By Steve Thomas | January 25, 2022
Smartphones are the cameras that we always have with us. Here are six useful apps to help you plan, take, edit, and share better images with your loved ones.
iOS, Android: AU$14.99
It’s fairly easy to find sunrise and sunset times anywhere in the world, although the PhotoPills app goes a lot further by letting you see where and when the moon, sun and even the milky way will be at any time, and as far in advance as you wish.
The app lets you virtually check locations and find the best light compositions in advance, giving you the best chance of being in the right place at the right time to get that perfect shot.
The app can prove invaluable once you get the basics down, and it’s much easier than fumbling around in the dark to guess where the sun will rise.
2) First light
iOS, Android, AU$12.99
Firstlight is a fairly new app and is marketed as an alternative camera app by FiLMiC, which also produces the best mobile movie maker app (FILMiC Pro). The app lets you shoot in DNG/RAW format to allow for a bit more dynamic range in your moving photo processing. It also offers a good degree of manual control, which is great in difficult lighting situations.
Like many apps, it also offers filters, which are applied at capture time (in JPEG modes only). This may be its best feature, but be frugal with the odd options, as they age quickly.
3) Mobile Lightroom
iOS, Android: free
From its slow beginnings, the Adobe Lightroom Mobile app has come a long way in the last year or so and now offers many of the features of Adobe’s standard Lightroom desktop image-editing software, which many photographers rely on. subscribe via the monthly CC plan (with this the premium tools of the application included).
There’s a fully functional camera control with an in-app DNG shooting option, although I’d still advise taking photos outside of the app and then processing them to keep things separate from the Adobe ecosystem.
Lightroom Mobile is a good standalone processing app, which comes into its own when used with an iPad to batch process images on the go, either transferred to the device from a separate camera or taken on the device. Images and edits can then be synced via WiFi and Adobe Cloud to your Lightroom desktop, which is a very slow process but useful for travel.
iOS and Android: Free (in-app purchases)
There are a number of apps for creating panoramas and image sequences to post to Instagram, and most are a bit lacking.
SCRL is a very easy to use and free (no watermark) application that allows you to spit panoramas or regular images and create really neat and smooth photo collages to post image galleries and footage to Instagram without problems, giving you maximum screen real estate to display your photos and collections.
iOS, Android: free
Snapseed is the original and probably the best and most user-friendly mobile image editing app. The app has been around since 2011 and is regularly updated. Snapseed is so easy to use.
You can process regular camera images whether they are transferred to your phone over WiFi or from readers and cards, as it now also works with RAW images and allows you to produce in high resolution, which is ideal to post your best regular camera shots on the go as well if you transfer them to your phone.
There are many intuitive processing tools in the app. The ‘tune image’, ‘curves’, ‘selective’ and ‘brush’ tools are particularly advanced and not far off the capability of more expensive desktop software options, although shadow recovery can get a bit muddy with the JPEG files.
6) Touch Retouch
iOS, Android: AU$2.99
This is widely regarded as the best app to remove those unwanted objects from your images. Whether it’s people interfering with your image, an unwanted sign, or ugly power lines, this app can remove them easily and with a high level of precision usually only found in desktop software. such as Photoshop.
Using the Lasso tool, brushes, and other app options, you can easily clean up images. This is a good app at a great price.
It’s all too easy to get sucked into buying and subscribing to photography apps, and while many are really good at what they do, you’ll most likely end up falling for a handful at most.
Camera 645 Pro is a solid app for capturing, with DNG and film simulation options included. Hydra is popular for low-light images, but personally I’ve never gotten around to it.
The photographer’s calendar is a great planning tool, although it can be a little confusing. A nice basic and easy to use app for tracking sunrise and sunset is Sun Seeker.
On the processing side, there are several great paid options, including Darkroom, a subscription app with huge potential as a mobile (and iPad) alternative to Lightroom, especially great if you don’t have an Adobe subscription. CC.