Camera Prime
Version 1.1.2
Price: $0.99

Rating 3 1/2 stars

Bottom Line: A solid camera replacement app. What Camera Genius should be now.

camera prime for iPhoneApple’s Camera app is fast and easy to use. The latest version of Camera has an excellent zoom and HDR in addition to the geo-tagging it’s had for a while. With the improvements in the iOS 4 camera, there are fewer and fewer compelling reasons to purchase and use a camera replacement app.

Recently, I wrote a story on the things I look for that make purchasing a camera replacement app worthwhile. You can read it here. Camera Prime is a new camera replacement app from Testut Tech. There are dozens and dozens of camera replacement apps in the store. This newcomer is one of the more solid and well-designed camera replacements currently available.

Camera Prime screenshots

In the early days of the App Store, Camera Genius was one of the top selling iPhone photo apps. The camera replacement was well-implemented and added features that the old Apple Camera lacked, such as grid lines, big button shutter and zoom. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since the iOS 4 release. It doesn’t take advantage of all of the new APIs in the latest iOS and recent iOS updates have created bugs and conflicts with the app.

Camera Prime draws its inspiration from Camera Genius, among other apps. It’s a modern app with none of the bugs of many other older camera replacements. It incorporates many of the best features of the mid-level camera replacements.

Camera Prime is a full-featured camera app for both stills and video, but it’s very easy to use. The UI is clean and intuitive. The screen is fairly uncluttered and most of the magic happens in the settings screen, easily accessed from the main screen. Camera Prime is a straightforward shooter. It doesn’t try to reinvent this style of app, but rather it takes what works from several other camera apps and integrates the features well.

Like Camera Genius, this is a pure camera replacement app. There are no filter suites or image editing modules to clutter up the interface. This keeps the app lean and focused on taking pictures. Some iPhoneographers like the all-in-one approach of Camera+ or Camera Plus and may not like the straightforward shootability of Camera Prime. I personally prefer a leaner camera app and then to app my images in other photo apps.

On an iPhone 4, Camera Prime has a fairly fast startup time — 3.5 seconds, comparable to the 3.2 second startup time for ProCamera, the 3.5 second startup time for Gorillacam. It’s faster than the 4.5 second startup time of Camera Plus and much better than the almost 6 second ready-to-shoot time for Camera+.

Camera Prime has a lot of goodies to help you take better pictures. It features a rule of thirds composition grid.  It has an optional full-screen Big Button shutter — especially helpful for one-handed, “monkey paw” style self portraits. When the entire iPhone screen acts as a shutter release, there’s no more fumbling for a small button. Camera Prime has a very fast burst mode. It shoots and saves three full-res images in about 1.8 seconds on iPhone. Gorillacam takes almost 3 seconds to shoot 3 full-res images. That means you’re ready to shoot fairly quickly.

Camera Prime has very good anti-shake image stabilization. Although it’s not adjustable like ProCamera’s, the single anti-shake threshold is set to a very good level. It’s an excellent balance of anti-shake and quick shutter release. It’ll help you get clearer pictures when your hands are shaky while minimizing the number of missed opportunities.

Unlike many other apps that don’t give you a choice when it comes to saving images, Camera Prime allows you to review images before saving,  to save images  to Prime Review — its own lightbox, or to save images directly to the camera roll. It’s a setting in the app’s preferences. It’s more a matter of workflow preference. Unlike many other camera replacements where its faster to save to the app’s lightbox than to the camera roll, Camera Prime saves images just as fast to either Prime Review or the iPhone. Camera Prime doesn’t actually save quickly, but it saves in the background efficiently, allowing you to return to shooting very quickly. With it’s iOS 4 multi-tasking support, you can even back out of the app while it saves without losing any images. I like how Camera Prime’s lightbox behaves. When you save an image to the camera roll, it automatically deletes it from Camera Prime, a good feature that keeps version clutter down.

The app supports all of the latest APIs in the new iOS. Camera Prime supports touch to focus on the 3GS and iPhone 4. It has full support for flash and front-facing cameras on devices with those features. Camera Prime embeds geo-tagging EXIF data in both your still pictures and videos.

I only had a few problems with Camera Prime. The burst mode didn’t work well for me 100% of the time. Sometimes during my tests, it only captured 2 images. Quitting the app and restarting didn’t always fix the problem. Also, even though the shutter is fast, when firing off rapid single shots, the shutter sound doesn’t always go off for me on my speedy iPhone 4. This can be frustrating if you rely upon the audible cue to confirm the shot. The developer is very responsive and quick to address issues with the app and I suspect that these issues will be addressed quickly.

Not everyone needs a camera replacement app. For many users, Apple’s Camera is just fine. However, the grid lines and anti-shake image stabilization are two great features when considering whether you need one or not. Camera Prime has both.

Overall, Camera Prime is one of the better camera replacement apps available. It’s a streamlined app with plenty of extra features that improve upon Apple’s own Camera app. Its clean interface is familiar and the lack of excess, extraneous features won’t slow you down, especially if you prefer to “app” your images in using other photo apps. New features planned in coming updates include separate focus and exposure controls and date and time stamp. Camera Prime is a very good choice for iPhoneographers who don’t need all of the advanced focus and exposure features of ProCamera or Almost DSLR, but still want additional tools to help take better raw photos. It’s what Camera Genius should be now. It has the potential to be a four-star app as the few bugs are worked out.

Camera Prime runs on any iPhone or iPod Touch 4th Gen running iOS 4.0 or newer. It is $0.99 in the App Store.