Taking photos is easier than it has ever been with nearly every mobile phone touting a camera of some kind. Taking high quality photos with an iPhone is particularly easy especially if you own an iPhone 4. The ease of use combined with the convenience of having the device always with you make it perfect for taking photos for a lot of people.
The built-in iOS Camera app has seen some improvement in recent updates, but ultimately it is very basic. Sometimes we need a little more. Camera+ claims to be that little more and does so quite well. Let’s run through the application and see how it works in this role.
Design and Interface
It is obvious from the start that a lot of thought was put into this application. It is very polished and that is noticeable. The photo taking portion of this app is extremely similar visually to the iOS Camera application. Anyone that has used the standard Camera app will have no problem snapping off photos with Camera+.
You’ll find the shutter button large and right in the middle on the bottom of the display. Transparent flash adjustment and camera flip buttons (for the iPhone 4) appear on the top of the display along with a zoom slider along the right hand side. On the bottom of the display next to the shutter button you’ll find a button that allows you to change the shooting mode as well as a button to access the menu of the application.
It feels like a native iOS application, and I think we can attribute that to the attention to detail along with its overall style. I’ve been using it as my main photo-taking application for a while now, and I’d say it’s easy to forget that this isn’t a native app.
The core function of Camera+ would obviously have to be taking photos. The app does a solid job in this basic function and to be honest, isn’t a ton different from the native Camera application in its latest iteration. The gap in functionality used to be a bit more, but a recent iOS update brought things a lot closer.
A fairly minimal, yet useful difference is the capability to turn on a grid. This can be toggled on and off in the menu, and can greatly aid in composing your photos. It’s not intrusive and helps you achieve more complex and thoughtful compositions using the rule of thirds.
Camera+ also enables you to shoot in four different modes: normal, stabilizer, timer and burst. Stabilizer mode helps you in those situations when you’re having trouble keeping a steady hand — maybe you’re trying to take a photo from a car on a bumpy road. Timer mode functions as you would probably guess. When you press the shutter button the photo will snap in five seconds, giving you time to prepare or setup. Burst mode allows you to hold down the shutter button and snap one photo after another. The quality of each photo isn’t quite as good as shooting in the other modes, but it’s a pretty cool feature.
As with the native Camera app, the application will autofocus by default, but it is also possible to manually select where you want the focus prior to taking a photo. A feature not found in the native app is the ability to control the exposure on the fly. You simply use a second finger and adjust the exposure control to the portion of the shot you want to base your exposure on. This is a little difficult to explain, but you’ll see how it works in the image comparison below. This seemingly small feature puts a lot more control into the photographer’s hands.
Once you’ve got your shot lined up and you snap the photo, it will be stored in the Camera+ Lightbox or straight into your main photo library. This is a configuration that can easily be changed. Now we can do some editing and this is where Camera+ really shines.
By default the photos taken with Camera+ will be stored in the Camera+ Lightbox, where you’ll be able to edit and share your photos. The Lightbox can be accessed by pressing a thumbnail of the last photo taken on the bottom left hand corner of the display, which looks just like what you’d see using the native Camera app. Tapping that thumbnail will take you to the Lightbox and show all the images available for you to edit.
Camera+ can also edit photos you currently have in your photo library. Photos added to the Camera+ Lightbox for editing will display without the filmstrip border in the Lightbox.
When tapping on the images you’ll be presented with several options. First, you’ll be able to view a full version or delete the photo. You’ll also be able to share the photo or save it into your photos library.
There is also an option to view the info of a photo which includes the time and date the photo was taken along with other stats such as the ISO and focal ratio among other things. If the GPS is turned on (which tags each photo with a location) you’ll also see a Google map of the location where the photo was taken. You’ll also see a list of the edits that have been made to the photo.
Photo editing options are split into five categories. The Scenes section will give you some different corrections you can apply. For example, one attempts to correct a sunset scene. The Adjust section is pretty basic and allows you to change the orientation of the photo. The Crops section does just what you’d expect: you can crop the photo manually or use a few available presets.
The Effects section allows you to add some serious effects to you photos. There are a few different categories and you’ll be able to see thumbnail previews of each effect before you apply it. There is also a section of effects available that you can pay for. You can demo them, but to apply the effect you’ll need to make the in-app purchase. The available effects are very high quality and can really add something interesting to your photos. There are 27 free effects to choose from with the option to purchase another group for $0.99. There are enough to choose from, but not so many to make your choice too difficult.
The Borders section allows you to add on several different borders to your photos. In functionality it is similar to trying and applying effects. You’ll also have the option to add a caption to the photo when applying a border as well.
There is an overwhelming amount of photo apps for the iPhone to choose from, and believe me, I’ve tried my fair share. Some aid in actually shooting photos and others in manipulating them. Camera+ does a great job in both categories. It provides a couple of very helpful tools to shoot better photos along with a large library of very high quality effects and other solid editing tools.
Editing photos is really the leading highlight of this application, but its other functions are more than just capable. Camera+ can be your primary, and for a lot of us only, photo application. The price tag of $0.99 makes this app almost a no-brainer if you take any photos with your iPhone at all.