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The best camera apps for the iPhone

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By Gannon Burgett


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There’s an old adage amongst photographers: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The point being that when the perfect scene pops up, any camera is better than no camera at all. And since most of us carry our phones with us everywhere, the best camera we have is more often than not an iPhone. Thankfully, the cameras on the new iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max — and nearly every recent model, for that matter — are nearly as powerful as today’s best point-and-shoots, especially when paired with the massive selection of sophisticated apps available in the App Store.

Whether you’re looking for a new way to shoot, edit, or organize your photos, these camera apps are here to help. Turning a boring shot of your feline companion into a masterpiece has never been easy.

Camera+ ($3)

best camera apps for the iPhone

Even with the latest iOS update, Apple’s native camera app is rather anemic when it comes to features. Thankfully, Camera+ provides a wider range of exposure controls and advanced tools such as continuous flash, frontal flash, touch-focus adjustment, 6x digital zoom, a timer, and preset filters. The well-organized interface also makes it a breeze to utilize, whether snapping or sharing shots on social media.

Download now from:

iTunes

ProCamera ($6)

Best camera apps for the iPhone

When iOS 8 launched, rather than updating the existing ProCamera app, developer Cocologics decided to go ahead and make an entirely new app. The new app — now optimized for iOS 12 — still sports a minimalist interface, with a host sophisticated features for setting exposure time, tint, ISO sensitivity, and more. It even features a night camera and full-resolution previews in addition to robust exposure control and more than 70 unique filters and effects.

Download now from:

iTunes

Obscura 2 ($5)

best camera apps for the iphone obscura 2

Developed by Ben McCarthy, Obscura 2 manages to condense all of the most intricate photo features iOS has to offer into a single, minimal package. It supports a specialized RAW capture mode, as well as HEIC, JPEG, Live Photo, and Depth capture modes. It also offers a grid overlay, flash control, and every manual control imaginable.

Download now from:

iTunes

Darkroom

The name might be a bit misleading considering the lack of any analog aesthetics, but Darkroom takes a literal approach with a blacked-out interface designed to let your photos shine. The experience is similar to that of Lightroom, in that you can control everything from hue, saturation, and luminosity (HSL) sliders to curves, but also has a touch of other apps such as VSCO with its integrated filter collections. With a 4.8 rating out of 5 in the iOS App Store, it’s a no-brainer — especially considering it’s free.

Download now from:

iTunes

Halide ($6)

Halide is the perfect camera app for beginners who want to start with automatic and slowly work their way up to manual mode. An automatic mode makes it easy to capture great photos on the fly, but tools like focus peaking, RAW capture, and more give ultimate creative control in an easy to navigate app. Halide even includes portrait effects, such as those touted alongside the latest iPhones.

Download now from:

iTunes

ProCam 5 ($6)

With unparalleled control and DSLR-like functionality, ProCam 5 lives up to its name. The app sports seven different shooting modes, including a time-lapse setting and one that slows the shutter speed, giving you the power to choose what’s best for your particular environment. Subject track focus also lets you capture crystal-clear photos, even if your subject is moving, while the embedded audio meter ensures audio levels are kept to a minimum when shooting video. The laundry list of features, and the quality of said features, make ProCam 5 worth the small fee.

Download now from:

iTunes

Adobe Photoshop Express

best camera apps for the iPhone

When it comes to photo editing software, nobody does it better than Adobe. Though the mobile version of their renowned desktop software offers a smaller work space than most apps, it’s still one of the most capable after-effects programs you can buy. Popular Photoshop features such as layers, selection tools, and adjustments all make an appearance, as do options for adding text, applying effects, and blending images. Unfortunately, many features are locked behind in-app purchases, so be ready to spend some dough if Express is your photo editor of choice.

Download it now from:

iTunes

Adobe Lightroom CC

best camera apps for the iPhone

Although many of Lightroom’s tools require a newer model of iPhone to run, it remains one of the most feature-rich apps on our list, particular for photographers who want to edit their workflow while on the move. The app automatically syncs images with its desktop counterpart — whether you’re using images shot on your smartphone or raw images from a DSLR — allowing you to quickly edit, enhance, and share your photos using a variety of familiar tools. Since iOS 10, Lightroom also supports RAW image capture and editing.

Download it now from:

iTunes

Instagram

best camera apps for the iPhone

What would our photography app roundup be without any mention of the undisputed king of photo filters? There are dozens of apps out there that essentially allow you to do the same thing, but Instagram remains the best given the enormous user community. It still supplies a bevy of classic filters from which to choose, along with the ability to comment, like, share, and send photos directly to friends of your own choosing.

Download it now from:

iTunes

Pixlr

best camera apps for the iPhone

The web-based Pixlr has long been one of our favorite image editors, and thankfully, so is the mobile incarnation of the software. The app lets you choose from four pre-defined dimensions when resizing photos, with additional options for cropping, rotating, stylizing, and sharing photos on standby. Lighting and overlay effects even let you adjust the mood, while one-click adjustments allow for quick and automatic control.

Download it now from:

iTunes

Facetune 2

best camera apps for the iPhone

Not everyone is as photogenic as this guy, and sometimes the images you snap of yourself and your friends aren’t as flattering as you’d like them to be. With Facetune 2, you’re able to turn any “meh” selfie into a Tinder-worthy profile pic. The app allows you to perform specific touch-ups like teeth whitening, blemish removal, and color correction so that your mug looks perfect when you post the pics to your social media profiles. Hell, you can even change your eye color or color over grey hairs.

Download now from:

iTunes

Photo Editor by Aviary

best camera apps for the iPhone

If you’re looking for a solid after-effects app that doesn’t cost anything up front, check out Photo Editor by Aviary. Now an Adobe product, it’s got plenty of advanced features and a sleek, minimalist interface from which you can stylize and edit your photos using a wealth of purchasable filters and content. Like Facetune, Aviary includes tools for eliminating redeye and whitening teeth, along with options for adding text, replacing color, and sharing. Photo Editor by Aviary was recently updated after more then a year had past since it’s last one, the update includes minor bug fixes and improvements, but still keeps all of its features.

Download it now from:

iTunes

Horizon Camera

Best camera apps for the iPhone

We know you would never, ever record vertical video on your iPhone. But for your friends that might do it by accident, Horizon Camera offers a viable solution. Horizon simply forces your phone to record in landscape mode, keeping the feed horizontal even while rotating the phone itself. The app includes slow-mo support at 60 and 120 fps, and supports various video resolutions.

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iTunes

Lifecake

best camera apps for the iPhone

Lifecake is the app that’s bringing Grandma’s scrapbooks into the 21st century. The app, owned by Canon, is built to chronicle childhood, one picture at a time. The user can view ‘stages’ of their child’s life by selecting and comparing different dates, and decide who can view the albums. The app also allows you to annotate photos or albums.

Download it now from:

iTunes

PixelWakker ($3)

best camera apps for the iPhone

With PixelWakker, creator Joseph Wrigley brings pointillism into the digital world. The app breaks photographs down into pixels, then turns those pixels into art. Even with just four filters to choose from — like pixel image, dots, lines, and color rain — you can have a ton of fun. Moreover, the app is compatible with Instagram and allows you to directly post photos to your live feed.

Download now from:

iTunes

Sktchy

best camera apps for the iPhone

For anyone who loves to draw (or simply loves art), Sktchy is a unique app that allows users to post pictures of themselves for artists to draw or paint. Sktchy is great for following your favorite artists, getting feedback on your own art, and comparing different artistic depictions of the same subject. Touted by creator Jordan Melnick as “the perfect place for artists to find inspiration,” Sktchy’s community grows every day.

Download it now from:

iTunes

VSCO

best camera apps for the iPhone

Free of frivolous distractions and interface clutter, VSCO Cam is a stills-only app that specifically built with composition and editing in mind. The app allows you to set the focus and exposure independently, as well as make subtle adjustments to temperature, contrast, brightness, saturation, and more using a variety of tools. You can even adjust the strength presets, or peruse a curated gallery of impressive photos from the creators.

Download it now from:

iTunes

Prisma

Best camera apps for the iPhone

Turning an average photo into a piece of art usually isn’t an easy task, but thanks to some help from artificial intelligence and neural networks, Prisma makes it as simple as a few taps. Using the various styles of artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, and more, Prisma recreates your photos and videos as painteresque images.

Download now from:

iTunes

Filmborn ($3)

Best camera apps for the iPhone

As the name implies, Filmborn was born out of its creator’s passion for film photography. The app features a powerful camera that’s capable of shooting RAW photos with compatible devices. Once an image is captured, Filmborn offers nine incredibly accurate film simulation presets, each of which is inspired by a film stock from Fujifilm, Ilford, or Kodak.

Download now from:

iTunes

RNI Films

best camera apps for the iPhone

Much like VSCO and Filmborn, RNI Films — short for Real Nice Images — is inspired by the analogue aesthetic. Similar to VSCO, RNI Films gives you a few collections of film simulations to edit your image with. Each of the presets is named the same as the film stock it’s looking to replicate. The app’s interface is clean and easy to navigate, and the presets are some of the more impressive ones you’ll come across in any app. If you want more presets than those that come with RNI films, you can also purchase one of five themed collections as an in-app purchase for $4.

Download now from:

iTunes

Polarr

best camera apps for the iPhone

From beginning to end, Polarr is a photo-editing suite that’s capable of doing almost anything you can imagine to an image. From basic exposure and curves adjustments to photo filters and detailed face-editing tools, Polarr is a well-rounded app that gets the job done. The full version of the app will set you back $20 via in-app purchases, but the free version still has a lot to offer.

Download now from:

iTunes


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