6 Great Free iPhone Camera Apps

Crop for Free Crop for Free - Free the Apps!

Cropping and rotating images are basic functions that are lacking from iOS by default. But sometimes when I hold my phone at a funky angle to get a photo I end up with portrait orientation when I was aiming for landscape. Crop for Free is a simple app that corrects this oversight. You probably won’t need it often, but when you do you’ll be glad you snagged it.

Retro Camera Plus Retro Camera Plus - Urbian, Inc.

library flowers
Processed with Retro Camera Plus

Originally launched on the Android platform, Retro Camera Plus is the app that kickstarted my fascination with smartphone photography. Inspired by the now-ubiquitous Hipstamatic, Retro Camera Plus offers 5 different old-school “cameras” with various cross-processing, frames and vignetting effects. Four camera types offer a black & white option, for a grand total of 9 different effects.

If you want lovely, retro looking photos but don’t want them to have the same visual characteristics as the many terrible photos people try to pass off as “artsy” due to Hipstamatic filters, give Retro Camera Plus a try.

(Note: Be sure to search for Retro Camera Plus, as there is another app called Retro Camera which is a paid app.)

Color Leap Color Leap - Zipix, Inc.

More of Kali's first snow
Processed with Color Leap (and Instagram)

The iPhone does a pretty good job with exposure in most cases, but sometimes photos come out a bit flat. Color Leap does an auto-contrast, auto-saturation and sharpening fix and allows you to compare the before and after versions side-by-side before you commit. I’m often surprised by the amount of detail it can pull out of underexposed areas in an image, although this is sometimes at the cost of introducing a bit of noise.

If you want more detail, contrast and a tonal range that “pops” you’ll get better results with Color Leap than with any of the free faux HDR apps I’ve tried. In the example image above, my dog was just a dog-shaped silhouette before running the photo through Color Leap.

Instagram Instagram - Burbn, Inc.

Processed with Instagram

Within a week of launch Instagram had 100,000 users, and now they get an average of at least one photo upload per second! There’s almost nothing about this app that isn’t fantastic.

You can either take a new photo, or import any image from your camera roll, and then apply one of eleven great-looking filters to it. It isn’t often that I like every filter a camera app offers, but each of Instagram’s filters really shines with the right image or subject. Social sharing is drop-dead easy, simply toggle the services you want to share with and upload once. Currently Instagram supports Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr and Foursquare; your images are also shared within the Instagram network. If the company’s Get Satisfaction page is to be believed, support for Posterous and email is in the works.

The one awful flaw with Instagram is the lousy resolution. Images are output at a measly 600 pixels. When this is corrected to allow native resolution photos, Instagram might just become the only photo app you need.

picplz picplz - picplz

Processed with picplz

Like Instagram, picplz is a photo-editing and sharing app with its own community. Currently their filter selection is not as broad as Instagram, but the few they do have are really good. For black & white photography the high-contrast monochrome filter is the best of any I’ve seen on either iPhone or Android.

Picplz currently only supports sharing with Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and their own network. The picplz community isn’t as robust as Instagram (yet), but it’s a cross-platform device so your friends with Droids won’t be left out.

Currently picplz is a solid app with a handful of good-looking filters that enhance rather than overpower your photo. In 2011 it has the potential to take on Instagram for dominance in mobile social photo sharing.

MoreLomo Morelomo - More-thing Company Limited

Purple Petal
Processed with MoreLomo

MoreLomo does one thing, and it does it very well. The app simulates the vignetting and saturation of Lomo images. You can start with a new or existing photo and check out the original and Lomo-ized versions for comparison before you opt to save the edited photo. If you want a simple camera app that consistently produces good looking images which don’t look heavily edited, you’ll enjoy MoreLomo.

Sister app MoreMono is also worth checking out. It delivers your choice of either full monochrome or simply heavily desaturated images, both of which look great.

Did I miss any? What are your favourite free iPhonography apps?

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