How old were you when you came to know that you can convert your DSLR camera from a decade ago into a smart device that can automatically adjust and take the best shots possible using artificial intelligence?
Yes, Now This is true because devices such as Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant are available which connect to the DSLR or Mirrorless camera through the USB port and serve as a smart device that can automatically adjust the camera settings based on the scene and take the best shot possible.
Although the cameras that are coming nowadays have smart features that are built into the camera hardware, Arsenal Camera Assistant serves as a dedicated and stand-alone device that has the neural circuitry built on purpose to reduce the artefacts in the shots taken by the camera and can provide you the best shot possible that is free from any grain, shutter lag or accidental blurs.
Read on the Arsenal Camera Assistant Review to Know if its Worth all the hype.
Like most of the start-ups, the Arsenal Camera Assistant was backed by a Kickstarter campaign. There were shipping issues when the product was first launched in the starting months of 2019. As with the products in their first generation, the Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant project faced some software glitches.
The glitches were primarily in the “Holy Grail” time-lapse mode featured in the device. But, owing to the initial nature of the product, the developers were sensible enough to fix the major software glitches in the product.
The product is composed of a small rectangular box, which can be hoisted on the hot shoe of the compatible mirrorless cameras and DSLRs. The device comes with a compatible USB cable which depends on the model of the camera for which you are planning to buy the camera assistant.
The device relies on built-in lithium-ion batteries which can be charged with the provided AC cable power adapter that is provided with the device. The lithium-ion batteries also power the wireless communication antenna in the device which can be connected to the compatible iOS or Android app that can be downloaded free of cost
The device is small and portable, so it is not a great problem for carrying it along with the camera in the bag.
Arsenal Camera Assistant Review
Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant is a smart device that depends on algorithms that enable it to train itself over the experience gained from clicking thousands of shots based on specific preferences based on the shot. The fact that this device can be plugged into almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera (yes, this device supports almost all the Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras) enables it to convert a camera you bought about 7 or 8 years ago into a smart device that automatically sets all the parameters for the shot.
In this regard, this device offers the following features:
A. Smart HDR Capability:
The camera assistant supports the recent trend towards HDR photography that is becoming a norm these days. Nowadays, even the midrange smartphones feature HDR capability in their camera hardware, so having a camera that does not support HDR these days can make you feel obsolete.
Even if your camera supports High Dynamic Range photography, its largely a manual affair, where you have to set all the parameters according to the scene in the camera itself to produce a good and bright HDR photo. Most of the time, the photographers want to point-and-shoot the scenes, which also, with the highest and full-resolution quality available in the camera.
Arsenal Camera Assistant automatically adjusts the dynamic range of the shots captured through your camera. After processing, these images are transferred right into the SD card of the camera, so you do not need any third-party software or apps to extract the images from the device.
Alternatively, the images can be copied to a desktop from the SD card and can also be perfected on photo editing software such as Photoshop, as the camera assistant device saves the photos in both RAW and JPEG format.
It’s just like normal photography from your camera, but with an adjusted and perfected dynamic range that produces popping colors that attract the eyes of the person seeing the photo.
B. Focus Stacking Ability:
Most of the time while capturing wide-angle scenes or in night photography, the photographers have to face the nuisance of focus loss or loss of detail owing to multiple captures. In many of the photos, the background may be perfectly in focus, while the foreground is slightly blurred.
While in many other shots, the photographer has to bump up the ISO to capture as much light as possible, but this brings along the much-hated grain with itself in the photo which reduces the detail. Or on the other hand, if the ISO is kept low, the camera can simply not capture much detail, because of the resultant decrease in light.
The solution to these problems lies in the stacking. Stacking involves taking multiple shots at the same shutter speeds and then stacking the shots on top of each other, which results in a bright and sharp image that has both sufficient light and detail, without the introduction of grain in the photo. But, stacking is not so easy as it seems.
One of the important prerequisites for stacking is that the focus of the camera should be kept strictly the same in all the photos so that the final result image is perfectly focused and does not lack any detail. Moreover, it is a time-consuming process because it requires dedicated third party photo editing and stacking software, which requires experience to use.
Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant has a built-in focus stacking feature. The hardware of the device is tuned to capture multiple photos at the best possible parameters, and you do not need to adjust the ISO or shutter speed to capture multiple shots to capture the details in a dark scene.
Instead, the device automatically adjusts the camera settings and takes automated shots. These shots are then stacked inside the device with keeping focus as a priority. The result is a perfectly captured photo with the best possible detail and sharp focus both in the foreground and the background in the photo.
C. Time-lapse and Long Exposures:
In most of the midrange DSLR cameras, the feature of capturing long exposure photos and time-lapses is not up to the mark or is missing at all. Time-lapse photos involve capturing a set of photos over a determined period and then combining them into a clip that provides a short clip of the scene.
But a perfectly captured time-lapse or a long exposure photo requires sharp focus. Let your camera drag even a little bit during capturing long exposure pictures, and what you will get will be a completely deranged file that has nothing but abstract specks of light here and there! Moreover, capturing such scenes also require expensive ND filters to be mounted on the lens, that only mounts up the price.
Arsenal comes packed with a built-in time-lapse capturing ability. The time-lapses captured through Arsenal have a beautifully adjusted dynamic range and the focus is set on a specific point that never fluctuates if the camera is set on a tripod. This is because the device takes long exposure photos through stacking the perfectly captured frames while keeping the focus point sharply the same throughout the photo.
D. Wireless Capabilities:
Nowadays, about every camera that has been launched in the previous 4 or 5 years has wireless capabilities built right into the camera hardware. These wireless capabilities enable the user to seamlessly transfer the photos taken through the camera to their smartphones through dedicated applications. Many of the modern cameras from Canon, Nikon, and Sony also feature a ‘remote shutter’ capability, which enables the user to capture photos right from their smartphones. This enables the user to capture scenes that are prone to camera shake. With the remote shutter on, the user can safely start the capturing process from their smartphone without having to touch the camera.
Arsenal comes with an accompanying app, which is compatible both with Android and iOs devices. This app connects to the device mounted on the camera and can be used to access the whole features of the device right from the smartphone.
Be it a time-lapse, a long exposure photo, or an HDR photo, everything can be captured with the tap of a button on the smartphone. Moreover, the device transfers the photos right into the smartphone, so that your several years’ old camera that has no wireless abilities can be turned into a smart device that can take photos through the remote shutter just like the modern cameras.
Arsenal Camera Assistant – The Cons:
Like every product, the Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant comes with some pitfalls. Some of them are discussed here below:
A. Slow Function:
Although Arsenal is a fully smart and automated device, it takes some time for the user to become accustomed to its wide range of features. The device is capable of adjusting every parameter according to the scene, but this takes time as the device processes the scene to determine its parameters.
Probably, this is the biggest dealbreaker as it requires patience, and the process can take up to a whole minute sometimes.
B. Less Pro-grade Control:
The device is connected to the camera and controls all the basic parameters of the photo being taken, but the pitfall is that the user is deprived of the pro-grade controls of his or her camera which would be accessible under normal circumstances.
This is particularly not appealing to users who want to control the compression of the photos they take through their cameras. Moreover, adjusting picture quality is also compromised when using Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant because everything is controlled by the device automatically.
C. Limited RAW options:
Although the device is capable of capturing photos having multiple focus points which are then stacked using multiple stacking techniques, the resultant photo is not saved directly to the SD card in your camera as a RAW picture which can be fine-tuned later in the photo editing software.
Instead, it is stored as a JPG file on the smartphone app associated with Arsenal, which degrades the picture quality and also hampers the user from having full control over what they are capturing.
D. Hand-held Shooting is Difficult:
While using the camera to take photos with the Arsenal Smart Camera Assistant, it is VERY DIFFICULT to hold the camera in your hands and capture a picture. This is because the shutter speed is kept low while the camera is using Arsenal to capture photos.
Slow shutter speed means that the photos can easily be out of focus even if there is a minor vibration or movement of the camera. So, using a tripod becomes mandatory, which increases the cost.
Value for the Money :
Arsenal Digital Camera Assistant is currently priced at 150 dollars, which might be thought of as an introductory price for the product because the company is thinking to increase the price to 250 dollars once the device becomes popular enough.
The Arsenal Camera Assistant can prove to be a very useful product to the users who are used to capture long exposure photos of the wide-angle scenes. This is because of the multiple stacking ability of the device that provides razor-sharp photos every time it is put to the test.
The dynamic range of the photos also proves to be stunning, as is the colour depth. It provides a sweet spot to the amateurs who are eager to shoot pictures and scenes with a perfectly balanced dynamic range at the full auto mode of the camera supplemented with Arsenal Camera Assistant.
However, this device may also prove to be a mere waste of 150 dollars for the users who are not accustomed to the use of a tripod, or to the users who are inherently attracted to quick snapshots of the scenes.
In a wider perspective, some people think that it is aimed towards semi-professionals, who know how to use different parameters at night and dim-lit scenes, as the Arsenal Camera Assistant is made for long exposures specifically.