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I fought upgrading my bog-standard mobile phone for ages for this very reason. The camera’s in a mobile phone simply can’t be as good as my camera. Simply. Can’t.
Well, it turns out they can. Which in turn made me into a bit of a camera and editing phone app junkie there for a while.
And 18 months on, I’ve landed on my favourites. The apps I turn to whenever I pick up my phone to take photos… which is becoming more often.
Camera+ ($4.49) helps you use your iPhone to shoot the best photos you possibly can. The app uses your existing phone camera but allows you more control over the settings. While you are still able to take pictures in automatic mode, if you feel like you want more light and speed control, then you are able to independently change focus and metering points, allowing you to meter based on a different part of the scene and/or focus in a different area of the frame.
Camera+ is more than just a camera replacement, though, with advanced editing in exposure, brightness, contrast and saturation tools (to name just a few) letting you tweak your photos to your heart’s content.
If I’m totally honest, it’s been a while since I’ve used VSCO (Free). For a long time, VSCO was my go-to for editing, with a great selection of image adjustment tools and quite a range of high-quality photographic filters (the app was originally developed for the serious photographer who was looking to emulate film). They’ve upgraded the interface since I’ve used it last – it’s now very sleek and modern – but it’s still an app that I will go back to when the time calls.
Filmborn (Free) is my latest app acquisition…. I use Mastin Labs presets for all of my photo editing – both personal and professional – so adding Filmborn to my phone was a bit of a no-brainer. Designed to give you a genuine film look in 3 steps or less, the app lets you take photos with your in-phone camera, then edit them without having to import photos like some of its counterparts. I love that you are able to view the presets in real-time and the kicker (for me) change between three different focal length crops (31mm, 35mm, and 50mm).
Lenka (Free) is a dedicated black-and-white app, developed by professionals, for both amateur and professional photographers alike. The app is stripped down to the bare essentials. You can only use the rear-facing cameras, your picture mode options include normal and high-contrast, and you can choose to turn the flash bulb on or off for a source of continuous lighting in dark environments. No unnecessary controls, filters, colour… It forces you to focus on what matters most in photography – the light and your composition. Plus you get a real-time preview of what you are shooting. Minimal, but a lot of fun.
Later (Free-$US49/month) allows you to plan, schedule and publish your visual content. Personally, I use the free version on both the desktop and iOS versions to schedule my photos for Instagram. It has a lot more capabilities – with more to come – but being able to schedule my IG posts, particularly if I’ve used my DSLR to take the photos, is what makes this app a winner for me.
And a bonus hardware favourite for you as well.
I added a Moment ($US30-50) case to my phone about 6 months ago. After much research, I decided on this particular case as it is designed to mimic a “real” camera shutter release, with a two-stage camera button, which means you can lock focus and exposure with a half-press before pressing fully down to take a shot. Originally launched as a Kickstarter campaign, the Moment app is more about the camera than editing. The reason I love this case and app so much – I can hold my phone one-handed and take a photo using the shutter button. Not having to try and tap the screen or use the volume button to release the shutter on the camera on the phone, means that I keep a steady hand each time I take a photo.
Whether you’re new to phone photography or looking for a new photography app to add to your collection, I hope this list has given you some ideas. The key is to use just a handful of apps, but learn to use them to their full potential. Regardless of what apps you use, though, to quote one of my favourite photographers – “You can’t polish a turd.” – so always start out with the best image possible.
What are your favourite phone photography apps?
This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for forever, so finally I am sharing with you (most) of what is inside my camera bag and where I work.
I keep a Speedlite 270EX II in my bag as well. Again, I had every intention of learning how to use it, but preferring to photograph in natural light, I’ve just never really had the need to master the flash. It’s on my to-do list for this year, though.
I don’t know how I managed without my Rapid Strap before I bought it! Lovingly called the Sniper-Strap, I purchased mine after attending a Love Your Camera workshop with Angie Baxter and seeing hers in action. Since then I’ve bought one for Daughter’s camera as well. Why do I love my strap so much? It slings across my body and takes all pressure off my neck when I’m wearing my camera. I can (and have) literally have my camera on my body all day without it being a nuisance. Best money I ever spent!
All of my gear (plus bits and pieces I’ve purchased and never really used… can you say Gary Wong diffuser?!) lives in my Kelly Moore camera bag. It helps keep the dust off of everything when it’s not in use and protects it when I travel or am at a photo shoot. It all lives beside the Mercedes I got for my birthday a few years back (the real thing was a tad expensive), and my 2 red hippie camper vans (because one day I’m going to own one and travel around Australia in it!).
This is where I work. I made the decision to purchase an electric standing desk last year because I find that sitting puts too much pressure on my back. I have a Human Tool Balance Spot anti-fatigue mat that helps to keep me upright and moving and alleviates the pressure on my feet when standing for long periods.
So there you have it.
I’d love it if you would share a link to photos of your workspace if you have one. I love being a little voyeuristic and peeking at how others set up their spaces.