Landcam: A Great Photo Editor Ready For iOS 7

In the wake of iOS 7, it feels like the App Store is the Wild West. Every app territory is up for grabs again — it’s no longer about who has the best app, but about who’s made the best iOS 7 app. Camera apps, despite iOS 7’s arguably disappointing camera filters, aren’t excluded from this. In fact, thanks to iOS 7’s renewed focus on clarity, I think that camera apps could benefit more than most.

Landcam requires iOS 6 or higher, but it looks like it’s been made for iOS 7 from the get-go. This is the rare camera app that surprises and delights as often as it snaps a shot. Let’s take a look and see whether or not it can supplant your current favourites.

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Taking the Shot

Landcam is actually a very comprehensive app — so much so that I’m truthfully not sure where to begin. Even the camera itself runs the gamut of options: HiRes, which I’m guessing means high-resolution (but why you can turn that off I don’t know), and a camera grid can be turned on in the Settings. The camera also allows a setting called Double Exposure, which creates a new photo to let in what I’m guessing must be twice the amount of light. Sadly, there is no documentation to verify that’s indeed what’s going on.

Taking a picture is easy, and the interface is smart.

Taking a picture is easy, and the interface is smart.

Flash is also available by tapping the symbol on the top left of the screen. Camera rotation can be accessed with the top right of the screen, so the app can still be used for selfies.

Taking a picture is a slight curiosity, though. You’re forced to crop any picture you take into a square, but the app takes long 4×3 pictures by default. I presume this is because some people will want the original full-sized photo for their library, but I much prefer the way that Analog Camera handles it: I see the cropped version of my picture when I’m taking it, but an un-cropped version is still available in my Photo Stream and Camera Roll.

You can set focus and exposure at separate levels.

You can set focus and exposure at separate levels.

Tapping on the viewfinder automatically sets the focus and exposure level, but if you tap with two fingers, you can set the focus and exposure levels independently of each other. It’s easy and it’s smart.

Importing is an easy experience, and you can choose to import from any photo in your iPhone library.

Importing is an easy experience, and you can choose to import from any photo in your iPhone library.

Importing an image isn’t a bad experience either, but it’s also reminiscent of Analog Camera. The thing is, Analog Camera was much faster because it always had your photo library available from the bottom of the display. Landcam requires you to tap an Import button on the bottom right that brings up your photo library. You can browse any folder you like, and pulling up from the bottom of the display gives you more space to browse.

It’s a nice system that’s, again, much like Analog. In fact, it’ll be familiar to anybody that’s used that app. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a ripoff, because Analog still has a nicer camera function, but it’s certainly inspired by it as a whole.

Filters, Adjustments, and Effects, Oh My!

None of that matters too much, though. The interface is nice enough, and if you remember not to get too close to any object you’re shooting, you won’t have any problems cropping an image. And if you don’t mind one extra tap, importing a photo is still a snap. What makes this app different is all of the editing options.

There are a bevy of filters available.

There are a bevy of filters available.

First off, let’s start with the all-important filters. I love a good filter, and I was shocked by the amount of filters in Landcam. They run the gamut it every colour. When you select a filter, you can also adjust its intensity with a simple Slider. (This is why you can’t have live filter previews in the camera in Landcam as well.) In all, though, there are more than thirty filters.

What I like about the filters is that each one seems inspired by an analog metaphor. The filters each have a name, but they sit against a background colour. So Alda sits against a yellow colour, and Fern sits against a dark green. This helps differentiate between different shades of similar colours as well. (There’s also a lot of very nice black and white filters.) Finch is a bright green, for example, and Moss sits in between. In this sense, although there are tons of options, it’s similar to picking a lens filter in the same way that you would for a traditional SLR.

When you're done stacking visual effects, you'll find there's all sorts of other odd enhancements you can add to a photo.

When you’re done stacking visual effects, you’ll find there’s all sorts of other odd enhancements you can add to a photo.

Similarly, you can also stack filters — again, just like a real SLR. So this means you could blend a baby blue filter with a hot pink one. I’d suggest being careful with how intense each filter is, since you’re likely going to end up losing a lot of shadow detail and emphasizing highlights. To that end, the app includes a handy Undo button. You can also tap on the image to see the original and compare it to how far you’ve strayed from your original intent.

None of these filters are going to approach Kelvin levels of Instagram stupidity, but I think they’re very classy and possibly my favourite part of the app. Fans of VSCO Cam will like it, but they’re also going to notice: VSCO has as much in common with the editing features of Landcam as Analog does with its camera mode.

The app has over forty nice fonts built in and ready to go.

The app has over forty nice fonts built in and ready to go.

Another editing option lets you mess with everything from Exposure and Brightness to Orange Fix and Grain. It’s very extensive, and it works similarly to filters. You select the enhancement you want to apply and then adjust the intensity. It’s stunningly extensive, actually. Again, these adjustments are all stackable.

I love the Light Leak effects.

I love the Light Leak effects.

Finally, we have a third option to add Borders, Fonts, Sketches, Vignettes, and even Light Leaks (along with a few others). I’m largely impressed, and I think the font choices are all-around high quality (there’s over 40 to choose from), but I wish that borders had adjustable sizes. They’re often much too large. The Light Leak is my favourite tool in this category, which replicates some of the light leaks in Photoshop very easily. I also love the Textures option, which adds a hint of age to any photo without making it look ridiculous.

The app supports almost every photo sharing service I can think of except Flickr, which is an odd exclusion. Also, if you have App.net Passport installed, you can upload pictures to the service’s storage option, but you aren’t able to share them with an ADN client like Felix, which I think is really disappointing.

Final Thoughts

There’s a ton of features in this app, which has a smart design and is iOS 7-ready. I think a lot of people are going to use it, though, and think that it’s riffing off of Analog Camera and VSCO. Let’s be honest — it is. But for what it’s worth, I think that while Analog has a better camera than Landcam, Landcam has the superior image editor over VSCO. It’s clearer and it’s easier to use — both of which are very important to me. I can’t say this enough: The design is wonderful.

If Landcam has one fatal flaw, apart from its imitation of more popular apps, it’s that it takes pictures a little more slowly than I would like. I can see this changing when the app updates to only support iOS 7. For now, it’s one of the rare photo editing apps that I actually keep after reviewing it, and I recommend it to anybody looking to try something new. At $0.99 and no in-app purchases, Landcam is a steal.


Summary

Landcam marries Analog Camera's shooting mode with VSCO's editing mode with mostly-awesome results. A smart design and no in-app purchases make this an easy buy.

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