iPhoneography – A low-down on apps from a finicky person

When it comes to technology, I want it to work a certain way. And if it doesn’t, I’m pretty quick to discard it. The same thing applies to apps – especially camera apps.

Last month, as part of my experiment in using a different camera each month, I used my iPhone. I had tried out a few apps before that month based on reviews and suggestions, but I got a chance to really experiment with things on my own.

Here’s what I learned!

100 Cameras in 1 is the frontrunner for the apps I’ve tried. Aside from being able to choose from 100 effects, you can also layer them and adjust the strength of each effect to choose something unique.

Where it falls short is in the effects themselves. Some of them are over-processed and end up burning into your photos a little too much (see the image on the bottom right above). Also, it’s connected to the Game Centre, so you get all sorts of achievements as you go. Now, I love some achieves… but in World of Warcraft and other, real games. It feels like a gimmick every time a new one is unlocked and is distracting.

High resolution? Yes
Multiple effects? Yes
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? Yes
Price? $0.99
Worth it? Yes

CameraBag is a decent, simple app. You don’t have to search all over the place for options, but that also means you can’t adjust the settings. There’s no real room for creativity or making it your own.

I do like the filters it offers, though. The Helga filter is great, so is 1967. It’s worth having it for when you want to do something quick and easy, but I don’t think it’s worth the $1.99, though. Really, it should be free considering its simplicity.

High resolution? Yes
Multiple effects? Yes
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? Yes
Price? $1.99
Worth it? Almost


Hipstamatic. Oh Hipstamatic. I love this one profusely, it’s definitely worth the money. The basic app is pretty great, comes with some good lens choices and different types of film to try.

And then once you’re hooked, they’re just keep trying to get you to buy more. There are in-app purchases you can make to expand your collection of lenses and films, but they each cost $0.99+. It can really add up and I can’t tell you how much I’ve spent on this app to date.

I love the effects that do come with it, except for one thing… You can’t load a photo from your camera roll to try out a different combination of effects. If you want to try something new, you have to take a new photo. I’m a big fan of post-processing, don’t take it away from me.

High resolution? Yes
Multiple effects? Yes
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? No
Price? $1.99
Worth it? Yesish (see my note about the in-app purchases above)

Instagram, Instagram, Instagram. You infuriate me. You have gorgeous effects, fun sharing, but you won’t let me have a high resolution option. What am I supposed to do with a photo that has such a low resolution that I can’t print it? It’s not even up to Flickr’s minimum standards.

High resolution? No
Multiple effects? Yes
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? Yes
Price? Free
Worth it? I suppose.

Adobe Photoshop Express is great for quick touchups on photos like colour adjustments, noise reduction, and contrast settings. It does it all in high resolution, so your photos stay usable.

The effects and borders you can add are a nice idea, until you try them out. It’s like walking into a technicolour time-warp. The borders don’t emulate old film and print borders like the other apps do and if they’re supposed to. They’re garish, overly sharp, and very fake-looking. Then the effects make you think you’ve stepped back into the 1990s, where computer graphics were still in their infancy. I half-expected to be able to add clip-art cherubs to the corners of my photos.

High resolution? Yes
Multiple effects? Yes, but don’t touch them.
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? Yes
Price? Free
Worth it? Yes

Tilt Shift Generator mimics the miniature-creating style of a tilt-shift lens without having top shell out a few thousand for an actual tilt-shift lens. I didn’t really have an opportunity to take some landscape, crowd photos to try this out properly, but click on the link to the iTunes description and there are some good examples there.

Even though this app has a specific purpose, it adds in some opportunities to colour-adjust your image, so it’s pretty nice to be able to do all the basics in one app.

High resolution? Yes
Multiple effects? Yes
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? Yes
Price? $0.99
Worth it? Yes

Photosynth is pretty nifty to have if you feel like playing with photography and panographies. You can capture a whole room, all 360 degrees of it, in one shot, which makes it pretty fun.

The resolution isn’t what you’d expect from a panography though. I had hoped that it would retain the resolution of each image after stitching it together, but instead you end up with an overall medium resolution photo.

It’s not an everyday app, but considering it’s free, it’s there when you want it.

High resolution? No
Multiple effects? No
Take a photo? Yes
Use a file photo? No
Price? Free
Worth it? Yes

Conclusion

There are a lot of useless camera apps on the App Store. There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to sort through, but I hope this helped some of you get started. Once you know what to expect from your apps, it’s not hard to get the photo that you were looking for.

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