Arsenal Photography Worth It On A Sony Camera?

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There was quite a bit of buzz about the Armory Smart Camera Assistant some months ago. Information technology’s a hardware device that tin can plug into many DSLR or mirrorless cameras (though there are some important exceptions which I’ll detail later on.) Information technology’s designed to automate a lot of shooting situations, and make AI based decisions nearly camera settings to get y’all the all-time possible images.
Arsenal says it best on their website: “Armory’s smart banana AI suggests settings based on your bailiwick and environment. It uses an advanced neural network to selection the optimal settings for whatsoever scene (using similar algorithms to those in self driving cars). Similar whatsoever good banana, it then lets you lot control the final shot.”

The device is small, and can mountain on your photographic camera hot shoe and connects via a USB cable. You tell Arsenal what camera y’all have, and the proper cable is shipped. The Arsenal runs on internal rechargeable batteries and a charging cable and power connector/Ac adapter are included. The Arsenal is a Kickstarter project and came with the usual delays and missed deadlines.

The price is now $175.00 plus $10.00 shipping. Later the price is set up to go upwardly to $250.00.

Advertised features include “smarter” focusing, photo stacking for HDR or focus stacking. The Arsenal will merge the photos, and then send them back to your camera SD carte du jour.

Arsenal claims its device can automatically detect when detail is being lost and take multiple photos at different shutter speeds to capture all of the missed particular, then merges the photos for you.

Information technology besides has a time-lapse office and long exposure settings. In all cases, Armory claims its Smart Camera Assistant volition calculate the all-time settings so you tin get an excellent image.

Control is through an iOS or Android app. So all settings are done from the app, freeing you from beingness at your camera menus.

Then how does it all work? It’southward a mixed handbag. Connecting to my Sony A7 III was a bit flaky. Sometimes the connection between my iPhone 10 and my photographic camera was lost. Sometimes the camera locked up. During my testing, a firmware update was offered, and that seemed to settle things down a bit.

I tried several HDR photos and allow Arsenal automate them. They worked, simply I did non find it an improvement over doing brackets myself with my own settings.

As far every bit the AI functions went… well, I did not observe the Arsenal Smart Assistant did any improve than I could take at choosing photographic camera settings. It should help a novice photographer, only I don’t remember any more than using the automated settings on their camera.

I found the time-lapse functions worked well, as did the long exposure automation, merely there are others ways to achieve this.  For example, the Pluto Trigger device I reviewed concluding month was easier to operate and gave no worse than equal or better results with HDR and time-lapse photos. It doesn’t merits whatever AI smarts, but it does automate a lot of functions of your camera and lets yous concentrate on getting the best shot. And it’s more than $100.00 cheaper than the Arsenal.

Even with the latest firmware, the Arsenal would sometimes seem to get lost — pausing for long periods with nothing happening, especially during HDR brackets. And, although advertised to do raw brackets, images are saved as JPEGS, rather than raw, which is going to be a non-starter for many people, including me. The Armory folks say the “save to raw” feature is coming in a future update.

Things I Like:

  • There are good ideas here. I recollect devices like this could be the hereafter, and increasingly volition be built into camera bodies
  • Screens on the smartphone app are well laid out and fairly easy to sympathise
  • Functions like time lapse and long exposures worked very well

Things I Didn’t Like:

  • Did non find HDR brackets whatsoever improve than my own methods, and images stay on your phone and aren’t sent back to the SD carte du jour
  • Software is yet buggy and has some crude edges
  • Power and USB ports are not marked and disruptive as to what cable goes where
  • Zero compatibility with some camera brands including Olympus and Fuji (yikes!). Working cameras are listed here


I’m having some difficulty figuring out the use example for the Arsenal. Beginners attracted to the automation will likely find the Armory likewise difficult or buggy to set and will become frustrated. Professionals or serious amateurs aren’t likely to be impressed with the AI features, and again, won’t tolerate any unreliability.

One skilful example of a showstopper is that the device simply won’t function if it requires a firmware update. The final update was almost 500 MB and if I was in the field I could non have updated the Armory making information technology unusable. Not the best mode to handle an update.

In that location is much promise hither. Making more complicated things like focus stacking and HDR easier are a plus, but the Arsenal just isn’t in that location however. There have been frequent updates which is a good sign, but major promised features like sending RAW files dorsum to the photographic camera are very late. It’due south a required function.

I should bespeak out what I only tested the Armory with my Sony A7III. Other cameras might piece of work better, or worse. Reports from other photographers aren’t encouraging when taken together.

Interested photographers should keep their eye on what is happening with Armory, and I’m  hoping at some point information technology will exist a worthy investment. Right at present, it’s a long work in progress that I hope will pay off. The ideas backside this product are sound, even if the execution is spotty at this point.


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