Photo App Review: KitCam

kitcam, for iPhonography

Version reviewed: 1.0
Price: $1.99

Rating 4.5 stars

Bottom Line: I really like it a lot. KitCam is a unique camera app in a class of its own — a high-quality camera replacement with an excellent selection of filters to play with.

I recently previewed Kitcam here. The app is available now in the App Store. In its base configuration, it’s $1.99. There were several additional lens, film and frame paks available as additional in-app purchases in the beta. I haven’t downloaded the commercial version yet to see if those made it into the final version.

In short, I really like KitCam. It’s a very nice camera app. I had a chance to play with it this week. Find out my initial thoughts after the jump. >>>

“KitCam is a “revolutionary” new camera app from the creators of the PhotoForge series. Beautifully designed and packed with powerful features, KitCam is a must-have for anyone who loves taking pictures or shooting video.”

I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, but it combines the best elements of a lot of great photo apps into one fun, easy to use camera app.

KitCam is a virtual camera kit that contains an assortment of 13 lenses, 30 film emulations, and 18 frames. All camera attachments are previewed live and are always reflected in full resolution outputs.

The camera itself is pretty powerful, with a broad set of great tools to help get the best picture in camera before you layer it with photo effects — also in camera. It’s got the standard set of advanced camera tools — timer, stabilizer, separate focus and exposure, white balance lock and the handy and popular volume shutter feature which lets you use your iPhone’s volume up button as a physical shutter release. It’s got an impressive continuous full-resolution shooting mode that fired off more than a shot per second even while applying filters, effects and frames. It’s also got a built-in multiple exposure shutter.

KitCam has a great flyaway color temperature adjustment and exposure adjustment slider. The color temperature slider allows you to balance the overall tones of the image to the light source. Having it as a slider allows you to make fine adjustments. Having a live preview helps you get the best picture in camera while you shoot. Pretty cool!

The quality of the camera alone would be worth two bucks. KitCam also has an extensive set of faux-analog filters, effects and frames that are overall nicely done and well rendered.

KitCam uses a lens, film and frame system that looks like it was inspired by Hipstamatic’s. That’s not a bad thing. The effects add a wide range of color and tonal shifts. There’s very little “fluff” in here that an iPhone-lomographer wouldn’t love. It’s a well designed filter set that’s full of recreated film looks, light leaks and other aberrations. The lens effects in particular are outstanding. There are also great-looking, smoothly rendered blur effects as well. Many of the lens-type effects can be changed — sometimes dramatically — easily onscreen with a simple gesture.

Hidden in the app’s lightbox is a powerful image editor with even more post-processing tools. You can also change and reapply an image’s filters within the lightbox. All of the tools and filters are kept neatly out of the way until needed, helping to maximize the small editing real estate of the iPhone’s screen. The image editor is one of the best ones available in a camera+studio app.

Most of KitCam’s tools and live filters are also available in the app’s video mode as well. And there’s a simple help overlay that’s very helpful to get you started the first time you fire up the app.

UPDATE: A couple of PhotoForge2-related goodies. If you already own PhotoForge2, KitCam unlocks one additional film, Menthol, for you. Also, PhotoForge2 has just been updated with KitCam integration. You can now send images directly from KitCam to PhotoForge2 for further processing. It’s a one-way trip. You still can’t use KitCam to open PhotoForge2 images.

Here’s the App Store link to PhotoForge2 ( PhotoForge2 - GhostBird Software ).

I have very few complaints about KitCam and for me they’re minor — more like a wish list of things to add in a update. I really couldn’t find any effects that I didn’t like, so no complaints there. I’d really like to see more effects soon, especially more lens and frame effects. With all of the possible combinations available, some sort of Favorites presets would be a good addition. Also some sort of Randomize Effects feature would be a great addition to help discover all of the great effects KitCam has to offer. There’s no option to save the original image

Some iPhoneographers may be put off that there’s no way to import existing images into KitCam. This is not a dealbreaker for me. KitCam supports full 8MP resolution of an iPhone 5 and 4S. It saves EXIF data including location data.

KitCam is a very good camera replacement app with some great (and unique) tools. On top of that, it’s got a built-in best-in-class photo editor. But wait there’s more…. KitCam comes with an excellent set of faux analog filters to help recreate the look of film.

Whew! Did I miss anything?

While working with KitCam, a lot of the features made me think of other apps, but they’re all well done and extremely well integrated here. With all of its features, KitCam is a very well-rounded camera app. Although you’ve seen pieces of it in other apps, how they are combined so tightly and so well here makes KitCam a unique camera app in a class of its own — a high-quality camera replacement with an excellent selection of filters to play with. It’s pretty awesome!

KitCam is $1.99. Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 5.1 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

I’m curious to know what you think about KitCam. Let us all know in the comments below!

KitCam - GhostBird Software



About Marty Yawnick 1826 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Michel

    I also played with this new app. Over all it is a stunning release. It has some little bugs at the moment (I can not enable low light boost for example) but this will be fixed soon for sure. I have only some UI wishes for a future update like: a front faced lens icon for the home screen (the actual one looks a bit like Camera Genius clone), they should remove the shadow from the grids as they look too bold for me and it is hardly to read the white numbers on the blue photo counter indicator)…Looking forward for a fine tuning but I already replaced the standard cam with this one! 4 1/2 Stars from my side!!

  • solaris

    How do the filter effects compare to Photoforge2 Pop!Cam? Are they different or the same?

    • Similar. Some crossover. No "chemicals" or texture effects. The lenses, while similar, work differently. KitCam has more of an element of randomness to the lens effects.


  • Miki

    How do I get the low light boost option? In the settings tab it refuses to click on. 🙁

    • merve

      it's iphone 5 only afaik.

      • Shawn

        I have the iPhone 5 and it won't turn on for me either.

        • miki

          i received a reply from the developers who said this is a bug and will be fixed in an update.

  • zerozero31

    It's not the quickest app, but both the effects and usability are great. Two immediate improvements that I can see: the ability to save favourites, and some kind of 'return to default' setting that removes all filters,borders and lenses.

    • Same here. I would like a return to default setting removing all filters, borders and lenses.

      • Eric

        You can actually remove the lenses or films or frames by simply tapping on the already selected lenses or films or frames to switch everything back to default. Cheers

  • Stefan

    if you tweet about it (from the app settings page) and if you subcribe to their newsletter, you will get one additional free filter for each action.
    i still think the inapp purchases are a bit too high for what they offer as additional content, otherwise a great app.

    • Thanks. I probably never would have figured that out it you hadn't posted about it. I downloaded this yesterday and am waiting for a break in the weather to give it a test drive.

  • Nice review Marty! I was originally put off when photoforge2 was released as a new purchase rather than an upgrade to photoforge, but I've since changed my mind about that. Photoforge2 is a way underrated app in my opinion & has since become one of my top 3 editors. Looking forward to supporting this developer by purchasing KitCam too!

  • Ben

    Is there a B&W mode and if so, how does it compare to hueless?

  • Shawn

    My only real gripe with this app is how fast it chews through the battery on my iPhone 5. Yowch!!

    • Ben

      PF2 is a similar cycle-hog. With great power…

  • Enrique

    All is ok, great app but…it drains your battery in a blink!!

  • Miki

    Just received a timely response from the developers that the Low Light Boost bug is being fixed in an update. It's a bug that doesn't recognize certain iPhone 5 models as an iPhone 5.

    • "Certain iPhone 5 models"? Isn't there just one iPhone 5 model? I don't see the low light boost on mine either. Where is it in the menu?

      • Found it. Mine has the setting. Strange about the multiple iphone 5 models though. I thought there was only one model.

  • Geoff White

    I like it,continuous mode is great,think I may have found a bug tho, my photos are coming out mirrored, my photo album.

    • If you have your HD settings on in your camera, it will give you doubles of everything, one low def and one high.
      Btw, is this the Geoff white I once worked with on an illustration?

  • Bridget

    Okay been playing with it, but what if I just want to take a regular photo with no fancy film or lenses? The only way that I can see to do this is to go into the options tab (after taking photos) and click on the reset all button. Might be something to put on their wish list for the next update. I like all the bells and whistles but if this is going to replace the default camera, I want the ability to take a "normal" photo as well =)

    • Aidan

      To deselect an effect, just tap again on the item you’ve selected.

  • Amado

    The video function works equally as well, even when swapping lens and film while recording.

  • dudo

    can you add the same effects in video mode ?

    • Most of them. The lens and film effects are available. The frames are not.


  • Geoff White

    My mistake about the mirrored problem,my bad…

  • zerozero31

    Having played with it now for a day or so, I can't say I'll ever use it as a go-to app. The fact you can't import images into it is not a big issue, but if you have PhotoForge2 (as I do) then KitCam doesn't really add that much extra. It's a nice app, true, but I'll stick to my usual workflow (ProCamera –> PerfectlyClear –> PhotoForge/Snapseed/TiltshiftGen) to get the best results, with Hipstamatic, for all it's flaws as my go-to 'whacky image' app.

    There was a guy once who said, back in the 1880's or so that everything that can be invented has been. I think we're approaching the same point with photo apps now. The only differentiator these days is in the filters/lenses, possibly the social sharing, but really there's not been much in the way of innovation of late – the low-light thingie for the iPhone5 perhaps but that's it. I know this is due to the constraints of the platform (i.e., the iPhone), but if you've got a decent camera app and a good editing app, then you're all sorted.

    • I felt somewhat the same, but I like being able to add these effects to 1080p video as well. And, I've been using photoforge2 enough that I felt compelled to dropp'm a couple bucks to keep'm in the black and developing/enhancing.

    • MiniBlueDragon

      Speaking solely about the raw unfiltered image I found a distinct difference between 645Pro (my current 'go to' app), Mattebox and KitCam all unfiltered.
      In a high contrast shot, e.g. with sun facing the camera and 1/3 of the shot in shade KitCam was far superior and kept all colour, brightness and contrast levels perfectly on the majority of the shot to create a balanced image, only losing detail on the darker area that was in shade. 645Pro blew out the whole image to try and retain the detail in the shaded part of the image which resulted in a washed-out effect.
      In a low contrast shot with sun behind me and no shade 645Pro did a much better job but the final image was a little too dark for my liking. Again KitCam managed to get everything well balanced in the image.
      Mattebox in both sets of images completely forgot what 'red' is and turned all reds orange which meant a lot of colour loss across the board. Mattebox for me is better suited to indoor images.
      I have a love of VSCO Cam's subtle editing at the moment so my normal process is now KitCam (or BracketMode if I'm in a HDR mood) –> Perfectly Clear –> VSCO Cam

  • resting

    how does this compare to camera+?
    is it faster? has better filters/frames?

    • zerozero31

      in my opinion (and your milage may vary), Camera+ is faster, both in startup and operation.

      The filters, however, are better in KitCam. In terms of post-capture options (contrast, brightness etc) KitCam is also better and I prefer the Clarify option in KitCam also (it's less harsh than Camera+).

  • I'm using an iPhone 5, selected a filter and shot video… but it's 720p not 1080p. Is that because I'm using a filter? Or, is there a setting to force 1080p?

    • Never mind… just found it. There's a small eye icon above the video icon that lets you set all sorts of stuff including resolution.

  • Canladdie

    I'm disappointed that I can't seem to get any image that isn't a quite highly compressed jpeg … Nice effects, and I think I'll play more with the multiple exposures aspect for sure. But this will remain in my third-tier ranking of cameras and editors.

    (I use the Apple Camera app, 645Pro, ProCamera, Mpro, with Snapseed, Filterstorm, iPhoto and PerfectlyClear.)

  • Chris

    iPhone 4 users who shoot video won’t be too happy that they can’t use the 720p capabilities. 480 max 🙁

  • Digital Artist

    Does anyone see there battery usage being excessively used? The iPhone 5 & 4S battery after a few minutes it drops by huge amounts.

    Not a great app for going out and shooting for the day thats for sure… Effects look like PhotoForge 2 all dressed up in a new UI.

    Pixlr Express PLUS, Pixlr-o-matic PLUS, Camera Awesome, Camera+, offers a whole lot, and many others offer a grand toolset, Its cool but… NOT that fantastic by any means.

    If you have a process already working this might not be the total ONLY app!!!

    • platinumveil

      I don't agree that the effects look like PhotoForge2 (I think they're much closer to Hipstamatic) but I also noticed the app apparently being hard on the battery of my iPhone 4. Which is a shame as I really like it otherwise, especially that I can shoot 1:1 live so don't have to crop later. I also like the film and lens effects and the fact that I can do proper manual editing, e.g. sharpening. In that regard this app is much better than Camera+. Well, this is a 1.0 release so I hope the battery issue will get addressed.

  • themiragemall
  • fernandoprats

    I think it's a serious great app -already a Photoforge2 fan-. With 645Pro, now, KitCam is my 'go to' camera app these days.

  • Sandeman

    I like the app. On my iphone 4s it might even
    replace camera+. However at present have to terminate Kitcam after usage as it really drains the battery, even when left running in the background. This is a serious issue which I hope will be addressed soon!

  • Jwag

    I got this app since it was recommended as an improvement to camera+, I agree, It’s a great cam and I can now do most editing options all within my camera app rather than switching to another (ps express, pe studio). The one question I have is why doesn’t it save photos to the camera roll directly? I use auto archive to sync, but if I delete from the camera roll the photo is still in the kitcam app… I really don’t like apps that use independent storage, why not integrate! Anyone know a work around?

  • Adrian

    I have an iPhone 4 and so far it's pretty slow on startup and shooting. What drew me to it was the ability to switch to square and other formats and a few other neat features, like sending files to photoforge2 and now import from roll, but it's not a fast shooter.

    I liked 6×6 but it seems to be getting slower and slower with every update between shots. I want to try 645pro but am afraid it too would be slow on my iPhone 4. The search continues!

    • resting

      is there a 6×6? there's only 4×3, 1×1, 16×9 and 3×2

  • canladdie

    645Pro worked just fine on my old iPhone 4. Of course, it's much faster on my iPhone 5 — but it was entirely usable on the v4.

  • resting

    I'd got the app, and indeed i think it has better effects than camera+.
    However, its still slow to load as camera+.
    Which is slower? I'm not sure. They are almost similar.
    It has more functions like multi-shots, timelapse and video filters too.
    It doesn't allow for text input though. So you might still have to fall back to camera+ for text editing.
    Still worthy at the low price.

  • Matt

    Your review is incorrect, you can import photos, you just go into the photo shelf, pull down, and the option to import is top left hand side.

  • Naim Owens

    I have this app, but I have a question. I can’t export the file because it’s too large, not to facebook, drop box, or my camera roll. How can I get my video off my phone, if it’s too big?

  • Guest

    The only downsides would be the crop modes i think. The quality of the picture shown when you crop it and, im not sure its a bug or feature, the crop factor is rotating with the image, so i couldn’t crop a landscape out of portrait.
    Otherwise its a great app for taking photos.