Time lapse App review for Sony A7R

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ninjapimp
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Time lapse App review for Sony A7R
3 months ago

I'm not sure if this right place but since i use this app on a sony A7R i figure this would get visibility.

First let me say I bought the camera to use as a camera the fact it has features like a smart phone come second to me, not something I rely on. and I'm glad i did not here is why.

The is going to be a brutal review as imo the app fails miserably but it does do what it says it claims, its just poorly done. To be honest it the app feels like it was coded by someone who never took pictures.

First impressions before buying the app - via play memories app store.

https://www.playmemoriescameraapps.com/portal/usbdetail.php?eid=IS9104-NPIA09014_00-000003

Before I bought the app for $9.99 I review the specifications to make sure I can shoot in RAW.

I believe its paramount to be able to shoot in RAW which is claims can be done and this is possible but only in custom which is a shame because it defeats the use of all other presets.

the first menu screen, 1of 5

2 of 5, you'll want to change the quality to RAW here if you plan to stack your images.

3 of 5 - this is where yo'll want to change you iso, take it off Auto as thats the default.

4 of 5 - self explanatory

4 of 5 - this is where you can zoom - there is no ability to use a mapped button which is lame.

here is the meat and potatoes of the app - this is where you can fine tune the settings, pick 2 movie modes, 24 or 30p and the one i care about which is still, pick your interval, first 10 sec is per second there after its per 5s. The shots go by quarters. There is a nice feature to AE track so as the sun goes down it gets darker but the camera will adjust the shutter speed, hence the AET will compensate. There is a timer and countdown which makes it nice.

here are the other presets, very important to note, with presets you loose a lot of control meaning with a preset you can't change iso or image quality, you are limited to their settings which forces you to use custom all the time. makes you wonder why bother add a preset if you can't change a value??

once you play with the presets you'll see how limiting they are, if you tap Menu than go to App settings you will see the quality and ISO are greyed out - so it means you'll have to use Custom mode.

this is the actual screen - but i did not have a time lapse shoot running, just wanted to show u what you get before you start shooting - best advice here is to have the camera set in focus, on manual than start the app.

if shootin for long periods i still recommend using a remote trigger, this is a satechi wireless hacked to work with the sony a7r.

I post this so Sony can read and learn, I know they combs these forums. I'm hoping they take a look and see what needs improvement.

The play memories app store have pretty weak, there is no way to review the app or leave feedback. its almost as if sony says"you will buy it and like - shut up". in this day and age sony still does not have a good app store and yet this is one of their huge selling points that the camera has access to many apps to download yet like other app store, itunes, andriod and what not you can leave and review the product. Sony is oddly enough ignorant of this, after all these years. The app has no credit to authors - there is no way to contact the authors, leave feedback nor does the store provide any way to leave feedback...if there is...i'm sorry its not obvious.

The app is simple enough, it'll do movies right out of the box, simply mount to tripod pick a preset and click button - that simple. However for the more professional it seems overwhelmingly too simple and I'll explain why. It would be nice if it could do RAW format on presets - that option is greyed out - why would Sony do this??

The app store provides spec and instructions. sadly the instructions look like were written by an unhappy asian in some sweat shop, it has no feeling, no examples, its just totally lacks, again you can clearly see the app development department at Sony is abysmal. oh well.

The most serious short comings of the app are the fact you can not pick iso or file format when in a preset like cloudy, sunrise, sunset, etc. But once you are in Custom all that changes hence this is where you'll be all the time. The settings menu is simple enough and easy to use. Once in custom mode its pretty quick to set it as you like. one big drawback which they totally forgot because me thinks whoever spear headed the development of this app never bothered to take pictures or even use it....the battery life on sony a7r is max 2 hours and time lapse can get long...so 2 hours is not much.

I have managed to get 5 hours out my time lapse which you might say seems impossible. when in time lapse shooting you'll want to disable picture review and disable the LCD, so basically in camera settings put it in Pure Viewfinder mode. This will save you battery, plus enable airplane mode which mine is always set to. The App's menu options should have added this, hence right there you can do that, otherwise guess what, you must exit the app and than disable LCD.

Another pitfall is, if you are shooting a 24p movie while in a preset, it will only create a movie, it will not SAVE the images. it would be nice to have the option to have both so if you want you can yourself create the movie. again this is why you'll just remain in custom mode forever and those presets are lame. Me thinks they are there to simply give you an idea of what the app can do and what settings it using to achieve that goal. so for that purpose, look at the preset than copy those settings into the custom to get similar result.

a serious error was made on part of the developers - I use a 24mm f2 a 20mm and 14mm lens to shoot stars with, each focal length has a different amount of time if you apply the 500 rule. Meaning the shutter has to remain open for a certain amount of time and no longer otherwise you get trails. the idea is to stack images and each image lets jsut enough light in to capture the stars without movement. The big problem and why this app fails right here is because you can not fine tune this.

if you use a 14mm you can expose for 36 seconds but guess what max is 30s on the a7r, not a deal breaker per se. but if you are using a 20mm you'll need to expose for 25s and thats the problem. I set camera to M mode and set it to 25 seconds shutter time, than in the app you have to set the timer to to 30, you can not pick 20 because it jumps by increments of 10 seconds so now there is serious dilemma that 20 is too short and 30s is too long. only option is to raise iso and shoot for 20s instead which results in more noise. Why would they not give more increments??? is it so hard to factor in the 500 rule? Someone in the dev department or whoever coded this app needs to pickup a magazine and learn mroe about astrophotography. The time lapse app is essentially your intervalometer but since you can't fine tune the increments you pictures will never be perfect unless you have jsut the right focal length to match the increments of 20 or 30s.

the app has what seems like little guide n tip but theres no for star trails which is ideal for time lapse yet Sony left this out completely. check this out: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PJCPCpqMXo4/UW4ev-vmz1I/AAAAAAAANbY/Bt4ikqDpssY/s1600/500+Rule.jpg

Basically ya gota compromise 20mm lens shoots for 25s and a 24mm goes for 20s, i have a 14mm but its real heavy n big that would be 30s. The odd part which is badly thought of, is when you set your shutter speed, you are matching the focal length via the 500 rule so i'f i shoot with the 24mm i set it to 25s shutter, but in the app its either 30s or 20s...it should be 1 sec timer, meaning it takes 25 sec to take the picture, after picture is taken it should count 1 second than take next picture. so the app is retarded, the timer value is in reality the shutter value, which is not how an intervalometer works. again....does anyone at sony use this camera and the app to take pictures of the stars?

yes i know there is a star trails app...i'll review that one later, its a giant turd of $8.99 as it does NOT do stills, its only for movies. so retarded. Many cameras offer intervalometers except this one for $2k which aims into the pro consumer market. again we have to rely on a 3rd party trigger remote.

there is no ability to save custom shooting. for example I like the sunset preset, but i dont want to shoot in jpeg so i go to custom, copy the settings from sunset and set it to raw. now later that nite i want to shoot another time lapse but in total darkness, now i gotta wipe out my custom settings to enter another - why not give user ability to save those settings?? the good news is, when you exit the app, it'll remember your last settings for custom. so right there you know they can add multiple custom saves if they want to.

This app and i think all apps have this limitation, you can't use mapped buttons to magnify or zoom in. it has to be done via the app which seems incredibly lame and poorly thought out. which means you gota tap menu, go to screen 5 than tape magnify so you can make sure your image is in focus. Why not just let us use our mapped button like c1 to do that? why does it have to be only thru the app. I think I know why...sony prevents devs from higher API functions hence the app disallows button use. pretty lame on sonys part because int he end it the user experience that hurts and its what counts most.

options for trigger remote:

http://store.sony.com/remote-control-with-multi-terminal-cable-zid27-RMVPR1/cat-27-catid-All-Cameras-Alpha-DSLR-Accessories?_t=pfm%3Dcategory

the sony remote is real nice comes with clamp and is good ONLY for 30s or less exposures. so if you need star trails of 25s, set that on camera, turn off picture review, lcd, connect remote and fire away in locked position. and your camera will take all the pictures you need so you can stack.

second option:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004QDN2ZC/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CDIE0QW/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

this is the more versatile option as it has a real intervalometer and will let ya shoot past 30s on the a7r plus its wireless meaning in cold nights keep hands in pocket as you fire away or from your tent.

here endith my review

i post screens to show you what the app looks like because when you are about to buy it, it wont show u these screens. people want to see what they are buying and the app store should display every single screen to preview, this gives a good idea of limitations.

Finally get a trigger remote. I setup my camera, use c1 to magnify, connect my trigger set the timer and amount of shots and bam i'm done. the app is nice because it'll display a timer and countdown but so does the trigger remote. but the reality is the app is like a .99 cent app. how many apps how you downloaded on your smartphone to only delete it moments later when you realize just how bad it was. I myself dont use the app except when i want a jpeg time lapse movie that i'm not gonna make money off of. Anything professional requires using the trigger remote. its much quicker to set it up in my palm with the remote than to fiddle with the camera, ntoe the LCD is disable which means you gota put camera to eyeball to interact with menus. shooting time lapse with LCD on means you'll get max 90 minutes usage. oh the when you want to change batteries...you can't resume where you left off, you gotta start from frame 1. no biggie really but there goes your timer and countdown - so the whole thing has been defeated. a trigger remote will give you more shots too.

i'm hoping Sony improves their app store and gives ability to contact authors of these poorly written apps so we can help them make it better. I hope they update the software with more features. $10 for an app seems a lot considering is quite limiting.

The cons of the app:

presets cant do raw

can't choose your ISO in presets mode, only in custom

will not store images when doing movie

must turn off lcd, picture review, prior to starting app if you want to shoot longer

mapped buttons will not work, ie magnify

no ability to store favorite settings.

if your focal length does not match to increments time slot you'll have to compromise which may result in undesired results in the image.

no HDR, no DRO

  • *1: Settings or functions that are unavailable on your camera are still unavailable even with this application.
  • *2: Must be set before launching the application.
  • Some functions of the camera are not supported by this application.

The good :

easy to use

simple to setup and make time lapse

when in custom you get good quality images and movies in you set to RAW

you can control file format and ISO while in custom mode only.

 ninjapimp's gear list:ninjapimp's gear list
Sony Alpha 7R Nikon D7000 Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED +10 more
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