Back in March, I decided to pre-order the Arsenal smart camera assistant. I had some insurance money burning a hole in my pocket and was in the process of replacing all my camera equipment, so I figured why not? It sounded pretty cool.
7 months later it finally arrived, and I've managed to find a little bit of time to play with it in between writing and being a mom to a 10 month old. Here is what I've found so far.
The first thing you need to do is connect it to the app and then the app controls the device that's plugged into your camera. Initial setup took a bit of time. It had to update firmware that took about an hour, mostly since I discovered that if you run the app in the background it doesn't continue the download. I don't know why.
Then the app wouldn't reconnect to the unit and I had to email support. They helped me to figure out that the battery died (user error at its finest).
Once I got those initial bumps out of the way I started to actually use it. So far I've only used it a few times, one of those was the other night at sunset. I live by the beach so I have no shortage of fine scenery. In doing landscapes, you really don't get to see the magic of "AI" that it's talking about in the intro video. It basically just feels like a glorified auto mode. It worked though. Also the HDR bracketing is pretty smooth. It's also cool seeing a preview of the HDR. It's not bad for being auto-generated.
Tonight I used it again at sunset and tried to use the timelapse feature. Here's where I ran into a host of issues. When I went to preview the timelapse while it was shooting, it stopped taking pictures. I had to restart the camera and the app in order for me to be able to restart the timelapse. Then the battery was low on my phone so I plugged it in. That also interrupted the process, and had to go through the same thing to restart it. After a third time of it disconnecting for no reason, I gave up and just plugged in my reliable intervalometer which got the job done properly.
I would say my biggest gripe with the software so far (aside from the timelapse being a big fat fail) is that when you go to look at the photos from the camera, there is no discernible pattern for how it sorts the images. They're not chronological and new images pop up in a weird order with no way to sort or order things. So you have no way of knowing which was even the last image you shot. It's really annoying. I haven't contacted them yet about this but I plan to.
There are some features I haven't played too much with yet, and other things that are grayed out or saying "coming soon". There's clearly a lot more to come from Arsenal.
All in all, I would say it's a really cool toy. I was able to share a photo directly to Facebook from my camera, so that was awesome! Definitely not a reliable piece of gear that I would feel comfortable packing instead of my other equipment, but absolutely something I do continue to play around with and test in a variety of different environments. I hope that the software continues to improve as well so it's more user friendly.
Anyone else here have one? What do you think?