Best Camera Apps For iPhone: 14 Of The Best Camera Apps Compared

Are you still using your iPhone’s native camera app? If so, you could be missing out. In this article we’ll compare fourteen of the best camera apps for iPhone for you. Each offers something more than the native camera app, improved features or a more intuitive interface.

It’s slightly counter-intuitive – but the best camera app isn’t necessarily the native camera app that comes as standard with your smartphone. This is because photographers aren’t all the same, and don’t all need exactly the same set of camera features. The smartphone manufacturer has to create a single camera app with broad appeal, which is not too difficult to get to grips with. But once you get past taking snaps, you start to see the limitations of native camera apps, and yearn for more features and more control.

Native Camera App

Before we look at the alternatives, let’s start out by looking at what the native iPhone camera app has to offer. It’s fair to say that the native camera app is pretty amazing – it has perhaps the most intuitive user interface, several advanced innovative features (Time-lapse, Slow Motion, Pano, Live photos, Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting), and has been developed by a team with full knowledge about the iPhone’s inner workings – meaning the camera app should be nothing short of brilliant. And it is brilliant. For most photographers, in most situations, it does everything very well indeed. However, in order to cater for everyone while still keeping the app simple to use, it has to make assumptions, and reduce the amount of customization available to the photographer.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 1

Features:

  • Portrait mode & portrait lighting
  • Time lapse, slow motion and pano modes
  • Live Photos
  • A limited range of filters
  • HDR
  • Shutter delay timer

Best for:

  • Photographers undertaking general photography who don’t need advanced control or customization of features, and who want a simple, intuitive interface.

ProCamera

This iPhone-only app has a clean, intuitive user interface and some neat features which firmly push it towards the Pro end of the spectrum. Most notable, for depth-capable dual-lens iPhones, is the ability to adjust the depth-of-field after taking the shot. The 3D Tiltmeter gives you precise information about how level your smartphone camera is. Anti-shake and low light capability make the most of your photography opportunities.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 2

The ProPhoto app running on your iPhone can be controlled from your Apple Watch, as shown below.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 3

Features:

  • Dual Lens Support
  • Depth editing
  • RAW capture
  • Remote trigger for Apple Watch
  • Anti-shake
  • Low Light mode (optional in-app purchase)
  • VividHDR (optional in-app purchase)
  • 3D Tiltmeter
  • Front flash for selfies
  • EXIF/Metadata Viewer & photo compass

Best for:

  • Photographers with a depth-capable iPhone who want to work with RAW images and who also enjoy videography, and aren’t put off by in-app purchases.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.procamera-app.com


Camera+ 2

Another iOS-only camera app with pro credentials, Camera+ offers manual shooting for ultimate control, RAW capture & editing, portrait mode and depth capture & depth editing to allow setting the depth-of-field afterwards (compatible dual-lens iPhones only). All this in addition to class-leading photo editing tools, making it the only camera and editing app you’ll ever need.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 4

Features:

  • Manual shooting
  • RAW capture & editing
  • Portrait Mode + depth capture & editing
  • Different shooting modes, including Stablizer, Macro & Slow Shutter modes
  • Powerful photo editing features

Best for:

  • Photographers of all abilities wanting top-notch capture and editing features all in a single app.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.camera.plus


Moment App

Best known for their top-quality iPhone lenses and other accessories, Moment have produced an excellent iPhone camera app too. Now its third version, the Moment’s Pro Camera app gives you full manual control, RAW shooting and a live histogram.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 5

Features:

  • Full manual control
  • RAW shooting
  • Live histogram.
  • Manual control over which of
  • Use your Apple Watch as a remote control

Best for:

  • Photographers of all abilities who place a high priority on aesthetic user interfaces and who need professional camera features.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play

Website: www.shopmoment.com


Blackie

The iPhone-only Blackie camera app is fairly unique in that it forces you to take black-and-white photos. This might sound strange, but this drastic ‘limitation’ is actually its biggest strength. As you compose your shot, you see the scene in black-and-white only, which allows you to concentrate on the light and shade, and indeed the composition.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 6

Features:

  • Only shoots in black-and-white
  • Minimalist design
  • Manual camera control
  • A range of different grids or perfect compositional alignment
  • JPEGs stored with no compression, for maximum quality
  • Lossless TIFF format available
  • 8 custom preset slots

Best for:

  • Black and white iPhone photographers

Download on the App Store

Website: www.brutalityarts.com


VSCO

With perhaps the most minimal user interface of all, the VSCO camera app may not be to everyone’s taste, however its fans are among the most passionate, as testified by the number of people who’ve subscribed to the VSCO Community – an Instagram-like social network. It’s not the most feature packed camera app, but it works well – and a nice feature is being able to select different regions of the scene to control exposure and focus. It features excellent presets for enhancing your images later, but most of these are only accessible via subscription to the VSCO X “Membership Experience.”

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 7

Features:

  • Minimal user interface
  • RAW shooting
  • Manual controls
  • Separate exposure and focus points

Best for:

  • Photographers who don’t like fussy, overcomplicated user interfaces, and who don’t need all the whistles-and-bells of a fully-featured camera app.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play

Website: www.vsco.co


Hipstamatic

The original filter app, Hipstamatic, is still with us after all these years. It goes from strength to strength, and remains popular to this day, perhaps because of its novel approach to photography – with a choice of Classic and Pro camera interfaces, its analog-esque filters and excellent editing features. We love how you can select different lens, film and flash simulations, to get a wide variety of results.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 7

Features:

  • Choice of Lens, Films and Flash simulations
  • Manual controls available
  • Choice of Classic and Pro user interfaces
  • Multiple Exposure mode
  • Depth of field control

Best for:

  • Photographers looking for that analog feel, or who hanker for the days of film cameras.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.hipstamatic.com


Filmborn

With a distinctive minimalist user interface, the Filmborn camera app is all about the film simulations. However, this doesn’t stop the app being a very capable camera. It features all the usual tools you’d expect, from manual focus to exposure control. Aside from its great film simulations, a killer feature is the Custom Camera Kits, which lets you build your own camera interface to suit your photography.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 8

Features:

  • Preview subject with chosen film preset before taking the photo
  • True-to-film presets
  • Custom camera kits – create and save pre-configured camera kits for different types of photography, e.g. portrait or street photography
  • Highlight clipping alerts
  • Batch Editing
  • Excellent in-app help

Best for:

  • Style-conscious photographers who care about analog film treatments or who want to customize the camera app to suit their needs.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.filmborn.com


Provoke Camera

The rather primitive Provoke Camera app is all about analog nostalgia – with film simulations and a classic interface which harks back film cameras of yesteryear. You can even switch between 126 and 35mm film formats! The film names will mean nothing to the uninitiated, but everything to those in the know. It has a large exposure adjustment slider and a distinctive, large red shutter button. Some have complained about glitches and the app crashing, but it works fine on my iPhone X. You can also import photos taken previously (regardless of which camera app you used) and apply the film simulations to them.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 9

Features:

  • Several classic film simulations – 9 black-and-white & 4 color
  • 126 [1:1] and 35mm [3:2] film formats
  • Separate control of exposure and focus points
  • Quirky yet pleasing user interface

Best for:

  • The discerning film photographer who’s happy with a primative, minimal camera interface.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.tambo.jp


Focus [+]

Another slightly quirky camera app is Focus [+]. Its user interface is very innovative, and puts the shutter button slider so that you can control the currently selected feature – zoom (in auto mode), or, in manual mode, exposure or focus, without removing your finger. However, you still have to remove your finger in order to tap the shutter button, so its merits are somewhat muted! In its defence, while you are sliding the shutter button the viewfinder zooms in, allowing you to see the effect of your change to the slider position. This is useful both for manual focus and for checking whether the brightest area of the scene is being properly exposed. You simply move your smartphone camera to ensure the area of interest is in the frame.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 10

Features:

  • Innovative if quirky user interface
  • Auto and Manual modes
  • Stills and Video modes
  • Auto-zoom preview when adjusting focus or exposure manually

Best for:

  • Photographers wanting something a little different but who don’t need all the bells and whistle offered by other more popular camera apps, such as filters, effects or other editing tools.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.yueheapp.com


Obscura 2

With one of the most intuitive and aesthetic interfaces, the Obscura 2 camera app is a joy to use and does everything well. The app layout has been carefully thought out and puts the right controls at your fingertips at the right time, depending on what you’re doing. It’s a fully-featured camera app with the addition of an attractive set of filters. No gimmicks, it’s just a well-designed app which is a pleasure to use.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 11

Features:

  • RAW image capture
  • Depth capture
  • Focus peaking to ensure sharpness
  • Minimal editing but a great set of filters
  • Siri-compatible – tell Siri to take a photo using Obscure 2
  • Highly customizable

Best for:

  • Photographers wanting an excellent camera app, but who perhaps use other apps for editing.

Download on the App Store

Website: obscura.camera


Halide

Another great camera app is Halide which has a really professional feel, and produces professional-looking results. Its killer feature is probably its custom blur which gives a unique bokeh to your portrait images. And considering how many controls they’ve crammed into the user interface, Halide’s developers have done a great job of putting a lot of features within easy reach without compromising either the design or usability. Indeed, it’s very easy to use this app with just one hand.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 12

Features:

  • Depth-aware / Portrait mode
  • Focus peaking and manual focus
  • Full manual controls
  • Live histogram

Best for:

  • Photographers who want all the controls at their fingertips.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.halide.cam


Tadaa

While the interface isn’t as slick as many of the other camera apps listed here, Tadaa does actually work quite well. This is mainly down to how uncluttered the app is, with just the minimal controls on display. Its default filters are a little on the strong side, but you do have the option to tweak the filter strength, as well as creating masks to control which regions of an image the filter affects. Many more filters and several additional editing tools are available as in-app purchases, but it comes with everything you need.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 13

Features:

  • Simple but clunky interface
  • Grid lines, aspect ratio, flash and burst mode
  • Manual focus available
  • Good editing tools
  • A limited range of filters with others available as in-app purchases
  • Advanced mask tool allowing selective application of filters

Best for:

  • Photographers who prefer an uncluttered user interface.

Download on the App Store


Slow Shutter Cam

Strictly speaking, Slow Shutter Cam isn’t a general purpose camera app, but we’ve included it in our list because it does long exposures so well. Extremely popular, highly configurable yet simple to use, it’s an essential app for slow-shutter speed or long exposure work. It works by letting you tell it how many sequential photos you want to take, and how long to wait inbetween shots. The resulting shots are automatically merged into a single photo, yielding amazing light trails, motion blur, light painting, or the ever-popular waterfall photo.

Best Camera Apps For iPhone 14

Features:

  • Slow-shutter speed control / long exposures
  • Excellent user-interface
  • Highly configurable
  • Separate focus and exposure controls
  • Different mods for motion blur, light trails or low-light

Best for:

  • Slow-shutter speed work or long exposures, where you want to capture motion blur intentionally.

Download on the App Store

Website: www.cogitap.com/slowshutter/

Final Thoughts…

We’ve introduced you to many non-native camera apps – ranging from general purpose camera apps to more specialized ones – such as Blackie with its black-and-white-only approach, and Slow Shutter Cam with its long exposure capability. Each of these apps offer something unique or different to the native app, and while some of them might not be a perfect match for you, it’s likely that at least one will be more suitable for your photography than the native app. Hopefully this article has helped you choose which ones to try out.

30 Best Photo Editing Apps For Your Smartphone For 2018

Are you using the right photo editing app for your mobile photography? With so many to choose from it’s no wonder we struggle to find the right one. In this article we’ll show you best 30 photo editing apps for iOS and Android devices and help you identify the best ones for you.

First, let’s see how far we’ve come. The very first smartphones with cameras had the most basic, primitive editing features – and the photo quality was so poor you probably wouldn’t even bother trying to edit your smartphones on your laptop or desktop. As the cameras improved and images quality increased it made sense to transfer images off the smartphone and onto a computer running photo editing software. Today’s smartphones typically have larger screens, intuitive touch-screen interfaces and natural gesture-driven actions, faster processors and, therefore, better photo editing features and the ability to run advanced photo editing apps.

The more powerful and capable our smartphones and their inbuilt cameras become, the more scope photo editing app developers have to design and develop incredible photo editing apps to help you achieve the results you want.

Let’s look at the very best photo editing apps available today. I’ve grouped them by what the app is primarily used for.

Table of Content

General-purpose photo editing apps

Apps which are considered to be ‘all-rounders’, capable at all the common photo editing tasks and perhaps offering something unique too.

Snapseed

Stylish photo editor with well-organised features and an intuitive user interface including swipe gesture control. Now owned by Google. This really is one of the best known and most loved photo editing apps out there – not least because it’s available for both iOS and Android devices. One of its killer features is the way adjustments are ‘stacked’ so they can be revisited and adjusted later on. You’ll love the user interface and the well organised features.


Features:

  • Automatic adjustments as well as offering a high degree of manual adjustments
  • A range of good quality effects and filters including HDR, vignette and B&W
  • Ability to create and save filter combinations
  • Selective adjustments
  • Frames and text
  • iOS & Android versions available
  • Easy sharing of images on social networking platforms
  • Non-destructive editing using ‘stacks’

Best for:

  • All mobile photographers but especially professionals requiring fine control over their photos and appreciate a well-designed user interface.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play


Afterlight

Photo editing app offering stylish filters, textures and frames as well as conventional photo editing features. Afterlight is an extremely popular app with a vast range of tasteful, stylish filters, textures and frames. You can expect polished, professional results and an excellent user interface. Definitely a professional tool which can be used for creating credible results.

Afterlight app
Features:

  • 74 unique filters
  • 78 natural textures – real 35mm film light leaks
  • 128 frames
  • 15 image adjustment tools
  • Cropping & Transformation tools

Best for:

  • Photographers wanting an easy way to create ‘grown-up’ professinal photographic results quickly and with the minimum fuss.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play
Website: www.afterlight.us


Enlight

Powerful and well-featured photo editing app with an extensive collection of basic and advanced editing tools. This is one of the better all-rounders on offer with the ability to make simple or advanced adjustments to your photos in an intuitive way. Some of the filters and effects are a bit over-the-top but all can be used subtly to suit your taste.

Enlight Photo Editing App
Features:

  • Extensive range of editing features
  • Basic through to advanced exposure and colour settings
  • Advanced creative options
  • Best-in-class built-in Help feature
  • Excellent mask features to enable selective application of adjustments
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Photographers of all ability levels (due to the excellent Help features) but especially those who like more creative, surreal or fantasy results.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.enlightapp.com


Adobe Photoshop Express

A scaled-down, streamlined version of the extremely popular and professional desktop version of Adobe’s Photoshop. Adobe’s desktop version of Photoshop is probably the most popular choice for professionals when it comes to photo editing – so it’s no surprise that their mobile version, Photoshop Express, is so impressive. Apart from sharing its genes with its bigger brother, this app’s killer feature is its ability to fix common photo problems fast – whilst also providing fine manual control of image adjustments for the more obsessive Photoshop user.

Photoshop Express Editing App
Features:

  • Fast, intuitive photo touch-up features including red-eye & pet-eye removal, straighten and crop
  • Conventional manual control of hue, brightness, white balance etc.
  • Borders, frames and collages
  • Free but additional filter/effect/features available to purchase as packs
  • Available for iOS, Android and Windows

Best for:

  • Anyone already used to the excellent desktop version of Photoshop – or those seeking to upgrade to something more professional.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play
Website: www.photoshop.com/products/photoshopexpress


PhotoToaster

Phototoaster is an excellent all-rounder with a huge range of effects, filters and features. Quite apart from this massive range of effects and extensive, advanced editing features this app’s “editing brushes” really make selective editing of your photos a breeze and the results speak for themselves. I’m not crazy about the user interface but it works well enough and it has an enormous fan-base of enthusiastic users.

Phototoaster editing app

Features:

  • Countless one-click effects, filters, texture overlays and borders
  • Brush-on exposure adjustments
  • Conventional photo editing tools
  • Multiple undo
  • Separate colour channel processing
  • EXIF support

Best for:

  • All photographers from beginners to advanced.

Download on the App Store


Adobe Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile attempts to get all the core features of the desktop version of Lightroom onto a mobile device. The workflow will feel familiar to desktop users but obviously the interface is geared more towards mobile devices.

Lightroom Mobile Editing App

Features:

  • Adjustable tone curves
  • Vignetting and Split toning
  • Colour and B&W adjustments
  • Dozens of presets
  • Exposure, Contrast, Vibrance, Saturation and White balance tools
  • Available for iOS and Android (requires Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to

Best for:

  • Anyone wanting access to the core features of the desktop version but on a mobile device.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play


Big Lens

Innovative general purpose camera and photo editing app which majors in shallow depth-of-field effects. A popular app which seems to have a happier customer base in its Android guise. It attempts to provides the very desirable shallow depth-of-field effect we take for granted in digital SLR cameras. It does this fairly well and also offers various tools and effects for enhancing your photographs in other ways.

Big Lens Photo Editing App

Features:

  • 18 filter effects
  • Instant focus / blur tool
  • Highlight glare with custom shapes
  • Before/After preview
  • Edge blur adjustment for a more natural effect
  • iOS and Android versions available

Best for:

  • Photographers yearning for shallow depth-of-field effects but who can’t yet afford the iPhone 7 Plus!

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play


VSCO

VSCO is a classy, understated photo editing app with an analog film bias. Pronounced ‘visco’ this popular app is minimal in design with an unfussy user interface and a rather ‘grown-up’ range of quality filters which can be easily adjusted. The filters are subtle and mimic classic and modern analog films – something that will appeal to those from a film background.

VSCO App
Features:

  • iOS and Android versions available
  • Class-leading sharpening features
  • Film emulation plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom
  • FREE with additional preset bundles available for purchase.

Best for:

  • The discerning photographer, especially those familiar with film photography and the wide range of once-popular films and their characteristics.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play
Website: vsco.co


Handy Photo

Handy Photo is a fully-featured photo editing app with a few tricks up its sleeve. The user interface won’t be to everyone’s taste and it’s certainly not as classy as some of the more established apps featured in this article – but what it lacks in design it more than makes up in terms of features and results. The developers have to be applauded for including some rare features such as the ‘tiny planet’ effect which effectively wraps your photo around a sphere, creating a fish-eye effect which results in your scene looking like a planet! The uncropping feature is equally innovative and allows you to crop your photos in a way which means you don’t have to sacrifice image size or quality. It has to be seen to be believed.

Handyphoto editing app
Features:

  • Very simple retouching tools for removing unwanted elements from your photos – with just a single tap
  • Wide range of adjustable effects and filters including glow and fog
  • Amazing ‘tiny planet’ effect rarely found in other apps
  • Ability to move an object from one photo to another
  • Unique ‘uncropping’ feature
  • Selective application of effects and filters
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Creative photographers looking for unique creative opportunities in addition to the staple photo editing toolbox.

Download on the App Store


Stackables

Stackables is a powerful app specialising in adding gradients and textures to your photos. Stackables offers advanced, comprehensive layering and blending of effects but also offers the usual general purpose image adjustment tools such as white balance, exposure, vignette, sepia, grain, blur, tilt and shift etc. The results are very professional and tasteful.

Stackables app
Features:

  • Offers full TIFF support
  • Over 200 effects
  • Textures, light-leaks, vintage gradients and film filters
  • Geometric patterns
  • Over 20 image adjustment tools
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Photographers looking for more professional and tasteful effects than some more of the more gimmicky offerings out there.

Download on the App Store


Pixelmator

Pixelmator is a fully-featured all-rounder with Photoshop-challenging capabilities. This is one of those apps that’s trying to do everything. I’m happy to say it succeeds and is a viable challenger to Photoshop Express and Snapseed’s crown. Unlike the button maelstrom some apps subject us to Pixelmator manages to just show us the controls we need to see for the adjustments we’re wanting to make. I would seriously recommend trying this app out.

Pixelmator App
Features:

  • Full range of photo editing tools including distortion correction
  • Enormous range of templates and presets to improve workflow
  • Import/Export PSD, JPG, PNG and many other formats
  • Extensive graphic design features including text, shapes
  • Apple Pencil compatibility with palm-rejection
  • Store and access images on iCloud Drive
  • iOS only (Mac version available too)

Best for:

  • All photographers – due to the simple user interface which will appeal to beginners but advanced users will appreciate the sheer range of tools and degree of control.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.pixelmator.com


Filmborn

Filmborn is a classic stock film effects and a host of other features. It is a very stylish photo editing app with a oh-so-cool user interface. It majors in realistic stock film effects and is a great way to explore how your photos might look shot on classic film stock. The results are fantastic and could very possibly help you find your ‘style’ and lift your photography to a new level.

Filmborn App
Features:

  • True-to-film presets based on actual film scans
  • Curves control for shadows, midtones and highlights
  • Real scanning tones to help with tricky lighting situations
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Photographers who love classic film effects and are looking for subtle, effective results.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.filmborn.com


RNI Films

RNI Films provides real film simulations for mobile photographers. RNI stands for “Really Nice Images” and it doesn’t disappoint on this front. Its simple user interface is a joy to use and the filters and effects are created from scans of real analog film – so the results can’t be matched by the simulations created digitally by some other apps. It’s worth checking out RNI’s other photo editing apps – such as Colibri and Flashback – both of which offer impressive yet subtle colour treatment of your photos.

RNI Film App
Features:

  • Not a camera app but a film app
  • Filters created using real film emulsions
  • Grain effects scanned from real film, not digitally applied ‘noise’
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • The discerning photographer who wants an authentic analog film feel to their images.

Download on the App Store


Ultralight

Ultralight has a gorgeous user interface and offers intuitive access to excellent editing tools. Rather than overloading the app with features this app confidently offers just the most important ones in a very stylish, accessible way. The user interface is second to none and is a pleasure to use – and this is probably its greatest strength but the results are class-leading too.

Ultralight App
Features:

  • 7 simple, playful editing tools
  • 6 different customisable filter packs
  • Create and save your own filters
  • Conventional editing tools
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Photographers who like their photo editing apps to look as stylish as the photos they’re trying to create. Easy and intuitive for beginners yet capable enough to be appreciated by professional mobile photographers.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.ultralightapp.com


Leonardo

Leonardo is a complete photo editing app for iOS devices and a great all-rounder, doing most common editing features pretty well and arguably in a more simple way than the heavy-hitters in this arena, such as Lightroom Mobile or Snapseed. The user interface is a bit button-heavy but only the most fussy users will find that to be a problem. In terms of results the app lets you go as crazy as you like so some restraint might be in order if you want tasteful results. Perhaps avoid if you’re already used to the slick user-interfaces of the more established, professional apps.

Leonardo App
Features:

  • Multiple images can be blended using layers
  • Advanced selection tools including magic wand, lasso, brushes etc.
  • Masking
  • Many realtime filters
  • Image adjustment features such as crop, straighten, clone, text etc.
  • Offers PSD output to enable import into Photoshop
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Photographers wanting common photo editing features who might find some of the more professional photo editing tools intimidating or daunting.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.leonardoapp.com


Filterstorm Neue

Filterstorm Neue has a quirky user interface but offers advanced editing features usually found on desktop photo editing software such as Lightroom and Photoshop. Aimed squarely at photographers already familiar with the advanced features more often found on desktop photo editing software packages this app really packs a punch. Its user interface feels a bit Windows 8 but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Filterstorm Neue Photo App
Features:

  • Advanced control of exposure, colour and contrast using ‘curves’
  • Advanced selective adjustments using masks, brushes, eraser etc.
  • Linear and circular gradients
  • Temperature control with white-point picker
  • Text & watermarking features
  • Can open RAW images and has advanced export options
  • iOS only – https://itunes.apple.com/app/filterstorm-neue/id728479183?ls=1&mt=8

Best for:

  • Advanced photographers wanting desktop photo editing features on their phone.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.filterstormneue.com


Lens Distortions

Lens Distortions enables you to enhance your photos using lighting effects and textures. What sets this apart from the competition is the fact the filters and overlays are all created from photographs – e.g. sun flare effects are created from actual images of sunlight flaring; the haze effects are actual photographs of fog/mist etc. Only a basic range of filters and overlays are offered with the free app but more can be purchased.

Len Distortion App
Features:

  • Apply realistic light effects to your photos
  • Apply atmospheric overlays
  • Adjust overlay opacity, brightness etc.
  • Layer multiple images
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Photographers looking for more photo-realistic effects.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.lensdistortions.com


Darkroom

This powerful app really packs a punch, and with frequent feature updates and bug fixes, it’s clear that Darkroom’s developers are serious about providing a reliable, quality photo editing tool. One of the most exciting features for recent iPhone camera owners is the ability to control the amount of depth-of-field, and therefore blur, created from the depth information captured in Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus and X. The depth range selector feature has two controls, allowing independent control of where the foreground and background begin to blur.

best photo editing app - darkroom

Features:

  • Depth editing of photos taken on supported iPhone cameras
  • Library Sync feature automatically imports your photos
  • RAW and Large image support
  • A full range of cameras formats supported, up to 120MP and support for large JPEGs
  • 10 bundled filters, and 20 premium filters, some of which are depth-awares
  • Batch Processing – Edit, manage, and export multiple photos at once
  • Excellent curves and color tools – a blend of functionality, simplicity, and power
  • Crop at full zoom, get the perfect perspective, flip, rotate, add borders, or use one of many common aspect ratios
  • Brightness, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Saturation, Vibrance, Fade, Vignette, Sharpness, and Split Tones
  • Export uncompressed TIFF and PNG files, or save space with 100%, 95% or 80% compressed JPEGs
  • Edit, view, and export your full Live Photos with their sound and their videos
  • Quickly scroll through your entire library to jump to a different photo or to compare version of the same composition

Best for:

More advanced photographers wanting to work with larger files, RAW images and iOS Portrait images captured by the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus or X.

Download on the App Store


Image Repair Apps

These are apps whose main aim is to fix problems with your photos.

Touch Retouch

Touch Retouch enables you to remove unwanted objects and blemishes from your photos. This is a great little app which really focuses on photo fixing or repair – allowing you a useful set of tools to remove or fix various unwanted aspects of your photographs. The user interface is intuitive and unobtrusive and while some of the more fiddly edits can take a bit of practice it really is worth spending the time learning to use it.

TouchRetouch Photo Editing App
Features:

  • Selection of areas to fix using lasso or brush
  • Automatic replacement of selected area
  • Great at removing dust spots, wires or other objects
  • Create better compositions by removing unwanted people or objects
  • Portrait enhancing feature removes skin blemishes and wrinkles
  • Ability to clone/duplicate objects in your photos
  • Available for both iOS, Android and Windows platforms

Best for:

  • Photographers who often need to fix or repair photos that have unwanted content (that perhaps couldn’t easily be avoided at the time of shooting/composing).

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play


SKRWT

SKRWT enables you to correct perspective and lens distortion in your photos. This really useful app addresses a common problem with nearly all smartphone photography – the fact the inbuilt lens is wide-angle, which causes image distortion. Most of the time this isn’t a huge problem, but for some kinds of photography, particularly architectural photography where the straight edges of a building are to be preserved, it’s not ideal. In these situations an app like SKRWT can help greatly by straightening converging lines. Other general purpose photo editing apps off this facility too but this app leads the pack.

SKWRT App
Features:

  • Correct horizontal and vertical perspective distortion
  • Crop, straighten and rotate your photos
  • Fixes distortion from inbuilt and third-party lenses
  • Available for iOS and Android

Best for:

  • Architectural photographers.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play
Website: www.skrwt.com


Special Effect Apps

These apps specialise in producing artistic, creative results from your photos.

iColorama S

iColorama S is an imaging app for creators interesting in enhancing their photos/paintings/drawings and converting them into amazing pieces of art using their smartphone. It’s not for the faint-hearted, as it is by necessity quite complicated. However, it has an enthusiastic and loyal fanbase and the results speak for themselves.

best photo editing apps - iColorama

Features:

  • More than 1000 brushes available
  • Import Photoshop brushes, curves and fonts
  • More than 300 image effects and styles
  • Free monthly updates
  • Significant community support
  • Import/export LUT color grades
  • Tone mapping / HDR and advanced image adjustment

Best for:

Creative photographers wanting to turn their photos in to art.

Download on the App Store

iPad version which takes advantage of the larger display available here.


Prisma

Prisma lets mobile photographers get impressive artistic results from your photos. It’s hard to pigeonhole this app as simply a gimmick – because the results are so impressive. Certainly a lot of fun to use and the fact it can apply these styles to video as well as photos is a really bonus. It’s worth noting Prisma doesn’t allow high-resolution export – which may be a problem for anyone hoping to print their results or use them for anything other than web use.

Prisma App
Features:

  • More than 30 artistic styles available
  • Based on the styles of famous artists – e.g. Van Gogh, Picasso etc.
  • Available for iOS and Android
  • Works with photos and video

Best for:

  • Photographers wanting to recreate their photos in the style of well-known artists.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play
Website: www.prisma-ai.com


Mextures

This is one of the most popular apps for adding special effects to your photos. Mextures offers seemingly endless creative opportunities and its clean, minimalist user interface will help you achieve excellent results in no time.

Mextures
Features:

  • Effects can be rotated and/or layered for maximum creative options
  • Film grain, textures and gradients
  • Analog light leaks
  • Stack and blend effects using layers
  • Preset “formulas”

Best for:

  • Artistic photographers looking for creative special effects.

Download on the App Store


Afterfocus

Blur backgrounds to create DSLR-like shallow depth-of-field effects. AfterFocus provides a very simple way of blurring backgrounds to achieve the highly desirable shallow depth-of-field effect so often seen with digital SLRs. This is one way to draw attention to your subject and/or disguise a messy, distracting background. The app lets you switch between selecting what will be in focus and what will not. It can yield really good results – but be warned – it’s very image dependent – a busy/messy image will require a lot more work to separate out the bits you want in focus and those you don’t – whereas a cleaner image with lots of large areas of a similar tone or colour will work better and require less work.

Afterfocus App
Features:

  • Applies blur to selected area
  • Variety of aperture styles
  • Adjustable blur strength
  • Motion blur effect

Best for:

  • Photographers wanting to use blurring to improve the impact of their images or who to make their images look like they were shot with a digital SLR.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play


Distressed FX

Distressed FX is a simple app for creating stunning photographic art from your photos. Best suited to landscape and still life photography this app makes a valuable addition to your photography app toolbox. The wide range of textures and overlays has been designed by an artist – Cheryl Tarrant – and these are great quality. There are controls for brightness, contrast and saturation as well as the ability to dial the overlay or texture intensity. The results won’t be to everyone’s taste but their quality and impact can’t be faulted.

DistressedFX Photo Editing App
Features:

  • 23 overlays
  • 19 textures
  • Overlays and textures can be used in combination
  • iOS only

Best for:

  • Creative photographic artists looking to get artistic, painterly results.

Download on the App Store
Website: www.distressedfx.com


Diana

A highly addictive app which gets you creating credible photo art in seconds using its shake & dice feature which selects two random photos from your device. You can of course choose the photos yourself, and select from a range of filters which control how the two photos are blended. Another powerful feature is the ability to take photos using the app, with the first photo remaining visible and semi-transparent so you can align the second photo.

best photo editing app - Diana

Features:

  • Easily combine two photos into a unique composition
  • Discover endless combinations with shake & dice features
  • Add one of numerous filters
  • Add titles, quotes and emojis to your photos

Best for:

Creative photographers who want to blend two photos with the option of adding captions or quotes.

Download on the App Store


Pixlr

This powerful app is fully-loaded with great features to help you make the most of your photos, from selective application of filters, double exposures, to collages and borders.

best photo editing app - Pixlr

Features:

  • Over 2 million combinations of free effects, overlays, and filters
  • Create photo collages with a variety of choices for layout, background, and spacing
  • Balance out color in one easy click with Auto Fix
  • Layer multiple photos and blend them together to get a unique look, using Double Exposure
  • Stylize your image to look like a pencil drawing, an ink sketch, a poster, and more
  • Remove blemishes and red-eyes or to whiten your teeth
  • Focus on one color with Color Splash or add impact with Focal Blur
  • Choose from a pool of effect packs to give your image the look and feel you want
  • Adjust the mood of the photo with overlays – amplify the tone, cool it down, or add surreal shades
  • Mask your picture with captions or overlay it with text. Choose from a variety of fonts
  • Resize images quickly and easily after editing.
  • Share your photo directly with friends through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or email.

Best for:

Creative Android photographers wanting powerful tools and an intuitive user interface.

Download from Google Play


SuperImpose

SuperImpose allows you to blend multiple photos together into a single composite image. Once you’ve got your head around the idea of layering images this app makes it really easy to create a wide range of results from your photos.

SuperImpose
Features:

  • Create double-exposure images
  • Replace parts of an image with a different image
  • Blend textures into an image
  • Mask out unwanted regions of an image

Best for:

  • Creative or artistic photographers looking to experiment and create a range of results from the subtle to the extreme.

Download on the App StoreDownload from Google Play

So there you have it, our epic run down of some of the best photo editing apps for the iPhone and their android equivalents. We have done our best to present a balanced view of the best apps around at the moment. Let us know if you have any favourites not listed here in the comments below.

How To Use The iPhone’s Live Photos Feature

Do you ever find yourself looking at one of your photos and think it doesn’t quite capture the entire atmosphere of the moment? Live Photos is an innovative feature offered by the iOS camera app which captures a few seconds of video footage before and after each photo you take. It’s simple to set up and the results can really be quite special. In this article you’ll learn how to shoot, view, edit and share your iPhone Live Photos.

iphone live photos 1

Live Photos? What is it and how does it work?

iPhone Live Photos is an amazing feature introduced by Apple at the launch of the iPhone 6s – and of course it has been available on all models since. In simple terms, when you take a photo it also captures a short video clip. So as well as a still photo you get a video clip (with audio) of up to three seconds in length.

The three seconds of video starts 1.5 seconds before the photo was taken and ends 1.5 seconds after the photo was taken.

You might wonder how the iPhone knows when to start recording. By the time you press the shutter surely it’s too late? Well, this is the clever bit, the iPhone starts recording video as soon as you open the camera app – so it’s always recording video.

Fear not – this won’t cause your iPhone to run out of space. The iPhone automatically discards any video that is older than 1.5 seconds – because it knows it won’t need it. As soon as you press the shutter to take a photo only most recent 1.5 seconds of video is preserved, with another 1.5 seconds of video footage added to make up the three seconds of Live Photo.

Behind the scenes the camera app actually saves two files to your iPhone – a .JPEG image file for the still image and a .MOV file for the three second video. However, the Photos app doesn’t show both files – it just shows the JPEG version and, upon interacting with it, displays part or all of the three second video.

Why would you want to use it?

The best thing about a still image is also the worst thing. It’s a momentary snapshot – with no movement or sound. When we look at the photos we’ve taken we have to rely on that one fleeting frame and our fading memory to recall the atmosphere – the sounds – the motion. Of course a good photographer will be able to capture a sense of this in the still image – but for most of us we’re left wanting.

Sure, we could just record a video separately to the still image – but it’s an extra step and takes a little longer. Live Photos does it all for you – giving you this three second video with sound which really helps remind you what the atmosphere and mood was like at the time:– children laughing and playing together; a babbling brook or a waterfall; a flock of geese flying noisily overhead; the party atmosphere of birthday cake candles being blown out – all captured in a three second video – and you get your still image captured too.

Tip: Live Photos work best if there is some movement involved – either of the camera or the subject. Just remember that you are trying to take a photo, not a video – so it’s important that there isn’t too much movement of the camera or subject if you want to avoid undesirable blurring.

How to create your Live Photos

It’s really easy to start using Live Photos. Ensure you are in ‘Photo’ mode (not Time Lapse, Pano, Slo-Mo, Video, Square etc). Live Photos is enabled by default but it’s worth checking that the Live Photos icon is highlighted in yellow in the native camera app. If not, just tap it once. It looks like several circles nested inside each other. Once it’s highlighted you’re ready to create Live Photos.

iphone live photos 2

Now, simply take a photo as you normally would.

You’ll want to remember that the camera will capture everything it can see and hear for the 1.5 seconds before and after you hit the shutter button. Therefore, frame your shot, then wait at least 1.5 seconds before taking the picture. As soon as you press the shutter button the word ‘LIVE’ appears on the screen in yellow. After 1.5 seconds it will disappear, telling you the Live Photo has been captured and you can safely lower your iPhone.

If your subject is stationary consider gently panning across the scene – but make sure the movement doesn’t cause your still image to be blurred.

If your subject is moving you could keep the camera still and get great results because Live Photos will capture the subjects movement nicely.

It’s a good idea to avoid barking instructions at your subjects for the 1.5 seconds before you press the shutter button as you may not want your voice ruining the ambience of the three second video!

You should consider whether or not Live Photos is something you want to use all the time. Even though the video clips are just three seconds long, they can take up a lot of space – often as much space as the still image. If space is tight you might want to leave Live Photos switched off and just activate it as and when you need it.

You can force the camera app to remember your preferred Live Photo settings by going to Settings > Photos & Camera > Preserve Settings and you’ll find Live Photos at the bottom of the list.

iphone live photos 3

Viewing your Live Photos

The resulting Live Photo appears in your native Photos app. Just go to the ‘Camera Roll’ album or the ‘Live Photos’. Annoyingly, in thumbnail view, it’s not obvious which of your captures are Live Photos until you tap on one – although when in the ‘Live Photos’ album it’s fairly safe to assume all the images are Live Photos.

As with regular still photos and videos tapping on a thumbnail brings the Live Photo capture up large and an icon of concentric circles next to the word ‘LIVE’ is displayed at the top-left of the image.

iphone live photos 4

To view the full 3 seconds of Live Photo tap and hold on the image. As soon as you release If you swipe through your album, any Live Photos briefly play for a fraction of a second which tells you it’s a Live Photo. This is useful because in full-screen mode you aren’t shown the ‘LIVE’ icon.

Editing your Live Photos

Since iOS 10 you can edit the Live Photo – keeping the video intact. iOS 11 also lets you choose which video frame to use as your photo. You can use the native Photos app to edit the still image just as you would any other still image. If you decide you don’t like the edits you can simply click ‘Revert to Original’.

Third-party photo editing apps might cause the three second video to be lost – so use these with caution.

Sharing your Live Photos

It’s easy to share your Live Photos with other iOS devices – just share them as you would normally share a still image or a video – tap the ‘Share’ icon and select any Live Photos, still images or videos you want to share.

You can decide whether you want to share the Live Photo – complete with the three second video and still image – or just the still image (including any edits). This is done by tapping the ‘LIVE’ icon displayed at the top-left of each thumbnail as you are selecting things to share.

iphone live photos 5

Sharing of Live Photos with other iOS users can be via Airdrop, iMessage or iCloud sharing – but note Live Photos cannot be sent via email – the recipient will just receive a JPEG of the still image. Users of pre iOS 9 devices or devices not capable of displaying Live Photos will not be able to see the Live Photo video – they’ll just see a still image in JPEG format.

Several social media platforms allow the upload and sharing of Live Photos – although some require the use of workarounds. These currently include Facebook (only from within the Facebook app), Instagram (using the ‘Your Story’ feature), Tumblr and Twitter.

If all else fails, the Image Capture app on a Mac (and similar apps on other platforms) can access both the .JPEG and the .MOV files associated with the Live Photo and either of these can be uploaded to any social media platform that accepts still images or movies.

Summary

So, we’ve learned what Live Photos are and discovered how to create, edit and share them. With a little practice you’ll find your Live Photos are a welcome addition to your photo galleries.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

How To Take Amazing HDR iPhone Photos (Like a Pro)

HDR photgraphy is a popular photographic technique which can be used to improve the photos you take with your iPhone and give more professional looking results. In this article we’ll take a closer look at HDR photography and examine what HDR is, discover when and when not to use it, learn how to use HDR in a common native camera app and introduce other photo apps which excel at HDR. By the end of this article you should be able to go out and expertly take HDR iPhone photos with amazing results.

HDR iPhone Photos 1

What is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is a tool which helps your smartphone’s camera tame the shadows and the highlights in photographic images – often a problem area for even dedicated cameras.

A camera’s ‘dynamic range’ is its ability to capture the darkest and lightest elements of a scene in the same shot. Unfortunately most cameras (even the most expensive ones) can’t capture pure black and pure white and every shade inbetween in the same shot. So when a camera (or a photographer) decides upon an exposure for a particular shot the camera usually has to sacrifice one or both ends of the full spectrum of dark to light. This results in underexposed, overexposed or ‘flat’ images which aren’t very attractive and can appear amateurish.

This is where HDR comes in – it creates images which have a higher dynamic range than normally possible. It’s a clever technical feature available in most modern iPhone camera apps which takes two or more photos instead of just one. The first is automatically underexposed to ensure the detail in the brightest parts of the scene are captured. The second is overexposed to ensure the detail in the darkest part of the scene are captured. Then it automatically blends the two images together, pixel by pixel. As it does this it gives priority to the non-white and non-black pixels in both images – meaning that detail which would otherwise be lost is saved. The more advanced HDR implementations allow you to decide to what extent the HDR effect is applied on a sliding scale.

When should you use HDR?

The obvious time to use HDR is when you are faced with a high contrast scene. That’s a scene which has both very dark and very bright elements in it. The most common scenario is where everything above the horizon is light and everything below is dark. Below is a series of identical photos of a castle. The first was taken without HDR and exposed for the building in the distance.

HDR iPhone Photos 2

The next shot was exposed for the arch walls on the left and right. Whilst these walls are now nicely exposed the increase in exposure has blown out the building in the distance.

HDR iPhone Photos 3

For the next shot we’ve used the native camera app with HDR switched on.

HDR iPhone Photos 4

The results are far more appealing without looking artificial. The arch walls and the distant building are all well exposed with a reasonable exposure balance between them.

As with most in-camera and post-processing photographic effects ‘less is more’. It’s a matter of personal taste but my preference is to only use as much of any effect as is necessary, and ideally not so much that it is noticeable. In the next three examples the native camera app’s automatic HDR feature has been fairly conservative – which I like.

The first/left-most photo was taken without HDR. It’s not too bad, my son is nicely exposed, but the sky is blown out with no detail and his dark clothes aren’t revealing much fabric detail either.

hdr iphone photo 5

The second, right-most image was taken with HDR and while it doesn’t look wildly different from the first you can see more detail in the bright sky and also in the dark clothing. In addition his face and hand are a little brighter. Let’s look at a couple more similar scenarios – both benefiting from subtle HDR enhancement.

The featureless sky in the first shot below is revealed by the use of HDR in the second.

hdr iphone photo 6

In the example below, if I expose for the sky my foreground is too dark.

hdr iphone photo 7

If I expose for the foreground the sky gets blown out.

hdr iphone photo 8

Using a 3rd party HDR app to I get to keep the detail in the sky and the foreground.

hdr iphone photo 9

Other examples include scenes with strong sunlight creating hard shadows, snow scenes or group shots where there’s a mixture of light and dark clothing. However, before you resort to using HDR it is important to a) identify the problem you’re trying to solve and b) see whether you can fix it by rearranging your subject(s) or shooting from a different position.

As I mentioned earlier the amount of HDR you apply is a matter of personal taste. It’s perfectly acceptable to use it to create unrealistic, artistic images by applying more of the HDR effect. The results can be otherworldly and dream-like.

When shouldn’t you use HDR?

If you are trying to achieve a high-contrast effect you’ll want to leave HDR alone. This is because HDR tries to remove high contrast by brightening the darker areas of a scene and darkening the lighter areas – resulting in lower contrast images. So, avoid HDR if you want your subject silhouetted against a bright background, or if you are wanting high contrast or black-and-white results.

In the image below, if HDR had been used, the sky would have been darker, the person jumping would have been lighter with some detail revealed, resulting in the loss of contrast and probably ruining the drama of the shot.

hdr iphone photo 10

As good as HDR is – you may be using it to solve a problem that could better be solved another way. For example, if you’re shooting a headshot into the sun or against a bright sky you’re likely to end up with a dark subject or a burnt out sky. Before you reach for the HDR setting try switching on the flash. This will fill in the dark foreground without burning out the sky.

Because the HDR feature requires multiple shots to be taken there will be an inherent delay between these shots. Even though this delay is tiny if your subject moves sufficiently between shots then you could get strange results. The faster your subject is moving in relation to the camera the more noticeable the problem. Therefore, you’ll probably want to avoid HDR for high-speed action photography – e.g. fast paced sports etc. The image below shows what can happen if you shoot a fast moving subject with HDR.

hdr iphone photo 11

The running person was in one position when the first shot was taken by the HDR tool, and in another when the second shot was taken. The two shots were blended automatically to give the HDR effect but we see an undesirable blurring or double-exposure effect.

How to use HDR in the iOS (iPhone and iPad) native camera app

The native camera app on iOS devices has an excellent, simple HDR feature. To activate it simply tap the ‘HDR’ option at the top of the app window – then select Auto, On or Off. Choosing the ‘Auto’ setting tells the app to decide for itself when it should use HDR. The ‘On’ setting forces the app to use HDR every time, and the ‘Off’ setting tells the app not to use HDR.

hdr iphone photo 12

You can decide whether the camera app saves the non HDR version as well as the HDR photo. This setting is buried in the iOS device’s ‘Settings > Photos & Camera’ page. This will fill your device’s memory up more quickly but it does give you the flexibility of using the non-HDR version. This is recommended because you can’t easily remove the HDR effect from a photo afterwards. If memory/space is a big concern you can always remove the version you don’t want to keep once you’ve checked both versions out. You can identify the HDR version of the photo by the presence of the word ‘HDR’ at the top-left of the HDR image in the ‘Photos’ app.

The best things about the iOS implementation of HDR are its simplicity and its subtlety. You don’t actually have any control over the level of HDR applied – but this is fine in most cases because it does a great job and lets you get on with taking more photos rather than tweaking settings. The effect applied is subtle enough that the average person wouldn’t notice anything special had been done to the photo – but when you compare the HDR image to the non-HDR version the improvement is usually obvious.

Examples of other apps which excel at HDR

For the most part the native camera apps will do a great job of applying HDR when shooting your subjects but if you want greater control over the strength of the HDR effect you may need to look at one of the many 3rd party apps for your device. Below we’ll look at a handful of popular ones and help you identify the right one for you.

Pro HDR X

For iOS devices this popular HDR camera app improves on an earlier ‘Pro HDR’ version we reviewed. It offers a good combination of ‘out of the box’ simplicity with the option of advanced controls – the main one being the ability to dial in the correct amount of HDR after taking the shot.

pro hdr x

The most impressive advanced control is the ability to position 3 boxes to identify areas of the scene which must be exposed correctly. You would want to ensure you use the 3 boxes wisely – choosing a dark area of the scene, a light area and perhaps another important area – possibly the subject.

Additional features include a ‘rule-of-thirds’ grid overlay, a 2 or 10 second timer, the ability to import up to 3 exposures from your camera roll which the HDR is applied to, a zoom feature and flash control (including using the torch), color, brightness, hue, contrast and exposure controls.

Download: iOS

Vivid HDR

This iOS HDR app has a long list of great reviews and seems to be among the more professional tools on the market. It offers many great quality presets but also provides the fine control some of us crave in our apps. It also claims to do away with the ‘halo’ problem we touched on earlier and minimizes the unwanted side-effects caused by moving the camera during capturing multiple frames.

vivid hdr

Download: iOS  |  Android

Simply HDR

Available for both iOS and Android devices Simply HDR is a little clunky when compared to Pro HDR X and Vivid HDR but it will appeal to those looking for more arty, extreme results. The HDR effect can be set automatically or dialed-in.

Simple HDR App

An attractive feature they’ve included is the ability to save your chosen HDR shooting settings as a preset which can easily be recalled and used later.

Download:  iOS  |  Android

Summary

Hopefully this article has introduced you to HDR, shown the opportunities it offers for improving image exposure and given you a small selection of excellent apps you can use to take your HDR iPhone photos further.

To recap:

  • HDR is an in-built camera function which increases the dynamic range of the resulting image by blending an underexposed and an overexposed image of the same scene, giving a better exposure which retains detail in the lowlights/shadows and the highlights.
  • Recognize when to use it – i.e. when you have very dark and very bright regions in the scene but you wish to retain the detail in each.
  • Know when not to use it – i.e. when you wish to maintain high contrast, shot low or high key images or work in black & white.
  • Use it in moderation – don’t overdo the strength of the HDR effect to the point it becomes cheesy – unless that’s the result you want!
  • Remember to use a tripod (or at least hold the camera very still) because any movement between the underexposed and overexposed shots the HDR feature automatically takes may result in blurring.
  • Remember that HDR is trying to solve a problem. Check that you can’t solve that problem better by rearranging your subject, scene or your shooting position so that the scene no longer contains both very dark and very bright areas – e.g. for an outdoor group shot move everyone under the shade of a tree.

How To Shoot Stunning iPhone Time lapse Videos

Time-lapse photography is the process of taking many photos at regular intervals, usually over a long period of time, and chaining them together to create a video. Traditionally this is a time-consuming and complex task – but many smartphones offer the feature in their native camera app – and there are countless third-party apps available which offer even more control.

In this article we’ll look at iPhone time lapse photography and consider suitable time-lapse subjects, look at a few of these apps and share some tips for getting great time-lapse results.

What makes a good time-lapse subject?

Time-lapse can be thought of as the opposite of slow-motion photography. It speeds things up rather than slows them down. So it’s ideal for creating videos of subjects whose movement is too slow to be noticeable or attention-grabbing at normal speeds. By comparison, slow-motion photography slows down movement that would otherwise be too fast to comprehend or view in a meaningful way.

So, perfect subjects for time-lapse are those that move slowly – perhaps clouds moving across the sky, a sunrise or a sunset, a flower or plant reacting the sunlight, a slug or snail crawling around, snow falling, a snowman melting, ice cubes thawing, river water rising during or after heavy rainfall etc.

Below is my attempt at shooting a time-lapse of the clouds flying across a blue sky outside my house.

In the following example I set up some birthday cake candles in front of a reflective background and shot a timelapse of them melting down.

Slow-moving subjects aren’t the only suitable subject however. You can emphasize intense activity by making it appear faster than real-life – so a busy shopping precinct or traffic junction can look especially busy – even comical – when sped up using time-lapse photography.

Another example of time-lapse photography is stop-frame animation. This can be done in the same way as normal time-lapse photography but you’ll need to use a time-lapse app that lets you specify a suitable interval between shots (giving you enough time to adjust or move the subject or subjects in the frame) – or allows you to manually take each frame – preferably using your remote shutter release so you don’t move the camera accidentally whilst taking each shot. Such apps usually offer an ‘onion-skin’ feature which overlays a semi-transparent version of the previous shot onto your smartphone screen so you can make more precise, accurate adjustments to the subject before taking the next shot.

The image below shows the onion-skin feature in action. The semi-transparent apple and orange are from the previously taken image – and the solid apple and orange are in the new position ready for me to take the next shot.

Here’s the end result made with the OSnap! app.

Before you start

Time lapse photography usually requires a little bit of forethought. Sure you can just hit the record button but with some planning you can get really great results.

The most important thing to remember is that the resulting time lapse video footage will be much shorter than the duration of the timelapse photography session itself – i.e. from when you take the first frame to the last.  My iPhone gives me 20 seconds of timelapse footage from 5 minutes (300 seconds) of timelapse photography.  This is because video footage is played back at a certain number of frames (or images) per second – and usually far more frames per second than your timelapse app will capture per second. If your timelapse app captures 1 frame per second and video playback is 30 frames-per-second then shooting timelapse for 1 minute will give you just 2 seconds of timelapse video! This varies depending on which app you use and what settings you specify.

Timelapse apps

There are too many timelapse apps to list them all so I’ve only listed the ones I’ve used below:

Native iPhone camera app

This is possibly the simplest implementation timelapse with no customisation or settings at all – apart from the ability set your focus & exposure point (by tapping and holding on the screen) and to choose whether you use the front or rear-facing camera.  Simply press the big red shutter button and the timelapse recording begins. When you’ve finished, press it again to stop.  The video is automatically saved to your camera roll.

Without going into too much detail the frame rate is set dynamically. The longer the timelapse shooting session the less frequent the shots. So, the longer you shoot for the faster the subjects will appear to be moving in the resulting video.

Hyperlapse

Hyperlapse from Instagram is a nice, simple timelapse app with a great interface but limited customisation. It also features stabilisation. Once you’ve pressed the record button to start the timelapse the elapsed shooting time is displayed along with the length of the resulting video. This is really useful as you can just keep shooting until you reach the desired video length. Once you’ve stopped recording the resulting timelapse video loops over and over until you decide whether to discard or save the video. Before you do this however you have the opportunity to change the timelapse speed. It defaults to 6 times (6x) but you can alter this down to 1x (which is really just normal video) or up to 12x – and anywhere inbetween.

When you’ve saved the video you have the option of sharing to Instagram or Facebook.  It’s a really simple-to-use app with few frills but certainly gets the job done.

OSnap! (for iPhone)

OSnap! is my go-to timelapse app. Its features are so extensive I can’t possibly cover them in any detail in this short article.  It’s probably not the best entry-point to timelapse as the interface is complex and the range of features and settings are quite daunting.  It’s fine if you’ve already spent some time making timelapse videos using the more user-friendly apps and are ready for some more control.

The main features that OSnap! offers are project management (so you can have multiple timelapse projects stored as work-in-progress), the ability to add or delete images from the timelapse sequence, advanced triggering options – including sound/noise (great for stop-motion where you can clap to trigger the next shot), onion-skinning (also great for stop-motion), ability to add music,  infinite loop playback, advanced scheduling (up to 48 hours interval) and the ability to access and export all or selected images.

Here’s a quick guide to creating your first timelapse using OSnap!

1.    Open the OSnap! App and select ‘New project’.

2. Give your project a name, select the orientation and Front or Back facing camera. Tap Create.

iphone time lapse Photo 1
3.    Next, tap ‘Adjust settings’ and make sure the following settings are selected.

  • Select  ‘Back’ Device Camera.
  • Select the highest Photo Resolution offered.
  • Choose your interval time.
  • Choose your playback Frame Rate (FPS) – 25 for PAL/SECAM, 24 or 30 for  NTSC.
  • Set your encoding quality to 100% for the best results.

iphone time lapse Photo 2

4.    Set your focus and exposure in one go just by tapping on the screen. Generally speaking this will be on the brightest part of the scene to avoid overexposure. Now lock the focus, exposure and white-balance by clicking each of the three padlock icons at the bottom right of the screen. This will help you avoid flicker or extreme changes in exposure during the timelapse.

iphone time lapse Photo 3

5.    Tap the timer icon.

iphone time lapse Photo 4

6.    Tap the red ‘Start Timer’ button.

7.    When you’re done just tap the round, white stop button.

8.    Tap the down arrow to return to the home screen. Now you can create the timelapse video from the captured images by tapping the ‘Sharing’ icon (bottom left), then tap ‘Create Video’.

iphone time lapse Photo 5

9.    There will be a delay whilst the video is created but the screen displays the progress. Once completed you can tap ‘Share Video’ and choose to share it to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter etc.– or save it to your camera roll.

As I said, there’s a lot more to this app but the above steps will get you started.

Tips, tricks and things to consider

Control the exposure

It’s likely that the amount of light available will change inbetween each shot you take for your timelapse project. This can result in an undesirable flickering effect in your video footage as the camera app tries to adjust the exposure to ensure the same amount of light is captured. Most timelapse apps allow you to set the exposure by tapping and holding on a suitable area of the screen. If you choose to tap somewhere dark the app will generally over-expose each image. If you choose a bright area the app will underexpose.  It’s a good idea to tap somewhere that is neither too dark or too light as this will give you some headroom either way if your scene becomes darker or lighter during the shoot – but as with regular photography it’s common practice to expose for the highlights to the rule-of-thumb is to select the area of the scene which is brightest.

Keep the camera still

Usually timelapse photography benefits from keeping your camera in the exact same position for each shot. This results in smooth video footage which is perhaps easier to watch. There are countless tripods from tiny pocket sized versions to full-blown professional equipment. However, you will get attention-grabbing results from hand-holding the camera too – and the Hyperlapse app includes very effective image stabilisation.

Rotating the camera

Whilst keeping the camera still is the most common way of tackling timelapse photography you can get really interesting results if you mount the camera on something which rotates slowly.  The most convenient way to do this is to use a cheap rotating cookery timer like the one pictured below. It rotates 360 degrees in one hour.

iphone timelapse Photo 7

The timelapse video below of vehicles on a roundabout was created using the iPhone, Manfrotto TwistGrip adaptor, a quick-release plate and a cheap rotating cookery timer pictured above.

Reverse the video footage

Why not try reversing your timelapse video so that, for example, a snowman appears to appear out of the ground, or a candle grows rather than burns down?

Adding a soundtrack afterwards

Timelapse apps rarely (if ever) include any of the original sound in the resulting timelapse video footage. If it did, it wouldn’t sound very meaningful. So why not add some suitable sounds afterwards? Perhaps a favourite song, or some sound effects, or just your voice reciting a favourite poem or quote – or describing the scene. OSnap! lets you do this and many video editing apps also make this possible.

Wind

If you’re shooting a timelapse outdoors then make sure you consider the effect of wind on your subjects.  In my cloud timelapse I needed some wind to help the clouds move across the sky but it also made the large tree in the foreground move around a lot.   Decide whether you’re happy with the effects of the wind on your subject and, if you’re not, frame your shots so troublesome subjects are excluded.

Power supply

For longer timelapse sessions you may find your smartphone battery runs out before you’re finished. The best solution is to have your smartphone plugged into the mains supply using your usual power-supply adaptor / charger. However, if you’re not near a power source for your smartphone there are some things you can do to preserve battery life. The main one is to reduce your screen brightness but also consider closing apps you’re not using and switch of Bluetooth and Wifi connectivity. This might be the difference between a successful shoot and disappointment!

Finally!

I hope this article has given you the confidence to try creating timelapse videos for yourself or, if you’ve already dipped a toe in the water, to try something more adventurous or challenging.

Save

>