iphones (32Gb)when travelling ?
    Thanks Jim Love


  8. And don’t forget the incredible DSLR remote… amazing tool!

  9. I use an application called ReaddleDocs on my iTouch to put PDF files on it. Now I have my both of my cameras (Strobes too) entire manuals with me. Nikon has PDF manuals on their web site. Anything you want, just make a PDF on the computer and upload it to the iPhone.

  10. The standard iPhone Camera is really of no use to me, but I found this iApp, ProCamera which has so many features including a digital zoom, GPS image tracking, sound timer, virtual horizon, Photo Review, album (just shake your phone to review your albums) and features to allow you to continuously shoot photos without having to stop and save each individual image. This is an Super iApp! It’s also compatible with 2G/3G & 3GS.

  11. Check out SmartStudio: Wedding Photographer Studio Manager

    Watch Video Tour at http://gorillagroup.net


    SmartStudio is the #1 software for managing your wedding photography business from you iPhone or iPod Touch. From the day a prospective bride calls to the day you deliver the final product, SmartStudio will keep you organized and focused on what you do best – taking amazing pictures.

    Check SmartStudio out in iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smartstudio-wedding-photographer/id347100761?mt=8


    One of the biggest frustrations for wedding photographers is the lack of mobility in studio management systems. They limit you to the confines of a computer and most require an internet connection, not to mention a cost of nearly $50 every month for as long as you are in business.

    For wedding photographers who haven’t used studio manager software – your frustration is the sheer amount of detail involved in taking the phone call of a perspective client, remembering their name, phone number, and email address, helping them choose the right package, book their wedding date, remember the wedding date, answer all their specific questions, remember when each of their payments are due, recall every shot request, and so much more. Then to compound the problem, add more clients with the exact same needs. It can be overwhelming.

    SmartStudio: Wedding Photographer Studio Manager is here to help!


    * Track and manage payments due across multiple bookings and multiple payment milestones

    * Easily contact clients to remind them of a payment due date

    * Filter bookings by Future Weddings, Prospective Clients, In Post Production, and Complete

    * Each booking contains a Dashboard with access to: Details, Itinerary, Contacts, Payments, Ideas, Notes, Crew, and Shots

    * Manage your packages and associate them with your bookings

    * Easily create custom packages and customize payment due dates and amounts

    * Create and manage itineraries for the entire day of each of your bookings

    * Google Maps integrated into itinerary to easily navigate to important locations at the right time

    * Create shot lists and check off shots as you complete them

    * Connect with your client or important person over the phone or email directly from the app

    * All contacts integrated with your address book so their name shows up in Caller ID

    * Note where final products are supposed to be sent

    * Capture photo ideas: Client may bring an image from a magazine or email you an image and you need to remember

    * Manage crew members for each wedding and easily contact them over the phone or email directly from the app

    * One-time cost for the software opposed to a monthly cost to operate a non-mobile software solution

    * No internet connection required

    * Access information on the go, when you need it, where you need it


    SmartStudio is fully supported by our development team. We have a forum set up on our website for you to voice feature requests, praise, bug reports and so much more.


    SmartStudio was created with internationalization of currency in mind, so it’s ready to implement into photography businesses around the world.


    Our website is iPhone and iPod Touch friendly so you can browse our site and watch videos from your mobile device.

    Watch Video Tour at http://gorillagroup.net

  12. As the practice of iPhone Photography becomes more and more prevalent–with vintage and simulated artistic effects dominating the scene, it’s a wonder where the integrity of authentic composition has gone? : http://bit.ly/ComPixNG

  13. Hi Jen,
    TA for the tips.
    Any idea if there is a definite app. to regulate shutter speed and exposure time for iPhone GS?
    Ciao from Italy

  14. I would like to add one more app to the list – “PhotoScout”. I find it very useful to help pick out photography spots near me.

  15. This site is great. The iPhone industry is now a multi-billion industry. I’m sure the millions of users of the world will always need more information, developments and news iPhone apps. The current development is amazing and more and more iPhone developers from all over the world also enjoy their creations because of the great potential to sell to the billions of users.

  16. This site is full of vital information for iPhone app developers and users. I’m sure many of those who visit this site will also like it. Congratulations to the administrator and owner of this site. This will give more information for the development of the iPhones industry.

  17. Photographers are painters with light, so the light must be evaluated.
    You can do this with your iPhone and iZoner.
    Get the correct light metering but also spot, multi spot and contrast distribution.


    Not a substitute for your camera, but a helpful everyday friend.

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