The still/video camera in Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4S is pretty good, as smartphone shooters go. Apple’s Camera app, however, limps along to the photo-finish line. Aside from capturing images and video, it offers auto-enhancement, red-eye reduction, and basic cropping tools. That’s pretty much it.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of camera and image-enhancing applications for iOS to fill the void. One of the newest is Camera Awesome from SmugMug. The free app (current version: 1.0.1) premiered Feb. 28. It’s designed for the iPhone and iPod touch but also works on an iPad. The app offers more filters, effects, and image tools than most typical smartphone users will ever need—many, but not all, for free.
With Camera Awesome, you can snap pix in various modes, such as “Image Stabilization,” “Big Button” (which lets you tap anywhere in the frame to take the picture), “Slow Burst” (for a succession of pictures), and “Fast Burst” (which also captures a series of shots but faster and in low resolution). Plus, the app has modes for timing one shot or the interval between multiple pictures.
Once you’ve captured images, Camera Awesome invites you to have fun with them. The “Awesomeize” filter is essentially an auto-enhancement filter. It worked fine for me but I can’t say it transformed average images into awesome ones. Plenty of enhancement tools as well as effects filters, textures, and frames are available. Most are free but about 10 are an in-app purchase ($1 each); I didn’t purchase any of them, however. A few, such as Sepia and Vintage, are somewhat similar in their results.
Camera Awesome lets you easily post finished images to Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, Flickr, and SmugMug’s own online photo sharing service ($40 to $150 annually.)
A cool “precording” feature starts capturing video before you hit the shutter button, which can be useful when you’re scrambling to start shooting spontaneously.
I like Camera Awesome a lot, and could easily see using it to take pictures instead of Apple’s Camera app, though I would lose the native app’s convenient iPhone launch and shutter release buttons.
Here’s the big picture: A lot of worthwhile iOS photography apps cost you money up front, such as Camera+ ($1) and Snapseed ($5). But Camera Awesome gives you plenty of cool picture-taking and image enhancement tools for free. So why not give it a shot?
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.