For any amateur golfer watching the pros play is a thrill. And if you are going to spend the time and money on attending a PGA event then it's not unreasonable to ask that you be able to take at least some photos of the pros in action via your trusty smartphone to keep as a memento of your attendance as well as to post on social media to make others a little bit jealous.
And for the most part these days, tournament organisers agree, to a certain extent anyway. Most, including the U.S Open which has changed its restrictive policies on cellphone use in general for 2015, ban smartphone (or any camera) use during championship play but are more than happy to let spectators snap away during the practice rounds (but snap only, almost all prohibit video recording at any time)
All of which is great, except that whether you own an iPhone or an Android device no matter how many megapixels your build in camera boasts it simply wasn't set up to photograph sports action very well, often leading to the amazing shot you thought you got of Tiger digging out of the rough actually turning out to be a multicolored blur that may or may not be a golfer of some description but certainly not recognizable as Mr Woods.
Fortunately though smartphones have apps and there are some – although not too many right now – that are rather good at enhancing the abilities of the onboard smartphone camera (and its owner) that will allow for some decent greens photography that you actually might be proud to show off. Here are our top picks.
ProCamera 8 + HDR
Developed by Cocologics
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch
ProCamera is possibly the best iOS app in general for those who want to get the most out of their Apple tech and having been newly updated for iOS8 it seems to have got even better.
The basic concept behind the app is that it can mimic, to a certain degree, the functions of a real SLR camera. This means that the potential is there for some really great action shots as you can adjust the focus, lighting, shutter speeds and exposure times according to the action being captured. This is an app that calls for some basic knowledge of such things though so you will need to spend some time getting to know the app in the tutorial before heading onto the links to achieve the best results.
Developed by By Little Pixels
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Although ProCamera has been number one for a while Manual is actually now able to give it a run for its money, and at half the price. It too mimics the functions of an SLR camera very well, right down to adding a very accurate light meter which, as all of your golf action shots will be outdoor ones, can make a real difference to the finished photograph.
The only downside of Manual is that its tutorial is not as useful or extensive as the competitions' so unless you are already adept at using the functionality the app may be a bit of a bust for you.
Developed by GD Software
This is a brand new app release that is, without a doubt, the best manual camera app ever released for the Android operating system thus far and it is even a little easier to use than the iOS apps previously mentioned.
For action photography Manuel Camera is very good and it will give you live onscreen hints as to how to configure the settings for the shot you are trying to line up. All in all its a great app but the downside is that it has been specifically developed for Android's new Lollipop OS only, meaning that it may not be an option for many Android users right now.
Developed by Google
Just because it is free and built into some Android devices does not mean that Google's own camera is not a reasonable choice for sports photography for those who don't want to mess with a manual option.
Within the very simple interface there are several one click settings for movement and sports and while the results are unlikely to be quite as sharp as those produced via a manual camera app they should be better than average with a minimum of effort on your part. And where this app shines is its Photo Stitch function that will allow you to document an entire stretch of course – and those on it – in rather grand style.
Developed by Global Delight Technologies Pvt. Ltd
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch
This is probably the best of the non manual point and snap action photography apps for iOS right now and also offers a few neat extras that the other apps do not that some may find rather appealing.
The basic tweaks, driven by onscreen hints, that allow for better golf action photography include 5 shutter speed options and 3 focus options as well as a light meter feature called Lumy. The app also features Airsnap, which allows you to link two iOS devices and share the action remotely as well as the pictures taken, useful if you are on one hole and a buddy is on the other as it allows you both to get in on more action.