As the cameras on the iPhone (and iOS devices like iPad) and other smartphones have improved substantially over the years, a lot of people have started to use them as they main point and shoot (here are a few tips for some great shots if you phone camera is your main one as well).
Apple provides a native camera app that does more than enough if all you want is grab a fast picture, but in all honesty, there are several apps out there that don’t cost a dime and offer a lot better functionality than Apple’s native one.
Naturally, the first that come to mind in this scenario would be the excellent and popular Instagram, or Yahoo’s own Flickr app, which we reviewed here.
But this time, let’s set those popular choices aside and take a look at some great, not-so-known free camera apps for the iPhone.
Let’s start with Snapbucket.
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Created by the popular service Photobucket, Snapbucket for iPhone is as much a camera app as it is a photo editing app. You can either take a picture or pick one from your camera roll and then the app provides you with a pretty extensive set of options for customizing it, including different filters, effects, frames and such.
Interestingly, Snapbucket also has a very convenient customizing option called Sets, which are predefined groups of filters, frames and other elements and which make it very easy to customize your photos. Once you are done, you can share them via email or by using any major social network.
Note: To take full advantage of all that Snapbucket has to offer, such as being able to follow other users, discover nice shots and upload your pictures, you will have to create a free Photobucket account first.
Developed by SmugMug, Camera Awesome for iPhone stands out from other camera apps thanks to the various composition features that it offers. When using the app, you can tap at the top of the screen to access all of them, which range from the simple Rule of Thirds (which we covered before in this post) to more complex ones. Additionally, you can also view the different filters available, as well as a nice camera stabilization feature.
Another nice feature of Camera Awesome is the ability to tap to lock-in focus and exposure, which can be very handy for pictures with many elements on the screen.
After you take a picture, tapping the Awesomize button also allows you to tweak your photos by using the crop, effects and filters options, after which you can save or share it.
While not a panorama camera app as its name might suggest, Camera360 has several features that clearly show it takes photography seriously. To start, the app sports a clean, yet powerful photo capture screen, allowing you to access some basic settings and effects right from it.
Once you take your photo, Camera360 provides several different filter sets that give you plenty of choice for how you want to style it.
If HRD is your thing (and even if it isn’t), you will be happy to know that Camera360 offers a great feature called Batch, which allows you to take several consecutive shots fast (for you to compare them afterwards), as well as a custom HRD effect that works quite well when enhancing your photos.
Other excellent features include a special Self Shoot mode that even uses face recognition for self-portraits, Scene templates to make your photos funnier and even a nice Collage option that lets you create some neat-looking arrangements on the fly.
As you can see, each of the photo apps mentioned above offer something different. In my testing, I found Camera360 to be the most complete of the bunch, but you might like any of the other for their specific features as well. The good thing is, since all of them are free, there’s nothing stopping you from trying them all. Enjoy!