Recommended Android Apps for Photography

Coming over from the iPad I was familiar with the apps designed to aid photographers on iOS. Google's platform, however, was a little different because some apps didn't have Android versions and what was available many times did not have long review histories. Choosing Android apps was hit or miss and often left you checking to see if you were still within the refund window.

These days the Google Play market is much more mature and it's easier to find something worth downloading. The quantity of quality Android photography apps is easily on par with what's available on iOS, and in some cases, like those apps which can directly control your camera, quite a bit superior.

Here is a list of Android apps worth your dollar(s):

The Photographer's Ephemeris

This is the cat-daddy landscaper photography app. The Photographer's Ephemeris let's you plan a shot by showing how light will fall on a scene at a given time. If you want to know where and when to stand to be best positioned for sunrise this is the app to check. It integrates Google Maps and uses GPS for accuracy. There is no better map-centric sun and moon calculator currently on the market.

The Photographer's Ephemeris was even used recently to debunk a photo contest winner that was later found to have violated a prestigious contest's rules.

DSLR Controller

This app may be most responsible for Canon users choosing the Android platform to begin with. DSLR Controller directly controls your Canon camera, allowing you to view Live View on your 10" screen (or 4.5" smartphone screen, whichever floats your boat).

You have control over shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focus, etc., from your Android device. This is great for when the camera is positioned in such a way that makes it difficult to see the viewfinder or the screen. There are even intervalometer and bracketing controls!

See the program link for a full list of impressive features.

Tip:  If you are having connectivity issues a common cause is the On The Go USB cable. There are many cheap OTG cables that cause communication errors and freezing. Try a different USB host cable.  Also, check the developer's website for compatability with your hardware.

There are now similar apps that also support Nikon cameras, like the very popular Helicon Remote, so don't fret if you shoot on that platform.

Photo Mate Professional

Photo Mate Professional is an image viewer and editor that lets you work with RAW files, be they CR2 (Canon) or NEF (Nikon). You can even use Photo Mate to calibrate your tablet's display or run a portfolio slideshow.



Apps like this are essential to the mobile workflow. There aren't many editors on the market that let you work in RAW and we're lucky there is a very good one in Photo Mate available. It's a little pricey for an app, with cheaper versions you can choose that omit features like image editing, but the Professional version is worth the money.

Android Photo Review


If you are looking for something light that can help with culling images after a shoot Android Photo Review might be all that you need. It's a simple browser that is compatible with most RAW formats. Android Photo Review let's you browse your compact flash card and star images for future editing. You can even view histogram information to aid with rating images.

As with the entire Asus Transformer line, my Transformer Prime has access to the Transformer dock which adds a full sized USB port (among other useful things). I attach a USB card reader, insert my compact flash card, launch Android Photo Review and browse the images on a large 10" screen without having to waste time transferring images to the tablet - Try that, iPad users. When I'm done I can put the card back into my camera and the ratings are preserved within the images.

Eye-Fi

With the release of the 5D Mark III Canon added a feature that was previously only available in the flagship 1D lines - dual card slots. One slot is compact flash and the other SD. The latter is important in that it gives you native access to Eye-Fi's clever wi-fi SD cards. (The Canon 5D is even one of the first cameras to be "Eye-Fi certified." When an Eye-Fi card is inserted and detected a menu option becomes available, giving you some control over the card.)

When setup, you can wirelessly connect your camera to the tablet and watch the images pop up on the screen as you take them. This is perfect for model shoots or any shoot where you want to instantly review the images without relying on the camera's 3" LCD screen to do your chimping.

I set the Canon 5D Mark III to send full sized RAW images to the compact flash and S2 JPEGs (one notch above the smallest file size possible) to the SD card. S2 gives adequate resolution for checking focus yet keeps the files size small enough that sending the pics wirelessly doesn't slow the process down to a crawl. It's the preferred quality/speed compromise.

One more tip for Canon 5D Mark III shooters: Put "Record func+card/folder sel" in your My Menu for quick control over the two cards. This will let you choose which card to read/write to and browse. Remember, when you format one card you have to manually switch to the other card to format it as well. If you shoot video, double check that the CF card is set to primary. Diligent management of the two cards will mean you only have to import one of them at the end of the day.

Photo Tools Pro

There are many apps that offer calculators beneficial to photographers, like DOF and exposure calculators, but Photo Tools Pro includes the most. They are also quality calculators. For instance, the exposure calculator figures out shutter reciprocation which is very handy for those long 10-stop exposures.

In one app you have fingertip access to an FOV calculator, flash exposure compensation calc, rudimentary light meter, gray card, time lapse calculator, timer, stopwatch, moon phase calc, weather forecast, color wheel and temperature charts, sharpening radius estimator, note pad, and even a gallery for inspiration, to name a few.

Photo Tools Pro is at home on both your tablet and smartphone. There is an ad-supported free version available, but consider the donation version to better support the developer.

Geotag Photos Pro

For those who don't have geotagging accessories, like the $250 Canon GP-E2, but do have a smartphone, Geotag Photos Pro lets you geotag your images without the hassle of managing more gear.

Launch the program, set the update interval (I usually set it to update every 5-15 minutes) and put the phone back in your pocket. When you're done, stop the logging to conserve battery power. When home, browse to the Geotag Photos site to merge the GPS log data with your photos. Lightroom and Aperture will now plot the images on a map.


Tip: Android phones are notorious for zapping battery life. Running power intensive apps in the background, like Geotag Photos Pro, exacerbate the problem. To ensure that you have adequate juice consider packing an extra power source. I recommend the Sanyo Eneloop Mobile Booster. (I have the KBC-L2B version) It's 5000mAh of extremely portable trip saving power from one of rechargeable battery's most revered brands. You'll probably have to import it from Korea as it is no longer available for sale in America, though eBay has many Korean sellers who export and include the proper North American power plug adapter. It has enough to recharge both your phone AND tablet on one charge.

Posing App

Posing App is a great collection of 244 poses to help inspire you and your model. You don't realize how difficult it is to come up with complimentary poses until you try. When time is critical (when isn't it?) it helps to have examples to instruct a subject.

There are several posing image collections available but I think Posing App has the deepest and varied collection of quality poses. There are even tips with each pose to help with model instruction. Your mileage may vary but it's worth a look. For a few dollars more you can unlock the glamour set which adds 56 "glamour" poses.

Here is a list of some other apps you may want to investigate.


  • Easy Release - Model Releases - Be aware that there is a lot of controversy regarding the legal value of digital model releases. Physical signatures are the most safe, but digital releases are far better than nothing.

  • Remote Release - Trip your shutter with your phone tethered with the same OTG cable you use for DSLR Controller.

  • Android Photo Backup - Backup your images to your tablet or smartphone. With the proliferation of expandable memory on Android devices why not ditch your portable hard drive and use your tablet? That would be one less thing to carry, and viewing images on a 10" screen beats the bejeezus out of viewing them on your 3" HyperDrive Colorspace.

  • Lighting Studio - Record your lighting setups for quick and accurate recreations.

  • Instagram - For when you don't want to work at it.


-JD