iPhoneography– The 7 Apps You Already Take Pictures With (Because You’re Cool)


Been hearing about #iPhoneography?

That’s right, unless you’ve been living under wi-fi-proof, underlit dungeon deprived of the latest technologies that have magically floated into our pockets, you’ve probably taken a picture with your iPhone. It’s so good, it’s good enough to replace a typical point-and-shoot camera both in terms of megapixels and low-light sensitivity (which is why hipsters probably have a separate DSLR). What’s more, taking and sharing photos have changed forever thanks to our programmer friends. In fact, the iPhone camera is the most used camera in the world. What’s that? You have your doubts? Check this out:

(Source: http://www.flickr.com/cameras/ as of Today.)

That’s right, you’re sporting a 8-megapixel* monster in your pocket. There’s only one problem; although the basic “Camera” app on your iPhone is great for taking basic pictures, hipsters have declared it “not good enough.” So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cool. I’ve included prices and links to each app. You’re welcome.

(*Assuming you’re using the 4S. The 4 is 5-Megapixels.)

1. Instagram– Free

This is THE photo app that has invaded everyone’s iPhones. Most likely, you’ve taken a photo using this app already. What you probably didn’t know was that there is quite a cult around it, and is so popular with hipsters that hipsters have declared it too mainstream.

The premise is simple– take a photo, then apply a vintage filter to it. Yes, that’s really it. But the colors are astonishingly beautiful:

Go ahead, try it. It’s addicting. What? You’ve already taken 5 photos with it? Great! Go add some friends on Instagram to follow and announce your own presence.

In fact, the power of this app is so strong, the social media following on Instagram is 5th on the Internet*. This has led to some interesting sub-services. (*In terms of active users– after Facebook, G+, Twitter, and YouTube, as of September 2011- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instagram)

Postagram will, for example, send real postcards with your photo on it. Put in your message, to-address, and pay– boom, it’s off. Deals these days have lowered each post card to 99 cents, for those who like old-time letters in the mailboxes of their close ones.

Meanwhile, Instaprint prints real polaroids whenever the hash tag associated with that particular Instaprint machine is mentioned. For instance, go ahead and upload that photo you just took on Instagram to Twitter with the #instaprint hash tag in your tweet. Then on www.instaprint.me you’ll see your being printed, both virtually and in real life in the Instaprint office. You can even install one in a space you like for a hefty sum ($300 for an event or office space), and dedicate your very own hashtag.

2. Hipstamatic– $1.99


Catered to Hipsters after Instagram became too mainstream, this app takes a unique approach to taking a picture– you can pick and choose your own lens AND film:

Although it’s lacking in the social media department (you can share, but there isn’t a solid community), it more than makes up for it with fantastic colors and extremely dark vintage colors that the brighter Instagram tends to avoid. If that’s your thing, this is for you.

(I personally recommend Ina’s 1969 Film. The above photo was taken by a good friend and talented iPhoneographer Olive Random– an avid user of Hipstamatic.)

One point of caution– lots of the film (“Hipstapacks”) you need to throw down the 99 cents. Cheap considering real film costs $5, and no limit to how much you can use– but still worth considering whethere you need that pack. For reference here is a chart with all possible lens+film combinations:

If that’s too complicated, just stick with the free film and lenses, they’re all fantastic.


3. Snapseed– $4.99

My Personal Favorite. I love their “Grunge” and “Dramatic” filter effects.

The coolest part is the interface. It takes 1 minute to get used to because it’s so intuitive.

Overall the app is your next step up if you want to manually adjust your photos. Swipe right to make it darker, swipe left if you want it lighter. Swipe up/down to change something else (contrast, brightness, etc.), and save to your iPhone/publish to facebook/twitter, etc.! So simple, yet so… “manual”!

In addition, you can make these changes “local,” or to a specific part of your photo, using Nik Software’s famous “U-Point” technology. Just drag a dot to a part of the photo you want to change (brighter, darker, more contrasty, better white balance, etc.) and then start swiping like you were doing for the whole picture! Neat!

4. iPhoto– $4.99

Apple recently announced a mobile version of their famous iPhoto software. Must more aesthetically pleasing on the iPhone/iPad, it’s Apple’s answer to Snapseed (#3). Essentially the same thing, but with brushes and ability to add photos into albums. I’m not sure whether you would bother including photos into albums on your iPhone (why not on the Mac?), but hey, if that’s what floats your boat.

Apple boasts a similar kind of technology to U-Point of Snapseed, but instead they’re brushes that you can apply. As for the filters, the colors are pretty conservative “Camera Dad” colors, unlike the vintage colors that Instagram, Hipstamatic, and Snapseed boast.

Overall, I like the organization abilities, and looks beautiful– just not sure if the colors are bold enough for your liking. A bit too safe for me. But beautiful. Did I mention the interface is gorgeous?

5. Camera+ – $0.99


For those just moving over from point-and-shoots, this will appeal to many of you. Over 20 different presets (portrait, landscape, concert, food) automatically adjust your lighting/shutter speed for you, letting that iPhone processor do all the hard lifting while you gleefully press the shutter button.

One of the major pluses is that you can select a part of the photo you want to focus on by tapping on it. That’s it. You can also tap a different part of the at the same time with your other hand to designate for exposure (example: You are focusing on your girlfriend’s face, so you tap there with your right thumb; the sun’s blinding light is rendering your girlfriend’s face into an amorphous ball of white light, so you tap on the wall next to her to darken to exposure).

One of the few photo apps that really help you exercise full control of the photo when actually taking it, I highly recommend those using/coming from the point-and-shoot world.

6. Camera Awesome– Free

The newest kid on the block, this free camera app is making big splashes. Developed by SmugMug, the photo sharing hub, this app takes care of both taking the photo and editing it in a unique way.

Worry not if you don’t know what the words “contrast” and “white balance” mean. Just slide the “Awesomize” slider to the right and off goes the automatic edits to make your photo more… awesome! They also have some pretty cool filters not seen on the traditional Instagram/Hipstamatic list. Oh, but you have to pay $0.99 for the filters… the top 10 are definitely worth checking out though.

Camera Awesome also boasts its “0-tap” sharing (as opposed to 1-tap sharing), meaning if you integrate your accounts with your Facebook/Twitter account, it will automatically share the photo when you’re done editing it. Check it out, definitely a more satisfying experience than Instagram and Hipstamatic in my opinion.

7. Adobe Photoshop Express– Free

For the serious shooters, who take iPhoneography very, very seriously. You can fine control grain, and basic actions (contrast, brightness, exposure) usually included post-processing.

While the features are lackluster, it’s free. If you need to upload a crisp photo quickly, well, here’s your answer. Took a picture of a UFO and need to clear it up? Open Photoshop Express.

Other recommendation from readers:

@Oracio (https://twitter.com/oracio) recommends:

-CameraSharp (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/camerasharp/id442142280?mt=8)- Free

-100Cameras (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/100-cameras-in-1/id408481287?mt=8) – $1.99; made by the famous Trey Ratcliff.

-PhotoToaster (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/phototoaster/id433671262?mt=8) – $1.99

-Magic Hour (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/magic-hour-camera-unlimited/id434159268?mt=8)- $1.99

Got any other recommendations? Please write it in the comment below! As always, follow me on Twitter, or like me on Facebook. Why? Because you’re awesome, and I’ll buy you coffee (or tea) when you come around to San Francisco– that’s a promise I’ll keep! But for now, go forth fellow iPhoneographer. Share your photos on my Facebook page, or use #phantasyphoto on Twitter so I can see!



2 thoughts on “iPhoneography– The 7 Apps You Already Take Pictures With (Because You’re Cool)

  1. Nice summary. I’ve tried a number of these apps but I find myself going back to the default camera app the most often. All the fun filters and effects are simple hacks for proficient image editors but the apps do make them instantaneous and easy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s