Tenba Technofile: Creative Camera Phone Apps
/ Published by TenbaMore professional shooters are exploring the world with today's most popular pocket camera: the smartphone. But serious photographers might want more creative control than a standard iPhone or Android camera interface offers. Here are ten apps that will make your phone more like a "real" camera.
This app gives you a camera interface that lets you select focus and exposure points separately so that you can handle a wide range of lighting situations well while keeping your area of sharp focus where you want it. It has a burst mode, a self-timer, and a stabilizer mode that will wait until the phone is still to release the shutter—a handy feature for protecting your shots from camera shake. Its grid overlay helps with composition, and there are numerous tools you can use in editing mode, as well as effects that you can preview and purchase.
In addition to the options Camera + provides, this app offers an interval mode, a super-fast burst mode, and a feature that lets you tap the screen anywhere to release the shutter, which is useful if you’re holding the phone at an angle that prevents you from seeing the screen. In editing mode, changes to sharpness, color temperature, vibrance, and contrast are easily fine-tuned with an on-screen slider.
This camera app is similar to the first two but adds a special mode for capturing QR codes and a larger selection of grid and composition pattern overlays. You can fine-tune its stabilizer mode to be sensitive to more or less camera shake, or adjust its horizon guide to make sure it’s indicating whether the phone is level accurately. Advanced options include a Green Mode to save battery life, and a tool for adding copyright information to your image files’ EXIF metadata. In editing mode, you can view all of your image metadata onscreen.
With many of the same camera features as the options above, this app stands out for the way effects are implemented in the interface. There are numerous effects that you can preview live, which is unusual for a camera app. It’s worth the download just for the fun of seeing sketch effects applied in the live viewfinder. There are also multiple-exposure shooting modes and tilt-shift effect tools in the editing menu, and a Jigsaw tool lets you select multiple images and arrange them on a variety of backgrounds for a quick layout. Unlike many camera apps, Camera 360 includes its library of effects instead of charging you extra to add them.
Similar to the apps above, this one's focus is on helping you
take sharp, well-composed photos and operating the camera remotely or
from unusual angles. In addition to a whole-screen shutter-release mode,
it has a sound-activated shutter release so that you can take a shot
without touching the phone. You can set it to work with a clap or a
whistle. You can also lock the exposure, focus, and white balance so
that they don’t change when you set up the phone and move away from it.
This app is dedicated to helping you create high-dynamic-range images that are often richer-looking than what a single exposure would produce. Its camera interface lets you move boxes around the screen to pinpoint the extremes of dark and light in the image. It can also do the evaluation for you in an automatic mode. Then the app automatically combines the frames and provides you with a set of sliders in editing mode to adjust the look of the final image. When you’re done, you can type text onto the image and adjust its position, and add frames and effects.
Many photographers love all of the creative options Hipstamatic offers, but that app doesn’t let you preview combinations of all of the “films,” “lenses,” and "flash" looks available for purchase. For that you need Hipstamatch, which is a standalone app. It’s like a look book for Hipstamatic. It lets you preview different looks on a built-in library of images.
One of the more unusual camera apps, SynthCam lets you create tilt-shift and shallow depth of field effects through a frame-stacking technique. By selecting different focus points in the camera interface and moving your phone slightly during capture, you can give your photos a look that other apps don't provide. Its obviously an app with serious photographers in mind, offering adjustment sliders for the amount of "bokeh" and "unsharp masking" to apply.
This is a simple app that isn’t brimming over with features but implements one uncommon feature very well: shutter control. Of course, what’s happening isn’t really shutter control but a way of stacking video frames to simulate it. The interface lets you select a range of shutter speeds and sensitivity settings. There’s even a bulb mode. In the editing mode, a “freeze” slider lets you adjust the amount of blur and brightness in the image, as if you were adjusting the shutter speed after the fact.
This app combines most of the features of the general camera interface apps at the beginning of this list with HDR and Slow Shutter modes. It’s not as rich as some of the other options in effects and prepared looks in editing mode, but its camera and editing feature sets are among the most powerful available. In camera mode, the whole interface can rotate to a horizontal orientation when you turn the phone, which is still not a ubiquitous feature in camera apps. It also has the unusual capability of letting you organize your images in folders, and you can see full image metadata in viewing mode.
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