When I first got my hands on the iPhone 4, I, along with many others, knew it’s camera would change the digital photography landscape. That went even further with the iPhone 4S, when Apple upped the resolution, added additional optics, a larger sensor, and more dedicated processing power for the camera. I finally ditched my point and shoot camera when I picked up my 4S last year and haven’t looked back. As they say: the best camera is the one you have with you.
Those of you who already follow me on Facebook, Flickr & Instagram know I shoot with a few cameras. For more technically complex shots, or where I need huge resolution for large prints, I use my Canon 7D. For times when I need less or just don’t want to lug that rig around, I take the Sony NEX-5N mirrorless compact. For all other instances – the vast majority of them – I shoot with my iPhone. I’m often asked how exactly I take a lot of the photos I do with just my iPhone, so I thought I’d share some tips.
If you appreciate good photos, regardless of their subject, this is the best $0.99 you’ll ever spend. I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve completely ditched the iOS ‘Camera’ app, except for shooting video. Camera+ gives you 27 unique effects (filters) that each have granular control over the strength applied to your photo. If 100% HDR is too radical, drag the slider down to 55% for a less-dramatic effect. It also has 16 scene modes, which give a different look and feel to your photo, and can be combined with the 27 effects. On top of all that, Camera+ has a burst mode feature, enhanced digital zoom, geo-tagging, ‘rule of thirds’-style grid, cropping, rotating and a slew of other features the iOS ‘Camera’ app just doesn’t have. If you ignore all the other apps on this list, get Camera+. (App Store link)
Snapseed goes even further than Camera+, but I use the two together for the best results. Snapseed will set you back $4.99, but they often run special deals where you can get it for less. For the more discerning iPhotographers among us, Snapseed gives many more editing options. Brightness, Contrast, Ambiance, Saturation, Sharpness are a few. One feature I particularly like is the ‘Selective Adjust’ tool, reminiscent of Adobe Lightroom on my Mac. The Selective Adjust tool lets you choose just a portion of the image to apply a series of edits to, without changing the entire image. The other feature I haven’t found in other camera apps is the ‘Straighten’ tool, which is a life saver on those shots where your phone wasn’t level. While Snapseed is the priciest on this list, I couldn’t create many of the images I do without it. The price includes an iPad-specific app as well, if you’re shooting on your iPhone and then editing on your iPad. (App Store link)
For all those times just one photo won’t do, Pano saves the day to create great panoramic images and does all the stitching work for you. I’ve tried many of the panoramic apps and Pano leads the pack. It’ll set you back $1.99, but you’ll love the results. Once you’ve saved your panoramic to your Photo Roll, import it to Camera+ and apply the Clarity filter. Then, if you want more granular control, import it into Snapseed. All these apps work well together to help you create the best possible images right on your iPhone. (App Store link)