You might not have given much thought to which app takes all those photos on your phone, but you don’t have to stick with the default tool that Apple or Google provides. There are some great third-party camera apps to help you out. Take your mobile photography to the next level.
These tools give you more control over how your photos are taken, additional features to add filters and effects, and tight integration with other apps on your phone. You can still use Google Photos or Apple iCloud to back up your photos to the cloud, if needed.
The manual gives you access to professional settings that the iPhone’s camera app leaves out: shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus, and exposure can all be adjusted. There’s also a basic histogram and photo card built into the viewfinder interface for easy access while you frame and review your photos.
You have a choice of white or black themes, an EXIF viewer is included, and a rule of thirds grid overlay is even available. Equally important, the app is clean and intuitive to use.
2) Open the camera
Packed with features and yet never overwhelming or confusing, Open Camera is one of the best third-party camera options on the Android platform. You have access to advanced ISO, white balance and exposure options when taking photos, as well as an auto stabilization option to keep everything stable.
You can overlay a selection of grids and frames on your photos, set up custom voice commands for taking photos, save files in RAW format, turn HDR on or off, and more. On top of that, the app is completely free, although we recommend that you donate to the developer if you find it useful.
One of the main features of Prime is Focus, which essentially highlights objects currently in focus on the viewfinder screen, giving you another tool to intelligently compose shots and produce effects such as blur bokeh background. RAW is available as an output option, if you need it.
There’s a lot more to the app too: fill flash, shutter speed control, white balance adjustment, exposure compensation, and a live light meter you can use when framing photos. In addition, there is an associated Apple Watch app, which allows you to use the bracelet as a remote control.
4) Footej Camera
Footej Camera is definitely one of the sleekest camera apps on Android, and is actually quite similar to iOS in its design (which may or may not be what you’re looking for). Most importantly, it has a full number of features to help you get the exact photo you want every time you open the app.
You get a good array of manual controls (including ISO and shutter speed), RAW format support, advanced focus and exposure controls, and the always-on option. to create GIFs directly from the camera. The interface is also well done, and there is a built-in gallery for reviewing photos.
5) Camera +
You can’t find better camera apps for iPhone (and iPad and iPod Touch) than this one. From advanced manual controls built right into the shutter screen to impressive sharpening and adjustment tools, it’s capable of giving you as many or as few camera options as you need to get the right shots.
Use RAW mode to capture everything that enters the camera’s sensor, or Slow shutter mode to let in as much light as possible, or Action mode to keep moving objects in focus. it is sure to satisfy even the most serious photographers.
6) MX Camera
One of the heavyweights in the Android camera scene for quite some time now, Camera MX has just about all the features you could ask for, all wrapped up in an accessible and intuitive interface. Apply live effects and filters, capture GIFs, use HDR and automatic optimizations, and more.
You can adjust focus and exposure before taking a photo, use a grid overlay to line everything up properly, and use the built-in timer to take delayed photos. On top of that, there are also some cool video features here, including the ability to add a variety of filters while you record.
In the midst of all the stories, instant messaging, hashtags, and influencers, let’s not forget that at its core, Instagram is a very, very good camera app. Take the time to explore some of the photo-taking features it offers, and you’ll find that they’re probably better than you remember.
There are still dozens of filters available on Instagram, all of which can be adjusted according to their strength, as well as a variety of editing tools covering orientation, brightness, contrast, color, shadows, highlights, etc. Instagram remains one of the best apps for getting great photos very quickly.
This guide was originally published on 05/04/2016 and has been updated on 04/29/2020 with new apps that take advantage of the latest Android and Apple devices.