Quality, free and above all useful camera apps are often hard to come by on the iOS platform. Both Instagram and Snapbucket are great for quickly sharing stylised snaps, but they don’t add any genuinely useful features for everyday shots or video.
Canopy Camera Tools [No Longer Available] is an app designed to help you get the most out of your mobile photography, and much like Joby’s Frame X Frame it has been created with a specific attachment in mind – the Kapok Canopy Case, with tripod mount. You don’t need a tripod to benefit from this one, as there are plenty of features you can use in your hand. You could always fashion something to hold your device steady (I find Blu-Tack works well without leaving a mess) if you fancy creating a time-lapse sequence.
Getting The Basics Right
The iPhone (or any iOS device) camera isn’t the be-all and end-all of mobile photography. Whilst the iPhone is the most popular and oft-used “camera phone” solution; Apple’s in-built app leaves you wanting a bit more control and a few extra features.
Without being overly complicated, Canopy places 6 main buttons on your viewfinder, which can be toggled on and off with a tap. These are persistent in both Camera and Video modes, which are selected at the bottom of the screen, along with quick access to existing photos and app settings.
The left hand side of the screen allows you to choose between front and rear facing cameras, toggle time-lapse mode and the camera timer which is perfect for group shots and also works with video. On the right hand side of the screen there are buttons for controlling flash behaviour, toggling exposure lock and white balance lock.
The lock buttons are especially useful, and add some genuinely useful functionality to your phone. For example, whilst taking a video by default the camera will adjust exposure as light changes. Should you want to maintain exposure throughout the video, exposure lock allows you to do this and your camera won’t re-balance every time you move.
This also goes for white balance, and if you’re really serious you could use a piece of white or grey card to take a perfect white balance reading and lock this for the duration of your video or photo session.
Advanced Features, Better Results
Of course Canopy also includes the aforementioned time-lapse mode, which automatically stitches your photos into a video. It works, though as the handy notification I received pointed out – phone calls will interrupt any sequences you’re working on. The best way around this is to activate Airplane Mode from your device’s Settings.
Time-lapse photography takes up a decent wedge of battery (I’ve yet to use an app which is “light” on power for this task) so make sure you’ve got enough battery to complete the sequence and find your way home afterwards. It works well, and doesn’t fill your camera roll with hundreds of images – great news.
The Settings menu afoot the viewfinder is also full of goodies. Much like Frame X Frame there is a spirit level (for that perfectly straight horizon) which – unlike Frame X Frame – does work in landscape mode. There’s also a grid that can be activated for aiding composition.
Saving the best till last, it is also possible to use touch gestures to control the camera and this can be customized in the Settings area. As you can see from the screenshot below, the default configuration is pretty intuitive.
Canopy Camera Tools is probably the best free camera app I have used on the iOS platform. Features like time-lapse, exposure and white balance lock along with well-implemented touch gestures make it a joy to use, and provide some excellent results. You really don’t need a tripod, Kapok case or Gorillamobile to enjoy Canopy. Grab it now and start taking better pictures!
Have you found any similar great tools we’ve yet to feature? Do you like Canopy Camera Tools? Do you own a tripod/mount for your device? Let us know how you shoot on the go in the comments below.