Camera Awesome
Version reviewed 1.0.1
Price: Free (bust out your wallet for all the in-app add-ons)

Before long, Camera Awesome, the new iPhone photo app from SmugMug, will top Instagram as the number one free photo app. It’s that good. It’s a full-featured camera replacement that for the most part lives up to the “awesome” moniker. The app has a lot of in-app add ons, but most users will be very happy with just the free version.

Click past the jump for my full review. >>>

As an iPhone camera, Camera Awesome has nearly every feature I look for in a camera replacement app. In addition to rule of thirds composition guides, Camera Awesome also has golden triangle and tri-sec guides as well. There’s a horizon level that toggles off and on. Camera Awesome has anti-shake stabilization, Big Button full screen shutter release, burst modes, countdown timers and easy to use separate focus and exposure targets. Free or not, it’s a pretty advanced camera and has many of the features found in commercial apps Camera+, ProCamera, Camera Genius and King Camera.

Camera Awesome is easy to use. Nearly all of its tools and features fly out of the way until needed. In single-shot mode, shot-to-shot time is very good — not as fast as the commercial apps, but still very good. Slow Burst mode shoots about 2 full-resolution exposures per second. Fast Burst mode shoots about 10-15 low res 480×640 px exposures per second. The shutter release button indicates at a glance which shooting mode the camera is in — a great feature.

Camera Awesome give you the choice of saving directly to your iPhone’s camera roll, its own built-in lightbox, or SmugMug in the cloud. I don’t have a SmugMug account, and I chose to save images to the app’s Lightbox. Doing so lets you easily use Camera Awesome’s powerful toolset and numerous filters.

In addition to being a great camera, Camera Awesome is a very good all-in-one as well. The lightbox lets you access all of Camera Awesome’s image editing tools and numerous numerous filters (there are a lot) . Camera Awesome has a basic set of image editing tools which is good for most needs but not as complete as other all-in-ones.

Before and after, Camera Awesome's Awesomize tool

Camera Awesome automates the color and luminance moves with its one-slider Awesomize tool. It’s like the Clarity tool in Camera+ only adjustable. Don’t like how the Awesomize adjusts your image? You can also fine tune the color moves for further control. Again, these tools are tucked away until needed. There’s also a basic crop tool which lets you crop and rotate. There is no straighten. While not advanced image editing, Camera Awesome guides you through a fast, one-click-style workflow except with plenty of more advanced options.

The editing module also lets you access Camera Awesome’s many filter presets. This is where this “free” app can get expensive. Camera Awesome has over 90 filter presets, most of them can be purchased in packs of nine for $0.99 each. There are plenty of filters, textures, colors and frame packs to choose from. The app not-so-sneakily shows you a thumbnail preview of each effect, unlocking it after purchase.

I found most of the additional effects to appear pretty ornate or artistic or grungy. I have plenty of other photo apps for those effects, but the app’s filters are lush and render well. Camera Awesome lets you try the first set of nine filters, textures and frames for free. Most users won’t need all 10 add-on filter packs. In fact, I was quite happy with the freebies included with the standard gear.

The lightbox also has a great Info tool which lets you see an image’s EXIF data in an easy to read screen. Exposure, geotag, image size data and more are easily accessible from the lightbox. Camera Awesome also lets you import images from your camera roll.

Camera Awesome’s lightbox workflow is, well, awesome. Edits are non-destructive and completely undoable until the photo is exported from the app — a great workflow and it gives you the choice of experimenting and playing.

Camera Awesome supports full 8 MP resolution on an iPhone 4S with no additional purchase! Very cool! It also saves all EXIF data including geotags. In additon to SmugMug, Camera Awesome shares to many major services except Instagram. There’s a great user-selectable instant sharing feature that uploads your image to selected services instantly after capture. Along with the app’s ability to process on the fly, this is a great feature for those who like to shoot and go.

Camera Awesome for the most part lives up to the awesome. It’s a snappy, well-designed camera app. It feels responsive and lightweight, but it does a lot. The user interface is very well designed to give you what you need onscreen and keep everything else easily accessible. The editing module is easy to use yet versatile. It’s a free app that comes very well equipped with optional features that quite honestly are nice to have, but the app is fully functional without.

I think the seemingly jillions of add-on features are overkill. I wish there were a way to turn off the filter previews I don’t use and am not likely to buy. That would help declutter my interface a bit. I guess that’s the price for free.

The app lacks direct Instagram support. While not a dealbreaker, it’s a pretty significant omission given that network’s popularity and the ease in which they make access to their API’s and hooks available to other developers.

Also, the digital zoom is merely an in-app crop. It doesn’t resample your images back to full res like the Apple Camera app and the major camera replacement apps, so zoomed images will have a smaller file size.

Created by photo sharing site SmugMug, Camera Awesome is a “loss leader” to get you to buy in-app add ons or upgrade to a SmugMug subscription. One of the ways that it’s awesome is that it doesn’t beat you over the head with advertisements hitting you up for a SmugMug subscription. It’s tastefully tucked away in a settings pane. As a Flickr user, I appreciate that.

Don’t be put off by the free price of Camera Awesome. Even in its base configuration, it’s a premier camera replacement and one of the better all-in-one apps available. If they charged for the base app, I wouldn’t complain — it’s that good. Making the app available for free makes it that much more… awesome. SmugMug just about hit this one out of the park.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Camera Awesome - SmugMug



Camera Awesome 1.0.1

Resolution & Image Quality
User Interface
Price / Value


It's powerful toolset make this is a great all-in-one camera replacement. I have almost no issues with the app. It's even worth paying for.

User Rating: Be the first one !