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Summary:

The iPhone’s 2-megapixel camera takes some all-right photos, but honestly, there’s a lot of room for improvement. A future model with a higher-resolution camera seems like a no-brainer (rumors point to 3.2-megapixel hardware), but for now, there are some excellent applications for getting the most out […]

iphone_camera_icon

The iPhone’s 2-megapixel camera takes some all-right photos, but honestly, there’s a lot of room for improvement. A future model with a higher-resolution camera seems like a no-brainer (rumors point to 3.2-megapixel hardware), but for now, there are some excellent applications for getting the most out of the current iPhone cameras and the photos they produce.

The applications I’ve been playing with either function as capture application replacements (for the in-built Camera app), or post processing applications to make your existing photos — whether from the iPhone camera, or loaded from a computer — pop just a little more.

While most of the apps can function as Camera replacements, only some of them are designed specifically to produce better images as they are snapped. We’ll focus on these first.

Pro Camera – $2.99

I’ve basically replaced my use of Camera app with Pro Camera. It utilizes the accelerometer to help you level your shots before you take them and has an anti-shake function so it won’t capture your shot until the iPhone is still. There’s also a timer so you can take self-portraits if that’s your thing. I’ve noticed that resulting images have some temperature correction applied, and tend to come out a little cooler looking (which seems to work well, especially in lower light). And then when you like a shot, Pro Camera saves in the background while you line up the next photo.

Pro Camera

Night Camera – 99 cents

The low-light capabilities of any camera leave something to be desired, and this is especially the case with the iPhone’s hardware. Night Camera attempts to change that. In side by sides of the same night shot with Camera app and Night Camera, I definitely notice a little more detail in NC’s resulting photo. Is it better? Well, if you need to see what’s there in the dark, then yes, but the resulting noise almost undoes the extra detail you gain. Still, it does the job it sets out to do. Night Camera also employs an anti-shake sensor and allows you to review your images before saving.

Night Camera

Night Camera

iPhone Camera

iPhone Camera

Night Camera

Night Camera

PanoLab Pro – $2.99

If you want to take panoramic photographs with your iPhone, PanoLab Pro is the app for that. But if you want to take a series of images that make up an entire three-dimensional space, PanoLab can also do that. After you take each image, you can then position it in a 3D space in reference to the other images you’ve already taken. It attempts to adjust the lighting of each image to match the others, but I didn’t see extremely successful results on this point. When you’re happy with your panoramic-ish image, you can choose the size and aspect ratio you want to export. I’m not sure of the practical uses for this, but as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you, and if a panoramic shot is in order, PanoLab Pro will definitely fit the bill.

PanoLab Pro

PanoLab Pro

Quad Camera – $1.99

With Quad Camera, you preset options like delay between shots, the output photo layout (4×1, 2×2, 4×2, 8×1) and filtered output such as vivid, high contrast, lomo, and a few others. The results are a lot of fun. I do, however, wish there were a single shot mode…but then it probably wouldn’t be called Quad Camera.

Quad Camera Vivid

Quad Camera Vivid

Quad Camera Lomo

Quad Camera Lomo

The remainder of the apps focus their efforts on post processing. With controls that allow you to tweak different elements of the photos you select from your iPhone’s camera, or those loaded into the library, you can turn a so-so image into something that almost looks like it didn’t come from your iPhone!

Photogene – $2.99

As seen on TV, Photogene can crop your photos, adjust levels, colors, apply a couple of simple filters, add borders, and more. There’s certainly power in having these controls at your fingertips wherever you are, but if you want to tweak a normal photo (not born of your iPhone camera) I would suggest using something on your computer that you can see finer details with. Photogene also takes photos in-app for you, and the results, as with Pro Camera, tend to come out with a slightly cooler temperature.

iPhone Camera

iPhone Camera

Photogene

Photogene

HDR – $1.99

For those who have looked through High Dynamic Range photos (try Flickr if you haven’t) in awe, the HDR app may be something you’ve been waiting for. What HDR brings to your iPhone is essentially just a half-dozen filters that apply looks to your photos that are kinda, sorta HDR-ish. But really not, if you have seen true HDR at it’s finest. I think if you take away the expectations that HDR may create, the filters are really great. You can come up with some fun alternative versions of your photos with the HDR filters, but if you’ve got your heart set on High Dynamic Range, you may be disappointed. HDR also takes photos for you, but the resulting image isn’t initially tweaked (up or down) in any way.

Pro Camera Horizon

Pro Camera Horizon

HDR Horizon

HDR Horizon

ColorSplash – $1.99

It’s very likely you’ve heard of ColorSplash already, but in the event you have not, it’s worth a mention. Select any photo from your iPhone, and it’s immediately converted to black and white. Then you can “paint” with your finger to apply color just where you want it. The results are cool, fun, and easy to achieve. ColorSplash is the only app of the bunch that doesn’t actually take a photo for you, but rather relies on those images stored on your phone already.

Color Splash

Color Splash

Giving one or more of these apps a try can truly improve the way you use the camera on your iPhone. I doubt they’ll negate that burning desire for a sleek Canon or Nikon DSLR, but they will definitely improve the shots from the camera that you’ve got with you at all times. After all, if it’s with you, it is the best one!

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  1. Hey it is all paid! =(

  2. I don’t believe in paying.

  3. ColorSplash _does_ allow you to take a photo from inside the app.

  4. xqlusivevan Friday, May 29, 2009

    splash is awesome

  5. QuadCamera DOES have a single shot mode. It’s a separate app by the same developer called ToyCamera. It’s excellent.

  6. There are many other good photo apps that should have been included in this review in addition to these, including my own BetterPix. BetterPix allows both adjustable fill flash and focus sharpening, which helps to compensate for the main deficiencies of the iPhone camera. The main strength of BetterPix is the adjustable levels and the quality of the output images. The algorithms are designed to minimize artifacts and pixelation. Check out: http://itunes.com/app/BetterPix

    Other apps worth a look include Darkroom, which is like Night Camera and has a free version, and Brushes, which is an inexpensive app that was recently used to create a cover for the New Yorker magazine. Cropulator is also a nice $0.99 app that lets you crop and straighten iPhone photos.

  7. http://theappleblog.com/2009/05/27/seven… « Food. Denim. Gear. Sunday, June 21, 2009

    [...] 11:17 am on June 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply Tags: gear (33) http://theappleblog.com/2009/05/27/seven-apps-to-improve-the-iphones-camera-photos/ [...]

  8. links for 2009-06-29 at So It’s Come To This: Monday, June 29, 2009

    [...] Seven Apps to Improve the iPhone’s Camera & Photos (tags: photography iphone lists software) [...]

  9. No problem paying a reasonable amount but:

    1. App clutter (who wants a whole page of any one kind of APP)

    2. Cost, why can’t someone just build a single camera app for $15 that does all this crap and zooms.

    3. Many camera app developers have more than one kind of camera app, they need to combine them – unless Apple is preventing it?

    1. There are too many apps with too many features. Most of them will never be used.

      I am compiling a list of most wanted features. Any inputs?

    2. what i want to see in my all-in-one camera app:
      1. geo-tagging
      2. voice recording
      3. self-timer
      4. exposure compensation

      there would of course also be an image manipulation app (iPhotoshop, if you will…) but that’s another matter.

  10. Try jailbreaking your iphone and then use hackulo.us through cydia. Everthing is for free.

    1. Try buying your apps like everyone else. It’s not like they’re expensive. You can afford a massively expensive phone yet you bitch about a couple of $ for a better camera app? Tight-ass thief.

    2. that is not common thing. even for me, jailbreaking my iphone and try a lot cydia app, but most apps there frustrated me a lot.

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