Smartphone apps for film photographers

Just because I love film photography a non-digital workflow doesn’t mean I spurn all digital assistance. Here are my favourite smartphone apps which I use regularly to help with my traditional photographic work. I’ve focused on iPhone apps simply because I have an iPhone. I’m sure many of these (or close equivalents) are available for Android and Windows phones too. I’ve included links to the UK App Store if you click on the pictures.



PinholeMeter is a simple but useful app for calculating exposure times for pinhole cameras. You just have to tell it the ISO of your film/paper, and the f-number of your pinhole. Then you point your phone at the scene you want to measure, and it tells you how many seconds of exposure you’ll need to get perfectly-exposed pinhole photographs.

It does not take reciprocity failure into account, but based on my brief tests, it seems pretty accurate anyway.

Pocket Light Meter

Pocket Light Meter

Digital cameras all have built-in metering, but quite a lot of manual film cameras don’t. Even the ones that do have meters often don’t work well after decades of neglect. Buying a real light meter can be very expensive and using the sunny 16 rule can be inaccurate in difficult lighting conditions, so this app is a pretty good replacement.

Just set your ISO and point it at the scene. Set either the shutter speed or the aperture if you want to use priority exposure, otherwise let the meter decide. Dial the settings into your camera and click!

Film Tracks

Film Tracks

This one’s a geeky one. As its simplest, it’s a replacement for a pencil and paper when taking notes about your film exposures while you’re out and about. It can save exposure values, thumbnails, GPS co-ordinates, filters and zone system information to help with later development.

If you’re especially keen, later on you can re-add the information back into the scanned images using exiftool – the same way that digital cameras embed information into photos. I now do this with my photos. WordPress picks up the information and displays it automatically so other geeks can enjoy it.

Massive Dev Chart Timer

Massive Dev Chart

This one is a lifesaver for me. The Massive Dev Chart Timer has development information about vast numbers of films and developers. It makes it easy to find times and temperatures for your films. It can also do temperature compensation (if your developer is hotter/colder than it should be) and push/pull processing.

Once you’ve found your settings, it acts as a darkroom timer and gives visual and audible signals for developer, stop, fix, wash and more. I never process film without it.

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