Being an amateur photographer who mainly takes snapshots for fun but also aims to build some professional camera skills, I know I’m not alone. But these days, many of us rarely bother to even carry around a small point-and-click camera, let alone a full DSLR, thanks to the advances in smartphone camera technology.
This trend has created the fast-growing world of smart phone photography, also known as “iPhonography” for all the Apple fans out there. Today there are even pro-level smartphone photo competitions like the iPhone Photography Awards and casual ones, like the Facebook iPhone Photo Competition and from AndroidCentral. Blogging for Viewbug I’ve been noticed plenty of great photos taken with the iPhone and Android phones among the high-end DSLRs and I only expect to see more on there, along with the smartphone photography community to grow online. With the Samsung Galaxy S2 my smartphone of choice, I thought I’d make a list of the top ten photo apps for my fellow Android and photography fans.
Camera Zoom FX - Paid
Camera Zoom FX has received plenty of good reviews, over a million downloads and is a nice step up from your stock android camera app. This paid app takes all the regular features found in most camera apps, but piles on options, settings, modes and effects. It includes a stable shot meter, burst mode, self-timer, geo-tagging, grid overlays, sound-activated pictures (clap to take a shot) and a real-time digital zoom. Then there’s all the filters, such a vignette, retro, Polaroid style, totalling over 40 and growing. There is a huge wealth of add-ons besides effects, from borders, frames, animations, props. You can even super-impose a favorite celebrity into your shots (with a cheesy cardboard cut-out like effect). It also offers post-editing features, such as cropping and overlays, besides the photo effects and filters. Social sharing through Facebook, Twitter are integrated. A unique option offered is to customize all your phone’s hardware buttons when using it as a camera. I'm not to big on filters and effects myself, but I find this app loads quicker than my stock camera app and takes quality pics, making it my go-to app for casual snapshots.
Here’s a nice free camera app, similar to Camera Zoom FX. What it lacks compared to it though is post-editing features like cropping. It doesn’t seem to have the fit, finish or speed of Camera Zoom FX, but the price is right! It is easy to use, offers good control over how you take your picture and includes a wide range of filters. And at no charge it’s definitely worth checking out if you want an option from your stock Android camera app.
Retro Camera - Free and Paid
Offered free or paid (with no ads), the Retro Camera app is a fun one for any fan of retro photo effects. By focusing on these retro effects, it seems like they pull them off better than other camera apps retro effects. It could just be the effect from the old school camera interface though... Some of the film-like effects are Xolaroid 2000, Pinhole Camera, Fudge Can, Black & White, Film Scratch and more. If you reminisce over the old days when you had to load up film into your camera, give this a try.
Action Snap - Free and Paid
Action Snap is available in a free version or a paid version with no ads and additional features. The main function of this app is its ability to take photos in quick succession. It can take 4 or 9 rapid-fire shots, with intervals of .1 second to 5 seconds. Then it can take those photos and arrange them into a series: lined up horizontally, combined into a single image or arranged in 2x2 or 3x3 format. You can also take control of the shots and take them manually, then arrange them after. There's also a selection of effects offered too. While the paid version offers several other features, I don’t see much value in it. The free version includes the main feature and works great for anyone wanting to take fast action shots.
Pano - Paid
With several panoramic photo apps out, Pano is a popular and top rated one. It can take up to 16 pictures and automatically merges them into one wide panoramic shot. Working only from left to right, it uses a transparent guide on the left side of the screen, which lets you over lay the last image over the current one you’re taking.
I was recently in New York City and tried it out in Times Square. It was my first time using it, but it was simple, fast to use and turned out some looking panoramic shots. I’m sure with just a little practice anyone could create some great ones. Check out one a took below. If you're curious, my original photo is 3852 x 698 px, with about 8 shots. So you could go about twice as wide as this.It much better small. When it's blown up you can see some bluring and crooked angles . But considering it was my first time actually using it, the narrow street warping the full pano, all the flashing lights, the crowds, I have to say I'm really impressed with the auto-stiching of the photos.
Paper Camera - Paid
I happened to pick up this fun little app during the Android Market’s $.10 sale in December. It doesn’t really offer anything new, just a range of effects and filters. It does do them in real-time which is a neat feature, letting you see the effects live as you’re using the app. And another feature is its simple and attractive interface, removing the sometimes overwhelming options found in other more serious effect-filled apps. Below is a screenshot of a live effect while taking a shot, not post-shot like most apps. And it also shows that Starbucks is getting kids younger and younger these days.
- Free and Paid
This powerful camera app gives you HDR features found in high-end cameras, right in your Android device. For those not as photographically inclined, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, which lets you capture a much wider range, depth and exposure to your photos. For example, this lets you take longer exposures for dark settings or make bright scenes much more vivid. Often this leaves the picture with a surreal, to good to be true, look. Besides letting you take pictures with your phone’s full resolution (not all apps do), this app can fuse and tone several photos together. This allows you to take an overall higher mega-pixel shot by combining several. There is a paid and free version, the free one is great and I don’t see any real benefits from going for the paid one… So if anyone does, please let me know.
Little Photo - Free and Paid
This Android-only app lets you use the stock camera app or the Little Photo app itself to take a picture, then lets you apply over 70 effects and filters to it. The main highlights are that it’s cost nothing, ad free and simple to use, perfect for any newbie wanting to experiment with effects and filters without spending any money. There is a Little Photo Add-On Plugin that will cost you, adding a range of photo editing functions, such as brightness, contrast, smooth skin, a cropping tool and more.
Touch Retouch lets you quickly and easily remove objects from your photos. And quite effectively too. To remove an object from a photo, you just pic one of several tools, such as a paintbrush or a lasso and mark it. It then removes it with surprising good results with a few images I tried it on. It follows up from a very successful iPhone version, with the Android version receiving great reviews as well. A cheap paid version is also offered which supports the developers of this nice photo editing app. You can edit an image straight out of your camera app or out of the gallery after. So if you’re desperate to remove any unwanted photo-bombs on your Android device, look no further.
My tenth app is for anyone like me who’s a newbie on a real D-SLR camera. Photography Trainer is your interactive and comprehensive mini-guide to master your D-SLR camera, beating any book you’d have to lug around otherwise. And it works fully offline too, making it perfect for any situation where you don’t have a cell signal or what to avoid roaming charges, like on vacation. It covers all areas of D-SLR photography with step-by-step instructions and examples, from settings, modes, shooting different scenes, HDR, tips, terms and more.
Update: Last Minute Bonus App Challenger - INSTAGRAM!!
Yeah so I wrote this article last week, forgetting that Instagram was soon to be released. It's out today (April. 3) so I am now forced to add it as the eleventh contender to my top ten list. Being an Android user, I haven't used it yet, but for anyone who uses any form of social media, you've heard all about the astronomically popular iPhone version and seen plenty of examples.
To keep this short and sweet, Instagram is free, has a wide array of effects, filters and borders, has full social media integration with instant sharing. The reviews are already good and by the time you read this, the downloads will probably by in the millions. So without me even trying this yet, it gets my recommendation as a social photography app, for its great social media integration combined with its huge user shared user base from the iPhone app
*Warning: Use With Caution*
Judging from the Twitter reaction from iPhone fans over now having to share Instagram with Android, I must warn Android fans to use Instagram at their own risk!
Hope you liked my top ten photography apps for Android. These all have high review and are the best of the one's I've personally played with. So if you have a favorite photography app not listed here, please share it in the comments.
And I didn't list the exact prices for the paid, since many of them are currently on sale (lucky for me). So make sure to click the names for the Android Play links and hopfully you can grab a few on sale too!