Can a camera make you a better photographer? Sure. Here are three that enable you to take better photos on your smartphone. Two of them are for fun and one is for serious photographers.
Price: Free | By: Go Dev Team
Z Camera is a free ad-supported app for Android and iOS that contains a huge range of features designed to make taking photographs more fun. The comprehensive features and functions can also help you to shoot better photos.
The camera app shoots static photos, videos, and dynamic photos. A dynamic photo is actually a short video clip and you can capture two or three seconds of action. It is a sort of live photo and it can be converted into an animated GIF file that is great for sharing with others online.
Collage making apps are common and popular too. Z Camera shoots collages. You choose a layout from a menu, such as two, three, four photos in various designs. Then as you take photos, they are inserted into the collage, so you build it as you shoot. This is an interesting and novel way to capture photos.
There are the usual filters and these are live rather than being applied afterwards. A filter can be selected and you see the live image on the screen and then you take a photo.
This is interesting, although it is better to shoot a natural photo and apply filters afterwards and save it as a copy so you always have the original. It can do that too, so you have a choice of a live filter or post-photo processing.
Other live effects can be applied, such as a vignette, blurring the background while keeping the subject sharp, HDR (high dynamic range), beautify selfies to make you look great and a hair colour changer. There are lots of extras like stickers that can be purchased.
I used the Android version of Z Camera on a Samsung Galaxy S6 and it was excellent. You must subscribe (£1.83 a month) to remove the ads.
Price: Free | By: Appic Labs Corp
Camera MX is an Android app that aims to improve your photographs by providing lots of filters and special effects. Unlike some apps, which apply filters after a photo has been taken, Camera MX applies them live.
Tapping the FX button in the top left corner shows a collection of filters at the bottom of the screen. There are more than will fit on the screen and swiping left or right reveals them all. There are three filter collections and a control is tapped to switch from one to another.
Select a filter and it is shown live on the screen. Some change the colours, such as applying tints and gradations of colour across the image. Others have more dramatic effects, like the kaleidoscopic one that creates fascinating patterns from the image in front of the camera.
As pointed out earlier, filters are great, but there are pros and cons of applying them live. It is great to see the effects before shooting an image, but it might be better to shoot a photo and create a copy to which you can apply filters and play around with effects.
There is a comprehensive range of photo editing tools for enhancing images after they are taken, such as white balance, brightness, contrast, sharpness, rotation, special effects, overlays, frames and more.
Live photos can be taken and in this mode a second or two of video is shot. Any frame can be saved as a photo or the live shot can be saved as an animated GIF or video. This is really useful when you are trying to capture action shots and you can rewind and fast forward to select the perfect shot.
Camera MX is Android only and it worked fine on my Samsung Galaxy S6. There are in-app purchases for extras like more filters.
Camera FV-5 Lite
Price: Free | By: FGAE
The other two cameras are designed for taking fun photos with special effects. Camera FV-5 Lite for Android is different and it takes photography a lot more seriously. It attempts to turn your phone into a professional camera by adding the sort of features you would find on a digital SLR. (Did you know you can shoot RAW images on your phone camera?)
The white balance can be set and there are four different presets, such as cloudy day, sun, and two types of indoor lighting. There is also an automatic mode. There are seven different focus modes, such as for portraits, infinity (such as landscapes), close-up, automatic and manual.
There are three light metering modes, so you can choose the whole frame, or two centre weighted options. An exposure compensation control enables the brightness to be adjusted.
A burst mode takes photos at around two shots per second on my Samsung Galaxy S6 and this is great for capturing moving subjects. You can select the best shot afterwards and delete the others.
There is also automatic bracketing. This takes several shots in rapid succession with slight variations in the f-stop and exposure. Afterwards you can review the images and delete ones you don’t want.
Camera FV-5 Lite is free of ads, but some features are reserved for a Pro upgrade. You get a lot of features in the free version though and it is a great app.
Which app is best?
I liked Z Camera, but after owning it for a time, it started displaying ads on the phone’s lock screen. You need to subscribe to get rid of them and while it is cheap, the cost mounts up over time, so I would prefer a one-time fee.
Camera MX is great if you want to apply live effects to photos as you take them, and there is a good collection of editing tools for applying effects after the shot too. It is recommended.
Camera FV-5 Lite makes you feel like a professional photographer with all the metering modes, exposure bracketing, light modes and other features. It is good for people that want more control over the photo taking process. It is recommended.
Check out the new editing features in the Google Photos app.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 10 December 2016