Top 9 Best Photo Apps for iPhone and Android
Top Apps: (left to right) The Photographer's Ephemeris, Weatherzone plus, Retro Camera Plus, Instagram and Hipstamatic.
What are the best apps for
“phone-ographers”? Whether you own an iPhone or Android handset there are
plenty of options to choose from. James Ostinga names his favourites.
Phone-ography has come a long way in the past few years. A cursory look through Apple’s App Store and the Android equivalent, Google Play, reveals a mind-boggling array of photo-centric apps designed to help photographers do more with their images.
There are apps to help you plan a photo shoot; apps to make your photos look like they were shot with a vintage camera; apps to help you fine tune brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness; and apps to help you share your images with friends, family and like-minded photographers all around the world. Here are some of my favourites.
09 ADOBE PHOTOSHOP EXPRESS
Photoshop Express is a simple image editor that lets you adjust
basic variables such as exposure, saturation, and tint. You can convert your
images to black and white, then crop, rotate or flip as required. Filters
include sketch, soft focus, sharpen and reduce noise and there are seven
pre-set effects and a range of borders to choose from. Some image editors do
more but this is certainly one of the easiest to use. To adjust saturation for
example, you simply slide your finger up and down. You can also post images to
Facebook, Twitpic, Flickr or Photoshop.com with one tap.
Platforms: iOS and Android
Photoshop Express is a simple image editor that offers control of variables like exposure, saturation, tint, sharpness and blur.
08 THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S EPHEMERIS
all about the light and The Photographer’s Ephemeris is the best tool around
for working out where the light will be at any time of the day, at any time of the year and on any given
location. It isn’t cheap, but for serious landscape photographers
it can be a very useful planning tool. The map-based software lets you work out
the time and direction of sunrise and sunset; time and direction of moonrise
and moonset; phase of the moon and percentage illumination; time of twilight;
automatic time zone detection; elevation above sea level; and azimuth and
altitude of sun/moon; distance, bearing and elevation angle between any two
points; calculation of where the sun/moon will appear from behind a hill; and
compensation for atmospheric refraction. Anything else you need to know?
Platform: iOS and Android
Price: $4.81 (Android), $9.49 (iOS)
The Photographer's Ephemeris will help you work out where the sun will be at any time, date and location.
07 WEATHERZONE PLUS
That wasn’t a
rhetorical question – there is
something else you need to know, like what’s happening with the weather? When
you’re trying to work out if it’s worth dragging yourself out of bed at four in
the morning to chase landscapes it helps if you have a reliable forecast.
You can use the free weather app that came with your phone, but is it really
accurate enough? Weather Zone presents info from the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology, offering up the latest radar maps, sunrise and sunset times, and
7-day forecasts. It’s well presented and a snap to use.
Platform: Android and iOS
Weatherzone delivers the latest radar maps, sunrise and sunset times, and 7-day forecasts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
06 PHONE CAMERA REMOTE
In a sign of things to come Samsung and Nikon recently announced new
cameras that can be operated wirelessly via smart phones. The technology that
makes it possible is built into the Samsung NX20, NX210 and NX1000 and can be
added to the Nikon D3200 via an optional wireless adapter. From the phone you
can control the camera’s key shooting functions with Live View data from the
camera displayed on the phone’s screen. The Nikon 3200 is compatible with Android
phones though an iOS app is reportedly in development. The Samsung cameras are
Price: Free, though you do need to buy the camera!
As the name suggests, Pano
is an app that helps you shoot and stitch images to create
wide panoramas. It’s a great tool when you’re confronted with a scene that is
wider in scope than the average camphone lens can handle. The interface is
brilliantly simple with a semi transparent overlay allowing you to line up each
new image with the previous shot. You can stitch two images or up to 16 and the
results are usually very good.
Platform: iOS and Android
Price: $1.99 (iOS), $2.87 (Android)
Pano let's you create stitched panoramas on the fly. (Photo courtesy Debacle Software.)
If you want your phone images to look
like they were shot with an old plastic film camera Hipstamatic is a good place
to start. Choose your film, lens and flash and start shooting. Every
choice produces a new result and half the fun is in experimenting with the
different combinations. The basic version comes with three film types, four
lenses and three flash units, though you can purchase additional effects packs.
The images can look a little clichéd, but you can’t argue with the sheer fun of
it. Unfortunately it’s iOS only, but there are similar apps for Android,
including pixelr-o-matic and Retro Camera, which are both free.
Hipstamatic offers a range of retro film effects. (Photo by James Ostinga.)
RETRO CAMERA PLUS
The closest thing to
Hipstamatic on the Android platform is Retro Camera. The app lets you choose
from five different cameras, each offering different film, vignette, scratch
and processing settings. There’s a free version but it’s ruined by annoying
pop-up ads. Try the free version to see if you like it and, if you do, upgrade to
the ad-free version. Another option for Android users is pixlr-o-matic, which lets users apply all sorts of old-school film-based effects to their images. Pixlr-o-matic is free.
Retro Camera for Android phones offers a range of camera styles based on cult classics like the Lomo, Holga, Polaroid and Diana.
02 PHOTO TRANSFER APP
images from a smartphone to a computer or tablet can be a slow and tedious
process, often involving syncing of large amounts of data or emailing several
images at a time. Photo transfer lets you download photos and videos from your
phone to a computer, tablet or other smartphone over a wireless network. You
can also go the other way, transferring images from a computer or tablet onto
your phone. There’s also an option to move images from an iPhone or iPad to an
Android device and vice versa. Use it to transfer images from the computer to
your phone so you’ve always got your best photos with you – it’s worth every
Platforms: iOS and Android
Price: $2.99 (Apple), $2.04 (Android)
Photo Transfer App makes it easy to move images from device to device – phone, computer, tablet, etc.
Instagram was once an Apple-only app but its popularity went through the
roof when the Android version launched in early April. Anyone who hadn’t heard
of it back then probably learned the name when it was purchased by Facebook for
a cool billion dollars a week or two later. So what is it? It’s social media
for photos. Take a pic with your phone, apply effects and filters – or not –
then share the images with the world, or a select group of friends. You stay in
touch with friends and family, and they stay in touch with you, through the
images you post. You can also follow photographers whose work you like and
build your own cohort of followers as you post images. You can also use
Instagram to post images to other social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter,
Tumblr and Foursquare. It’s simple, fun and frequently inspiring.
Platforms: iOS and Android
Instagram lets you follow like-minded photographers around the world.
ANDROID OR IPHONE?
While Apple’s iPhone garners most of the smartphone attention in the media, there
are plenty of Android phones out there that do just as good a job when it comes
to photography, and some offer even better camera features. While the iPhone 4S
has a good 8-megapixel sensor, the camera pales in comparison to some of its
Android competitors. Sony’s new Xperia S, for example, delivers 12-megapixels, along
with faster shooting speeds and more refined image-processing.
Specs aside, Apple’s historical advantage has been the sheer number of applications available for the iOS platform. But the recent rise in popularity of phones like the Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia has evened the playing field. Certainly when it comes to photography there are plenty of choices for both Android and iPhone users.
Sony Xperia S (left) and Apple iPhone 4S.
Have we missed your favourite iPhone or Android app? Share your favourite photo apps in the comments box below.