Review: Camera+ is one of the best camera apps for any iPhone
Price: $4.99 (on sale for a limited time for $1.99)
Bottom Line: Just about perfect. There is a useless delay when using anti-shake stabilization. Still, it’s one of the best camera replacement apps currently available on any mobile phone platform.
The iPhone’s camera is basic, but good. To take the iPhone to the next level camera-wise, consider a camera replacement app.
Camera+ is a full-featured camera replacement app from tap tap tap. Version 1.0 started off as a very good camera app — not worth the hype, in my opinion. Subsequent updates have addressed every single issue I’ve had with this app. Camera+ is now one of the best camera replacement apps for any iPhone that’s currently available — 2G through 4 running iPhone OS 3.1 or newer.
The app is skinned and closely replicates the environment of a digital camera, but with some very iPhone-like features. It blends many of the best features of both. From the home screen, you can access many of the app’s menu settings, like in a good digital camera. The viewfinder, though, is uncluttered and contains only the necessary, most-used settings that you’re likely to need while shooting — with easy access to zoom, anti-shake and flash. Very Apple and very iPhone-like.
I like the app’s interface a lot. I like the shell and the illusion of shooting with a mid-range DSLR. The animation is smooth and intuitive. It makes it easier and more logical to “store” the features you’re less likely to use while performing the function at hand. The sounds don’t bother me — I like the audible cues. The sound is easily toggled from the Menu button on the home screen, where you’ll find other settings to customize the shooting experience. Check out the Easter Egg on the home screen — the small black button next to the viewfinder is a working shutter release.
This is a full-featured camera replacement that works great on any iPhone. The interface is simple and uncluttered, but the app is well-thought out and powerful. The viewfinder features rule-of-thirds guide lines to help with composition.
Anti-shake stabilization works well to minimize blur and create sharper images. Camera+ has an anti-shake stabilizer which waits until your hands are steady before releasing the shutter. The anti-shake level in Camera+ is not user-adjustable like ProCamera’s. There are audible tones as the camera stabilizes.
After further testing, I don’t like the current implementation of the anti-shake, which I feel is a critical feature of a good camera replacement. At first I thought the app had a pretty high anti-shake threshold, but on further testing, it’s actually useless 3-4 second delay between the time the camera is stabilized and the shutter is released. This increases the risk of missing a shot if you accidentally move during that 3 second countdown. This is the biggest problem I have with the app. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but enough to reduce my rating of the app half a star until it’s fixed.
The app features a good digital zoom for all iPhones. Version 1.2.1 now features a 6x digital zoom. The digital zoom is actually pretty good and, when used with Camera+’s anti-shake feature, it produces fairly clear images at high zoom. Images are comparable in sharpness and clarity to the very good Apple Camera app zoom algorithm. Zoomed images are interpolated and saved at full-resolution.
Camera+ is one of the first camera apps to separate the focus and exposure tools. This is a great expert feature that allows you to focus on one area of the image while using another area to set the exposure. Version 1.2.1 introduces an easier two-finger gesture that allows dragging the drop points rather than holding down and twisting your fingers. It’s very well done and the improvements in this update make the separate settings much more usable.
Camera+ is fast — among the quickest reload times of any photo app. Although not as fast as the iPhone 4′s new camera app, it’s still ready to shoot again in just over one second, greatly reducing the likelihood of missing a shot or making it very easy to take multiple safety shots. It’s even fast on older iPhones.
Images are saved to the app’s lightbox where they can be worked in the app’s photo studio or then saved to the camera roll. Camera+ has the most well thought out lightbox of any photo app. Once an image is synced to the iPhone’s camera roll, it’s deleted from the app’s lightbox, helping to reduce image clutter and multiple copies.
Within the lightbox are easy to use yet very powerful image editing tools. There is a comprehensive batch of preset filters — just like a point and shoot — to help quickly fix images taken under a variety of lighting situations, including sunset, backlit, and beach conditions. There are also dozens of effects, filters and borders to choose from, including toy camera, black and white, and a bunch of color and saturation effects. It’s a broad range of filters and effects and a better filter set than many of the dedicated photo effects apps available. Some of the effects are named a little funky and not very descriptive. For instance, one of my faves, So Emo, is less moody teen and more very nice toy camera effect with cool tones and a good vignette applied. The Hipster effect adds a good red tone and warmth as well as a hot spot in the center of the photo. The app’s Lomo effect really punches up the color vibrancy of the photo. There are many more effects available.
Images can also be imported from the camera roll into the lightbox to take advantage of the app’s set of filters. The filters are easy to use, yet produce good results and add well-done effects and borders to your photos. One issue I have with the filters is that edits are made to the original image. A copy isn’t saved, only the edited version. Copying an image to work involves additional steps in the lightbox. It is possible to restore an edited image to it’s unworked state, but it involves going back into each screen and changing every edit back to “None”. This is both a minor issue and a great feature….
One really cool feature about editing in the Camera+ lightbox is that each effect is layered. Removing one effect doesn’t remove all effects in the stack. It works in much the same way as Best Camera in this regard. This permits you to get all of your image tweaking and filtering perfect, and still have the ability to delete early tweaks without losing the rest of your edits.
Camera+ is different from the two similarly named Camera Plus apps by Global Delight. Unlike Global Delight’s Camera Plus Pro app, this Camera+ is for shooting still photography only. There is no video mode like in Camera Plus or ProCamera.
Camera+ is an all-in-one camera app that’s loaded with well-designed features for shooting, cropping, editing and processing photos. It works great on older iPhones and even better on the newer ones. Camera+ also takes full advantage of the iPhone 4′s new features, including flash and front camera.
Camera+ is a great camera replacement for any iPhoneographer, regardless of experience level. Its powerful feature set, ease of use, speed and stability make it the new standard for iPhone camera replacement apps.
App Store link: Camera+
UPDATE: Updated to reflect an issue brought up by a reader about a shutter delay when using anti-shake. Dropped the rating half a star….