A good photo app can take your images a long way

There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of photo apps out there. I have bought some that are duds and others that I can’t imagine my life without. The term “iPhonography” is taking over and every programmer seems to be on board that train. As I hear of new apps that are “the best thing ever!” I give them a try. If they can’t hold up to one of my mornings out, a trip abroad or a toddler running amuck around my house than they just aren’t worth my time.

I don’t want flashy filters that I will never use. I don’t need to turn every travel image into a dripping piece of artwork. It is cool the first time, but how many of them do I really need? How many of them to you actually want to look at? Here is a list of iPhone photo apps I’ve tried out and have continued to stand the test of time.

*Unless noted all apps allow images to be uploaded to Facebook and Twitter through the app or saved to your photo library.

Hipstamatic (US$1.99) This was one of my first photo app purchases and I still love to use it.

    • The basic package comes with 4 lenses and 3 film types. Simply mix and match to get your desired effect. I like high-contrast, saturated images so I tend to go with the John S lens and Kodot XGrizzled film.
    • Focal point can be tricky- you think you have something centered but then your kid’s head is in the upper left corner and cut off. The learning curve is quick. Just play with it until you learn to center the object lower or higher in the screen. Each lens will have its own quirks.
    • Additional lenses and film can be purchased for US$0.99 per package
    • Android app? Not yet.

Sample Hipstamatic images

Camera+ (US$0.99) I got turned onto this app in November 2011. A friend kept posting pictures with fun borders and effects of her daughter on Facebook. Finally I grabbed myself a copy to try out. This is now my go-to app when I want to make some quick improvements before uploading to Facebook but I don’t have a lot of time to do it.

    • Take a picture through the app or import from your Photo Library and make adjustments
    • Change the scene (basically adjusts the light levels in the image), rotate and crop the image, add effects and a whole lot of borders
    • Android app? Yes!

Original versus adjusted image using Camera+

Snapseed (US$4.99) This is by far the most expensive app I have ever bought and probably ever will buy. It gives me almost everything I want in one app though. The only thing it doesn’t do is give me the fun borders that Camera+ can.

    • Adjust exposure, contrast, straighten, crop, tilt, center focus, tilt & shift, sharpen, selectively adjust brightness, turn images to B/W along with a few other filters like vintage and grunge, and add a little border if you so desire
    • What took at least 2-3 apps before is now rolled into one
    • Handy and quick tutorial for each new step you try make this app much more user-friendly. Each adjustment has its own quirks
    • Android app? Yes!

Original image taken with camera phone (left) then altered using Snapseed

Camera Bag (US$0.99) If you don’t want a lot of fuss and just want to have a filter with border and be done with it then you can’t go wrong with this app.

    • 15 filters are each taken from an old film camera style, which was the selling point for me
    • Flip through to see which version of your image you want
    • Take a photo through the app or from your Photo Library
    • Save the image to your phone or email it
    • No direct to Facebook and Twitter uploading through this app
    • Android app? Not yet.

One original image (left) run through Camera Bag 3 different ways

Pic Stitch (Free!) A free app is always nice, but if it’s actually useful to me than it’s even better. If you regularly upload to Facebook  and Twitter from your phone but want to share a quick collage of what you are doing then this is the app for you.

    • Lets you combine 2, 3 and 4 photos into one image
    • Multiple layouts to choose from
    • You can purchase add-on borders
    • The only con to this app is that you can’t adjust the size of the photo frames. Your photos can get cropped a little funky. I may be switching over to FrameMagic (US$0.99) for that reason.
    • Android app? Not yet.

Just one of many layouts available in Pic Stitch

The Old Standby- Instagram (Free!) I never got into Instagram when it first came out. I’m giving it a second chance though. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s free.

    • Social network friendly. The company basically built their own social network around it.
    • Lots of filters with built-in borders
    • If you want a no brainer that can enhance you images quickly this is definitely the way to go.
    • Android app? Yes!

Instagram test image (sorry, not the best example)

Website you need to know about: I stumbled upon iPhoneography.com one day and now I can’t imagine life without it. Not only does it give helpful reviews of some of the latest apps, but it also lets me know when some of the top apps are free for a limited time. For example, Camera+ was free last week for one day only along with 2 of its sister products. You better believe I snapped up those sister products real quick.

iPhonography.com alerts readers to free apps or paid for apps that will be free for a limited time

I have several more apps that I am in the process of testing right now. If I find anything good you all will be the first to know. But it has to be able to replace what I have already found or do something even better.

Remember, you don’t need a lot of apps to take great pictures. One good app can do the trick. Find the app that suits your needs and you will use regularly. Go out and have fun and share what you capture with the world.

Got a favorite photo app? Send it my way and I’ll give it a whirl. 

Note: All apps are available in the iTunes App store. Those available on the Android are noted. I was not asked to review these apps or compensated in any way. I am simply giving my opinion on products I have used.