I finally threw caution to the wind and bought a bunch of iPhone photo apps the other day and thought others might find a review useful. The thing about the iPhone camera is that it is a low-end camera and, sometimes, not trying too hard actually makes it a hell of a lot better, you know?
Take, for example, the couple of iPhone apps that make your shots look like a vintage Polaroid photo. They look great, because they aren’t trying to make your photos look like more than they are. The lo-fi image quality actually enhances the subject matter. And they’re fun to make and view, too. Or maybe you really love the look of a Holga or Lomo? Easily done. [ShakeItPhoto | Polarize | CameraBag]
But what if you really do want to take better iPhone photos? Which app is the best one and offers the best overall performance? I’m not sure there is a “best one” just yet, but several apps are trying for the title. Photographer Chase Jarvis has an app (and photo-sharing site and companion book, too) called “Best Camera” that aims to be the king in this market. At $2.99 you’d hope it might be the one, and it does perform quite well what with extremely good sharing options, non-destructive filters/effects and ease of use. But I don’t find myself using it all the time.
But can the best wanna-be camera take a “PerfectPhoto?” This app seems almost like a mini Photoshop on your phone and gives you quite a bit of creative control over your imaging with fairly extensive menu options (gamma, highlights, shadows, sharpen, color temp, looks, etc). Worth having in your arsenal of tools.
But what about Adobe? “Photoshop Mobile” just launched and is very fast and responsive on the iPhone and produces good quality results. I just feel it is very much a version 1.0 type of app and am waiting to see what future options might include for image editing. They’ve got the name recognition and great performance so far. More extensive tools would be make this a must-have for anybody, especially at the low price of free.
Finally (and yes, I know there are many others apps out there), my current mind-blowing favorite (and free!) app is called “Mill Colour” and was created by some professional colourists. The color controls and results in this little app are truly astounding and I recommend this as a “must-have” app if you care about color.
So what is my go-to tool? How do I use my iPhone camera? I find myself shooting shots, going to Mill Colour first to tweak overall color quality, then either Photoshop or PerfectPhoto for further adjustments and edits, and then either BestCamera or CameraBag for final effects or looks. It sounds like a lot, but since all these apps can load/save images from your library, you can do the edits as you find the time. Yes, it would be great to do it all within a single program, but that program hasn’t been written yet.
At this point, I guess I’d recommend the BestCamera app to the casual iPhone photographer since it has a pretty nice feature set and includes super useful sharing features.