Over the last few years smartphone cameras have just got better and better. Gone are the days of a 1.3-megapixel VGA camera without a flash. Now even the most basic camera has a resolution of 5-megapixels, often with a smattering of scene modes to help take the best picture whatever the situation.
The very best cameraphones like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Nokia N8 easily rival compact cameras. That is because manufacturers (realisng that it’s not all about pixel ratings), are including better lenses with larger apertures to let more light in and specialist sensors that can cope with low light situations. Although conversely the Xenon flash seems to have faded out a little due to cost reasons and the fact it adds bulk.
Consequently there are a huge selection of photography apps to choose from: whether you want to gain inspiration from great photographs; improve your skills and learn new techniques; add filters or even create works of 'art.'
Best Android Camera apps
Retro Camera/Retro Camera Plus
Retro Camera let you choose between five different types of ‘camera’ each inspired by a traditional film cameras: The Barbl, Little Orange Box, The Pinhole Camera and The FudgeCam. Each comes with its own settings each suiting to a different shooting condition. Each has its own unique style, so it's worth experimenting to see what you like.
Tap the screen to take a picture. Processing takes longer than conventional cameras, so you need to keep the phone steady, and it can be slow swapping between screens.
From the faux viewfinder you shoot through, to a gallery pictures 'drying' on the line and the ability to send your picture via ‘postcard’ to Facebook, detail is phenomenal and clearly lovingly crafted.
Although there are less features than Vignette Demo, it’s far more user-friendly and certainly one of the best looking camera apps we’ve seen. Although if you have a low ad-tolerance level we’d suggest paying £1.49 for the ad-free version.
Vignette replicates the effect different of film stock and huge range of effects available makes up for a slightly rudimentary interface. The most obvious ones to try are Vignette, Portra and Velvia, but beyond that there are heaps more if you've time to try them out.
The fiddliest part of the app is actually taking photographs, landscapes or anything with a wider depth of field are fine, but when shooting close-ups you have to tap an icon to focus, then awakwardly move your finger to take a shot.
As well as taking standard photographs, options include Fast Shot, Steady Shot, Strip (which can be used for DIY passport photographs) all of which can be applied before or after.
In this demo version the filters only let you capture 0.3-megapixels pictures (the picture above is actual size), which means shelling out £2.49 for the full version, but for the range of features on offer we think it is worth it. If you're happy with a few effects, go for Retro Camera instead.
2/5 demo 4/5 full
Pic Paint is a basic photo editing app that lets you apply filters, tweak the white balance and select scene modes. In post-production you can apply more filters via ‘Pic Wiz’ (our favourite is XRay, which gives everything an inverted feel) and crop and edit.
Unfortunately, you can’t use filters on photographs you’ve already taken - which means you are forced to use the app. And in terms of camera feature PicPaint lags behind many smartphones (like the Samsung Galaxy S2) while HTC handsets have better filters from HTC Sense.
Sure, it is the highest resolution Android photography app, which means the pictures are a decent sie, but ultimately Pic Paint is best suited to owners of more basic Android smartphones that have fewer native photographic features.
EyeWitness is a collection of photographs taken by the Guardian’s photographers, updated daily, with brief description and Pro Tip
What EyeWitness provides is a snapshot of the topical news, mixed with timely images. So pictures from the London riots and riot clean-up (right), are next to fossil hunters in Dorset and the construction of the new One World Trade Center.
Store up to 90 pictures on the phone, select favourites and share them via Facebook and Twitter. For copyright reasons you can’t download or email pictures, although you can send a link.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a photography fan, the sheer diversity of images available on EyeWitness means you’ll find something of interest. At the very least it's a thought-provoking snapshot of the world around us, by some of the best photographers.
Use this well-designed app to create photo montages comprising of: 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 pictures, selected from your everything stored on your handset.
Shake the phone to change the layout and swipe to try different frames, although most of them are a little poster-book style.
Although it’s easy to use, once a selection of pictures has been allocated you can’t exchange them, nor you can’t swap between portrait and landscape annotations or add text. In addition while you can share to Facebook, Email, Twitter etc, you can’t access your Facebook pictures.
PhotoGrid is useful for quick post-holiday or pre-Christmas collages, but not something you’ll use every day.
In this simple app photographs float across the screen as a slide show. And that's about it.
Select from a range of sources, including those stored in-camera, downloads or by adding individual feeds from your Facebook, Picasa and Flickr. The highlight is undeniably Flick compatibility; search for ‘cats’ and your screen will fill with pictures of cats - how cool is that?
Customise the slideshow from the type of movement (our favourite is floating images), interval and transition speeds and drop shadows.
We had a few issues getting some of the movements to work, and it’s a real shame you can’t select individual pictures in phone - the only way is to create a folder first via plug and play on your computer.
Floating Image won’t change your life or teach you anything, it’s just a nice app that should make you smile
Capturing movement can be really difficult - a slow shutter or wobbly hand can lead to blurred pictures.
Action Snap lets you capture four or nine shots taken at intervals from 0.1 up to 5 seconds. At the end result all the pictures are in the same frame.
This is pretty cool in itself for getting artistic juices flowing, but even better is the ability to apply a selection of retro-effect filters such as: Lomo, Sepia and 1972.
Upload pictures directly to Facebook and Twitter, or to Steply which is a social networking app for photographers.
Of course you can take standard singular photographs and HD Beta boosts picture quality
Action snaps is a little niche for most people, but essential for any photography fan.
Photaf 3D Panorama/Photaf 3D Panorama Pro
A panoramic photograph is something guaranteed to draw ‘oohs and aahs’ from friends and family and this amazing app makes them exceptionally simple to create.
Tap ‘Create Panorama’ then pan your phone right. Automatic Picture Taking is supposed to take each shot for you, but we couldn’t get it to work, however so long as you take pictures at intervals ensuring there is slight overlap and follow the spirit level to avoid wobbles, it's not a big loss.
Stitching takes a few minutes depending on the size of the picture, then you can email it or post it to Facebook among other options. Our picture below comprised of four pictures, and has a native resolution of 1821x417 pixels (approximately 2.7MP), which isn’t poster size, but fine for email and social networking. Upgrade to the Pro version for HD pictures, although for most people this simple but very effective app will be adequate. And it works on Honeycomb tablets like the Motorola Xoom as well.