There are thousands upon thousands of photo apps on the App Store. While some of them are truly amazing, others are average at most. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know which apps are worth your time and money. To help you find the cream of the crop, here is a list of 7 apps that every iPhone photographer should use…
Snapseed is my favorite app for most simple iPhone photo editing needs. From cropping and straightening to more advanced adjustments, Snapseed has almost all the tools you need to greatly enhance your photos. And unlike in so many filter-based apps, you have complete control over every adjustment you do in Snapseed.
All Snapseed adjustments are sorted into fourteen different modules, from which I mostly use Crop, Straighten, Tune Image, Black & White, and Center Focus. While Snapseed’s editing functionality is not necessarily unique, it’s a great all-in-one solution with a simple and very convenient user interface.
While there are dozens of apps that replace the iPhone’s native Camera app, Camera+ is my favorite in terms of functionality and user interface. In Camera+ you can separate focus and exposure, lock white balance, see ISO and shutter speed, use image stabilizer, timer, horizon level and so much more. There are also some post-processing filters in Camera+, but I only use this app for taking photos.
If you’re using iOS 7 on iPhone 4 or 4S, you should switch to Camera+ even if you don’t need any extra functionality. Long story short, the viewfinder in the default iOS 7 Camera app has 3:2 aspect ratio on iPhone 4 and 4S, but the photos are saved at 4:3 aspect ratio. Thus the viewfinder is no longer accurate (and it’s partially covered with controls), making it hard to compose a good photo unless you use another camera app like Camera+.
While Apple doesn’t let us change the shutter speed of the iPhone’s camera, you can get interesting long-exposure effects on the iPhone using the Slow Shutter Cam. This app is the perfect companion for long-exposure photos of waterfalls, rivers, waves and cars, as long as you use a tripod or otherwise keep your iPhone steady.
The iPhone’s built-in HDR (High Dynamic Range) can be helpful at times, but you can get better-looking HDR photos using Pro HDR. This app will take great photos even if you only use the automatic settings as I normally do. If you want more control, you can also set the exposures manually, which will then be combined into a single well-exposed photo.
Like any HDR app, Pro HDR works best for landscape photography or scenes with bright sky, but fails for moving subjects. It’s also essential to keep your iPhone steady, though if your hands are somewhat stable you can also use Pro HDR without a tripod.
Panorama photography is another function that Apple has included in iOS, and that other developers have improved upon. While there are many panorama apps on the App Store, AutoStitch offers better stitching algorithms and more control over export settings than any other panorama app that I have tried.
AutoStitch lets you shoot panoramas inside the app where you can extend the image both horizontally and vertically, or you can import partially overlapping photos shot in any other photo app. It means that you could take photos in ProHDR and then stitch them in AutoStitch to create a beautiful HDR panorama.
While the name suggests that this is yet another camera app, it is actually a lot more than that. VSCO is a camera replacement, a great editing app, and a photography community, all packaged in sleek minimalist design. However, VSCO really stands out in editing, which is the only feature of the app that I use regularly.
VSCO has some great editing presets that unlike most one-tap solutions aren’t overdone. In addition to basic adjustments such as saturation and contrast, VSCO also offers more advanced functionality such as adding tint to highlights and shadows separately.
Of all the apps listed here, Filterstorm is by far the most advanced. It means that some of you will love Filterstorm, but others will hate it. If professional editing tools such as curves, levels, layers and masks are familiar to you, then this is the app that you should use. But if you don’t have desktop editing experience, Filterstorm can be really hard to figure out.
Of course, there are many good photo apps that are not included in this list. Please leave a comment if you think that another app deserves to be here.
Emil Pakarklis is the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website that helps people take better photos with the iPhone.