My Camera Bag

iphoneography, iphone photography, hipstamatic, pro camera, snapseed


Updated January 1, 2016

I have a camera. Sometimes I use it to make phone calls.

Although I don’t share my photography here on the blog as often as I used to, I still shoot. My old iPhone 2G and a handful of photo apps used to be the standard for creating some great-looking digital lo-fi. Now, the camera that’s with me nearly all the time is my iPhone 6s Plus.

As the iPhone camera becomes less and less lo-fi, one of the features that still makes it unique in photography is the availability of thousands of photo apps. For less than the cost of a DVD, you can basically get a whole new camera experience. I don’t use one app exclusively to shoot with. I have several and try to match up the app to the image I want.

iPhone apps are constantly being created, updated and improved. Since I first wrote my original Camera Bag post (check out the original November 2009 post and the January 2010 update), some apps have fallen by the development wayside, failing to keep up with the hardware advances of the new iPhones. Other new apps have been released, and many apps have been improved to the point where they have leapfrogged ahead as far as functionality and performance.

I find myself shooting with many different apps than the first time I wrote about my iPhone’s camera bag, including on occasion many apps that aren’t listed here. Here’s my newly updated toolbox.

These are the go-to apps I’m currently using.

1. Camera

That’s right… Apple’s built-in Camera app. With each iOS update, the Camera app improves and it’s really hard not to use the app. Burst mode has been improved to capture up to 10 frames per second. It’s simple, easy and fast. It’s still one of the fastest camera apps available with shot-to-shot times that are faster than many point and shoot digital cameras. The 5x zoom works by magic. Although it is a digital zoom and not as good as an optical zoom, Camera uses a great algorithm that helps maintain sharpness even at high zoom factors, without many of the artifacts or fuzziness of other apps’ digital zooms. It’s one of the clearest zooms available on the iPhone. The HDR mode is real, bracketed, three exposure HDR. While it doesn’t create the saturated, enhanced colors associated with traditional HDR, it still adds subtle image enhancement that adds detail to the shadows in your image but not at the expense of your highlights. VolumeShot lets you use the Volume Up button as a hardware shutter release which is many times a lot easier than fumbling for the onscreen shutter button. There are plenty of other new features as well, but best of all, the Camera is now available from the iPhone’s lock screen. Your iPhone can go from off to shooting in about a second or two.

2. ProCamera 8

An excellent camera replacement app with a powerful toolset for taking photos. ProCamera 8 has had several awesome updates and is the camera replacement app to beat for serious iPhoneography. The pro features include image stabilization with three settings, full-resolution 5X digital zoom, and fast reload times. The optional HDR is powered by VividHDR which I feel is among the best available for iPhone. The new focus, exposure, and white balance tools are among the best in the app store for power combined with ease of use. When used with a gray card, I haven’t found a better photo app to help me get better color in-camera. ProCamera 8 is one of the best shooters currently available. Speed, features, tools — ProCamera is still my go-to camera replacement app. |

3. Manual – Custom exposure camera

The no-frills camera app Manual is excellent for times when you just need straight up, unobstructed manual control over the focus, exposure, ISOm and shutter speed of your shot. No filters. No sharing. No gimmicks. Where other camera apps may automatically adjust these settings in order to get you a good shot, manual lets you easily override any and all of these settings letting you create the shot. Whether you really want to slow down the shutter for effect, crank the ISO for a better low-light shot, or manually focus the camera to a point that Camera simply won’t grab, Manual restores to iPhoneographers control over their cameras that other photographers have used for years. |

4. Hipstamatic

This is a wonderful iPhone-only photo app that beautifully recreates the look of stressed, vintage, analog film complete with noise, digital light leaks, smears and vignettes. It really does a great job recreating the imperfections of a toy camera. It’s a fun camera to shoot with. It feels analog. It’s the experience of an old camera shooting within an iPhone and along the way, it creates some stunning photographs. Like any real camera, lens, and film combinations, I use Hipstamatic as a tool to create my photographic vision. The results are often unpredictable and gorgeous. I’ve been shooting a lot with Hipstamatic over the years. Although I use the app’s Favorites feature, it’s just fun to shake to randomize and see what I get. Its square format and built-in sharing tools make it a great alternative to Instagram’s own fairly plain filter set. |


5. Instaflash Pro

Photoshop power users know how fast and how well its Shadows/Highlights tool can be to enhance and bring out the details of dark areas of an image without effecting the properly exposed bits. Instaflash brings this tool as well as a ton of other fast and easy power user image fixes to iPhone. Despite the improved sensitivity of newer iPhone cameras, I use Instaflash often to quickly restore color, vibrance, and detail to shadows and 3/4 tones to an image, just like Photoshop. The Denoise tool in the app works by using luminance, a way to remove image noise while holding detail.

Built on the same technology that drives the much more costly ACDSee Photoshop plugin, Instaflash Pro definitely belongs in an iPhoneographer’s toolbox. |

6. Perfectly Clear

Fast, easy Dynamic Range Correction (DRC). I usually run my images through Perfectly Clear before doing anything else to them. One-button image scrubbing — improves the sharpness, exposure, saturation and contrast. It’s optional noise reduction feature is one of the best available for iPhone and is worth the in-app purchase.The recent update now also includes the best, fastest software fix for the “purple haze” and other color fringing sometimes found in iPhone 5 photos. It’s worth it for that alone.

Quite honestly, there are no other apps that prep photos overall as well as Perfectly Clear. Although the images from the iPhone 5 and 4S  are much better than older iPhones, I still use Perfectly Clear often to help quickly improve images that may need a little help. There are other “fake flash” and DRC apps available, but very few work as well as Perfectly Clear. A highly recommended photo app. |

7. Filterstorm

Filterstorm is a powerful image editing program with the essential tools for improving the look of a photograph and correcting color and other flaws. Calling it the “Photoshop for the iPhone” does it a disservice. Filterstorm’s recently updated interface sets the standard and redefines how image editing apps should work on the iOS platform. It has a complete set of powerful, essential image editing tools that rival desktop image editors, including layers and blending. It’s straightforward interface is designed for iOS devices and doesn’t get in the way of even large fingers like mine. It’s fast, it’s powerful, and it works great on the small screen of an iPhone. Check out my full review of the previous version Filterstorm 3.  |

Filterstorm Neue App Store link |

8. Simply B&W | Simply Photography in B&W

The old Vint B&W app was a simple black & white camera app for your iPhone that created some of the nicest black & white images on the iPhone. While it still works on an iPhone 4 in the latest iOS, it hasn’t been updated in quite some time. Simply B&W is not only a simple camera app, but you can also import existing images from your camera roll — a feature that Vint B&W never had.

Simply B&W has a great grayscale conversion algorithm, several color filters for alternate conversion methods, and sliders bars to help fine tune the color-to-grayscale conversion with results that are on par with Vint B&W. With minimal fuss, Simply B&W quickly creates rich, great looking black and white photos. |

9. Snapseed

After Snapseed’s developer was acquired by Google, I’m happy to see any updates released for this app, even if they are just bug fixes and iOS maintenance updates. Snapseed is free and one of the more powerful photo editors for iPhone and iPad. Once you get used to its tools, you can quickly and easily make powerful image corrections and add striking effects to your image. Snapseed has one of the more precise cropping tools available for iPhone which doesn’t “jump” nearly as much as some other apps when you move your finger across the small iPhone screen. It also has a very nice Straighten tool that lets you make fine horizon adjustments up to +/- 10°. |


Your camera bag will probably look a lot different than mine and there are new apps being released all the time that push the envelope of what you can do creatively on the iPhone. Find what works best for you and have fun!

Does your iPhone Camera Bag look different than mine? Share some of your faves in the comments below.

Unless indicated, nearly every image I’ve shot on this site has been shot with my iPhone and processed on my iPhone with one or more of the above apps.



  • barb rozner

    Great info Marty, I took your advise and purchased some of your recommendations.

    thanks, Barb

  • MartyNearDFW

    Hi, Jood,

    I, too, like Color Leap. I think it also does an excellent job. Even though it's a free app, I think it does exposure fixing better than many commercial apps. It's still on my iPhone, which is pushing 11 pages of apps now.

    Check out my recent post on the The Best Free Image Editors:


  • jood

    Hi, Marti,

    For me, Color Leap is the best app (free or commercial) to fix Photos. Perfecty Clear is perfect to upload a photo to the web (low resolution) but I think that it applies too much sharpening (and "white" noise) for printing a photo at high resolution. What about this?

    Regards from Spain

    • MartyNearDFW

      Greetings from Cowtown, Jood!

      I agree with you about the sharpening issue. Perfectly Clear defaults to way too much sharpening. When I use it, I either turn it way down or completely off. It's something that I've mentioned to the president of Authentech. Hopefully, we'll see the ability to save custom settings in a future update soon.

      I personally like how Perfectly Clear is a quick and easy enhancement for the bulk of the images that I shoot, especially after I tweak the settings to my liking. It's currently my go-to app. A matter of personal preference.

      I've found that not every image processor fixes every image which is why I keep several on my iPhone, Color Leap included.


  • Lora

    $10-20 in apps is a lot easier sell to my husband than a $2000 lens. 😉 Great info! I will be checking a few of these out. Thanks!

  • Mary

    Thank you for this — very helpful!

  • Joker

    Is there any update?


  • Hi Marty

    Interesting post, going to try out the black and white apps you suggest as I haven't really experimented with black and white with my iphoneography, except through Hipstamatic. Here's a list of my favourite and most used camera apps ( in no particular order) :

    1) Hipstamatic – just can't leave it alone!

    2) Camera Bag

    3) Lo Mob

    4) Auto Stitch

    5) Swankolab

    6) Best Camera

    7) Quad Camera

    8) iTimeLapse – great for making stop motion films.

    9) Tilt Shift Gen

    10) Classic Toy – just got this one, a lot of fun.

  • hi there!i'm posting my favourite apps down here:

    1. hipstamatic: a bit slow to set up but it has a great "shake to randomize" function!

    2. camera+: sadly it's no more on the app store, i added the function "volume snap" that takes pics with volume buttons, great!

    3. picture show: a lot of cool effets, filters, frames, light effects, with the new update is very easy to use!

    4. camera bag: i use a lot the holga and the instant effect

    5. tilt shift gen: classic

    6. lomob: i got this while it was free and sometimes comes handy, lots of retro effects

    7. pro hdr: works great to take panorama pics with stunning details of both sky and landscape

    8. panoramatic 360: does a great job stitching the pics and has a built in gallery. love the different setting to adjust the final image

    9. action cam: don't know if it's still free but this is a great motion capture app. has 4×4,4×1,3×4 framing and adjustable time between the shots, give it a try!!

    10. mill colour: the greatest free app to control colors!you can adjust every single aspect about colors in your pics!

    11. photoforge/photogene: great tools to straighten and add cool filters controlling the parameters

    12. pudding camera: it is the one with japanese name, it's kinda like a toy camera but with different films and lenses, totally free!!

  • i there a way of repairing coz i have 2 that are damaged . thanks for work.

  • Bill

    I like all the apps you've listed, but I also love ColourSplash, PicGrunger and SkipBleach. (BTW, I've found ColourSplash works much better if using it with one of the styluses that they're making now for the iPad – much more precise than my sausage fingers).

  • Your blog is the one that made me start thinking about using my iPhone for more than just the quick snap for posterity's sake. I've really started to enjoy making art, as well as memories… at least… as close to art as I am humbly capable of. Following links from your site to others and from them to even more, I have seen some truly incredible images made with the iPhone. Thanks so much for opening up this world!

    Here are the apps that I use most right now, in no particular order:

    * Mega Camera (it has the grid, which is great for keeping things in line, as well as anti shake, which is useful for me)

    * Photo fx (I always used Tiffen filters on my SLR and their app doesn't disappoint. So many useful tools and effects!)

    * Iris

    * PhotoWizard

    * Lo-Mob

    * Photogene

    * Fracture (I haven't made anything with this that I love yet, but I keep trying)

    * TiltShiftGen

    * Percolator (an interesting app… limited to one basic type of photo, but it's fun)

  • Wow 'Color Leap' is a great find!

    Just comparing against 'Perfectly Clear' and I have to agree even though it has no configuration options it appears to produce better looking images (on the iPhone at least).

    I've also been a fan of 'FilterStorm' for a long time!

    Another slightly random choice is 'MoreMono' – it's just produces instant results that you can reject or keep! Would be nice to have the option of refining but it's fun to see the results quickly sometimes!

  • Happy New Year!

  • Tim

    Thanks to your blog, i started with iphoneography just a few

    months ago. My dad is pro photographer so photography was always around. But i never had that fever that my dad have, taking your camera every where you go. Till i started taking pictures with my iphone 4… and the fever got me, i suddenly had my camera (iphone) always with me. thanks to your reviews and some searching in the app store my camerabag contains the following apps:

    Camera+ (only for taking pictures)

    Filterstorm (for me the best post processing app there is especialy the curves)

    MonoPhix (for B&W, This app i use the most. I love the fast black and white film filter)

    PhotoStudio (for the filters)

    Crosssproocces (also just for the filters)


  • Thanks for an inspirational list, Marty. I worked in photography back in the 70s and can't believe I'm carrying the equivalent of all my cameras and darkroom inside the iPhone 4. As with the arrival of digital photography itself a lot of so called 'enthusiasts' are looking down their nosed at what the iPhone is capable of. However, I find I am increasingly happy to carry it around in place of a more conventional camera.

  • joker999

    What happen to my comment? :/

    • lifeinlofiblog

      Hi, Joker,

      Did you post the comment on another post? This is the first "My Camera Bag" comment I've gotten from you in a while.


  • ollymix2000

    Great information ! thanks. It's crazy these days with all the new apps and almost impossible to check out everything and find the good apps.
    That's why this kind of blog is so great. Keep up the good work.

  • ollymix2000

    I've noticed that hardly anyone mentions "PS Express" ! is there a reason for this? or am I missing something?

    • lifeinlofiblog

      I think PS Express is a good app. It's not in my list above because much of its functionality I've got in the other apps listed. It's definitely a usable app if you don't already have a jillion other photo apps…!


  • karen-s

    infinicam is brilliant when youre not sure what you want to do with a pic!

  • karen-s

    Oh – I have a lot of the apps listed, but I'd love to know if there is a decent duotone app out there or whether it's worth getting filterstorm for the curves tool? Thanks

  • lifeinlofiblog

    Hi, Karen,

    Filterstorm is an app that those who have mastered it swear by. It's one of very few photo apps with a bona-fide Curves function. While I normally use PhotoForge for overall curves adjustments, Filterstorm has a powerful curves feature that you can apply selectively with a mask — very cool! As far as I know, it's the only app that does that. You can apply a mask with a lot of Filterstorm's features.

    Filterstorm is sluggish on my iPhone 4. That may or may not be an issue for you.


    • Will

      I have to disagree with you on Filterstorm. Filterstorm is fantastic, but the implamentation is clunky to say the least. The combination of Photoforge 2 and Image Blender seems to cover most if not all of Filterstorm’s functionality with better performance.

  • Fredrik Nilsson

    Beside all the above mentioned programs, Auto Adjust should have a honorable mention. It might not be as quick, and easy, Color Leap or PerfetctlyClear, but the color wheels make up for that when you want to give your photo that extra twist.

  • Irene Cadenhead

    Hi Marty, I recently purchased an iPhone 4 and a few days after my purchase I read an article in a Sunday Sydney newspaper mag in which you were featured…..and my love of iPhoneography was born! Thank you.
    PS thank you for your camera bag info, I feel some app purchases will be completed this afternoon

    • lifeinlofiblog

      Cool! Thanks, Irene!


  • Wow! This is such great info for a beginners mind like mine! Thanks!

    • Thanks, Erik. As apps are released and updated (or not updated), this list changes. It's due for a minor overhaul soon. I'll post it on the blog as well as here when I do.


  • sally

    I use a lot of the ones mentioned, and occasionally use these that I like: Swanko Lab, LemeLeme Cam, 100 Cameras in 1

    • I like SwankoLab. I just haven't used it enough to learn all of its intricacies. I wish they'd update it more often like they do Hipstamatic.


  • Anton Varius

    My iphone looks like this:
    1. Camera+
    2. Dynamic Photo
    3. Hipstamatic
    4. Microsoft Photosynth
    5. Plastic Bullet
    6. Super 8
    7. Auto Painter
    8. Instagram
    9. PortraitCam
    10. 100 cameras

  • Hi, loui,

    Thanks for sharing your camera bag. There are some interesting apps in there, including a few that I'm going to have to check out.

    We really love Dynamic Light here. I use it often for straight image enhancement. Stacy has been using often not only for image enhancement, but for the great effects presets as well.


  • Thanks for the list. One app I've enjoyed using is QuadCamera, which takes 4 photos in quick succession. It has some handy settings like Timer/Interval, Layout, and Color. Also check out Doubleshot Photo which came out recently, and combines two photos into one using a lot of cool frame layouts like Diagonal, Picture-In-Picture, and Golden Ratio, and has a setting for blending the photos together, which is a fun effect. I use it for before-and-after compositions, and when I just want to share two pics at once from an event or get-together.

  • Magic Hour
    Dynamic Light
    Picture Show
    Mobile Monet
    Crasher Squirrel
    I wrote about them all here

  • Bari Tarmon

    Read with interest the posts with app recommendations. I really appreciate these as they are not just random reviews that get listed with the app.
    As a designer who uses PS and Lightroom, I tend to gauge apps as to how solid they work and how how versatile they are in the features they provide. There are some pretty lame ones out there and I've learned to stay away from them. Some that I've found to be a joy to work with are Snapseed, Mobile Monet, PhotoViva, and 100 cameras in 1. That last one, I wasn't going to download but I'm glad I did. It gives one a great many springboards to launch a photo early in the editing stages, as it continuously generates hundreds of variations. I just love the interface as well. I wish there was a serious, pro style text overlay capability that can be used on a layer and moved, scaled, etc. precisely. I found Photo Label to be restrictive in text positioning and the fonts are somewhat cheezy. I would like to use some standard fonts but I suppose they aren't available on the iOS yet. I;m talking Garamond, Futura, Gill, etc. There isn't even a way to use the default fonts with Photo Label that I can see. Anyone know of a good text laying app for photo editing?


    • Hi, Bari,

      Have you tried Impression for Text overlay? Another excellent text overly app is Phonto. I suggest you have a look at both of those to see if they can do what you need them to.


  • I'm wondering if this has changed at all in the last 5 months. Is it about time for an update?

  • Bari Tarmon

    As an addendum to my previous post which ended with a question about any apps that can add decent text, I have found Filterstorm to be a good text adding app. It has a nice package of fonts to choose from too.
    Other apps I have found since that add new features not found or work as well as other apps, are: Paint FX, Camera360, SketchMee and PaintMee. The last one has an in app add-on that can save your creation as high as 5120×6832 pixels! Depending on the original file size, it will export the file in up to 8 separate files that you can assemble seamlessly in Photoshop to create a truly large sized file, suitable for printing on a large format printer on paper or canvas. I wish that technology would be available for other photo editing apps so we can save photos in an upscaled way and print them out in gallery sizes. Another great app for experimenting is actually a photo and video shooting one called After Image. You can get some really neat abstract results and then run the files through other filters to create some truly amazing art. If you don't already have it, SnapSeed from Nik recently updated the app and added two new features: Sharpening (includes a Structure seting) and Tilt & Shift (which includes 5 variable settings). It's a very solid performer.

  • Tim

    Can anyone tell me is there a B&W app that gives you B&W view before you take the photo rather than converting colour to B&W after you have taken the photo. I cant find info about this in any of the apps literature. I would like to know because I like to compose in B&W. Thanks

  • Tim

    Can anyone tell me is there a B&W app that gives you B&W view before you take the photo rather than converting colour to B&W after you have taken the photo. I cant find info about this in any of the apps literature. I would like to know because I like to compose in B&W. Thanks

  • kathy

    i always look forward to reading what you have to offer.. i pretty new with all of this, but im enjoyigng it very very much. so.. thnak youy fro keeping so well informed

  • kathy

    wow, thank you thank you, dont know what I'd do with out ya:)!!!

  • What a great blog and I've found your app reviews immensely helpful. Your Camera Bag page is one that I come back to again and again. Other than what you've listed, I also find myself using Percolator, Lomora2, Photoforge2, and PhotoToaster a lot. Just this week I went through the exercise of cleaning out my camera bag and you can find the results on my blog.

    • Thanks for sharing, Katherine. That's a great post!


  • Michael

    thanks for this list… good to see everyone's opinion on what works. I just started using King Camera, incredible camera (time lapse, burst mode etc) and post processing features (filters, borders, textures, lightleaks etc). Photosynth for panoramas, excellent stitching. FiLMiC Pro for video.

  • @TXBzean

    Thanks for sharing some of these. Any thoughts on Pixlr-o-Matic?

    • It's pretty good. Good range of effects. Assortment of light leaks. Good looking textures and edges. i don't like how the filters are named, though. They're *named* — with people names. Not a dealbreaker but a bit unusual.


  • Chris Stern

    What app did u use to get the wallpaper background showing in the picture at the beginning of post?

  • greerhughes

    One of my favorites is called Camera Bag. You can upload a photo and it let's you see what it looks like with 15 different photos. Very cool.

    • CameraBag was one of my first photo apps back in the day. It's gotten some good updates. I like the random feature introduced an update or two ago.


  • Federico

    You mentioned that there are a few apps that do the automatic perspective correction besides dotfunc(camera). Which are those apps? I’ve been looking for that feature on an app and haven’t found it yet.

    Thank you very much for all the useful info!

    Greetings from Montevideo, Uruguay

    • ¡Greetings, Federico!

      The two other perspective correction apps that I use are FrontView, which I highly recommend for photographs, and Genius Scan which is more for scanning and correcting documents, but it will work on photos also.


  • valyk

    I got to ask. Where have you got that wallpaper?

  • Great article and I look forward to trying the few apps you mentioned that I don't already have.
    My favs are:


  • Great article and I look forward to trying the few apps you mentioned that I don’t already have.
    My favs are:

    Meitu: all in Japanese but takes excellent pics and is starting to become my go to.

    Hipstamatic is awesome for when I am switchjg between iPhone and SLR on a shoot.

    645 Pro is starting to improve and takes great shots.

    Lo Mob is also great for that medium format look.

    Snapseed is first editing choice, but also use photogene 2, and photopowe (very similar to photoshop).

    If anyone would like to take a look at some of my pics (feedback encouraged) I am on twitter @daniel_ware & Instagram @danielwarephoto I do follow back because as much as I like taking pics I also like to look at them!!


  • I think you missed Wondershare PowerCam™, which not only can take photos and videos in real-time, but supports panorama capture, tilt-shift, color splash.

  • anormalflame

    I'm shocked you haven't noted 645 Pro!

    • I love 645 PRO. I haven't written my review of it yet because it's sooooooo intimidating. It's an awesome camera app. There are a ton of great tools. I'm thinking of just posting a summary and an Infographic. Yes, I've been reading Mashable way too much….

      That said, the reason it's not my go-to camera app is because there are a ton of tools. For how I shoot — which is get into the camera fast, shoot quickly and get as many safety shots as I can — Camera and ProCamera better fit my workflow. Your mileage may vary….

      That said, look for a 645 PRO post here fairly soon.


  • bisentex

    Nice tips!

    would definitely check the apps out.

    ..and where'd you get your wallpaper? 🙂

  • HCastañeda

    I use filterstorm a lot and love it! Also use these as well and love them:
    1. Snapseed
    2. Iretouch
    3. BeFunky
    4. Plaster
    5. Duomatic
    6. Phototoaster
    7. Biglens
    8. Photoforge2
    9. Panning
    10. Paintfx
    11. photowonder
    12. Romantic
    13. ColourSplash
    These are in no particular order but I use them often!

  • Nicole Ferguson

    Will you be updating this now that iOS 7 is out?

    • Hi, Nicole. Sorry for being a little late in my response, but yes. I’ve updated this post — now for iOS 8. =M=

      • Nicole Ferguson

        Thank you glad to see ya back

  • Mohsen

    My favorite apps are:
    1- Lightroom for Mobile
    2- Camera+ (I take all my photos using this)
    3- Snapseed
    4- PS Express
    5- iDarkroom

  • J.K.Chris

    AnalogVideo, AnalogFilm, RNI Films, ChambreNoire, Pro HDR X, ProCamera, Camera+, Fusion, Top Camera 2, ProCam, Dynamic Light. Hydra, Cortex Cam, Taru Camera, MegaPhoto, Horizon, 100FX, iMajiCam Pro, aremaC (must-have!), Steady (waiting for update because it crashes, best stabilizer), snapseed, Photogene, Brushstroke, and few others…