8 apps to make your shoots look perfect
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If you’re heading for that much-needed break this summer, you may feel your smartphone will not quite be able to capture images which do justice to the beautiful locales of the Swiss Alps or the Italian Riviera. There are, however, apps that can squeeze every bit of optical performance from the phone’s camera and optical hardware and retain brilliant details that might otherwise go missing.
A look at some of the best apps that let you shoot images and videos, make cool clips and offer powerful editing tools.
Free; Premium, Rs199
We tend to blame the phone and camera optics for inconsistent image quality. But the software (the camera app pre-installed by the phone maker) and the algorithms that process an image play a significant role. To get past the problem of bad default software, install a competent third-party camera app. Camera FV-5 for Android phones has automatic and DSLR-esque manual shooting modes and the ability to save images in the uncompressed DNG format.
Clips is designed to be a fun app. It combines video clips, multiple photographs, and even a music soundtrack, into short videos which you can share on networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. You get lots of overlays that can be added over the video clips—filters, emojis, speech bubbles, animated graphics ,and more. You can create captions that accompany the clip by simply speaking them out—this will be converted into text. You can also update or tweak these captions later. You can shoot new videos or click new photos from within Clips, or import existing ones from the phone’s library.
Android and iOS
Google Photos is an all-round app that can be used for storing photographs on the cloud (unlimited storage for images up to 16 megapixels), sharing albums with friends, and for editing. The latter part has become even more robust of late, with successive updates for the app introducing new features such as the ability to add video stabilization to existing videos (many phones don’t have the video-stabilization feature), new dynamic filters for photographs and finer editing controls for specific parts of the image.
Android and iOS
Free; $19.99, or around Rs1,280, a year for VSCO X
The VSCO Cam app offers manual camera controls for focus, shutter speed, white balance and exposure. This gives the user greater control over the quality of photographs. Post-capture options allow filters and some editing. VSCO X membership, a value-add for photography enthusiasts, includes 100 classic presets and exclusive new Film X interactive tools to get a film-like effect for photographs.
The app has a wide range of features for iPhone users—it’s able to do image shoots, video recordings and editing. It will capture and save photographs in the uncompressed TIFF format. It offers the kind of detailed controls that the default iOS camera app does not. If you own an iPhone 6s, or the newer iPhone, then it can also shoot 4K videos with frame rates ranging from 24-240 fps, for everything from standard to slow-motion videos. An in-app purchase, LowLight Plus ($2.99), helps considerably in improving low-light images and offers the long exposure feature (this is what captures all those stunning photographs with streaking lights in night landscape images).
Free; Pro, $3.99
This app lets you shoot a video and then convert it into slow-motion footage. It adds options such as fast motion, super slow, ghosting and exposure lock. It can simulate frame rates such as 500 fps and 1,000 fps. You can edit specific parts of the video and will have full control over playback speed changes.
This is an extremely powerful photo editor. For starters, you get fine control over the colour, tone and detailing of each image as well as automatic photo correction, which tries to repair photo exposure, improve the detailing, reduce noise and distortion and remove texture errors. Enlight allows you to blend and superimpose more than one photo, and offers such detailed controls over each aspect that you will find multiple editing curves for colour control once you open an image for editing—you can even add decals (these are like the stickers some other apps offer) on to a photo. There are filters and special effects inspired by the classic camera and film, those that take you back to the monochrome era, and even two-toned colours.
Android and iOS
Not every smartphone user is comfortable using the complex image-editing apps that professionals might otherwise prefer. This is where Snapseed comes in, with a powerful set of options that include sliders to tweak brightness, contrast, colour, depth, highlights, structure and more. There is a bunch of filters, with the likes of “Double Exposure” having been added to the mix recently, and the simplicity is unmatched by most rivals.