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Talkback: What Are Some of Your Favorite Photo Apps?

Submitted by on January 27, 2013 – 10:21 pm 53 Comments


While I’m tied up trying to put the finishing touches on my upcoming presentation at Macworld this week. I thought I’d throw an easy topic for discussion out there and see what kind of replies we get from the community.

What are some of your favorite photo apps that you’re currently using? These don’t necessarily have to be the biggies — Instagram, Camera+, etc. — but your favorite day-in-day-out go-to photo apps. I’ll get things started off after the jump. From there, please discuss your faves in the comments of this post. >>>

I’ve been spending a lot of time going over the history of iPhoneography recently. One of the trends I saw is how sharing the iPhoneography community seems to be with its resources, techniques and recipes. Websites like Tina Rice’s Combo Apps blog and Nicki Fitz-Gerald’s iPhoneography Central were created for sharing iPhoneography apps and techniques.

My toolbox is up on display in My Camera Bag, which is desperately in need of an update. My photo app tastes lean towards apps that recreate the very style that digital photography has replaced — the look of film. I like a subtley apped image that looks like a photo. In no particular order are a few of my go-to apps that I’m currently using:


Yeah, I still love Hipstamatic. Since the rise of Instagram, it seems that Hipstamatic has become overlooked in iPhoneographic circles for a number of reasons. Hipstamatic is still a wonderful app and there’s nothing like it in the App Store. It’s the most expensive $1.99 app I own and worth every penny. The quality of its filters is unsurpassed. Colors, textures, tones and now variable faux depth of field — it’s filters are lush, rich and colorful. One of the things I love about hipstamatic is using the lens and film combinations. Each has their own look and a knowledge of the characteristics of each lens and filter helps get better results from the app. It’s like shooting with an old film camera where you have your favorite, well… film, lens and body combinations. Only cheaper and digital.


This was misskiwi’s first photo app and still one of my favorites. It’s a single-frame pano app with the great set of original misskiwi “films,” still among the best analog film recreations of any photo app. The framing creates dramatic cinematic shots. It’s also the only photo app available with a simulated LOMO SprocketRocket filter. Sure, you can shoot, filter, crop, and vignette. ClassicPAN gets it all done in camera and saves your original image to boot.

Simply B&W and Noir Photo

The two black & white apps I use most. Simply B&W is an amazingly simple app to convert images to great looking black & white photos. It’s the first to use colored filters to enhance the conversion. That’s similar to using colored filters to enhance the image when shooting analog black & white film.

I use Noir Photo when I want a little more drama in my black & white conversions. Noir Photo adds more contrast, accentuates more highlights and with its great looking vignette tool, really lets me focus light where I want on the image. Using this app reminds me a lot of some of the old cinematic techniques of the silent film epics that used lighting and vignette to alter the look of a subject.

LensFlare and LensLight

The best lens flare, bokeh and chromatic aberrations available on iPhone. Nothing else comes close.

LensFlare ( )

LensLight ( )

Other apps I use often are:

Hueless (). I get the urge to shoot in black & white, rather than convert later. Hueless has the best tools and interface of any black & white camera in the App Store. It’s fast and gives me the tools to create great black & white images in camera.

Squaready Pro ( ) for quickly cropping and prepping square images for Instagram. I used the free version so often, I dropped the buck (it’s now two) for the ad-free version.

AnalogColor ( ), a great little app for quickly adding retro film looks and leaks to an image.

PhotoForge2 ( ). I’ve been turning to this one more recently. No particular reason other than it’s a powerful, stable, full-featured photo editor that has everything I need.

Okay, your turn. What are some of your go-to photo apps? Let us know in the comments below.



Marty Yawnick

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.

  • http://instagr.am/butyourecooltoo Tom


  • http://instagr.am/butyourecooltoo Tom


  • GG

    Strange, …. I don’t see Photopower in the lists. I think it’s very complete.

  • GG

    Strange, …. I don’t see Photopower in the lists. I think it’s a very complete editing app.

  • Nina

    I love Hipstamatic but VSCO Cam has been my favorite app since I discovered it a couple of weeks ago. It’s fantastic.

  • http://www.PhotosBySergio.com Sergio

    There is a deluge of apps out there, some of them very good and many of them somewhat a duplicate of others. I have recently switched to a very simple workflow. Capture with PureShot and edit with Snapseed. KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid!

  • Poli M

    I always delete apps that i don’t like/use but i still
    have 76(!) photoapps. These are the best for me.
    For shooting:
    Leme cam

    For editing:
    VSCO cam
    Wood Camera
    Pixlromatic+ (or pixlr express+)

    B&W Lab
    HDR FX pro

  • Lola Mitchell

    The list would be too long if I add all the apps I love so I will stick to the apps I use daily
    Hipstamatic, Kitcam
    Superimpose, Image Blender
    Snapseed, Picture show, scratchcam, luminance, picFx
    Procreate, Laminar (Ipad only)

  • jim

    I don’t like busy interfaces or overdone effects.

    The best for subtle effects that mimic film in a convincing way are:

    AltPhoto (Alien Skin is the best at this). I really hope they continue to add more films to this app as time goes on.
    Vsco Cam

  • Rocky Vansant

    there are so many good and even more not so good ios apps all trying to accomplish the same. there is 1 app i’ve been using over and over since i bought it about a year ago. it gives me all the tools i need to create MY OWN unique filters to enhance my pics instead of having to resort to all the presets that most other apps provide. (an online database lets you download 100′s of areMac user created presets for free!)
    it’s not as user friendly as the others and takes a little bit of a learning curve but once you get the hang of it you will soon realize it was worth the effort…which app?

    here’s my winner…nothing else comes close:


    I love it!

  • Adrian

    Camera: I started using Pro Camera since 6×6 has become very very slow and kitcam is kind of slow on my iP4. Pro Camera is fast between shots. Maybe when I upgrade my phone to whatever comes out summer/fall I will switch to Kitcam.


    Snapseed – great to make adjustments and tune(even light use of some of the filters) and sharpen.

    VSCOCAM – love the tools and the film looks.

    Noir – don’t use it a ton but great for the dramatic look and then use VSCOCAM after or other app on the image.

    CrossProcess – Have had this one for ages and I love what it outputs. Mostly use Basic and have the rest turned off.

    Afterglow – I haven’t used it all that much but one thing I like is how if you push contrast all the way it doesn’t destroy your pic.

    Gelo – I like this app to make poster-like/old science book looking images. Or if I want to make the sky darker or pop out more I can put a gel on it like a graduated filter.

    Blender – To combine edits, mask things, add mextures/ndpatterns or other images.

    I have tons of apps but as of late those are my go to ones. I also do like PicFX but a lot of times don’t end up using the images.

  • http://ashcroft54.com Tina Rice

    All good stuff…

  • Oniontears

    I’m not sure anyone has mentioned this yet, but I mainly use the built in camera app. It is by far the easiest and fastest camera to get to. I rarely premeditate my photography, so the ease of starting the camera from the lock screen is great. Otherwise I use Hipstamatic or VSCOCAM. I like Etchings lately for interesting post processing. Perculator and Popsicolor, and WoodCamera too.

  • http://www.just1step.com Kara S

    I have like three thousand photo apps, but I mostly use the shadow adjustment in Photoforge2, the center focus adjustment in Snapseed, and the filters in Afterglow.

  • Lynette Jackson

    In no particular order:

    KitCam-My new favorite

    MirrorGram, honorable mention-Ha, trying to figure out how to use it, without it becoming a symmetry overkill!

    I have several others. If I feel I’m in a creative “rut” I just randomly select an app I haven’t used for weeks and start an exercise to create an image using that particular app.

    Happy Wednesday everyone!!!

  • Sam

    What perfect timing for a post like this. I’ve recently posted my top then Apps on my own blog. Find the Apps I use regularly, by clicking the link below.


  • frank

    I love the apps already mentioned but I believe the ones from Jixipix are just top notch. My faves are rainy daze, vintage, simply hdr, romantic and dramatic B&W. All there stuff is good and shares a unified UI.

  • Zelig

    I really like this thread.

    Like I said before, I already tried dozens of apps, but still discover some new ones, and now I’m tempted to purchase
    Afterglow and PicFx.

  • http://www.LiveTravelMountains.com Sonya

    Awesome! Thanks, your post mentions some iPhoneography apps I hadn’t yet discovered.

    Lately, every day, it seems I’m discovering at least one new iPhone app I want to download.

  • Zelig

    yes, I just discovered Afterglow through this thread, and while I’m disovering all its options at the moment I got the feeling that this app will end up among my favourites ! great app, my kind of filters, and lots of editing options, and very quick processing time.

    Just got my new Iphone 5 on monday and I feel it improved processing speed of some apps (VSCO Cam works much better now ), but for example CameraBag 2 is still quite slow ( but i like it anyway ). But I’m impressed with the speed of Afterglow.

  • D

    Majorly pretty stuff here:
    Afterglow– Gorgeous
    BleachBypass– Classy and indeed “Cinematic”
    XnView Fx– A must-have: well-rounded, full-featured, and tasteful.

    Magical Stuff that works:
    Cortex Cam
    Noise Master

    Sometimes your subject is your inspiration… and sometimes it is your camera!
    Simply B&W

  • Jerry Diakiw

    Are there any apps particularly suited to giving the feeling of an antique old master oil painting. Like a Vermeer ? Or a tutorial?

  • http://www.myshutterrocks.tumblr.com Elaina Wilcox

    Great list everyone..here are a few of my go to editing…for a full list check out my Tumblr link below

    Layers/ blending:
    Photo shop touch
    Photo wizard

    Paint FX ( Crashing issue needs to resolved, but the filters are great)

    To see the detailed list check out my blog

    I was lovely meeting you @ Macworld! Keep up the great work.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/cecilymariece/ Cecily

    I have too many apps to mention but thought I would list a few that I have not seen yet mentioned on the lists (I did not get to go through all the lists so these actually might have been mentioned!!)


    Thanks for all of the great information everyone!!!

  • Regi

    I wanted to list a few of my favorites, right now, Muller Photo, Aquarelle, Portray, Glaze, Laminar Pro (on iPhone4!), Gradgram, Altphoto, PicFX, and Bleach Process. Of course, Camera+ and Snapseed are my first and continuing mainstays!