The smartphones you buy today have better camera optics, image-processing algorithms and features such as filters. All this should enable better photographs. But that doesn’t always happen, because the preloaded camera and gallery apps in your phone may not offer the wider range of tools and features required for the best performance. These include editing tools, filters and special effects. We look at some of the best apps for photography enthusiasts. Alternatively, if you are in the market for a new phone, and photography is your thing, here are some options.

Picture-perfect phones

If you are looking to buy a new phone and photography is a criterion, consider these phones, which offer high-quality optical hardware and image processing

Rear camera: Dual 12-megapixel

Front camera: 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera

The iPhone X camera consists of a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. There are new filters as well as an improved image signal processor, and the quality of photographs pretty much speaks for itself. The iPhone X cameras reproduce more colours, autofocus locks in quicker in low-light, and HDR images are richer. This is the ultimate camera phone by far.

Google Pixel 2 XL; Rs64,999 onwards
Google Pixel 2 XL; Rs64,999 onwards

Rear camera: 12-megapixel

Front camera: 8-megapixel

Google didn’t opt for a dual camera in the Pixel 2 XL. Instead, the single camera utilizes optical and electronic-image stabilization. There is excellent dynamic range and colour accuracy. It relies on software processing—Google trained these algorithms on a million photographs. And the Pixel Visual Core chip, now enabled with the Android 8.1 (Oreo) update, makes HDR photograph processing significantly faster.

LG V30+; Rs44,99.
LG V30+; Rs44,99.

Rear camera: 16-megapixel + 13-megapixel

Front camera: 5-megapixel

One of the strongest points of this dual-camera set-up is the realistic colour; and detailing is not sacrificed regardless of shadows or uneven lighting. So, HDR photographs do not exhibit any loss of detailing in dimly lit areas. Low-light photographs are well lit, with a good amount of the finer details. Occasionally, though, the image-processing algorithms tend to soften the images.

OnePlus 5T; Rs32,999 onwards
OnePlus 5T; Rs32,999 onwards

Rear camera: 16-megapixel + 20-megapixel

Front camera: 16-megapixel

Everything about the 5T’s camera is designed to improve the quality of low-light photographs. The second sensor gets activated if the ambient lighting is below a certain threshold, for help with detailing. The Intelligent Pixel Technology combines the data from 4 pixels into one, when the second sensor is in use, to reduce distortions in shadow areas.

Click, edit and share

The default camera and image-editing tools in your phone may not be enough. Here are some third-party apps that offer a wider feature set.

Halide

$4.99 (around Rs320)

iOS

Many photography enthusiasts miss the finer image controls when they switch from a DSLR to a phone camera. Halide brings those back to the iPhone, including controls for shutter speed, focus peaking, a detailed histogram, and the ability to capture uncompressed RAW or TIFF formats. The latest update also supports the new high-efficiency image formats in iOS 11—the photographs take up less space, without compromising on detailing.

The VSCO Cam app offers manual camera controls for focus, shutter speed.
The VSCO Cam app offers manual camera controls for focus, shutter speed.

VSCO Cam

Android and iOS

Free; Rs1,350 a year for VSCO X subscription

The VSCO Cam app offers manual camera controls for focus, shutter speed, white balance and exposure. Post-capture options will let you add filters to photographs, and do some editing. Then there is the optional VSCO X membership, a value-add for photography enthusiasts that includes 100 classic presets and exclusive new Film X interactive tools to get a film-like effect.

Adobe Lightroom CC is what you need for advanced image-editing tools.
Adobe Lightroom CC is what you need for advanced image-editing tools.

Adobe Lightroom CC

Free; Rs676 per month for Creative Cloud

Android and iOS

This is what you need for advanced image-editing tools. These are categorized under presets, light, colour, effects and detail tabs. If you sign up for Creative Cloud, you get access to 100 GB cloud storage, can sync photographs between mobile and desktop, use Adobe’s Sensei Artificial Intelligence algorithm for tagging photographs, and selectively adjust a specific part of a photograph or edit RAW photos.

Snapseed has a powerful set of editing options that include sliders to tweak brightness, contrast, colour, depth, highlights, structure and more.
Snapseed has a powerful set of editing options that include sliders to tweak brightness, contrast, colour, depth, highlights, structure and more.

Snapseed

Android and iOS

Free

If you want to edit the photographs but don’t want to deal with complex editing apps, Snapseed is a good option. It has a powerful set of editing options that include sliders to tweak brightness, contrast, colour, depth, highlights, structure and more. There are a bunch of filters too. The algorithms are better than they have ever been, and the sharpness of the edits available makes this more powerful than any of its rivals

*Prices may vary

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