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I always knew this day would come, but I never thought that the traditional camera manufacturers ever took it seriously. However, today, the Profoto Camera App is available for Android phones in Beta mode. It’s been out and available for iPhone. I’ve barely ever used it or taken it seriously. However, Profoto sent us photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and the Profoto B10. And quite honestly, I’m stunned.
Profoto Camera on Android
Profoto’s Marko Pirc sent me the details in an email. “It works with all of our LED and Xenon lights and has a working auto-exposure algorithm (TTL), which is far better than any such thing on DSLR or mirrorless cameras,” he tells me. The latter, I can’t necessarily verify. But I’ve used the Profoto AirTTL system on Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm cameras. With each of them, the TTL works differently. And it’s quite odd. You’d think that metering is metering, right? At least that’s what Sunny 16 tells us. But each of these camera systems has made super complex metering systems for their sensors and flash systems.
The key to all this, though, is with the way smartphone cameras work. “Under the hood, we are utilizing phone’s brains and multi-frame capture technology,” explains Marko. “So our app measures ambient light intensity and color along with flash impact and color.” He continued to say that it mixes the effect based on the user’s preference.
“This is technically not possible to achieve on a DSLR or MILC (at least not today).”
According to Mr. Pirc, the new Profoto Camera app for Android has creative, non-technical controls. They are:
- “Natural,” “Balanced,” or “Dramatic” to control the ratio between flash and ambient light in the final photo.
- Users can control the photo’s mood through a smart color setting (going from Cold to Warm). Here algorithms precisely mix flash and ambient light to achieve the desired color mood of the final photos.
The Profoto Camera App on the iPhone does a similar thing, but I’ve admittedly barely used it. I’ve been using flash for years, though. And I know how to get exactly what I want.
According to the press release, the app is available for the Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, S10, S20, Note 9, Note 10, and Note 20 lines. The press release makes no mention of Google Pixel, Huawei, LG, or Sony Xperia phones. All of those use the Android platform. You can shoot with the app if you own the Profoto B10, B10 Plus, a10, C10 or C10 Plus.
The Camera Manufacturers Need to Evolve
You’re probably going to say, “Well, it’s the photographer who shoots the images and not the gear.” And I agree with you. But the longer I’ve run this site, the more I’ve realized that gear is important. And it’s paramount now more than ever. You probably can’t get the look you want without Photoshop, Lightroom, or Capture One, so you need those specific pieces of gear or software to get your particular look. You can’t get the look of the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM from anything Sony or Fujifilm has. And you can’t get the specific look of the older Leica M9 anymore either, now can you?
Your tools matter. And more specifically, the photographer’s skill and creative vision matter. If a photographer can get a shot in-camera with little to no post-production, they have something special. On our Flipboard channel, we created a storyboard a while back. It features photographers who don’t use Photoshop. And I believe that’s important now because anyone can use Photoshop, but not everyone understands stroboscopic flash. And how many people know how to perfectly meter a scene with high-speed sync? Or how to stop super fast motion? Profoto lights let you do that far better than any LEDs do.
Quite honestly, camera manufacturers need to start figuring out what they’re going to do. It’s not likely that they’re going to leapfrog ahead of the rapid innovation smartphones produce. So they need to find a way to do something that smartphones really can’t. The other day in the comments a reader said that cameras aren’t going the way of watches, like I’ve stated before. Instead, he thinks they’re more like calculators. I’ve never seen calculators marketed as romantic objects, but cameras totally are.