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This review is part of a series on Android camera apps.
Yesterday I wrote about Camera 360, a costly but mediocre camera app. Today I bring you the opposite. FxCamera is a free app that exceeds expectations. In fact, it’s the app that started my fascination with Android photography by far surpassing what I thought a cameraphone was capable of.
FxCamera has 5 different modes – toy camera, polarandroid, fisheye, Warholizer and symmetricam – each of which can be further customized to varying degrees. While the Warholizer and symmetricam (see sample images below) are, for most people, highly situational if interesting the other 3 modes are more than enough to impress. The toy camera mode is the powerhouse of the app, offering 9 different types of image processing designed to simulate various old cameras and film developing techniques. You can also select 4 degrees of vignetting, for even more control over the nostalgic or Lomo-ized outcome. If you just can’t make up your mind, you can put either setting on random and enjoy the mystery as the image is processed.
Unlike most paid camera apps the max resolution is disappointingly small (960 x 640 pixels), good enough to post on the web but not even really big enough for a nicely laid out photoblog. You’ll get the exact image you want, though, as FxCamera allows you to pre-focus by pressing the shutter button and then release the shutter seconds (or minutes, if you have the patience) later by releasing the button. Unfortunately, FxCamera struggles a bit more than many apps I’ve tested to focus on subjects that are very close (less than 1.5 feet away), meaning you may end up either settling for a slightly blurry photograph or having to crop the image in another app and reduce the resolution further.
The additional downside is minor; in the current version there is no way to turn off the loud beep confirming focus lock and again on shutter release. Previous versions did have this option and I am hopeful it’s just an oversight that removed it this time around.
There is a somewhat active group on Flickr devoted solely to images taken using FxCamera. The developer, ymst, participates in the discussion forum and has added new features based on user requests made there. That kind of immediate, personal response is more than I expect from a software developer, and when I come across it I’m always impressed.
The price is definitely right, this free app is good enough to charge for and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “Pro” version (hopefully with full resolution) hit the Android Market eventually. If you’re limiting your search for a camera app to those that are free, this is your winner. Even if you’re open to buying an app I encourage you to test out FxCamera, it could very well be everything you’re looking for.
The sample images below were shot on my HTC Hero in the toy camera mode, with vignetting set to soft and the effect set to random. They’re most definitely not the best photos, I confess I shot them all while walking my dog on an epic mission for sandwiches.