Take control of your smartphone's camera
A good smartphone camera may never replace a DSLR, but smartphone technology has definitely changed the way we think about amateur photography. Thanks to apps that enhance your phone’s camera and add powerful portable editing tools, creating and sharing images on the go is easier than ever. In this slideshow, we’ll cover the best Android apps for ambitious mobile photographers.
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Adobe Photoshop Express
You’d expect any photo-editing app with "Photoshop" in its name to provide solid results, and this app does not disappoint: Adobe Photoshop Express features a lot of the desktop software’s industry-standard editing tools, tweaked and optimized for touch interfaces. Offering exposure, saturation, contrast, tint, cropping, and other adjustments, the free app provides a surprising amount of editing power. Once you’re done editing your photos, the app gives you shortcuts for sharing images on Facebook, Twitter, and Photoshop.com.
You don’t have to be a fan of vintage effects to like Instagram, but the free app does have loads of filters for giving your photos a distinct old-timey feel. Though recent developments have nixed photo viewing on Twitter streams, Instagram's extensive integration with social networks still makes it a top choice for sharing photos with friends, and the app's built-in social network lets you check out photos that other Instagram users have posted.
Camera360 Ultimate improves upon the stock Android camera tool in almost every way. It includes a digital image stabilizer, filters, a burst mode, and exposure adjustments. The combination of features makes this versatile free offering a viable replacement for your phone’s standard camera app. Camera360 Ultimate also stands apart because it allows you to save your photos using a convenient cloud service, so you can access the images on your phone from anywhere.
Camera Zoom FX
Camera Zoom FX is a feature-filled camera app that packs a number of useful tools into one great-looking interface. It offers a collage feature, a burst mode that shoots 10 frames per second (faster than most DSLRs), a built-in photo editor, and loads of filters to do what would usually take a handful of other specialized apps to accomplish.
Pudding Camera is a fun app for anyone who yearns for the days of film cameras. To change how your photos look, the app assigns different filters to "film canisters," which you then load into one of a number of “virtual cameras.” Each virtual camera is inspired by a different old-school camera. To top it off, the app displays a knob for adjusting exposure on the fly much as you would on a physical camera.
Photographers know that good bokeh, which is the fancy name for the out-of-focus background effect you typically get when using a DSLR, can make an image’s subject pop out from the rest of the photo. AfterFocus, a free app available on Google Play, lets you apply that same effect to photos you take with your smartphone. An intuitive tool lets you select which parts of a photo to blur and which portions to keep sharp, and then you can adjust the amount of blur with a handy slider before saving your new photo.
Above all else, Paper Camera is tons of fun. The app lets you "paperize" your world with a number of customizable filters that make your images look as if they were ripped from a comic book. Paper Camera’s standout feature is its video mode, in which you can shoot live-action videos with paperized effects, bringing your cartoony images to life.
Fast Burst Camera
Fast Burst Camera is a $2 app that turns your smartphone into a machine gun—for photos, that is. The app can capture up to 30 photos per second (at slightly lower resolution than usual), a rate about three times as fast as that of the fastest-shooting DSLRs. After capturing a high-speed sequence, you can use Fast Burst Camera’s GIF creator to stitch photos into an animated sequence.
Pro HDR Camera
High dynamic range photography involves taking multiple photos at different exposure levels and then combining them to create images with dreamlike colors and sharp details in shadowy areas. In the past, creating HDR photos has required powerful software such as Adobe Photoshop, but Pro HDR Camera offers that ability in a simple app. After the app has processed your HDR image, it provides tools for tweaking the contrast, exposure levels, and other aspects of your photo.
This longtime standout image-editing app for iOS is now available for Android, free of charge. Snapseed uses an intuitive touch-centric approach instead of the sliders and brushes typically found in photo-editing software. Using simple swipes, you can adjust settings such as contrast, brightness, and saturation. This method of control makes editing photos on the small screen an experience that anyone can enjoy—especially amateur photographers.