We first told you about the Nova wireless flash for iPhone last fall when it was merely an idea on Kickstarter having just collected enough funding to ship. The campaign successfully raised over $85,000 and the wireless flash for iPhone is now available for purchase with an iOS app available on the App Store. I recently had the chance to test out the Nova wireless flash for iPhone, and below I’ll share a few insights from my experience.
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WHAT IS NOVA AND HOW DOES IT WORK
The device is about the size of a credit card and thinner than an iPhone 5. It features 40 embedded LED lights which illuminate in various ways depending on the preferred mode controlled via the iPhone app.
It’s powered by a built-in battery and comes with a micro USB cable for keeping it charged. You also get a compact, leather-like carrying case that holds the Nova flash and can clip to your gear for carrying while on-the-go.
The Nova flash works wirelessly and connects to your iPhone over Bluetooth. Using the wireless flash requires that you use the free Nova Camera app for capturing your shots, but the app is lightweight and designed well enough that this isn’t a major pain point.
A FLASH FOR iPAD
The app is only available for iPhone (and Android), but you can use the Nova wireless flash with iPad using the iPhone app scaled up at 2x without any trouble.
A soft orange light on the face of the flash glows while the Nova is charging. (In my use, it did not appear that you could use the flash while it was charging.) Once the Nova wireless flash is charged, it automatically connects to your iPhone over Bluetooth when you open the app as the orange light changes to blue.
The app features a number of preset modes that control how the flash LEDs illuminate. These modes include Gentle, Warm, Neutral, and Bright as well as a custom mode that allows you to toggle warm and cool brightness.
You can also adjust the focus is exposure manually and test the flash preset mode before you snap.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SELFIE GAME
In addition to controls for changing how the Nova flash lights up, the app also supports flipping between the iSight (backside) and FaceTime (frontside) camera.
That’s right. Even brighter selfies. This does result in the after effect of seeing stars when you blink for a few seconds, but it’s so worth it if you’re trying to capture a moment with someone else in the dark using the FaceTime camera on your iPhone (or iPad).
Photos taken with the app land back in the default Photos app alongside the photos captured with the native iPhone camera app so the experience is smooth. The app even features toggled to turn on editing or sharing after each photo is snapped if you prefer that shoot-and-edit or share experience.
TO NOVA OR NOT TO NOVA
So are the photos shot with the Nova flash better than photos shot without it or with the built-in iPhone flash? The iPhone flash did improve dramatically with the True Tone flash released with the iPhone 5s, but the Nova’s wireless quality means you can place the light source from more angles than just where the built-in flash offers.
In the case of the FaceTime camera and the camera offered on the iPad (admittedly a popular camera), there is no flash so the Nova is a must have for those shooters.
What about iPhone 5s users? I never trusted the flash on my iPhone to take a decent photo until Apple introduced the smarter True Tone flash last fall, and now I leave my flash setting to auto. It’s great when you take a photo and don’t want to think about needing a flash or not.
The Nova flash, however, is really a blast to use for any camera app enthusiast or general iPhonographer even if you have the latest iPhone with True Tone flash.
You can hold the Nova flash at any angle you can imagine because it’s wireless, and the app’s presets for brightness dramatically changes how the photo is captured. This means you can take the same photo a dozen different ways and really experiment and have fun.
Need some creative nudging? The makers of Nova have a project called Lightsauce which is used to share recommendations and tips for how to use the Nova wireless flash. The project also includes photos shot with iPhones and the Nova flash.
WHERE TO BUY NOVA
The Nova wireless flash for iPhone is available for customers in the United States for $59.00 on Amazon while international customers can find additional buying options on Nova’s website. The Nova Camera app is available on the App Store for free and works with iPhone 4S and higher running iOS 7 or higher. If taking photos with your iPhone is a hobby of yours, I highly recommend trying out the Nova wireless flash.