iOS Camera Necessaries

I don’t know why, but many of my acquaintances on (ADN) are interested in my choice of iOS allowed to live on my iPod. The previous description was with my social apps (link) and so this time I thought I’d cover my “photography folder”.

There are thousands, and I mean thousands of “photography” apps, a lot of Instagram clones (filter-abuse) and “special effects” apps barely worth a look and a couple of these I have listed here fall into that category. However, the remainder are those I find to be absolutely essential high quality apps every iOS photographer should have, and I’ll explain why I think so.

First I’ll show you a screenshot of my iPod Photography folder. Beginning with the top-left is the requisite and always available “Photos” app. Though this app, which comes with every iOS device is a good one and offers rudimentary editing like cropping, tthird-party apps are definitely useful to have. Next to the Photos app is PhotoForge, the real “Photoshop” of iOS. Then comes PhotoStation, FlickrStackr, Video Camera, Fast Camera, Camera+, CloneCamera and finally InstaStory. I’ll cover these in order. Links to more information about these apps is at the end of this post.

On the desktop Adobe Photoshop is way overrated. A better solution for photographers of any skill is OnOne Software’s “Perfect Photo Suite”. You save a lot of money (half the cost of Photoshop) and get 10-times the power and 100-times easier to use. PhotoForge for iOS is a lot like Perfect Photo Suite, and is surprisingly powerful and crazy-easy to use. Just about anything you would want to do to your photos to improve them, you can. Or ruin them, too (a-la Instagram filter-abuse).

What makes PhotoForge wonderful is that all touch-ups include controls to allow a little finesse in your effects. You can apply as little or as much of any particular effect you want. So you can practice the less-is-more rule of thumb. But more importantly are the genuine “touch-up” tools to help clean-up contrast, tone down or boost colors, fix too-dark or too-bright pictures and all the rest. It’s a great app for enhancing your iOS pictures on-the-fly while out and about.

PhotoStation is one of those cheesy photo apps I’ve mentioned. Not really worth paying for because it doesn’t do much, and to be truthful it’s on my “delete this app” to-do list. But it does have a couple awesome, well-done effects, like converting a photograph into a line-drawing or making one of those “engraved” looks - I think it’s called “embossed” or something. One problem with this app is how long it takes to start-up.

Because it does these few neato filters so well I’ve kept it around. But only about half the filters are worth playing with. The others are too Instagram-ish or downright ugly.

In truth PhotoForge can do a lot of this stuff very easily with only a few taps here and there. But having this app is handy because of how quickly the effects can be applied and then the picture shared to your social networks. It’s like a shortcut when you already know in your head what you want to do to your picture before you go through the motions of creating the look.

If you were to buy only one of all these listed apps, FlickrStackr is the one you absolutely must get. I cannot recommend this one enough. It started out as a basic Flickr viewer and exploratorium and has grown into a powerful, essential photo-sharing-site tool. Not only does it allow searching and browsing and discovery, it allows you access to full-resolution versions of these pictures and is optimized for the Retina Displays of your iPhone or iPod or iPad.

FlickrStackr also allows you to upload full-resolution version of your own pictures and also to download full-resolution versions of what ever else you might find (if author-allowed). Furthermore, for an in-app purchase you can add 500px account access and the myriad of accounts you can add to FlickrStackr is truly amazing. I don;t use FaceBook or Instragram, but I can browse and download pictures from those services. I believe an in-app purchase will give you uploading privileges as well, but I’m not sure about those. The point being that you can use the in-app purchase to grab only the functions and abilities you need and actually use. This app is so strongly recommended I put two screenshot, so there!

Not only does FlickrStackr allow you access to so many different photo-sharing web sites, but also allows you to add and manage multiple accounts on the same service, such as Flickr itself.

The developer doesn’t throw out updates to the app willy-nilly or all that often. But each update has brought with it really valuable and amazing new functionality and features.

Whenever I see an update for FlickrStackr I always read the update notes with great interest to see what new wonderful things are in store.

Seriously, if you never purchase any after-market camera or photo app for your iOS device, thinking the built-in apps suffice quite well (and they do) - you really should consider FlickrStackr as the absolutely essential add-on to make your device, as a handy mobile camera and picture viewer, complete.

Video Camera is just that: a video camera. Sure the in-built camera app (and many other camera apps) have video-recording functions. But Video Camera app is designed from the ground-upward to be a video recorder app first, not as an add-on or after-thought of a static camera app.

A couple examples of features include adding titles, taking snapshots while shooting video and several other things that are unique to a dedicated video recorder app as compared to what you’ll usually find in a static camera app that also feature video recording ability. One feature I like is to record, stop, record again and have the new recording appended to the end of the previous recording and so on.

Fast Camera is just that: fast. really fast. No, really, really fast.

Even having a camera at your fingertips at all times isn;t enough to catch to moments that surprise you. Fast Camera is designed for those times. Though all aspects are customizable, the default setting is to start capturing pictures the moment the this app is opened, at 30 frames a second. It’s not a video recorder, but could be. The idea is to continuously capture high-resolution pictures until you press the stop button. When you do all those pictures are dropped into a folder in the app’s “light table”. The idea being if there are a hundred pictures a second, at least¬†one of them will be the perfect shot.

I don’t use this app often, but when I do the perfect shot is always there. Every time. So if you’re shooting children, pets, or even looking to surprise a friend or family member, Fast Camera is your tool of choice. And often, when something surprising happens out of nowhere, quick action to get Fast Camera started-up usually allows you to capture what you’re hoping to capture a lot more often than not.

Camera+ is probably the best known, most popular after-market camera app on the AppStore. it’s the “Angry Birds” of Camera Apps.

When I mentioned it was on-sale once, I a reply somewhat akin to “-sigh- what’s so special about Camera+? I’m tired of hearing about it, ProCamera is the better option”.

I disagree. I bought ProCamera and I’m not impressed. If I want that kind of professional control I’ll buy a real camera. my iPod/iPhone/iPad having a camera is a convenience, nothing more. It’s for those impromptu “why not” shots. Sure, there are pros who use the iPhone, etc. But they are Pros. For the average person Camera+ fits the bill wonderfully. It’s a great in-between being more powerful and feature-rich than the built-in Camera app, but still easy to use. As for features? Heres the primary one I like best: the Camera+ “light Table”.

Images taken are saved to the Light Table before going into my camera roll (and by extension: the PhotoStream). But more importantly is that the Camera+ Light Table can sync all Camera+ Light Tables via iCloud among all your iOS devices. This can be real handy-dandy and makes it easy to share pictures between devices without relying on the PhotoStream. And leaving pictures on the Light Table until you’re ready to review them later, regardless which device you happen to be holding when ready to do so.

CloneCamera is just one of those hardly-useful-but-fun camera apps you can play around with. Worth a dollar? I don’t know. I grabbed it when it went free a while back and I’ve tinkered with it and have created some really fun results.

As demonstrated in the startup screen, CloneCamera is a fun little utility that enables you to “clone” any subject (usually a person) throughout the same picture. Much like the EchoGraph type apps that allow you to shoot a short movie, then create an animated GIF file with a single “moving” part of the picture, CloneCamera uses the same method to allow you to clone your subject. (I have EchoGraph but I consider it a different subject, so I haven;t included it in my photography round-up).

The process is simple: take several pictures of the same scene, with your subject in a different position for each shot. Then these pictures are “stacked” and you simply “brush in” the subject from the different shots so they appear in your final shot. Hence: clones of your subject all appearing “at the same time” in the same picture.

The app name InstaStory is obviously a play on Instagram. As far as I know this app has no relationship directly or indirectly with the InstaGram app. Again, this is one of those I grabbed when it went free that one time, but in truthfulness I’ve never actually used it. Like PhotoStation mentioned above, this one is on my “delete it” to-do list but I just haven’t done it yet because the idea is sound. Primarily to create colorful fun frames for your pictures as shown in my screenshot example.

I just haven’t felt a need nor have I come across a good time to actually use this style of picture sharing.

Perhaps because I’m learning photography and how the pros do it, my mind set is to take pictures in an unspoiled way. That pictures should always remain in their natural “as the camera gave it to us” state, and that filters and touch-ups and other mucking-around should only happen on copies so the original is always there to go back to.

More info about PhotoForge, PhotoStation, FlickrStackr, Video Camera, Fast Camera, Camera+ and InstaStory. If you don’t have Camera+ and are looking for an excellent free camera app, the absolute best is Camera Awesome! But if you already have Camera+, there’s no need for it.¬†Each link opens in a new browser tab. NOTE: “Video Camera” was increased to some unGodly price recently (as of this writing), wait for it to drop back to $3.