Improved year by year, today’s smartphones have excellent camera systems. But sometimes the camera apps they come with can be restrictive.
The iPhone 12 Pro, for example, has a great camera that can take great photos in almost any situation. But, as has always been the case with Apple, the iPhone’s camera app is pretty basic. Aperture, ISO, and shutter speed aren’t adjustable, and while pretty good, the phone’s night mode is automatic.
Apple relies on artificial intelligence that recognizes what you’re trying to photograph, then invisibly adjusts camera settings to take the shot it thinks you want. It mainly works and allows taking great photos almost effortlessly. But for those who want more control over the iPhone’s camera, there are plenty of third-party apps to help them out.
Some of these apps are free, some cost a few dollars, and some are free to start with and then charge for additional features or ad removal.
Here we are going to take a look at four apps to improve your smartphone photography game. But instead of sticking highly artificial filters on your selfies, we’ve chosen apps that bring useful manual control and powerful, interesting photography features to your phone.
Focos – Free, with options for in-app purchases
Focos photo application for iPhoneXiaodong wang
The first app I chose is called Focos. The app is free to download, but some features are only unlocked by paying $ 0.99 per month, $ 7.99 per year, or $ 12.99 for lifetime access. But don’t let this payment structure put you off, because the free version comes with a good selection of useful and powerful photography tools.
Most important is how photos taken with Focos can have their focus point and depth of field adjusted after they are taken. Smartphone fans might remember this feature from the 2014 HTC One (M8), which had a depth sensor to add 3D data to photos.
Focos lets you move the focal point anywhere in the photo, with where you tap to focus immediately. There’s also a slider to adjust the lens aperture and therefore the depth of field of an image – again, after it’s taken. This way, you can select just a small area to focus, or to make the entire photo look in focus. This montage works with images taken. the Focos application itself, but also by any photo you have taken using your iPhone’s portrait mode, as the data that Focos needs to manipulate the images is retained.
Another powerful and free tool from Focos is how artificial light sources can be added to a photo after it is taken. First, you see the 3D image, where the app accurately plots the depth of the image, with subjects farther from the camera appearing behind those in the front of the shot, all of it. in a deep 3D model. You can then add a light source, such as a bulb, flashlight, fluorescent tube, or softbox, to illuminate any part of the shorts. The position, direction, brightness and color of the light source can all be adjusted.
All the usual photo editing tools are available in Focos, including exposure, brightness, and more. But the emphasis, if you will allow me the pun, is to adjust the focal point of your photographs.
Focos is a powerful photography app best suited for those who have at least some experience with aperture, focal length, and other advanced camera settings. Since the focus is manual, this is not a camera app for quickly taking pictures without a second thought otherwise you will end up with blur most of the time.
Night camera – Free, but $ 0.99 to remove ads
Night Camera Photography App for iPhoneNico schroeder
A simpler photography app, Night Camera does exactly what you expect – it lets you adjust ISO and shutter speed to take brighter night photos. With iPhone’s own camera app, sometimes keen to show off by over-brightening low-light images, Night Camera can help savvy photographers capture exactly the shot they want, with just the right amount of light. .
I see this app to be particularly useful for astrophotography and for capturing nighttime images with a deliberate amount of motion blur, perhaps of a campfire.
There are a lot of settings to tweak, and even a live histogram, but there are also automatic options for those who trust the app to do the right thing with their shots. There is quite a bit of lag when moving the phone around and setting up your shot, but only because the app is trying to show a live preview of what your photo will look like, so naturally the processor the iPhone is working hard.
ISO sensitivity can be set from 50 to 2000, and shutter speed can be set from 1 / 30th of a second to one second. This means very long exposures are not possible with this app, but a second with high ISO and the app’s ‘low light enhancement’ setting enabled helps bring more light to your photos. Exposure and white balance can also be adjusted or left on automatic.
The night camera is free but displays an advertisement for three seconds each time it is opened. To remove this, the app requests a one-time payment of $ 0.99.
ProCam 8 – $ 6.99
ProCam 8 iPhone Camera AppSamer azzam
To take it up a notch we have ProCam 8. This app is priced at $ 6.99 which puts it above a lot of others, but I think it’s still an acceptable price. White balance, focus, ISO, and shutter speed can all be adjusted, while capturing lossless RAW images means your photos retain much more data than those taken with the own app. Apple – at least until Apple’s new ProRaw file format hits the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max later in 2020.
Shooting in RAW format means photos can be edited more fully in an app like Lightroom, and without damaging or reducing the quality of an image. Lossless TIFF image files are also supported by ProCam 8, and there’s a Smart HDR mode that takes three photos at a time to help balance highlights and shadows.
There are also options to choose the aspect ratio (including 1: 1 for Instagram fans) and four grid overlay options, including one that helps you keep the phone exactly level (or 90 degrees). ) when you take a photo. Other settings let you turn the iPhone’s image stabilization system on or off, show or turn off a live histogram, and even add copyright to your photos.
ProCam 8 is also capable of shooting video, with the choice of shooting with the H.264 or H.265 codec, and choosing from a wide range of Full HD and Ultra HD video formats, with many frame rates at choices, including several not offered by Apple’s own app.
There’s also time-lapse mode, burst mode, portrait mode, and the option to set a slow shutter. Along with this, there are presets for shooting in low light, shooting images with deliberate motion blur, and finally shooting with artistic light trail.
Photoshop Camera – To free
Photoshop app for iPhoneAdobe
Finally, some photographic fun in the form of Photoshop Camera. Much simpler than the name suggests, this is a free app that uses the power of Photoshop to apply a set of fun filters to your images.
I’m not talking about beautifying selfie filters here, but so-called lenses that show what Adobe is capable of. Add an artificial blue sky to your photos, replacing what the sky actually looks like with surprising realism. Another adds a nifty Vincent van Gogh look with cleverly added paint swirls to your photos, and another adds a pop art theme.
Granted, these have a limited use case, but they work great and are much more impressive than the many portrait enhancing / ruining filters that otherwise litter the photography section of the App Store. Adobe is also adding more goals each week, for free. The key here, of course, is to remember that you have all of these lenses – and the app itself – and not just the default iPhone camera app.
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