With the release of one particularly famous photo app recently I thought I’d mark a return to blogging by sharing some of my thoughts on a few Android photo apps.
As a note: In an earlier post I mentioned FxCamera, however it’s not on this list as I find it somewhat lacking in the quality of these other apps. That said it’s still a great little app, and it functioned very well on my old HTC Desire and on my current handset.
(I’m currently using a Samsung Galaxy SII GT-I9100 running Android 4.0.3)
So I’ll start with the one that inspired this first-in-a-while post. I’ve been using it now since release day for Android and so far I think it’s a very nice app, and I can see why it has become so popular through it’s time on iOS.
The interface is very easy to navigate around, and very pleasing to look at. The photos of people you follow are presented in a very easy stream (which does have room for improvement though, maybe in sorting options and further limiting of displayed comments unless clicked upon).
The quality of photographs are quite good, and the filters are well implemented. In fact one of the things I really like about Instagram is there aren’t an insanely high number of options when it comes to filters and borders. My preference is for a fast and easy to use app, not one where I become bogged down in edits on a phone. Though at the same time this exposes some limits in the app that many people may not be happy with, and for those people there are alternatives I’ll mention further down.
The best part overall is the social element. I’ve followed about twenty people so far who take some absolutely stunning photographs. There’s plenty of debate in the world around the quality/value of phone photography and these photographs (and indeed the photographers) make up a lot of ground in working to silencing the critics. The sharing options are also excellent and well integrated, with the best one in my opinion being through Twitter.
(As I was writing this I flicked to another tab and got some breaking news, courtesy of Gizmodo, that Instagram was just bought by Facebook! So I imagine that Facebook will eventually outstrip Twitter as the best sharing option).
One negative point is photo importing. Trying to get them to the right size from other camera apps and being forced to crop images is a little annoying. But not so much so that I would describe it as a black mark against the app.
I can definitely recommend Instagram, and would suggest it as a fun and social photo app for anyone.
If you’re in the market for an app to fully replace the stock camera app and provide you with a huge range of editing and effect options then Camera360 is one worthy of consideration.
This app takes great high quality photographs, and quickly. Some of the effects slow the app slightly after the shutter is pressed (or pushed/touched, whatever you’re doing!), but not enough for it to be distracting or annoying when in use.
The interface for taking a photo is very clean and nice. The edit interface is a little dull and simple, but it’s not really a negative thing, just an observation.
There are eighteen different initial options for filters before taking a shot (including one for normal pics). One of these eighteen applies initial edits to a photo right after the shot. Once the picture is processed many of the eighteen options provide subsequent edit and tweak options before saving or discarding the picture.
Personally I keep the preset to either the ‘HDR’ or ‘Magic Colour’ while using Camera360 as I find the effects and results to be very impressive, and I would recommend the app even if it just had those two options.
One of the other options the app has, while on the screen to select effects is the option to switch over and select ‘scenes’ instead. This isn’t something which I’ve played with at all, but there are a huge amount of options here also, enough to keep someone entertained for a while anyway!
While it doesn’t have a social network there are some sharing options within the app. Though the only popular and near universal network it works with is Facebook.
As I said initially a great stock replacement, and a lot of fun!
Whereas Camera360 is a worthy replacement to the stock app Camera ZOOM FX is one that should be your first port of call when choosing a new camera.
It’s a very powerful and easy to use app. It takes great quality photographs, and provides plenty of options with regards to shot control and and composition (including a limited, but nice composition choice).
A myriad of effects are available ready to go with the app for shot processing. One of the nicer features of these effects is that they are applied live and can be seen in the image before the shot is taken. This isn’t a common feature to a lot of apps, but it’s great to see it, and well implemented.
One of the other great features of this app are the add ons. Oh so many extra features and effects to be had and all for free! Now I don’t really like this, as I could spend an hour trying to edit one photo and still not being happy. For me the choices are far too many, whereas those contained with the app itself are more than enough.
Again no social network here, but there is the option to set up a ping.fm account and to share from there. The app does suggest that you can share directly from the gallery on the phone anyway, which is overall my preferred option through most photo apps anyway.
One thing I don’t like about the app is that I find it a little slow. It’s not so slow as to be unusable or a reason to not try the app, but it is occasionally a little distracting.
So this app could be described as an Instagram competitor, both in what I like about it and in the fact that it’s social network. But there is an important difference in the type of photo you’re taking.
With Hipster your photographs are turned into postcards. Ones which you can add a couple of lines of text to in the editing. This makes for a lot of fun, and the effects/borders available are very nice. Again I like them here because the options are limited, it would only take 20 or 30 seconds to scroll through all of the effects and choose which one is most desirable.
The app uses the stock camera app for original pics and as such the quality is limited by your hardware. The edits are quick to apply and are done so in a really nice interface. The sharing (and bear in mind that I’ve only done this once) was a little slow, but not devastatingly so. The app integrates with facebook, twitter and tumblr, and you can choose easily to which service you want to send the photo to upon publishing (see the Instagram similarities yet?).
But Hipster also has it’s own social network. The layout of which in-app is miles ahead of Instagram as far as I’m concerned. It’s well designed graphically and very easy to navigate, which is all you really want in a service such as this. Whereas Instagram is the massive hit it is Hipster is like a lower down contender, so your friends are less likely to be using it, which is a shame.
Another note on the dislike of mobile photography is that again Hipster is full of quality photographers and their shots. Showing that it’s not the tool that’s the most important thing, but the skill and eye of the user.
This is a great little app and it’s well worth a look.
This is not a full camera replacement. This is not a social network. This is not the greatest camera app on this list. This does not have a beautiful interface. This does not offer a huge amount of control. But…
THIS IS FUN!!!
Paper Camera offers twelve different presets for fun photos. All of which are great quality, and all of which are applied live in app, and not post shot. There are three other options in-app that allow for changes in the contrast, brightness, and line density, all of which add up to provide a whole lot of variety in the photos taken.
The other nice thing about Paper Camera is the ability to import images from the gallery and apply the effects at a later stage. So if you prefer to use the main camera and play with shots later then you can do that here.
Well worth the time and money.
For alternatives to editing and sharing there’s always Photoshop Express, Pixlr-o-matic, and Lightbox. I’ve tried all three, and found that my favourite was Pixlr-o-matic. The only reason I uninstalled it is that I found the apps above accomplished the same things, and so it was just taking up space. For some reason I could never get into Lightbox, and I just never used Photoshop when it was installed. But these three have been recommended to me by real people and by the internet!!
This is not an exhaustive list, just a few thoughts on what I’m currently using and what I recommend. Any other suggestions are welcome in comments.