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Nova Bluetooth Flash for iPhone (page 2)

In the Nova camera app, you can select the area of focus on the subject. Two circles appear once you touch the screen: one for focus selection and the other for exposure, which appear together. The exposure selection circle can then be repositioned if the exposure is to be calculated based on a different part of the photo.

Focus point and Exposure can be adjusted independently
Focus point and Exposure can be adjusted independently

The app has photo editing function as well, which allows you to do various adjustments to the images taken (enhance, effects, focus, adjust, orientation, crop, blur, sharpness, whiten, blemish, redeye). It also has features to add personal touches to the image like stickers, frames, annotate on image or add text.

Photo editing function
Photo editing function

How does the Nova Flash work?

I have to say that technically the Nova bluetooth flash isn’t a true flash. A camera flash uses a short burst of light to illuminate the subject, and as it is very brief (often in the thousandth of a second), it can freeze a subject in motion. The Nova flash works more like a bank of LED lights to boost the brightness of the subject (although it switches off in between shots to preserve battery life).

After you press the shutter button (note: the volume buttons can also be used to activate the shutter), there is a lag while the app adjusts focus and then takes the photo. So it will not be good for trying to take photos quickly or of moving subjects; this form of photography is not suited for smartphone cameras anyway.

Comparison shots:

Here are some photos taken of my daughter’s minion. I used my iPhone 6 plus (review to follow) to take these images, which already works better than older iPhones in low light due to its optical image stabiliser.

Minion with no flash
Minion with no flash (uses higher ISO and noisier image – expect it to be worse with other iPhone models)
Minion with direct flash from iPhone
Minion with direct flash from iPhone (very harsh light directly at the subject)
Minion with Nova flash from right (gentle mode)
Minion with Nova flash from right (gentle mode balances light from Nova flash and ambient light)
Minion with Nova flash (custom mode)
Minion with Nova flash from right (custom mode – adjusted for cooler light)

There are certain scenarios where the Nova flash will be helpful – lack of ambient light or where subject is backlit by bright background. Bearing in mind that many people use the iPhone to shoot food/objects/documents or selfie – these should fit very well within the Nova flash’s capabilities.

Basil plant in dark kitchen - higher ISO used and image noisier
Basil plant in dark kitchen – higher ISO used and hence image is noisier
Basil plant lit by Nova flash (from right)
Basil plant lit by Nova flash (from right)
Minion backlit - no flash
Backlit minion – no flash
Minion backlit - with Nova flash from right
Backlit minion – with Nova flash from right
Rosie our puppy lit by the Nova flash
Rosie our puppy lit by the Nova flash
Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2005 (trophy winner from 2007) lit by Nova Flash
Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2005 (trophy winner from 2007) lit by Nova Flash
Duck breast - dinner lit by Nova flash
Duck breast – dinner lit by Nova flash

Good points of the Nova flash:

1) It is certainly small and light enough to be taken about and actually used (rather than left at home).

2) It isn’t cheap but it is reasonably priced (RRP £49.99 – currently reduced to £34.99 in Mobile Fun).

2) Does provide good lighting for certain scenarios (shooting static subjects in dark conditions or backlit subjects), and make iPhone photos look better.

3) Rechargeable battery built in (charged via USB) and because it is activated by the app only when it is needed, this prolongs its battery life.

What could be improved:

1) The app does not support recording of EXIF information in the photos, so you cannot be sure what ISO, shutter speed etc were used.

2) This is not a true flash which can ‘freeze’ a subject in motion due to using a short burst of light. It works more like an LED bank of lights by lighting the subject for a longer period.

3) They could include a button on the Nova flash to act as shutter button, which may actually make using this easier.

4) There is definitely a significant lag between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken, certainly more so than with the iPhone camera app. Hopefully they will improve the App to take full advantage of the iPhone 6 plus focusing improvements and reduce the lag.


So while this flash is not perfect, it certainly can help with capturing better iPhone images given the right conditions (e.g. food photography, documents, selfies). But the price should be brought down to around the £30-35 mark, before it can truly be recommended.

(Addendum 18/12/14 – Update: My Nova flash did not sync with my iPhone for a short while. I placed it to charge again and left it for a while. Since then, it does work again. Not sure what the problem was, but at least it is working again.)

Update (21/12/14):

I have had a response from the company with regards to my previous problem of Nova not syncing with my iPhone. It is interesting that they mention that there is a version which has a black hole near the logo on the back. By using a small pin to momentarily press into this hole, it will result in a reset of the Nova flash.

The version I have does not have such a hole – to reset this version, they suggest:

1) Turning the bluetooth off and on for the iPhone,

2)Restarting the Nova camera app or rebooting the iPhone.

3) Charging the Nova until full and the orange light indicator goes off,

4) Uninstalling and reinstalling the Nova camera app,

5) Ensuring the bluetooth is enabled on the iPhone before starting the Nova camera app.

I did try all the above although not in that order, but it was when I recharged the Nova the third time that it started working again. But it is good to know that there is good customer support from this company, and that there are ways to resolve issues with syncing the Nova.


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