The Best Basic and Advanced Photo Apps

The Best Basic and Advanced Photo Apps
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The Best Basic and Advanced Photo Apps apps

advanced photo apps
advanced photo apps

If you’ve ever browsed the Apple App

Store or Google Play, then you’ll already

be aware that there are hundreds and

hundreds of photography apps to choose

from. While we can’t possibly hope to

cover all of them here, we have picked

a few of the best ones out.

We’ve installed and used all of these

ourselves at some point, so if you’re stuck

for inspiration we have no hesitation in

recommending them.

On this page we’ve primarily

concentrated on photo apps that are fun

and relatively easy-to-use. That’s not to

say that they are in any way limited,

though – far from it.

Over on the facing page, meanwhile,

we’ve selected some more-advanced apps

that can be used as a third-party camera

or as an editing tool for images that

you’ve already captured.







If you have an affi nity for images with a washed-out,

vintage or cross-processed aesthetic, then Retrica

could very well be your go-to camera app. The app

has been designed to be simple to use and offers no

manual controls over your camera. That said, there are

over 100 fi lter effects, providing a vast range of hues

and effects. Unlike many other fi lter-specifi c apps that

allow you to apply the fi lter at the processing stage,

you can only apply fi lters at the point of capture. You’ll

get a live preview of how it will look and if you can’t

decide which fi lter to use then Retrica provides a

‘random fi lter’ button that you can keep pressing until

you get something you like the look of. The range of

fi lters on offer is very good, with lots of stylish-yet-

subtle effects to choose from. Retrica also provides you

with a blurred background effect you can employ to

create selective focus images with. Other than that,

camera controls are pretty sparse. Still, as a fun app

that provides instant results, Retrica is a great app.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android, iOS and Windows Phone

Adobe Photoshop 

Express /

Lightroom Free WWW.ADOBE.COM

Adobe currently offers two mobile photography apps:

Photoshop Express and Photoshop Lightroom, both of

which are very good in their own right. The main

difference between the two is that the former is more

of a one-stop fi x for mobile photographers that allows

you to import, edit and then share images within the

app, whereas the Lightroom mobile app requires you

to own the desktop version of Lightroom to get the full

range of functionality from it. Which one is right for

you will depend on your individual requirements. For

many users, the more self-contained Photoshop

Express is likely to be the more convenient and useful

of the two, while for others the ability to sync their

mobile images with their desktop version of

Lightroom will prove invaluable. Either way, both apps

offer a wide range of adjustments, along with a good

selection of digital fi lter effects. As you might expect

both apps are also fully compatible with Adobe .DNG

Raw fi les created by smartphones too.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android and iOS


Free / £1.61


Pixlr makes a range of good image-editing apps for

mobile and desktop users, along with a couple of

browser-based editing tools. While the app is free to

download, it does come with adverts. To rid yourself

of these you’ll need to pay £1.61 from within the app.

While Pixlr can be used to control your camera, the

controls are extremely limited, so you’ll want to use

either your phone’s built-in camera app or a

third-party alternative. Where Pixlr really excels is

as an image processor for mobile devices. The user

interface is intuitively laid out, making it pretty

straightforward to use. It offers a wide range of editing

tools along with brush tools for more localised fi xes

(including selective focus). Pixlr also provides a useful

one-touch ‘Auto Fix’ feature. The app also provides a

variety of digital fi lter effects that can be stacked to

create a unique look. Rounding things off are tools for

adding picture frames, stickers and text. You can also

make collages of similarly themed photos.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android and iOS





Launched in 2011, EyeEm was one of the original online

cameraphone communities that allowed mobile

photography enthusiasts to share their work and

browse the work of others, and it currently has over 13

million members. While the community aspect is still a

big part of the draw, EyeEm has since diversifi ed into

stock photography and offers contributors 50% of all

the images it sells. If you like the idea of being able to

sell your images then all you need to do is sign up,

enter your details and start uploading your mobile

images. The app has no built-in camera of its own, but

you can open other camera apps from within the app.

Alternatively you can also browse your phone’s image

library for any images you want to edit and upload.

EyeEm provides 24 individual digital fi lters, along with

a fairly standard range of image-wide enhancement

tools. As with Instagram the tagging system is quite

advanced, enabling you to target who is likely to view

– and hopefully buy – your photos.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android, iOS and Windows Phone


When it comes to mobile photography communities

and sharing, Instagram is the heavyweight champion

of the mobile app world. Instagram is essentially a

camera and photo-editing app that allows you to

take photos, apply digital fi lters and other image

corrections, and then share the result with other

Instagrammers. As the emphasis is on sharing, it’s not

ideal for lone-wolf photographers, but it is a great app

for social photographers. Its built-in camera is about

as basic as you can get (the only control being a fl ash

on/off switch), but you can thankfully choose to open

images that have been taken with other camera apps

before moving into the editing and sharing modules

of the app. In regards to processing, it offers 40 fi lter

effects and a basic range of adjustment tools. There’s

also a selective focus tool for creating tilt-shift type

images. When it comes to sharing, you can hashtag

keywords to your heart’s content and share your

images directly to other social media platforms such




Free / £2.29


Exclusive to Apple iPhone users running iOS 8.0 or

higher, Camera+ has long been considered the go-to

third-party camera app. The main reason for this is

the way in which it effortlessly combines good levels

of control over key camera settings – including

manual focus, exposure, shutter speed, ISO and white

balance – with advanced image-processing and

sharing abilities. The latest version also offers an

image stabiliser to help sharpness, and a ‘Clarity’ tool

that acts as a kind of auto-enhance at the point of

capture. Finally, there’s also a slow-shutter mode that

can be used to facilitate long-exposure photography

on an iPhone. As well as its extensive image capture

tools, you can also use Camera+ to process your shots,

using a range of advanced editing tools or one-click

digital fi lters. You can even use the app to sync your

images to iCloud – enabling you to view your images

on any other connected devices, including iPads.

AVAILABLE FOR: Apple iPhones running iOS 8.0 and 



Camera FV-5

Free / £2.49


Designed specifi cally for photography enthusiasts,

Camera FV-5 aims to provide as much manual control

over key camera settings as possible. The amount to

which it can do so does vary between individual

Android phones, however, and the app’s two main

headline features – manual shutter speed control and

Raw capture – are only compatible with a number of

top-end devices. You’ll fi nd a compatibility checklist

on the developer’s website. Once installed, the FV-5

user interface is fairly straightforward to use, and even

if you’re unable to take advantage of the headline

features FV-5 still provides direct control over white

balance, sensitivity, metering mode, and enables you

to take bracketed and timelapse exposures, too. You

can even use it to re-assign your phone’s volume

button to a camera-specifi c function, for example

lowering/raising the ISO. While the full version will set

you back £2.49, there is a Lite version that’s free, albeit

with a vastly reduced maximum resolution.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android only 





This advanced image-editing app comes with a range

of tools not commonly found on more basic photo

apps, including curves adjustments, RGB (Red, Green,

Blue) controls, tilt-shift effects and 13 ‘Scene’ modes

that will automatically adjust your image to get the

best out of it. You’ll also fi nd a generous range of basic

adjustment tools and a huge range of stackable fi lter

effects. You can also add frames, text and stickers to

your images or create collages of multiple images.

While Fotor comes with a built-in camera, manual

controls are sadly lacking –though there is the option

to employ a stabiliser for sharper images, along with

support for burst shooting. More experienced users

will probably want to use either their smartphone’s

built-in camera app or a more advanced third-party

option. Image sharing to the likes of Facebook and

Twitter is provided, with further options to email

images also available. Fotor is neatly laid out, making

it straightforward to navigate and operate.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android and iOS


PicsArt Photo 

Studio Free


This popular all-in-one app allows you to take photos,

process images, apply effects, create collages and

share your fi nished creations. The in-app camera is

admittedly a bit basic, with no manual controls, but

the image processing and effects module is one of the

most comprehensive on the market, with advanced

features such as curves adjustments, cloning and

perspective tools available, alongside all the standard

adjustments. There’s a huge array of digital fi lter

effects, backed up by a generous selection of frames,

stickers, masking effects, clip art and suchlike. As with

many of the better photography apps, there’s a strong

community element to it, too, that allows you to share

your images with other PicsArt users, as well as enter

competitions. If you’d prefer to upload your images to

social media, then you’ll fi nd sharing links to all the

big-name players. The only slight issue we have with

PicsArt is that because it tries to do so much, it can

take a little time getting used to the layout.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android, iOS and Windows Phone


Google Snapseed 



Originally designed and released by the same

team responsible for the legendary Nik Software

range of Photoshop plug-ins (also now free, by the

way), Snapseed is now owned by Google. At its heart,

Snapseed is a powerful Raw-compatible image-

editing app that has been specifi cally designed for

touchscreen devices. Neatly presented and relatively

intuitive to use, Snapseed combines a range of basic

‘one-click’ editing tools and digital fi lters with a

selection of more advanced processing options,

including localised adjustment tools that can be used

for dodging and burning, or even to add selective

focus to your images. Elsewhere, the app’s generous

range of image-wide editing options are controlled

via intuitive drag-and-swipe controls that work in

harmony with a small touchscreen device. In addition

to basic image-processing, the app can also be used

to add frames and text to images, capped off with a

good range of sharing options.

AVAILABLE FOR: Android and iOS

Camera Zoom FX 

Free / £2.99


Taking its cue from Camera FV-5 (see above) and

Manual Camera (another Android photo app), Camera

Zoom FX is another Raw-capable third-party camera

app that offers tons of manual control over your

camera, including shutter speed on compatible

Android handsets. In addition, Camera Zoom FX also

offers a good range of shooting modes including a

stabilised Stable Shot mode, a Best Shot mode, a

Timelapse mode and an HDR mode among others. The

main way in which Camera Zoom FX differs from other

serious-minded photography apps such as Camera

FV-5 is that in addition to providing access to all the

serious things demanded by enthusiasts, it also

throws in a bunch of fun stuff too such as digital fi lters

and sticker packs. Some of this does need to be paid

for, mind. There’s a trial version where you can have

a look at the layout and see how you get on, but in

order to unlock the best features you’ll need to

upgrade to the premium version.


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