Anyone with a PS5 will have surely noticed that almost every action within its innovative but decidedly inconsistent UI takes more button presses that it probably should. At least 6 presses to swap games using the supposedly quick Switcher menu, 9 presses to reach your own trophy collection, and a whopping 16 just to select and copy two captured images to a USB drive – and that's while already in the Media Gallery.
I know it is far from being a world-ending problem, but any good UI should make tasks as quick and easy as possible, especially when it comes to those that people are likely to repeat many times. As a virtual photographer, copying images from the console to use and share on other devices definitely comes under the latter, so anything that makes accessing them easier is surely welcome, isn't it?
- GAME CAPTURES // PS APP -
A Welcome Update:
Taking a leaf out of Microsoft's book and the way that in-game captures are accessible via the Xbox App, PlayStation have launched their own similar system via the official PlayStation App that is available for Android and iOS devices. Originally announced for the Americas and more recently rolled out to all regions where the app is available, the Game Captures feature enables the auto-uploading of captured images and videos straight to the app from a connected PS5 in an attempt to make things quicker and easier for fans of the Capture button.
A simple initial setup must be done via the app or through the Capture & Broadcast settings on the console itself, but from then on your newly captured media will be uploaded in the background and appear in the app with no additional effort at all.
Other means are needed to dig into your older capture archives...
There is perhaps a slight sense that the feature has been "shoehorned" into the app, with captures appearing as a second tab within the Game Library section, but the convenience of having access to your in-game shots from a remote device with no intermediary steps is undeniable.
From the captures gallery, where media is neatly sorted by game title, any synced image or video clip can be directly shared on the PlayStation Network or via other apps already installed on the device, and if they are not quite ready to share just yet, downloaded as local copies either individually or in a batch. It is a perfectly straightforward and hassle-free way to retrieve captures from the PS5, but there are a couple of caveats to counter that convenience.
For a start, the app can only sync new captures from a PlayStation 5 with no support for PS4, and each upload only remains available for 14 days – plenty of time to make use of recent work, but obviously other means are needed to dig into your older capture archives. Video clips are also limited to a maximum length of 3 minutes and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (anything above this won't be uploaded), and while still images do keep their 4K resolution, they are converted to JPG format.
- PS5 PNG // PS APP JPG -
Ordinarily this file format limitation might be a cause for concern when it comes to image quality and compression artefacts, but actually the auto-uploaded JPG appears to be of very high quality here. Just look at the above comparison from Gran Turismo 7 for example; there is no discernible difference between the original PNG captured by the PS5 and the JPG version saved from the PS App.
Considering the previously awful compression seen with PSN methods on the PS4, this is a very pleasant surprise and the bottom line is that captures downloaded via the PlayStation App are absolutely representative of the original file.
- CAPTURE, DOWNLOAD & SHARE // PS APP -
So quality and convenience, what could be better? Well there is one thing that is currently stopping me from using the PlayStation App to backup my captured images from PS5, and that is the file naming system. While the PS5 may lack useful metadata on its captures, it does at least include the game title and date stamp within the file name – very useful when cataloguing and sorting shots. Images passed through the PS App lose this and instead get completely nondescript names which bear no relation to the original file or the date & time of the capture.
Take the image below for example; the original title of "Gran Turismo™ 7_20220330002740.png" may seem unwieldy, but it means that I can identify where and when it came from, down to the second. The same image downloaded from the app is titled "17fe0d0681191-screenshotUrl.jpg" which literally tells me nothing.
In fact, even the same shot downloaded more than once from the app will be given a different file name each time and, simply put, that is just a nightmare for any sort of organised archiving, especially without metadata to fall back on.
- THE NAME GAME // GT7 -
For now then, I will be sticking to USB exports as my preferred method of moving photo mode shots from the PS5 and onto my other devices. It offers better organisation and equal quality with no restriction on file types, but this manual route is definitely not the only viable option.
If you prefer the convenience of automatic and wireless access to your most recent captures from a mobile device, and aren't too fussed about keeping files in order or using 4K video, then the PlayStation App offers a very useful alternative.
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