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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.

Along with the standard library for storing images, VSCO also lets users publish their creations to a pool that can be shared and swapped with the larger community. And a neat journal function lets you to your photos into Storehouse-style stories.

Best for filter junkies: TADAA

Instagram may be responsible for the proliferation of filters in digital photography, but if it wasn't for the iPhone they wouldn't be nearly as popular. Now, you'll find filters tucked into pretty much every major camera app. 

But even in a bountiful sea of unique colors and textures, TADAA (free) manages to stand out. An excellent interface helps you quickly swipe to apply a live filter to your view, but head to the editing room for an array of tools and sliders to tweak the size, clarity, sharpness, and perspective of your photo. But TADAA truly shines when it comes to customization. A couple dozen filters are provided for free--many more are available as reasonably priced bundles--but there's more packed into each one than a simple on/off switch. Each filter lets you adjust the intensity and hue, opening them up to an array of creative applications. And with smart masks that can isolate a portion of your picture, your filtered photos will look like you spent hours laboring over them in Photoshop, not seconds moving sliders on your iPhone.

Best for minimalists: Manual

Making a good minimal interface is harder than it looks--especially when you're dealing with controls and buttons that the average person doesn't understand. But Manual ($2) manages to pull it off expertly, striking a perfect balance between too much and too little while still giving experts the tools they need to take professional photos. 

Despite its simple interface, Manual isn't built for speed. While there is an automatic mode, the app takes full advantage of the camera's raw power and encourages tinkering of its various settings, from the white balance and color temperature to the exposure and ISO sensitivity. There aren't any filters or unique shooting modes--though it does provide a set of common white balance presets--but Manual packs plenty of power into its viewfinder. Adjustments are mainly made through dials and sliders, and a clever magnifying box lets you expertly shift the focus of your subject.

You'll also find a useful histogram that helps visualize any sudden exposure shifts, while a dark theme keeps light leaks at a minimum when shooting in low-light settings. But what's most impressive about Manual is its extraordinary attention to detail, and even if it's not your main camera, it's definitely worth keeping in your kit.

Best for night owls: Slow Shutter Cam 

Shooting in low light can be difficult for even the highest end cameras, so it's no surprise that it's a common complaint with smartphones. If you're often shooting while enshrouded in darkness, Slow Shutter Cam ($1) will give you consistently strong results. 


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