They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Since iPhone owners tend to never leave home without them, that makes the iPhone win by default. But the iPhone might just be the best camera in another sense: with the near-limitless assortment of apps ready for download, that little camera suddenly got a lot more powerful. Read on to discover a few of the cool things your dedicated digital camera could only dream of doing.
Hipstamatic ($1.99, Synthetic Corp.) Even though the iPhone 4 is capable of taking some really sharp HD pictures, sometimes we miss all the fun flaws of cameras from the past– vignetting, light leaks, distortions, and all. That’s where Hipstamatic comes in. While a real dyed-in-the-wool hipster might scoff at using an app to simulate the toy cameras of yesteryear, Hipstamatic is faster, less expensive, and much less pretentious. Hipstamatic even lets you switch out the lens, flash, and film of your virtual camera, so the possibilities are endless. But be warned: with all the in-app upgrades, Hipstamatic might become an addictive, expensive habit.
TiltShift Generator ($0.99, Art & Mobile) Tilt shift photography has gone from indie-art underground trend to iconic camera mod. It even made its way to a sequence in David Fincher’s The Social Network. To put it simply, tilt-shifting a photograph adds a little blurriness in all the right places, making regular-sized objects like people, cars, and buildings look like miniature toys. TiltShift Generator for iPhone won’t play with your lenses like the real thing, but it will easily let you adjust the blur, tint, saturation, and more. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and, most importantly, it looks awesome.
Color Splash ($0.99, Pocket Pixels Inc.) If the App Store had an All-Star League, Color Spash would definitely be in it. This app has been a bestseller for so long because it does one thing, and does it well. Color Spash will turn any image black and white, and then let you choose which parts of the image to bring back in color, mimicking the dramatic look of movies like Sin City. After that, you can adjust the saturation to make the picture even more striking. If you don’t have the time and patience to become a master of Photoshop, Color Splash is for you.
Darkroom (Free, Stepcase) Great as they are, iPhones have limitations. The 3GS doesn’t have a camera flash, and the flash on the iPhone 4 could drain a car battery. What’s more, sometimes a flash just doesn’t look that nice. It can flatten an otherwise dynamic photo. Darkroom is a camera app that automatically applies a series of filters to brighten and improve any photograph that was taken in low-light conditions. The results are actually pretty impressive: bright, balanced, and a lot sharper than one might expect. Best of all, the basic version of Darkroom is free.
Pano ($2.99, Debacle Software) Pano is an app that must be seen to be believed. Pano will guide the user through the steps to line up and shoot a series of photos that it will then stitch together into one amazing, hi-res panorama. Whether it’s a skyscraper-top cityscape or just a trippy, 360-degree view of your bedroom, Pano will make your jaw drop. These panoramas are perfect for Flickr or your Twitter feed, but be prepared for your friends to ask just how you did that.