For the past two Free on iTunes articles I’ve written about free apps that could possibly replace the apps included with Apple iOS mobile devices. One of the benefits of writing about replacement apps is that I’ve discovered, or rediscovered features of the built-in apps that, upon a closer look, really makes that particular built-in app shine.
For instance, last week I looked at the Stocks app. I don’t follow stocks (though everyone tells me I should) so I’ve rarely bothered with the app, or any of the more feature filled replacement apps available in the App Store.
What I discovered was that the Stocks app has a lot of nice features available for an ad-free freebie. I like how the screen is used to display the info; stock listings on the top two-thirds, info screen with detailed info, charts, or news available at a swipe. Landscape orientation offers an expanded chart view. The app should do just fine for the casual stock observer.
I do take photos, however, and I am well acquainted with many of the camera apps that are available. And there are a bunch.
So, instead of picking three random built-in apps and offering replacements, I thought that this week, I’d concentrate just on taking photos.
Actually, there’s enough source material for photography alone to fill several huge articles. There are apps like Photosynth, from Microsoft (of all people) that lets you create interesting panoramas with a single screen tap. There’s Adobe’s Photoshop Express, which lets you tweak your pix to make them the best they can be without loading them onto your Mac or PC first. And there’s iMotion HD, which lets you create stop-motion movies on your iPhone.
All of these are what I call specialty and support apps. They are not a direct replacement of the iOS’ Camera app, which is pretty capable in its own right.
So, what I’m going to talk about are three apps that can replace either a major features of the Camera app, or replace the app altogether.
First up is Gorillacam from Joby, the folks who make the iconic Gorillapod camera support system.
The Camera app is the epitome of spartan utility, putting its few adjustable features on the screen for easy access. Gorillacam subscribes to a similar philosophy. All of its most-used adjustments are also on the screen for quick access, but there’s a comprehensive list of other adjustable features, as well, that I’ve often wished the Camera app had, a timer being chief among them. You also get a time-lapse feature for taking stop-motion shots, a three-shot burst setting, and an anti-shake feature which can really help sharpen up the shots you take. There’s also a 4x digital zoom and a built-in bubble level so that you can keep your shots their level best.
If you have an iPhone 4, Joby now offers Frame X Frame, an app with all the features of Gorillacam, but it also includes geotagging. Frame X Frame is optimized to take advantage of the iPhone 4’s enhanced hardware. It even lets you stitch together your stop-motion movies and send them out to your social network connection of choice.
If you need to exert more control over your picture taking endeavors, but you want to do it on the cheap then take a peak at Super Camera Free: All-in-1. The name says it all. Super Camera Free offers an exhausting list of features and adjustments.
Super Camera Free: All in 1
Whereas the built-in Camera app lets you shoot in High Dynamic Range (HDR) to increase the quality of the shots you take, Super Camera Free gives you that and a short list of other filters that are applied at the moment the shot is taken, or applied anytime just by touching the filter. Some, like “Rain Drops” are more artistic, while others, like “Natural Gray” is a black and white converter.
Excellent color and detail with Super Camera Free: All in 1
Super Camera Free lets you adjust the resolution of your shots so you can get more pix in the same amount of space. It’ll even let you shoot “Raw”, which does not perform any photo processing and lets you do that later. Raw is what pros use because it saves the all of the data the camera takes, which can help with details and other tweaks.
Super Camera Free is ad supported, but the ads are not nettlesome. Still, if you upgrade to the full version you drop the ads and gain extra features and filters.
For a free app, Super Camera Free: All-in-1 offers controls to make even a pro smile.
Last up is a camera app with a name very similar to the previous app. Camera All In One is, however, different than Super Camera Free: All-in-1.
Camera All In One
The biggest difference is its resolution enhancer, which really comes into play when using digital zoom.
See, the iPhone has a fixed focal length lens, that means that it has no optical way to zoom in on a subject. So, it uses digital zoom, which, in essence, uses a smaller area of the sensor to make the subject look bigger in the photo. The problem with this approach is that the more you zoom, the smaller the area of the sensor that will be used for the photo, which reduces the resolution of the photo.
Pretty good resolution for a digital zoom shot. Camera All In One
Camera All In One combats this by using software to artificially increase the resolution. The results are impressive. The problem is that it can take a while to process the shot. Still, if you want decent results from your digital zoom, Camera All In One could be what you need.
Camera All In One also offers an impressive list of other features including a 5x zoom, timer, and time stamp. It is also ad supported, but again, the ads are small and not bothersome. This is one app you should definitely check out, especially if you have an older iPhone.
You’ve probably noticed that these apps just take photos and not movies, the built-in Camera app does. I don’t think that’s an oversight. People serious about taking pictures seem to prefer apps that do that one thing very well. Besides, making movies seems to be what the built-in Camera app does best.
Ok, my friends, that a wrap for this week.
More free photo apps below with direct links.