Category: Photography

After more than a year of effort, we finally released the first version of the PlanIt! for Photographers on iOS.!-for-photographers/id898876435 (iOS version, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch) (Android version)

Just so you know, we are also migrating to this blog to and also are building up a new site for this app (not done yet). We will keep this blog updated as well during the transition.

Here are some screenshots on iPhone 6 plus. There is a user guide at

IMG_1093 IMG_1089 IMG_1091 IMG_1092 IMG_1096IMG_1090


Joerg, a passionate photographer and blogger from Sensorgrahy, was kindly enough to provide his review of the PlanIt! for Photographer.

What making me feel excited the most is when he said “PlanIt! takes you beyond the capabilities of TPE.” As we all knew, TPE is a great (probably the first) app to provide the ephemeris information in an app, which was also the app that inspired me to add the ephemeris feature to the PlanIt. But our goal is this app is way more than what TPE can do.  As he already pointed out, being able to preview the Sun/Moon/Star/MilkyWay position using the VR mode is a great addition. Not to mention the simulation of the timelapse and the startrail feature. 

BTW, Joerg also helps us to translate the app into Germany after he saw some translations were not accurate (as they were not translated by a real photographer). Thanks. We will have a new release soon to include his translation. 

After two months of hard work and beta testing among our beta users, we are glad to announce the release of the PlanIt! Let me start by saying thank you to our beta users. You provide many valuable feedback  and bug reports. Without you, the new release would be impossible.

App Name Change

First thing first so that you don’t get confused. The app was called Photographer’s Field Tools (PFT). We plan to introduce several apps in the photographer’s tools category, so we decided to rename it to PlanIt!. It stands for “Plan the shot”. It is the same app as the old PFT. If you purchased PFT Pro before, it is free for you to upgrade. If you downloaded PFT free version and purchased the in-app purchases, you will get the upgrade for free too.

Promo - Mt.Shasta

Features in 3.0

1. Viewfinder mode. Under the background selection action, we added three more entries – Viewfinder (VR), Viewfinder (AR) and Viewfinder (Picture). With these features, you can visualize the scene in a simulated viewfinder. We will draw the ground contour, or you can use your phone’s camera to preview the scene, or you can select an existing picture as the viewfinder background. We will render celestial objects on the viewfinder so that you can compose the scene visually.

2. Milky Way. We added an Ephemeris page for the Milky Way. I am telling you now – finding the milky way is never so easy.

3. Star-trail and time-lapse simulation. You can actually “Play” the viewfinder to simulate what happen as time goes by. It will show you the whole star-trail or the time-lapse  process, from start to end. For time-lapse, you can even set the camera’s facing azimuth and tilting angle for the start and the end of the time-lapse.

4. Finding Sun or Moon? Just using your finger to circle an area on the viewfinder, we will show you the list of dates/times where the Sun or the Moon will appear there.

5. Many more options are added to the settings screen.

6. Markers can defined and saved. You can even define the height/width of the marker so that you can use marker to represent a high building and show it in the viewfinder.

7. The plan and markers can be saved as files. You can share the plan file or the marker file to your friend using a social app. Your friend, if he/she also has PlanIt, can open the file right from the social app.

8. And many small features.


User Guide

PlanIt! User Guide (Android)

I know people are busy and never read manual. In this case, I strongly suggest you read through the user guide at least once if you are serious about photographing. We are also very active on email. If you have any questions about how to do certain things, feel free to send us an email.



We just had a new beta release for PlanIt! The main enhancement in this beta release is to bring different modes to the viewfinder. In the previous beta release, we used the elevation service to draw the ground contour. While it works, the display is not very attractive. In this release, we improved it using two approachs – use the phone camera to create an augmented reality, and use an existing picture to replace the ground contour. We called the existing ground contour mode – the ViewFinder (VR) mode, the camera AR – ViewFinder (AR) mode, and the picture one – ViewFinder (Picture) mode. All three modes can be selected by clicking on the map icons on the action bar.

Take a look at the three pictures below. You can see the camera location and the scene location in case you would like to try it yourself. I also attached the jpg file I used in this example as well as the .xmd file which is the metadata file used by PlanIt! along with the picture.


The left one is the ViewFinder (VR) mode. As you can see, it shows a contour of the Half Dome but without any other details. The right one is the ViewFinder (Picture) mode. Because it is a real photo, you can see exactly what it would look like at this particular location. Most importantly, you can adjust the time to see the position of celestial objects in the future or in the past using this real photo as background.

device-2014-05-12-200603  device-2014-05-12-200556


If you are at the location, you can also turn on the phone camera to take a picture or use the augmented reality.

You can download the Half Dome photo I used in this post below. The corresponding data associated with this photo is also included below. I strongly encourage you give your own photo a try. Even with the same scene, you can compose it with Sun, Moon, star-trails, or milky way, and to give it a different feeling.

Picture file used by in this post

You also need a .xmd file. Just copy the text below and save it at the same folder as the picture file using the same file name except with “.xmd” at the end. If you save the picture file above as “pic1.jpg”, then save this xml file as “pic1.jpg.xmd”.

“Azimuth”: 84.78215026855469,
“VerticalAngleOfView”: 59.599998474121094,
“HorizontalAngleOfView”: 41.794071197509766,
“Latitude”: 37.74017171039168,
“Longitude”: -119.59974355995654,
“Elevation”: -2.2449021339416504