Sony Smart Remote App Guide & Review
For shutter speeds longer than 30 seconds (BULB mode) a remove is still needed with Sony cameras. A lot of people do not know that you can perfectly use the Sony Smart Remote App as a remote. The App did not support BULB mode before but does since the new 4.10 update. I have been experimenting with the app lately and came to the conclusion that I can actually perfectly replace my IR remote device. Especially the reach between the camera and the smartphone is quite far. This article discusses my stand on the app as it is now and also includes a detailed guide on how to use it.
The app is already installed on all of the Sony Alpha cameras but it’s important that you update it. Only the newest version supports BULB Mode. If you do not have the newest version you can only use it for shutter speeds up to 30 seconds.
Download the Sony Playmemories app on your smartphone.
Put the camera in Manual-mode if you want to use shutter speeds longer than 30 seconds (BULB).
Start the app via the application tab on your camera.
Connect your smartphone with your camera. You can do this manually or by scanning the QR-code that appears on your camera with the Playmemories app on your smartphone.
IMPORTANT: Configure the app on the camera. You only have to configure the settings once as the app will remember them for next time. But the app has it’s own preferences. This means if your camera is set to RAW shooting, it is NOT set to this setting on the Sony Smart Remote app. The app has it’s own preferences which you have to change the first time you’re using it. You do this by pressing the Menu button on your camera and go through the tabs like you normally would when changing settings. Most important setting here is to select RAW+JPEG. Only RAW isn’t possible as the camera always sends a JPEG to your smartphone after each shot, for preview purposes. You can’t turn this off (for now).
You can configure settings like Aperture, ISO and shutter speed on your smart phone with the interface on the app. If the camera is set to Manual-mode you can select BULB mode as a shutter speed. In this mode you can open the shutter by swiping the BULB button. Close it by swiping the button again.
After each shot the photo will appear on your smartphone. This can be handy if you immediately want to share your photo. It does causes a small delay between each photo, so keep that in mind. The preview function on your phone cannot be turned off for now. It doesn’t bother me because I like to use my phone’s screen as a preview as it’s much bigger than the camera’s live view. You can even use your tablet as a preview screen this way.
Settings are easily adjusted with the simple interface on your smartphone. It makes taking different photos with different settings easy. Taking photos with the app can take some time to get used to. Especially because it does not copy the settings you set earlier on your camera. You have to set these again when starting the app, but it does remember them for next time. The things mentioned above might look like a lot of work (way more than just using your remote) but if you used the app a couple of times you really set this up within seconds. I use this app very often now because my IR remote doesn’t always work that well. The Smart Remote app, that I always use in combination with my Sony Xperia Z5, works flawlessly.
Directly get your photos on your phone. You can (after editing with for example Snapseed or Lightroom Mobile) share them immediately on social media.
You can also use a tablet so that you can preview your photos on a bigger size immediately.
Wifi reach is much larger than a normal remote’s reach. You can basically set up your camera and control it from your car a couple of meters next to it. Perfect for cold weather. With the Xperia Z5 my reach was more than 10 meters!
You can view the shutter speed counting on your smartphone. Normally, when using longer exposures, the screen on the camera turns black and you can’t see on which count the shutter speed is.
The app has it’s ‘own’ settings. It doesn’t copy the camera settings you’re shooting at.
You have to connect your phone to the camera, which takes some time (few seconds, but still)
Delays between taking photos because the camera sends the JPEG to your phone. This is quite fast but cannot be turned off.
You’re using your smartphone nonstop so it takes a toll on its battery life.
The newest update of the app makes it possible to use your smartphone as a perfect replacement for a remote control device. There are still some disadvantages but I feel they can (and will) be solved in future updates. For now, you just have to deal with them. It would be nice to be able to turn off the copying of JPEG files to your smartphone in a next update for a faster workflow when needed. The ‘own’ settings ‘issue’ is one that definitely should be fixed. I’ve heard a lot of other users complain about that thing online too so I’m sure that one will be addressed by Sony. Sony already made a lot of improvements on this app with the last updates and I have confidence that they will continue to do so. For me, it’s already good enough to use as a fine remote device.