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24 photo apps to supercharge your iPhone camera

There’s an old adage amongst photographers that goes, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The point being that when the perfect scene pops up, any camera is better than no camera at all. And since most of us carry our smartphones with us everywhere we go, more often than not the best camera we have just so happens to be an iPhone. Moreover, the camera on the newly-launched iPhone 6 — and those adorning nearly all recent iPhone models — are nearly as powerful or more so as the point-and-shoots of yesteryear, with a massive selection of sophisticated applications that render them even more versatile. Check out this list of the best photography apps for iPhone if you want to make the most of your smartphone’s shooter, whether you’re looking for a way to shoot, edit, or organize your photos with the touch of your finger and a little intuitiveness.



Camera Plus Screenshots

Even with the iOS 8 update, Apple’s native iOS camera app is rather anemic when it comes to features. Thankfully, Camera+ gives you a wider range of exposure controls and advanced settings like continuous flash, frontal flash, touch-focus adjustments, 6x digital zoom, a timer, and preset filters. The well-organized interface also makes it a breeze to utilize, whether snapping or sharing shots on social media.




Free of frivolous distractions and interface clutter, VSCO Cam is a stills-only app built with composition and editing in mind. The app allows you to set the focus and exposure independently, as well as make subtle adjustments to temperature, contrast, brightness, saturation, and more using a variety of tools. You can even adjust the strength presets, or peruse a curated gallery of impressive photos from the creators.

Related: 185 Awesome iPhone Apps

ProCamera 8


Pro Camera 8 Screens

Rather that updating the existing ProCamera app for iOS 8, developer Cocologics decided to go ahead and make an entirely new app altogether. The new app still sports a fabulously minimalist interface, with a host sophisticated features for setting exposure time, tint, ISO sensitivity, and more. It even features a night camera and full-resolution previews in addition to robust exposure control and more than 70 unique filters and effects.



Pro HDR Screens

ProHDR is probably one of the most full-featured apps we’ve encountered in the HDR category. The interface isn’t quite as slick as VividHDR, but it offers you a wider range of control over exposure adjustemets and tone-mapping settings. It’s also got an array of beatiful preset filters for you to use, if you’re into that sort of thing, along with options for digitally zooming, cropping, setting a self timer, adding a simple grid overlay, and captioning your photos.

Adobe Photoshop Touch


Adobe Photoshop Touch Screens

When it comes to photo editing software, nobody does it better than Adobe. Though mobile version of their renowned desktop software offers a smaller work space and runs pricier than most apps, it’s still one of the most capable after-effects programs you can buy. Popular Photoshop features such as layers, selection tools, and adjustments all make an appearance, as do options for adding text, applying effects, and blending images.

Related: Before you resort to MS Paint or piracy, try the five best free image-editing tools



Over Screens

Typography nerds, eat your hearts out. Over emphasis relies solely on text, providing you with instant access to a massive selection of different fonts and exclusive artwork you can quickly add to your photos. You can nudge, stretch, size, rotate, fade, copy, and center your artwork and text as well — and more importantly — you can install an unlimited number of your own fonts if you can’t find a typeface that suits you.



Instagram Screens

What would our photography app roundup be without any mention of the undisputed king of photo filters? There are dozens of apps out there that essentially allow you to do the same thing, but Instagram remains the best given the enormous user community. It still supplies a bevy of classic filters from which to choose, along with the ability to comment, like, share, and send photos directly to friends of your own choosing.

Camera Noir


Camera Noir Screens

Camera Noir only does one thing, but it does it really well. The simple app lets you capture black-and-white photos using a fine-tuned, monochrome filter, while allowing you to shift focus and adjust exposure settings with a mere tap of the screen. You can also import photos from your camera roll, use the level line to make sure your photos are balanced, or use the crop marks to ensure your photos are always Instagram-ready.

Light Meter


Light Meter Screens

If you’re looking for more of a professional-quality light meter, this one by developer Vlad Polyanskiy is just what you’re after. Rather than assuming you’re an amateur and spitting out camera setting suggestions, this app simply lets you know the lux level in your scene. It’s calibrated with a professional, high-grade illuminometer, and takes super-accurate measurements almost instantly within an attractive interface to boot.

Pixlr Express


Pixlr Express Screens

The Web-based Pixlr has long been one of our favorite image editors, and thankfully, so is the mobile incarnation of the software. The app lets you choose from four pre-defined dimensions when resizing photos, with additional options for cropping, rotating, stylizing, and sharing photos on standby. Lighting and overlay effects even let you adjust the mood, while one-click adjustments allow for quick and automatic control.



TiltShiftGen2 Screens

There are dozens of apps designed to give your photos a tilt-shift look, but TiltShiftGen2 solely focuses on tilt-shift photography and nothing more. It houses the ability to apply real-time effects and share your photos across your favorite social platforms, not to mention a lens blur feature, color correction, and nine filter types. Furthermore, the interface is streamlined and simple, making the process easy than ever before.



PicFrame Screens

Capture a moment in a series of pics, but want to share that moment in a way that’s more engaging than just a slideshow? Check out PicFrame. The simple lets you crop, stitch, and compile multiple photos into one space via a digital picture frame of sorts. There’s more than 70 adjustable frames to choose from, allowing you to combine up to nine photos in a single frame with text labels, music, individual photo effects.



Dropbox Screens

Dropbox may not be a camera app per se, but thepiece of software grants you access to all your favorite photos and videos from one central location. The service’s baseline package and freemium app only allows for 2GB of storage, but you can still share a link to your files sans an attachment and set up the app to automatically upload your recently-captured photos using your Wi-Fi network or cellular data.



FaceTune Screens

Not everyone is as photogenic as this guy, and more often than not, the images you snap of yourself and your friends aren’t as flattering as you’d prefer. That’s where Facetune comes in. The app allows you to perform specific touch-ups like teeth whitening, blemish removal, and color corrections so that your mug looks perfect when you post the pics to your social media profiles. Hell, you can change your eye color or color over grey hairs.

Photo Editor by Aviary


Photo Editor by Aviary Screens

If you’re looking for a solid after-effects app that doesn’t cost anything up front, check out Photo Editor by Aviary. It’s got plenty of advanced features and a sleek, minimalist interface from which you can stylize and edit your photos using purchasable filters and content. Like Facetune, Aviary includes tools for eliminating redeye and whitening teeth, along with options for adding text, replacing color, and sharing.



Manual Screens

The aptly-titled Manual, one of the more recent photography apps to hit the App Store, is a sight for sore eyes. The mobile software gives you full control of the shutter, white balance, ISO, focus, and exposure composition for a more hands-on approach to capturing photos. Furthermore, you can use the app to monitor automatic exposure values and view a live histogram, that is, when you’re not using the flashlight or slick grid mode.

Grid Lens


Grid Lens Screens

Grid Lens may only offer a mere six filters and two sharing options, but the barebones app does allow you to customize your own set of grids by adding and placing lines wherever you see fit. With Grid Lens, you can capture photos for a frame of your own choosing — whether you prefer to shoot in automatic, manual, burst, or single-lens mode — and then customize the thickness and color of the lines before adding effects.



Photoblend Screens

Photoblend makes being artsy easy. The photo editor allows you to blend to images together to create a simple, double exposure effect, with the option to add a melange of quotes to your photo (i.e. “To love and be loved”). Furthermore, you can add images to one of Photoblend’s many traditional frames, or add modern figures such as an owl, peace sign, tree, or sun, among others. Is it gimmicky? Yes, but who really cares?



TrueHDR Screens

Despite having the clunkiest interface of the three HDR apps listed here, TrueHDR is arguably the most powerful and customizable. It allows you to snap pictures in either full-auto, semi-auto, or manual mode, so you have far more control over your exposures before you even take them. It also lets you access your camera roll and merge photos you’ve previously taken, as well as view a color-coded histogram at any time.



Cycloramic Screens

There are a boatload of panoramic photo apps on the market, and the ability to capture 360-degree shots has been a stock iPhone feature ever since iOS 6 came out, but no other app does panoramas quite like Cycloramic. It takes great handheld pics, but it also comes with the super-unique ability: using the vibration motor, it can independently spin your phone in a circle while sitting on a flat surface for effortless photos.

Adobe Lightroom


Adobe Lightroom iOS Screens

Although the mobile version of Adobe Lightroom requires Adobe Lightroom 5 and access to the Creative Cloud, it remains one of the most feature-rich apps on our list. The app automatically syncs images with its desktop counterpart, whether talking images shot on your smartphone or raw images from a DSLR, allowing you to quickly edit, enhance, and share your photos using a variety of familiar tools.



Snapseed Screens

Snapseed doesn’t necessarily standout from the pack in terms of functionality. Nonetheless, with Snapseed, you can easily analyze your photo and automatically make adjustments to color and exposure, or even make precise adjustments to a specified region of the frame. The app sports standard filters and frames as well, with options for tweaking the contrast, saturation, white balance, crop, size, rotation, and more at the ready.



Afterlight Screens

With 15 adjustments tools and more than 59 distinct filters, Afterlight is more than simple post-capture suite. You can easily apply apply host of adjustable frames and a range of natural light leaks, or use standard tools for altering the brightness, saturation, exposure, and highlights of a particular photo before changing the orientation and uploading your shot to Instagram. Plus, the newest update includes manual controls for iOS 8.



Fader Screens

Gorgeous design and ease of use aside, Faded has shortly become a contender among the best photography apps (even with out John Mayer’s approval). Not only does the app let you adjust exposures and shadows, along with a robust assortment of other manual facets, but it allows you to revert to a previous editing state at any time. It’s ability to export full-resolution photos and save custom actions only make it more worthwhile.

Update: This article was originally published on October 13, 2013, and updated on October 1, 2014, to include the latest software apps. DT staff writer Drew Prindle contributed to this post.