Top 10 Killer Photography Apps for iOS Devices

Trick out your iPhone and iPad


These photo apps will turn your iPhone or iPad into a digital photography wizard.

So, you think you can be the next great photographer, but all you've got in your pocket is your iPhone? No problem! Here are ten apps for the iPhone and/or the iPad that I chose out of dozens of candidates and tried out on my personal devices. These apps will enhance your device's photographic smarts—either in the act of capturing an image, editing it, or helping out with important chores that both professional and enthusiast photographers would appreciate.

For a few bucks, you can totally trick out your iOS device to be a brilliant picture-taking device or helpful sidekick to your big camera. Here are the apps I was most impressed with, in no particular order:


1: Photogene $2.99

Photo Editor with extensive features

Serious tools:
• Levels adjustments
• RGB sliders
• text balloons
• frames
• many special effects

Evaluation: Dig deep into Photogene's interface and you'll find an extensive range of serious tools, including levels adjustments, a slider-adjusted histogram, RGB controls, a white balance dropper, saturation, sharpening and vibrance controls, extensive selections of one-tap presets, retouching tools, the ability to add text, and a couple of dozen creative filters. The effect previews display almost instantly, which is also nice. Photogene is one of the most popular image editing apps available, and deserves this praise.



2: Snapseed FREE


Multi-featured photo editor

Serious tools:
• Selective Adjust
• Tune Image
• Structure control
• HDR Scape
• Black & White

Evaluation: Snapseed has a lot of fans—including TIPA, which named it 2012's best mobile app of the year, and I can understand why. There are a lot of features here and plenty of fine-tuning, although the interface took some getting used to (there are sub-menus that you access by swiping up or down, and you might miss the options if not careful). HDR is one of Snapseed's strengths, and you have many options for improving poor exposures without getting technical. This is fun for experimenters, and you'll get lots of re-pins.


3: The Photographer's Ephemeris $8.99

Outdoor photography location/lighting planner

Serious tools:
• Uses current location or selected location
• Shows direction of sunlight any time any day
• Sun and moon location calculator

Evaluation: The Photographer's Ephemeris has become a must-have tool for outdoor and nature photographers. It calculates the position of the sun or moon any time and any place. It will take your current location and show you when and where the sun will rise and set, and give you a pretty good indication of how shadows and light will fall in the scene you want to photograph. You can literally plan and precisely time your photographic explorations around the results you get. You can plan sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset images as well. The interface is simple: Choose the location, date and time that you want to photograph, and a pin showing your location and angles of view representing the sun and moon will appear. Nice.


4: PhotoToaster $2.99

Full-featured photo editor

Serious tools:
• Full Control sliders for exposure, temp, shadows, etc.
• Special effects including saturation, color filter, sharpening
• Set of textures to superimpose distressed look

Evaluation: Designed primarily for the more advanced segment of the Instagram crowd, PhotoToaster lets you choose either single-tap "do and done" image effects, or gives you more complete control over exposure, shadows, color temperature, saturation, sharpening, borders and application of texture using sliders to control intensity. The interface was fairly straightforward. Hit a brush icon and you can selectively brush effects on or off or remove noise. Nicely done and definitely worth the cost if you like to experiment but don't want to go through too many menus to get there.


5: Handy Photo $1.99

Full-featured photo editor

Serious tools:
• Global and local tone and color correction
• Magic Crop Tool
• RAW format support
• Supports up to 36MP images
• Partial application of filters

Evaluation: Once you get used to its wacky user interface, Handy Photo is, indeed, a handy tool that lets you make local or global color corrections, remove unwanted elements, clone objects within the image, or apply photo filters including Black and White, Bleach Bypass, Cross Process, HDR, Lomo and more. You can partially or fully add textures, and lets you "uncrop" photos, intelligently filling in missing areas when you straighten in image so you don't lose anything. Get lost in the app? On-board tutorials will help you maximize the app's usefulness.


6: Camera+ $0.99

Full-featured camera and photo editor for iPhone and iPad

Serious Tools
• Basic editing tools
• Layering
• White Blaance
• Sharpening and Blurring
• Brightness, contrast, saturation control
• Clarity and vibrance control

Evaluation: With an impressive 16 scene modes, Camera + offers many image editing features found in RAW image editors such as clarity control, and lets you quickly adjust white balance (if you're using the iPad version), tweak tone, sharpen or blur the image overall or selectively, and much more. The downside? When editing in one mode, the icons that let you navigate to other modes in The Lab are so tiny they are both illegible and hard to tap accurately. This is, in a way, a complement to the fact that Camera+ has so many options to choose from.


7: Pocket Light Meter $0.99

Turns your iPhone into a light meter.

Serious tools
• It's a light meter!

Evaluation: This is a must-get app for anyone who requires the services of a straightforward reflective light meter. Using the on-board camera and LCD monitor, Pocket Light Meter lets you set the ISO then displays the appropriate light reading, based on a center-weighted semi-spot meter. You can adjust exposure correction , shutter stop and aperture setting amounts. Touch and drag the focus square to move it in order to meter off-center subjects while maintaining composition with your iPhone camera. Very simple, and very cool. You can get it for free if you don't mind a small ad banner, or $0.99 without the annoying ads.


8: 645 Pro Mk II $3.99

An app that makes your iPhone or iPad screen look like it's the back of a medium format camera.

Serious tools:
• ISO, shutter speed readings
• Customizable virtual buttons
• Choice of histograms
• Film Modes inspired by classic emulsions
• 6x6 to 6x17 aspect ratios
• Adjustable photo filters

Evaluation: If you are a professional or an experienced enthusiast who can appreciate having many, many options at your fingertips, 645 Pro Mk II is a must-have tool. This app gives you about as much control over the image as I've seen, and the addition of TIFF is a fantastic bonus. The user interface felt comfortable and familiar, with most buttons clearly indicated. Even better: You can choose the look of classic films such as Kodachrome 25 or Kodachrome II, Velvia, Ektachrome (if you know the subtle and not so subtle differences between these color slide emulsions, you'll appreciate this app) as well as black-and-white favorites such as Tri-X, HP5, and XP-1. The app gives you several JPEG compression choices, and the new Dynamic Film Grain feature intensifies grain as ISO increases. 


9: Easy Release $9.99

Make a model release on your iPhone or iPad (or Android). 

Serious tools:
• Collect signatures, data
• Industry-standard legal language
• Custom contract languages from Getty and Alamy agencies
• 13 languages supported
• User-defined releases, branding header with logo

Evaluation: If you're in the business of photography, model releases are a fact of life. Thanks to tablets and smart phones, you no longer need to carry around model releases (and PENS!) for when you need them, and Easy Release best represents this kind of app. You can store releases on iCloud or your local computer. You can use standard or custom release text for models or property releases, fill in model info from your contacts, grab a signature and create a PDF that you can email to yourself, your stock agency or client. It is super-convenient and legally vetted.


10: FX Photo Studio Pro $9.99

Photo editor with lots of cool features (but not a pro app)

Serious tools:
• 170 photo filters
• Mix and match effects
• Smart brush for selective application

Evaluation: Extensive collection of filters and special effects presented in a straightforward manner. These include many Black & White variations, as well as art effects, more subtle color temperature shifts, mirror distortion effects, glow, and much more. In fact, there are nearly 200 effects, and you can superimpose one over another. A slider controls the intensity of each effect. Simple, nicely done.


Plus: Expand Your iPhone's Reach With These 4 Useful Photo Gadgets:

ALM mCAMLITE Pro Lens Pack $149.95
Adds a 37mm telephoto lens to your iPhone

Flashpoint IPhone Video Kit  $39.95
An adjustable holder and 35LED video light that illuminates up to15 feet and has a tripod adapter.

Sony DSC-QX10 Smartphone Attachable Lens-Style Camera  $243.94
A self-standing camera, it attaches to your device, has a 10x optical zoom lens and a larger sensor, operated via your iPhone.

Impossible Instant Lab for iPhone  $299.00
Make analog instant prints from your camera phone!


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