"These are the best alternatives to your native Android camera app."
The default camera app on your Android smartphone doesn’t often do justice to its snapper. Small tweaks to exposure, shooting modes and ISO, not to mention effects like HDR, Tilt Shift and Selective Focus, can get you far better results than if you shoot in plain auto. If you're looking to upgrade your camera app, the Google Play Store has an infinite number of options to choose from. These are our top picks.
Camera Zoom FX has enough controls to satisfy the pro photographer in you. Apart from the regular Burst, Time Lapse and Stable Shot shooting modes, there’s also a Voice-Activated Shutter which will snap the shutter button when you clap or make a loud noise. The app also offers grid levels, a horizon overlay, and controls for metering, focus, white balance and ISO. There are several FX effects to choose from, including Tilt Shift, Composite and Vignette. The app also lets you customise your Android device’s hardware buttons, like programming the volume button to activate the shutter.
Most photo apps offer an HDR mode, but not all of them create true composites, and try to emulate the results with post processing instead. Pro HDR Camera wants none of that fake stuff, and creates a true HDR image by taking two consecutive images, one overexposed and the other underexposed. It then merges the images and aligns them correctly for true dynamic range. There’s a fully automatic mode which does the job for you, only requiring you to press the shutter button and hold the camera still while the app takes care of the rest. There’s also a manual mode where you can adjust exposures of both images yourself, and then let the app combine them. In both cases, you can adjust brightness, colour, tint and more before the image is saved to your gallery.
A burst mode is a useful feature in a smartphone camera, especially when you want to capture images of a fast-moving subject. Fast Burst Camera is an incredibly useful app for situations like this, and can capture up to 30 photos per second with zero shutter lag. All you have to do is keep the shutter button pressed and it’ll do the rest. There are various shooting modes available, like Single Shot, 5 burst, Full Burst, Pre-Shot and Motion Trigger. Once you’re done, you can apply filters, frames and text, arrange them in a collage or even an animated GIF.
A Better Camera will turn your plain ‘ol smartphone camera into a point and shoot digicam. There are 11 modes to choose from, including Auto, Burst, Night, Panorama, Best Shot, HDR and Group Shot. A useful Object Removal mode lets you remove unwanted objects or people from images. You can opt for one of the various scenes, or enable manual controls like focus modes, exposure, white balance and metering. And if you fancy dabbling in pro features, swipe on the viewer to bring up grids and histograms.
A fun camera replacement app that lets you experiment with lenses, Cymera has seven options to choose from, including fisheye and various photo-booth styles which let you take multiple images and combine them in a collage. Shooting options include Anti-Shake, Timer, Self Portrait and Touch Shot. There’s a fun depth-of-field mode which lets you select an area of focus and blur out the rest. The app also offers a wealth of editing options, like filters, beauty effects, stickers and text. Plus, you can also tweak exposure, saturation, contrast, brightness, etc. You can register for a Cymera account, but this is entirely optional, and you can use the app normally without signing up.
Focal (Beta) used to be a standard on CyanogenMod devices, but has now broken away from the operating system and moved on to Android. The app is still in a beta stage, but is still fully functional, offering several options for the more seasoned photographer. In the viewer, you can swipe upwards for settings like white balance, ISO, scene mode, burst mode, timer mode, effects and more. Each of these can be tapped to bring up smaller menus with more options, so you can tweak as many controls as you need to. The shutter button can be swiped outwards with options to enable the front camera, PicSphere, panorama and video. Rather than the regular tap to focus, the focus point can be dragged around the viewer, with the app automatically adjusting exposure for you.
There are plenty of apps that will turn your photos into pencil sketches, but no app does it better than Paper Camera. With several effects to choose from, the app can turn even the most boring photos into something interesting. The entire interface of the app resembles a crumpled piece of paper with hand-drawn controls. Our favourites are the Comic Boom and Gotham Noir effects. You can also adjust the strength of each effect, and tweak contrast, brightness and intensity.
For casual photographers who don’t want the bother of manual controls, Camera MX is a good choice. There are several live effects you can choose from, letting you view your final image before pressing the shutter button. Some of the more interesting ones on offer include Tiny Planet, Tilt Shift and HDR. You get your usual roundup of filters, overlays and frames too. The only controls you might want to adjust are flash, timer and resolution. For smartphones which don’t have a dedicated camera button, this app even lets you use your volume button to snap an image.
Hey selfie snappers, we haven’t forgotten about you. Camera360 Ultimate has several features, but we bet you’re curious about Selfie Cam, which offers a bevy of modes, from useful to weird, depending on how far you’ll go. For the less narcissistic, there plenty of other filters to pretty up your snaps, which are broadly classified under HDR, Lomo, Retro and Dreamlike. Flash, timer and focus can be adjusted via the toolbar, and swiping down from the top will bring up controls for white balance, ISO, exposure and sharpness, which can be adjusted via a slider. Camera360 Ultimate has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, but the interface isn’t the most intuitive.
The highly-rated iOS app, Camera Awesome, made an appearance on Android only in November 2013. Apart from shooting modes like Burst, Timer, Interval and Panorama, there’s also Big Button, to tap anywhere on the screen to shoot. The app also offers composition guides like the Rule of Thirds, Golden Triangle, Trisec and even a Horizon Level. Plus, there’s face recognition and tracking, and the ability to adjust ISO, white balance and exposure. It has a sophisticated editing toolbox, with its famous one-touch Awesomise tool. You also get an array of filters, textures and frames, but these all come at a price.
Google Camera is also a great photography tool for Android users, if your device is running Android 4.4 KitKat.
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