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The best camera apps for iOS

Michael Simon | Aug. 10, 2015
Not only is the iPhone one of the most popular point-and-shoots on the market, if you had to pick one feature that sets it apart from its smartphone competitors, it would have to be the camera. The secret is in Apple's proprietary image signal processor, which handles things like autofocus, face detection, and noise reduction to reduce the strain on the main processor and optimize the camera for iOS.

Not only is the iPhone one of the most popular point-and-shoots on the market, if you had to pick one feature that sets it apart from its smartphone competitors, it would have to be the camera. The secret is in Apple's proprietary image signal processor, which handles things like autofocus, face detection, and noise reduction to reduce the strain on the main processor and optimize the camera for iOS.

But while the iPhone takes exceptional pictures right out of the box, Apple's Camera app only scratches the surface of what its 8-megapixel sensor can actually do. Through a set of powerful APIs, Apple has given developers far more control over the camera than it offers in its own app. Access to professional-caliber controls like shutter speed, ISO, and white balance have brought out the very best in Apple's innovative iSight camera, elevating it beyond the expectations of a humble smartphone.

So naturally, the App Store is teeming with apps for shutterbugs, and filtering through all of them can be harder than capturing a clear photo of Bigfoot. That's why we put some of the best and most buzzed about camera apps to the test. I snapped tons of pictures and tweaked more settings than I ever have before, and the apps that performed best were the ones that let me shoot most consistently. They offer a robust set of features that let me adjust light and focus without sacrificing Camera's greatest strength: The ability to quickly capture a moment. 

Ultimately, this list was made based on three factors: Interface, ease of use, and of course features. And while we can all surely all agree that every app on this list will help you take stunning photos, don't take it personally if your favorite didn't make the cut. (Truth be told, the app the I used most before writing this barely gets a mention.) Camera apps are some of the most subjective around, so if I've overlooked a great one, let me know in the comments.

Best: Camera+

Debuting alongside the iPhone 4 some five years ago,Camera+ ($3) quickly became the go-to Camera replacement and set the standard for shooters, bringing things like image stabilization and exposure control long before Apple did. But it hasn't rested on its laurels. Currently in its sixth iteration, Camera+ is continuously the best in its class, with a tremendous set of features, fantastic editing, and a blissfully customizable interface that lets you choose exactly how much control you want over the camera. 

Camera+ has followed Apple's lead when it comes to interface, making it feel familiar while cutting down on the amount of fumbling you'll need to do to snap a quick pic. It looks extremely basic--you'll see the familiar circular shutter button, a toggle for the flash, and the option to flip cameras--but Camera+ showcases its strength in extremely subtle ways. You'll see the ISO, f-stop, and white balance displayed prominently, but the adjustment bars are neatly hidden behind slide-up menus, keeping the shooting area nice and clean while still letting you quickly bump up the ISO or adjust for a dark room. 

 

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