I, POINT-AND-SHOOT, hereby call to order the inaugural meeting of the Secret Society of Digital Cameras That Are Sick and Tired of the iPhone. Ultra Zoom. Micro Four Thirds. Budget Digi Camera that takes AA batteries. Thanks for coming.
I think everyone knows why we’re here in the basement of this abandoned Circuit City in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J. I mean, it’s in the name of our club: the iPhone. A lot of you have been sitting in junk drawers, so I’ll bring you up to speed. It ain’t just a phone. It has a camera. And not one of those 1.3-megapixel numbers from a decade ago. This is the real deal. People have already started documenting their breakfasts with it. We’re in trouble.
Have you checked out Flickr lately? The iPhone is the site’s most-used camera. Instagram, an app that let’s people share photos, reached 27 million users to become one of the world’s biggest social networks. It hit that milestone purely with the iPhone. Last time I checked, we took photos. Where is our piece of the zeitgeist pie?
There was a time when we were renegades ushering in a new era of photography. Mavericks, really. We kicked those old film cameras into flea-market stalls. Now only pros and artsy types use them. Guess what? We’re the ones starting to collect dust. And don’t think anyone’s going to revisit us. Film cameras occupy the same hip space as vinyl. Where are we going to fall on the technological nostalgia spectrum? Next to the LaserDisc.
The digital photography revolution was a promise to streamline things for the everyman. To let him shoot as many sunsets and cats wearing bread (seriously, Google it) as he wanted without having to worry about film. Anyone with a laptop could edit like a pro. Like the Brownie and Polaroid before us, we were democratizers of photography.
Not any more. The iPhone hijacked our vision for the future—our legacy!—while we were busy fooling people that more megapixels meant better pictures. (Sorry, Budget Digi Cam, it doesn’t.) Talk about simplifying the photographic process—you can shoot, edit, share and order prints without taking your mitts off an iPhone. We’re on our way to becoming a footnote on its Wikipedia page.
I know what you’re all thinking. Some of us can edit photos. Some of us can post to Facebook. But not like the iPhone. It’s quick, intuitive. We’re not. Great-looking pictures are so fun and easy to produce that it makes anyone with an Instagram account feel like Terry Richardson and Ansel Adams rolled into one. Awesome Camera might be the device’s best photo app. And it’s free! And downloadable in minutes! You know how people refresh their user experience with us? They wait two years and spend hundreds on a new camera.
OK, there’s a bright side. The DSLR will always be king for serious photographers. All of us take better photos in low-light situations. Android phones may be getting Instagram soon, but they aren’t a huge threat—yet. And, uh, we come in more than two colors. Look at Ultra Zoom. He’s chartreuse!
If we lose to one of our own, that’s one thing. This crazy Lytro camera that lets you choose a focal point after you’ve taken a picture? Innovative stuff. Maybe we’ll invite her to the next meeting. But a phone? Not cool. That’s not progress. It’s game-changing. And we’re in the wrong stadium.
I forget who, but a wise man once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Let’s show it to them. First camera to figure out how to beat the iPhone wins an 8-gig SD card. And I’ll throw in this lime-green neoprene case. Except for Micro Four Thirds. You’re too bulky for it. Meeting adjourned—see you next year in the parking lot of the old Crazy Eddie headquarters.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CAMERA PHONE EXTRA-SNAPPY
1. Download These Essential Camera Apps
Wait, doesn’t my iPhone already have a Camera app? Yes. And it’s good—the latest one can automatically focus on faces, take crisp HDR shots and be launched quickly from the unlock screen. (Just swipe up.) Why limit yourself to one arrow in your quiver, though? You may have heard of these three Camera replacements before, but they’re popular for a reason—out of dozens in the App Store, they’re the best.
The Effects Master
The Camera+ app has long been a popular iPhone camera replacement because it can do complex things in a very streamlined way. You can set exposure independent of focus, use image stabilization—it’ll automatically take a shot when your hand is steady—and has a burst mode for capturing fast-moving objects or the fleeting smiles of toddlers. But the real reason Camera+ has a permanent place on many a home screen is its editing tools. The Clarity filter is iPhone photography’s secret sauce—it adds pro-camera crispness to almost any shot. And the app’s 36 FX Effects (Polarize and Magic Hour are two favorites) have adjustable intensities. Snappily adjusting just how much processing you want is what sets this app apart from the countless other camera-and-editing solutions. $1.99, campl.us
The Analog Spirit
Lisa Corson/The Wall Street JournalLight leaks, vignetting and distorted colors are Hipstamatic trademarks.
Tara Howard/The Wall Street JournalEven your accidental shots will look like high art.
This app helped launch the iPhone photo revolution when it debuted in 2009, not with bleeding-edge tech, but with a geeky love for the analog. Swap out lenses, films and flashes to create different retro-inspired photographs or simply shake the camera to randomize the configuration. As with real film photography, you have to wait for your image to “develop”—pictures take a few seconds to show up. No matter. The results are so cool you’ll start thinking instant gratification is overrated. A tip: In the spirit of serendipity, the default framing is random. To take control, double-click the viewfinder.$1.99, hipstamatic.com
Everything but the Kitchen Sink
The camera of Awesome Camera, is, well, awesome: It has a lens stabilizer similar to that of Camera+; a Big Button feature that lets you snap a photo by touching any spot on the screen; and in camcorder mode, the app magically captures video seconds before you press record. Its editing tools are even more awe-inspiring: There are almost 300 sophisticated effects, filters, textures and frames at your disposal including the adjustable Awesomize feature, which automatically fixes things you might not have even known were wrong with your photo. Many effects are free. You can buy sets of effects a la carte, or all of them in one fell swoop for $9.99. It’s worth it. The app was developed by photo site SmugMug—pictures taken with the program can be automatically uploaded to the site in full resolution if you’re a member. Free, awesomize.com
2. Take the Fun Factor of Your Photos to the Next Level
The Social Network
You could just use this as a Hipstamatic alternative, but it’s really all about the photo-centric social network that is Instagram. If you’ve ever doubted the quality of iPhone photography, browsing the “Popular” shots will change your mind and inspire you to always have your camera at the ready to take more artful pictures of the world, or, you know, your cat. Free, instagram.com
The New Art Form
Here’s how it works: Shoot a few seconds of video with movement, like a dog’s tail wagging. Then trace your finger over the area of the video that you want to keep in motion—the surrounding area remains a still image. The result is a Cinemagram, a cool mashup of video and photography. At their best, they look like the quirky special effects of a Georges Méliès film.$1.99, cinemagr.am
The Party Pleaser
An addictive pocket-size photo booth from the makers of Hipstamatic. You can use the rear camera to take shots of party people and the front-facing one for self portraits, which—because the photos appear in an old-school, vertical strip of four pictures—are disarmingly charming rather than vain. $0.99, incredibooth.com
The Landscape Sweeper
The easiest-to-use panoramic picture app on the iPhone. Just launch, take a picture, steadily move the camera to the left or right to slide an on-screen Ying symbol into a Yang symbol—How clever! How Zen!—and the program will automatically stitch together a slick panoramic photo. $1.99, dermandar.com
Instead of asking graphic-designer friends to create triptychs of your vacation photos in Photoshop, easily crank images out on your own with PicFrame and share them on Facebook and Twitter. An additional $0.99 lets you overlay text on photos in tons of refined fonts. It’s the most fun way to create holiday cards, make party invites and add ironic captions to snapshots. $0.99,i4software.com
3. Kit Up for Serious Shooting
F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne CardenasBelkin LiveAction Camera Remote
Forget about snapping a group shot with an outstretched arm and friends cramming their heads next to yours. Use the Belkin LiveAction Camera Remote with its accompanying app and shoot from afar. A detachable stand is included for easy iPhone propping. $35, belkin.com
F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne CardenasTry a lens attachment for your iPhone.
Lens attachments on iPhones look a bit gimmicky, but they really work and are a great way to change up your shots. The Ollo Clip comes with fisheye, macro and wide-angle lenses and can be stashed easily in a pocket when not in use. $70,olloclip.com
F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne CardenasHipstacase
The iPhone is slick, which means it can get a little slippery. Keep the device strapped and secured to your wrist with the Hipstacase. It’s amazing how much a little lanyard add can add to your confidence. $40, hipstamart.com
Can You Handle It?
Three esoteric grips for the aspiring camera phone Avedon
Jason Lee for The Wall Street JournalThe Covert Ops grip
The Covert Ops
Hold phone vertically as if checking texts or stocks. Advanced variant: Use headphones and singing to obfuscate your rule-bending shutterbugging.
The Statue of Liberty
Most commonly used at concerts by short people. High angle is also effective in making pets appear antlike in photos.
Jason Lee for The Wall Street JournalThe Steady Poke grip
The Steady Poke
Apply death-grip to iPhone with one hand. Tap screen with other to reduce “lens shake” commonly caused by one-handed operation. Advisable to use free hand to pull ‘chute at 2,600 feet.
No iPhone? No Problem. The best photo apps for other phones
While the iPhone has become the center of the camera-phone universe, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices have been diligently catching up. Instagram will be available to Android users soon, but meanwhile you can get your retro fix using the editing tools of PicSay Pro ($3.99). Also worth a download is Paper Camera ($1.99), which gives your photos a scratchy, cartoony look like that A-ha video.
If you like the idea of sending postcards, but always thought their photos were cheese-tastic, get Postagram (Free). Snap that perfect sunset shot and the app will send a postcard print of the photo with a personal message anywhere in the U.S. ($0.99) or internationally ($1.99). (It’s available for the iPhone, too.)
If you own a device that’s running the latest version of Windows Phone 7 then you know it has an excellent out-of-the box camera—they come with dedicated physical shutter buttons, scene modes and the ability to tweak everything from white balance to saturation—but you will still need a good photo editor. The filter-rich Thumba Cam($0.99) is the simplest to use.
VezTek USA – the mobile solutions company – develops custom mobile apps for all major platforms. Need an iPhone or Andorid app for your business or want to have one developed from your innovative idea? Request a Quote today.
via Is the iPhone the Only Camera You Need? – WSJ.com.