If you’re a Nikon camera user and the owner of an iPhone or iPod touch, you’ll want to download the company’s recently released free application, Nikon: Learn and Explore (iTunes app store link.)
The app is a multimedia magazine, featuring professional images and how-to articles by and about professional photographers. It doesn’t replace a well designed magazine or photography book, but it’s a handy resource on your mobile device.
When you first open the open the app, the home screen dissolves to a browser of high quality Nikon images, including portraits, travel, wildlife, and numerous scenic photos. Each photo includes “Info” and an article interview with the photographer of the selected image.
The one sentence “Info” for each images is very skimpy. It might include the name of the Nikon camera and a brief public relations type comment, nothing more. Here’s an example:
The extended interviews include a little background about the photographers, their work, the Nikon camera(s) they use, and a link to their website. Since this is a “learn and explore” app, it would better if the “Info” includes things such as the camera settings used and how the photographer went about making the photograph, both using the camera and in post-processing.
The Learn section of the app includes so far about 22 different lessons, ranging from shooting techniques about close-up photography, the value of zoom lenses, and getting candid urban photos. Unfortunately, these “learn” articles are very underdeveloped. Some “how-tos” include videos of the photographer explaining his work. The two videos I watched were much more informative than the accompanying articles. I realize that videos are much more time consuming and expensive to produce, but they would be tremendously useful on a mobile app, even if users had to pay a small subscription fee.
The next section of the app includes articles taken from Nikon World, the company’s quarterly print magazine. These articles include much more detail about the process photographers took to make their photos or complete certain projects. As you may guess, much of the articles begin with or center on the use of a particular Nikon camera.
The application also includes a glossary of photography and Nikon related terms. For example, this is how “Aperture” is defined: “The circular opening inside the lens that can change in diameter to control the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor or film”. Unfortunately, this definition doesn’t include an illustration or an example to further explain the definition.
Finally, you can star any article, image, or definition to add to your “favorites” list. This is a handy feature because the company says that the app will be updated with new information and articles, so a favorites list will make it easy to locate bookmarked resources.
Overall, Nikon: Learn and Explore is a great idea for an iPhone/iPod touch application. The company might consider offering an a simpler online option instead requiring future updates of the application itself. I could also foresee it making iPhone/iPod touch-formatted manuals for each of its major cameras.
I’m not a Nikon shooter, but I”˜m looking forward to similar applications for us Canon photographers.
So what features would you like to see in an application like Nikon: Learn and Explore?