Gear review by Jason DiMichele
Smartphones and tablets have made their mark in the photographic industry in many ways in recent years. Between having good quality built-in cameras and very useful software applications, a lot of photographers can benefit from mobile technology. One photography application that harnesses the power of mobile technology is PlanIt! For Photographers Pro (PlanIt!), which is used for planning and pre-visualizing your photo shoot, and much, much more.
PlanIt!, developed by Ying Wen Technologies, is available for both iOS ($8.49 US) and Android ($7.99 US), and can be purchased from Google Play or the Apple App Store. The concept behind PlanIt! is straightforward. The basic steps include choosing a location, determining which type of map or viewfinder you want to use, placing your camera in the scene and specifying which part of the scene you wish to capture. PlanIt! will, for any date, provide information such as sun/moon rise/set times and location, and the lens required to get the composition you want. One really nice feature of PlanIt! is that in the application settings you can specify which camera type (sensor/film size) you’re using and the focal lengths of your lenses.
If all of these features aren’t cool enough, PlanIt! supports different directions you may be looking, the angle you’re holding your camera at, whether you’re composing in a portrait or landscape orientation and can even overlay celestial objects over a photo you’ve already taken before. This is invaluable for planning various types of time-sensitive shots. The power of PlanIt! is that it can determine a precise time and date to photograph your scene with all of the celestial objects you want, at the locations you want them in the sky, as well as the type of light you want (based on time of day). The only aspect of your outing that can’t be predicted by the application is weather, but PlanIt! will at least guarantee a successful shot with regard to the predictable variables.
PlanIt! provides an incredible amount of functionality and combines almost everything you’ll need to plan a successful outdoor photo shoot. To give you an idea of how powerful the application is, there’s a 48-page manual (with lots of useful screenshots) to teach you the ins and outs to get the most out of the application. There are also walk-through tutorial videos available on YouTube, which are very helpful. At first glance the user interface can be overwhelming, but a browse through the instructional material will get you up and running.
PlanIt!’s feature set is divided into three main categories: backgrounds, tools and ephemeris features. For the background you can choose either a map view (normal, satellite, terrain or picture), viewfinder view (virtual reality, augmented reality or picture) or no background. The tools category offers a choice of location, distance, focal length (horizontal), focal length (vertical), depth-of-field, panorama or none. Finally, the ephemeris features include sun/moon rise and set, twilight, special hours, sun/moon positions, sun/moon finder, stars and star-trails, time-lapse, Milky Way seeker or none. It’s clearly very obvious that this is a highly capable photographic asset.
PlanIt! uses Google Maps (or Apple maps as an option on iOS), so a network connection (WiFi or cellular service) is required to do the shoot planning, which some may find to be a downside. I personally don’t find this an issue for a couple of reasons, the first being that the whole idea is to plan your shoot(s) before you get to your location. The second reason is that public networks and WiFi hotspots are found all over these days. Unless you’re going somewhere remote, you’ll most likely be able to get network access.
As mobile technology continues to improve, mobile applications support more advanced features and workflow efficiency. If you’re serious about maximizing your time and creative potential when photographing a location, PlanIt! For Photographers Pro is a must-have photographic tool.
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