Phone Photography: My favorite Camera Apps for Better Photos

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A game changer for me: getting the Camera FV-5 app on my ancient Android phone I carried around before I got an iPhone.

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Yep! If you swear up and down that your photos from your phone look horrible because it is your phone, you may be right, partly. Another very good reason is you’re still using the pre-installed camera app that came on your phone. And for free or very cheap you can install an app that will take your phone camera to a whole new level. And it isn’t only the ability of the app but they have lots of other things they can do like go into macro mode so you can take a macro of that pretty little flower right outside your front porch without a macro lens.

For those who love Instagram, want to take better phone photos or want to know how you can make your phone act more like your dslr this one’s for you.

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I wanted to let you know about some of my favorite apps I use to take, process, and create phone photos. Today it’s about the camera app. A post down the road will be about my 2 very favorite processing apps I use every time, and further down I’ll send you a little post on some extra apps I use more infrequently but still love. If you want to make sure you get access to those posts sign up in the email box to the right and you’ll be updated once weekly with the posts of the week and some other small goodies. You can also follow me on Instagram to see my phone photos several times a week! Also, I am in no way compensated by any of these apps. Just thought you would like to know what I use (all the time) and how I use them!

Camera Apps

I like to use a completely separate camera app and not use the built-in camera, a processing app’s camera or even Instagram’s camera because the app that I use to take a photo is built specifically with the camera in mind so they offer more control and more features.

Camera FV5

I loved this camera app – it seemed to produce crisper and more vibrant photos. But what I loved most about it was I could set my ISO, shutter speed and white balance. I could make it do what I wanted. Unfortunately (or fortunately – whatever your perspective) I got rid of the android and got an iPhone so I no longer have access to this app. (By the way I’m not particular to any brand of phone – the iPhone was a smashing deal at the time and I had a very old android – I actually spent two hours deliberating on the switch in the store). For you guys buying apps in the Google play store I really wish I could help you out by showing you how to use it. When I switched I missed this app dearly until I discovered Camera+ (well, sometimes I still do). It is worth it.

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Camera+

For those with iPhones this article is more so for you because I have screenshots of how to work this thing!

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I love this app for the same reasons I loved Camera FV-5 and here’s how I use it. No worries android users, this is similar to Camera FV5.

Start Up

When you start the app up it opens into auto mode, much like the built-in camera acts. Feel free to use this mode but do note you’ve got more control with a touch to the screen. Below is a screenshot of the app as soon as it opens.

Camera+ on open

Exposure

With one touch to the screen (helpfully where your subject is on the screen) you will get a purple box with a + sign. This is for exposure control. You only need to touch the screen to move the box to where you want your exposure set. So, in the screenshot below, I knew the camera would expose for the window, making my daughter a silhouette but what if I wanted to expose for her so I could see her rather than her dark shape. I touched the screen to where she was to get her exposed and not the window. If you notice, the window is now overexposed but you can’t have it both ways. So, I chose to blow out the window and expose for her.

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It’s still not awesome and exactly what I want (closer though) but I can either make more changes in the app (see below) or I can finish it off in a processing app. 

Focus

Here’s a magical part . . . If you touch two fingers to the screen and drag your fingers away from each other you’ll get two boxes; one purple (focus) and the other orange (exposure). This comes in use when you want to focus on a subject that is on a different plane than other subjects. So say, you have a child that is running through a field with some trees. There are several trees in between you and the child and your camera wants to focus on those automatically. You only need to pull out the focus box and put it on the child to get her in focus instead of the trees. Handy, right? Saved me some headaches for sure.

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Exposure and Controlling Fast Movement Blur – Whole Scene

I find when I take a photo at night with a very small light source this is my best friend. Or when I need to take a shot of my daughters playing and I need fast shutter speeds so I don’t have blur this is my best friend. Play with them to see how you might use them.

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You can start with exposure compensation if you want a quick way to dial-up or down for light. It is the vertical lines just above the white bar of info. Go ahead and try it out! See how much the light changes as you move the dial.

To get to the next two tools you’ll need to press on the circle with Auto written inside. Here you’ll have control over ISO and shutter speed.

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If you are trying to control the exposure then dial the ISO up or down – here unfortunately it only goes up to 650 which isn’t a lot but you have the option. Or if you are in a really bright scene and you want to make it darker, maybe more moody, then dial it down. If the amount of light is the only thing you want to control for the whole scene this is a good place to start.

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If you want a faster shutter speed to control blur or if you are shooting creatively and want blur then use the s dial (it will have such as 1/15s). Try it! And keep playing because you can get different effects by using both controls at the same time.

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The little extras

If you press on the + just to the right of the shutter button you’ll get another pop up that gives you many little options. You can shoot in macro (handy if you don’t have a macro phone lens) and you can shoot in different crop modes. This app also comes with a stabilizer mode which is great to use with the macro mode. Finally there is a self-timer and a burst mode – neither of which I’ve used yet but looking back probably would’ve if I had thought about it.

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That’s it! Camera+ offers some filters too but I’m not too much into those because I use two other processing apps every time. We’ll take a look at those later. There are other camera apps out there but these are the two I use and are familiar with. Which ones do you use or have used? Love them?

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Go ahead and sign up so you don’t miss the next several posts where I’ll cover the apps I use all the time and the other cool apps that I use more infrequently but still have awesome uses! Also, follow me on Instagram to see my favorite phone photos several times a week.

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