Every smartphone these days comes with a camera or two, or sometimes even three or four. The technology of mobile cameras has come a long way, and some devices have truly top end cams that are capable of taking amazing pictures. But unless you've download a handful of apps, we can practically guarantee that you're not getting the best pics that your phone is capable of. Want incredible mobile pics? Or even just simply better ones than you're currently getting? Then you're going to need at least one of our recommended apps.
What's the Problem?
You've got a smartphone, your smartphone has a camera, and that camera has a built in app that you can use to take pictures. Surely that's all you need? Wrong. Default camera apps just aren't all that great. Sure, they're fine for point and shoot, but you're not going to be getting the best shots. Manufacturers generally don't spend much time designing stock camera apps, since all they need to do is take a picture, and never design those apps to take advantage of all the things that a mobile's camera can really do. And yet many people never think of using anything other than that default, pre-installed camera app.
The truth is that a simple download or two could dramatically improve your picture quality. If you want the best shots, then here are the apps you're going to need.
For RAW Shooting: Open Camera
RAW is a special file format that's uncompressed and unprocessed. In very basic terms it gives you a “raw” photo. This gets you the best resolution pic that your camera can take, and a blank canvas to use other editing software on. Though nearly every top end and most mid range mobiles are capable of shooting in RAW, most default camera apps don't allow you to do so.
Download Open Camera, however, and you'll be able to shoot in RAW whenever you like. It's free and has all the regular camera app options that you'd expect, the only difference is that you'll be shooting in RAW. Two warnings here, however. First, you'll need a good photo editing app to process your images so that they look good (check out Snapseed or Touch ReTouch). Second, since these pics will be non-compressed that means that they'll take up more space in your memory, so it's worth either getting a big SD card or simply transferring your pics to Google Photo or your computer once you've taken a few.
For Taking Selfies: Selfie Master
Some top end phones are coming with front flashes, in which case, skip on to the next app on our list. The majority of mobile front facing cams, on the other hand, don't have flash. This means that your selfies end up looking washed out, dark, or simply weird. And that's where Selfie Master comes in.
With Selfie App you'll need to click the camera shutter button twice. The first click will make your screen glow a bright white, which will act as the “flash” for your picture, and the second click will actually take that picture. If you want decent front camera pics and you don't have a built in front flash, Selfie Master is a must have.
For Special Effects: Framelapse, Panorama 360 Camera, and Motion Stills
Okay, okay, most default camera apps have at least a few special effects built in, but switching on those modes rarely results in great pictures. You're going to need something a little more specialised if you want a truly great special effect.
Framelapse is the app you need if time lapse photography is your thing. Timelapse photography involves taking a picture at set intervals (maybe once a second), and then stitching those pics together into a video. This can be accomplished with a regular camera and lots of work, but Framelapse makes the whole process easier. Set up your camera where you want it, set a picture interval and then a duration for the shoot, and walk away. That's all you need to do.
Panoramic shots can look incredible when done correctly, and though many default camera apps have panorama mode in built, few let you take a full 360 degree photo. Panorama 360 Camera gives you a full and complete panorama pic. Open the app, hold you phone at the height you need, then slowly spin around, and the app will take all the pics you need and then blend them together into one photo. Easy.
Finally, on the special effects front, there's gifs. These short moving images are a cool and fun way to share things, and few phones offer this possibility natively. Motion Stills allows you to shoot short, 3 second, videos and then convert them to gifs that you can easily share. Best of all, it's completely free.
For Shooting HDR: A Better Camera
HDR photos are basically enhanced pictures that show deeper black and better whites, and that capture more detail. And HDR shooting is the ideal way to compensate for a mobile camera that's less than perfect. You'll get a photo that's more balanced using HDR, as opposed to ones that look too dark or too light. Whilst many default camera apps do offer HDR settings, few of them are any good, and that's why you need A Better Camera.
A Better Camera actually takes three pictures every time you take a snap. Each of the three shots has a different exposure (one dark, one light, one in the middle), and the app then combines the three pictures into one, giving you a shot with a perfect balance. It's free too, so there's no reason not to download it.
Taking better pictures on your phone doesn't require a photography course, and doesn't require you to buy a better phone either. In most cases, a free app or two will be all you need to make sure you get the quality of photo that you're really looking for!