Best iphone cam­era apps



Ap­ple’s Cam­era app is just fine. It’s fast, and sim­ple, and of­fers a few nifty fea­tures like panorama shots and slow­mo­tion video. But if you re­ally want to make the most out of your iphone photo and video ex­pe­ri­ence—if you want more than “just fine”—you’re go­ing to want a third-party cam­era app. From pre­cise ex­pert con­trols to top-notch fil­ters and the abil­ity to save RAW im­ages, there are lots of great rea­sons to keep a cou­ple of cam­era apps on your home screen.

A lot of these apps cost a few bucks, and even the free ones usu­ally have paid add-ons. Don’t let that scare you off! Snap­ping pho­tos is one of the most im­por­tant fea­tures of our iphones, and the abil­ity to do it bet­ter is worth a few bucks. We tested over a dozen pop­u­lar cam­era apps, and while many of them are great, we feel these are at the top of the pack.


If you know your way around a DSLR, you’ll re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate Procam 5 ( go. mac­; $5.99, in-app pur­chases). There are lots of cam­era apps that aim to repli­cate the fea­tures of high­end cam­eras, but Procam 5 edges them out with an in­tu­itive and fluid in­ter­face.

You get all the fea­tures and modes you’d ex­pect, like ex­po­sure ad­just­ment and lock­ing, ISO pri­or­ity, shut­ter pri­or­ity, HDR, sev­eral long ex­po­sure modes, shut­ter timers, anti-shake shut­ter, and, of course, RAW and RAW+JPEG for­mats. But where other apps tend to hide some of these things deep in an op­tions menu, most of Procam 5’s fea­tures are quickly ac­ces­si­ble in the main in­ter­face.

I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the ze­bra strip­ing and fo­cus peak­ing fea­tures (two ad­vanced fea­tures I use of­ten on my in­ter­change­able lens cam­era). I also love the way you can ad­just the colors of in­ter­face el­e­ments and time stamps.

Procam 5 has plenty of great video modes too, from slo-mo to time-lapse. Bat­tery and stor­age space in­di­ca­tors on the main in­ter­face are the kind of

thought­ful touches that you’ll re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate if you use your cam­era a lot.

The price is rea­son­able, too. Although $5.99 may seem a lit­tle steep, many com­pet­ing cam­era apps re­quire in-app pur­chases for a lot of their core fea­tures, while Procam 5’s in-app pur­chases feel truly op­tional: a cou­ple of fil­ter packs for the im­age ed­i­tor, and a pair of su­per-high-qual­ity 4K video record­ing modes (reg­u­lar 4K record­ing is in­cluded in the base price).


If you don’t re­ally know your way around a big in­ter­change­able-lens cam­era, but you’re ready for some­thing with more op­tions and fea­tures than Ap­ple’s de­fault Cam­era app, I rec­om­mend Halide Cam­era ( go.mac­; $5.99).

It’s not nearly as fea­ture-rich (or daunt­ing) as the apps that aim to sim­u­late the DSLR ex­pe­ri­ence on your phone, but it’s su­per-slick in­ter­face gives you plenty to work with. There’s a killer por­trait mode cam­era (that sup­ports the Truedepth cam­era on iphone X for selfies), and even a nifty AR mode to see those im­ages stretched out into 3D space.

You can cap­ture RAW, TIFF, HEIC, or JPG im­ages. Dial in the man­ual fo­cus with a helpful fo­cus peak­ing mode. The grid view has a nice built-in level, and you can man­u­ally con­trol shut­ter speed, white bal­ance, and ISO if you want. Turn on the sub­tle his­togram to get a feel for your shot’s ex­po­sure.

The whole thing is de­signed to give you more op­tions while re­main­ing sim­ple enough to use with one hand. It’s the per­fect app for those who are only used to tak­ing pho­tos with their phone and just want to take a nice step

Halide is all about pho­tos, though. If you want to step up your video game, you’ll need to look else­where.

up from Ap­ple’s de­fault cam­era app.

Halide is all about pho­tos, though. If you want to step up your video game, you’ll need to look else­where. That might make the $5.99 price feel a lit­tle high, but there are no in-app pur­chases, and the speedy and slick Halide in­ter­face makes tak­ing pho­tos with it a de­light. That’s got to be worth the price of a latte.


VSCO ( go.mac­ has a lot of devo­tees, and with good rea­son: Its com­bi­na­tion of fil­ters, ef­fects, and edit­ing tools makes it easy and fun to get re­ally cre­ative with your pho­tos. If you can’t stand the #nofil­ter life, VSCO is for you.

You get an ab­so­lutely crazy va­ri­ety of im­age ma­nip­u­la­tion tools here. Ex­po­sure, con­trast, clar­ity, skew­ing and straight­en­ing, tem­per­a­ture, skin tones, vi­gnette, and a whole lot more. While VSCO fo­cuses on the post-shot edit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, its built-in cam­era is plenty ca­pa­ble. If you want, you can ad­just fo­cus, white bal­ance, ISO, shut­ter speed, and ex­po­sure. Newer iphones can shoot in RAW, too.

There’s one big catch: VSCO is a free down­load, but you only get a hand­ful of fil­ters in the free ver­sion. Be­cause VSCO is try­ing to build a photo-shar­ing com­mu­nity, you have to sign up for a (free) ac­count be­fore you can even use the app. And then, if you want to un­lock its real power, you have to sub­scribe to VSCO X, a $19.99 an­nual ser­vice that gives you ac­cess to all of VSCO’S fil­ters and tools. There’s a ton of stuff there and it’s up­dated quite of­ten, so the price isn’t crazy if you’re the kind of per­son who end­lessly fid­dles with your pho­tos.

You can spend a few bucks at a time

to buy packs of fil­ters in­di­vid­u­ally if you don’t want to sub­scribe, but $2.99 here and $3.99 there will add up quickly. If you can get past the sticker shock, VSCO can take your In­sta­gram feed to the next level.


When Sean Baker shot Tan­ger­ine ( go. mac­ and Steven Soder­bergh shot Un­sane ( go.mac­world. com/unsn) on iphones, what app did they use? Filmic Pro ( go.mac­; $14.99, in-app pur­chases).

There’s a rea­son that video in­tended for the big screen seems to al­ways be shot with Filmic Pro: this app gives you more con­trol over your video record­ing process than just about any­thing else out there. It de­liv­ers truly pro­fes­sional tools for those that re­ally know their way around a video cam­era.

I’m talk­ing about ze­bra stripes, false color, and fo­cus peak­ing. Wave­form mon­i­tor­ing. True LOG gamma color. Vari­able speed zoom. Cin­e­matic as­pect ra­tios like 17:9 and 2.39:1. Mul­ti­ple frame rate op­tions. You can even pick which of your iphone’s mi­cro­phones you want to record from (or use a Blue­tooth mic) and choose from sev­eral dif­fer­ent au­dio codecs.

If you’re not re­ally into shoot­ing video, you’re go­ing to find Filmic Pro pretty daunt­ing. But those are the sort of hard­core fea­tures that make the app stand out. If you need to shoot pro­fes­sional video that you’re go­ing to take into Fi­nal Cut or Pre­miere, you can get real work done with this.

Turn­ing your iphone into a pro video

cam­era isn’t cheap. At $14.99, it’s one of the pricier op­tions on the App Store.

And if you want live ad­just­ments for gamma curve con­trols, shad­ows and high­lights, hue and sat­u­ra­tion, and the like, you need to shell out an­other $9.99 for the Cin­e­matog­ra­pher Kit in-app pur­chase (which only works on iphone 7 or later phones). It’s a small price to pay for get­ting the kind of footage you can turn into a truly pro­fes­sional fin­ished prod­uct.


There are plenty of great cam­era apps for the iphone. These didn’t make our short list of the very best, but they’re worth check­ing out:

Cam­era+: $2.99, in-app pur­chases from go.mac­

Pro­cam­era: $5.99, in-app pur­chases from go.mac­

Hy­dra: $4.99 from go.mac­

Slow Shut­ter Cam: $1.99 from go. mac­

Cor­tex Cam­era: $2.99 from go.mac­world. com/cort

Proshot: $3.99 from go.mac­ psht

Mo­ment: Free from go.mac­ momn

Hip­sta­matic: $2.99, in-app pur­chases from go.mac­ ■

Filmic Pro is the go-to app for pro­fes­sional video shot on iphone.

VSCO is a cor­nu­copia of fil­ters and edit­ing fea­tures, but you need a yearly sub­scrip­tion to un­lock it all.

Among Halide’s many slick fea­tures is a cool por­trait mode that shows depth like radar waves spread­ing for­ward from your iphone.

Procam of­fers fine-grained con­trol and fea­tures typ­i­cally found in DSLRS, but the in­ter­face never gets out of hand.

Proshot is one of the many al­ter­na­tives worth check­ing out.

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