Hi. I’ve written about your iPhone’s built-in camera and some of its options that help you take great and interesting photographs. Now, let’s talk about some low-cost and no cost apps for taking and editing your photos with your iPhone.
The stock camera that comes with iOS is really very cool and has some wonderful features; I described them in a blog post here . The latest two versions of the iPhone have an eight megapixel camera (that’s the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5) and that hardware really delivers beautiful results. For those of you, like me, who want a little more control over your photography, there are many third-party camera apps.
I have two third-party camera apps on my phone: Camera+ (iTunes on sale for 99¢) and ProCamera (iTunes $4.99). Both are excellent choices and the one that you’ll spend the most time with is based on your personal preferences. These camera apps offer a wide array of customization choices when you shoot and let you control all sorts of settings, similar to what you might find on a point-and-shoot and DSLR camera. There are also feature differences that could lead you to choose one over the other. For me, the most important function in both of these apps is the ability to separate the focus point from the exposure point in the frame I’m shooting.
Let me explain what that means: when you are looking at your iPhone and about to take a picture with it, you have the ability to tell the iPhone where to focus by tapping on the screen (of course, if you have your phone set to take the picture when tapping on the screen, it won’t focus but it will take the picture). These third-party camera apps allow you to separate the single focus point into two indicators that tell the camera where to focus and how to set the exposure. So, for example, you can move the focus point to one part of the image and move the exposure point to another part, allowing you to balance the photo based on a darker or lighter part of what your viewing. Mostly I use the camera in point-and-click mode but I find that there are plenty of times when I need to adjust focus and exposure separately.
When I want to shoot a panorama, I use the stock camera that comes with iOS. Otherwise, I’m using ProCamera.
As far as editing photographs that I take with my iPhone, I use three different programs: SnapSeed, Photoshop Express and Instagram, all free. There are many apps that are more feature-rich than these, offering things like layers, masks, curves, color management and lots of filters, for example. I have made a conscious decision that if I need more complex editing, I’m better off on my desktop using Lightroom and Photoshop.
When I want to adjust a photo on my phone, I use one of these three programs to work my photos, using the included presets and auto-adjustments as well as the controls for cropping, exposure, brightness, temperature, color etc. For both Photoshop Express and SnapSeed, it takes a little bit of time to learn how the controls work; it is definitely worth your investment because you can really make wonderful improvements to your photographs using these free tools.
Instagram is the simplest of these photo editing tools but don’t underestimate the power of its adjustment tools and many included filters. It’s actually a lot of fun to scroll through the filters to see which one makes your picture look best! With SnapSeed and Photoshop Express, you have many more sophisticated tools at your disposal and both apps have high level guidelines to show you how to adjust your photos. The best thing to do is to experiment and play around with the settings and tools.
So clean your iPhone’s camera lens and go take some photographs. You have everything you need to make them look great!