100 really great iPhone photography apps
Here it is—my list of the 100 best iPhoneography apps.
In writing my book, Create Great iPhone Photos, and then posting an app a day for my 100 Photo Apps project, I’ve spent a lot of time researching iPhone photography apps for everything from image editing to retro effects to panoramas. With the book, in particular, I did a lot of testing of apps, trying them out in all sorts of situations (just check out my video where I go body surfing with my iPhone), and I also researched what other iPhone photography enthusiasts were listing as their favorite, go-to apps.
Of course, iPhone photography just keeps getting better, thanks to the developers of apps like Hipstamatic, ShakeItPhoto, and many others, and so I hope to revise the list (or maybe come out with new versions) as other awesome apps are developed.
What’s missing in this list? View the comments for this post: Please post in the comments.
Also, I plan to post some additional lists, too, like my own top ten among these apps, and also lists for apps in various categories (black-and-white, replacement cameras, and so forth).
So here’s my take on the 100 best iPhone photography apps (in the order I posted them in my 100 Photo Apps project).
- Plastic Bullet
I’m really into the way this lets you cycle through variations of your image.
Spica produces high-contrast black-and-white images. Quick and extremely easy to use.
PhotoForge is a full-featured, Photoshop-like image editor, with many tools and controls for cropping, adjusting exposure, applying filters, and lots more. In the image I posted for PhotoForge, I used the app’s Clone Stamp and Smudge tools to eliminate an unwanted detail (well, a person) in the original photo.
- Pic Grunger
I’m really into the way Pic Grunger gives you a way to “mess up” your photos by making them look aged, weathered, or otherwise suffering from the effects of age and the elements.
A quick way to transform your photos with a psychedelic look, with fun ways to experiment with various settings.
You can get really slick panorama images with Pano. I love the way it gives you transparent guides to help you align images.
- Iris Photo Suite
Iris Photo Suite is a vast app with lots of interesting tools to explore. For this image, I used the app’s Layers feature to blend multiple images.
I love the speed and flexibility of VintageScene in letting you produce retro-looking images with a variety of textures and effects.
- Best Camera
Best Camera includes an easy-to-use selection of filters, especially strong in the area of black-and-white filters. The app also connects you to the Best Camera online community.
- Film Lab
I love the concept behind Film Lab, which is all about resurrecting the film brands and types of yesteryear.
- You Gotta See This!
I love the way You Gotta See This! lets you scan your camera around a scene to generate an idiosyncratic-looking panorama.
Fun and flexible. With Pocketbooth, you can choose from several different styles, including black-and-white, color, and sepia. I like the way the app lets you choose whether to use the front-facing or rear-facing cameras on the iPhone 4.
Here’s a simple way to send an email postcard or post it to Facebook or Twitter. A premium version is available with additional features, such as the ability to customize fonts.
- Vint B&W
As I say in Create Great iPhone Photos: “Apps don’t get much simpler than this.” You snap an image, and you’ve got a black-and-white shot from your iPhone, with lovely processing.
Infinicam lets you cycle through a lot of filters and borders very, very quickly, then choose to save them as favorites (and rename them, too).
A slick way to add color to images without completely painting over your photos.
Yes, you can have iPhoto on your iPhone. Though its interface isn’t the easiest to learn, iPhoto is an extremely powerful editing tool.
- Ransom Letters
Pure fun. Add ransom-style lettering to your photos. Move words around, resize words, and shake your iPhone to get new letter styles.
- Monophix 2.0
MonoPhix is really useful for the control it provides in processing photos as black-and-white images.
The Color Splash interface is relatively simple to use, yet powerful, making it an excellent tool for selective colorization.
A quick, fun way to give your photo the look of Polaroids and other instant cameras.
- LEGO Photo
Pure fun. Take a photo (or use an existing one), and turn it into a LEGO mosaic. Really cool.
Simple, easy to use, and a really fun instant-photo experience, with awesome-looking results. One of my all-time favorite apps.
- Autostitch Panorama
When I was first getting into iPhone photography, I was in awe of this app, and I still am. I love the way you can create panoramas in various ways, and how it smartly combines your overlapping images. A real wonder.
A number of apps add lens flares as effects, but that’s the specialty of this app, which lets you choose from a selection of lens flares.
- 100 Cameras in 1
The app gives you a quick way to cycle through many, many effects, and I like the easy-to-use slider for adjust the amount of the effect to apply.
- Photoshop Express
I find Photoshop Express exceptionally intuitive and fun to use. Though other image-editing apps have a lot more, in terms of controls and features, Photoshop Express lets you adjust the exposure, tweak the contrast, and make other adjustments with slick, easy-to-use controls.
Instagram is quick, it’s fun, and there’s no stopping this juggernaut of an iPhone photography startup (or so it seems). You take a photo (or grab an existing one), apply a filter (and do it very, very quickly), and then post it to Instagram for your friends and followers to “like” or comment. Yes, you can do this with other photo-sharing apps, but Instagram brings a slickness and simplicity to the process that’s in a class of its own. Just know this: After Instagram processes your photos, it saves them as relatively low-resolution (612 x 612) images.
I’ve always had a fondness for halftone images, especially color ones, and so here’s another blast-from-the-past app giving you the look of halftones from your iPhone photos. I particularly like the option to increase (or decrease) the dot size.
Lab gives you a handy (and visually appealing) way to view details about your photos, including location and EXIF data.
Uh, the Camera app? Yes, the Camera app—the iPhone’s built-in app for taking photos. Sure, there are plenty of terrific replacement camera apps, such as Camera+, but I still rely of the Camera app for much of my photo taking.
To be honest, I haven’t really gotten into what Path sees as its stand-out feature—the chance to share images with a group of up to 50 close friends—but I do like the way it lets you see live previews of various filters (“lenses”), then allows you to apply the filter and share the photo.
- Strip Designer
Strip Designer is a slick tool for combining your photos into a multi-panel strip with the look of a comic book or graphic novel.
- Easy Release
Easy Release is a great way to create custom model releases, then have them available for people to sign, right on your iPhone (yes, using a finger or a stylus). I love the ability to email the photo subject (or a client, or yourself) a PDF of the release.
ToonPAINT gives you control and flexibility in creating graphic novel-style images from your photos.
- Photo Transfer App
I used this app just about every day when I was writing Create Great iPhone Photos. It was indispensable in transferring photos and screenshots from my iPhone to my MacBook over WiFi.
This multishot toy camera packs a lot of features into the app, like the chance to choose among different “lenses” to capture four, eight, or nine shots.
FlickStackr is astounding in its flexibility and feature set for uploading, browsing, and managing your Flickr account (or even more than one account). You’ve got options for viewing groups, your photosets, recent images from contacts, and lots more.
- Perfectly Clear
Load a photo into Perfectly Clear, and you can slide your finger back and forth across the screen to see a live preview of the “before” and “after” versions. It’s a really impressive—and useful—way to improve your images, without much work.
You know the look when you see it—strangely unnatural colors, lots of contrast, and sometimes an otherworldly bluish tint. That’s the look (well, really just one of the looks) typical of cross processing, which is the photographic technique of processing one type of film in chemicals meant for another type of film. With Cross Process, you’re able to choose from several options to give you the look of cross-processed film.
I love the black-and-white processing of OldCamera. A while back, I wrote a post about a movie director who’s a big fan Old Camera.
I love the toylike feel of this app, with fun-looking, cartoonish icons for its effects. But there’s power, too, largely because you’re able to use multiple effects with your images.
Destroy your photos. The good ones, the bad ones, whatever. Decim8 lets you do this, and create weird-looking photographic art constructions for your viewing pleasure (or maybe to combine with other apps). It’s awesome, especially because you get to choose from various photo-destroying effects.
- 360 Panorama
This app really seems like magic. You scan a scene with your iPhone, and then you’ve got this wondrous 360-degree panorama to share online. Must be seen to be believed. Of course, that’s why I posted this one with a video.
With great designs and an easy-to-use interface, Phoster makes it a pleasure to create well-designed posters—for events, for parties, for whatever—with your iPhone.
- Tiny Planets
Choose a photo from Tiny Planet Photos, and soon you’ll have a planet-looking construction (or a tunnel-like one, if you choose the “tiny tube” option, as with the wave photo above) for your viewing pleasure.
PictureShow makes it possible to experiment with hundreds of combos of filters, light effects, frames, noise, and more. It was one of my go-to apps for iPhoneography as I was planning and writing Create Great iPhone Photos, and it still is. The app now includes tilt-shift capabilities, advanced editing tools, and lots more.
- Lomora 2
I really enjoy the LOMO-like effects from Lomora, along with the app’s easily accessible vignetting control and its variety of films.
CameraBag evokes a mix of cameras and films from recent decades, with styles named Helga, Lolo, 1974, Instant, and lots more. It’s got a clean user interface, the effects are awesome, and it was one of the early apps that really got me into iPhoneography.
As I say in the “Retro Look” chapter of Create Great iPhone Photos, “I have a bunch of junky old cameras inside my iPhone, and I love every one of them.” Which one do I love the most? To be honest, that varies from one day to the next, but Hipstamatic is always a fave. The app turns iPhone photography into an activity that’s partly a game and party a hipster’s fantasy about the cameras of yesteryear.
SkipBleach gives you a quick way to generate a harsh, high-contrast look for photos.
- Pixel Face
I like the lo-fi images Pixel Face produces, but I’m really into the whole color-blasting, pixelated experience of creating them with the app. Game-like and addictive.
Over-the-top effects, and not so authentic, but it’s a fun way to transform a photo with an out-there, painterly look.
CameraKit gives you a mix of traditional darkroom technique effects (push/pull processing, cross processing, etc.), which you can adjust via the app’s “develop” settings.
- Mill Colour
A sophisticated tool for making color adjustments and refining the look of your images.
Lo-Mob really excels in bringing back photographic techniques from the past. In particular, it’s a real winner in the way it recreates, for the iPhone, experimental techniques like Through the Viewfinder photography, which is all about using one camera to shoot through the viewfinder of another one (often a vintage camera).
- Doodle Booth
I’m really into the hand-drawn look of the stickers and image borders in Doodle Booth. You can add them to your photos and resize them. Lots of fun.
- Pro HDR
The HDR options in Pro HDR give you control in capturing the light and dark areas (and details) in an image, with potentially eye-popping results.
- FX Photo Studio
FX Photo Studio’s filters are sometimes extreme in the way they transform an image, but the ease of using them, and the ability to stack filters (to generate your own custom effects), make this app a worthy addition to an iPhoneographer’s toolkit.
A really fun way to get photobooth-style images with your iPhone 4’s front-facing camera.
This app is marvelous in how it combines both easy-to-use tools for marking images for retouching (the lasso tool, for instance), with more sophisticated retouching tools and options for resolution, brush color, and other settings. It’s definitely a handy way to create special effects and retouch images.
Percolator’s an app with lots of style. Along with the images it delivers—these weird-looking wonders composed of circular blob-like rings—the app provides a fun experience for creating images. After you choose your image, the app tells you it’s “grinding beans,” then “boiling water” and finally “percolating.” And the app gives you control over the “grind” (from coarse to extra fine) and what sort of circles appear in your image. A strong brew, this app is.
Camera+ is a real winner as a replacement app, for lots of reasons. Its focus-and-exposure system is a slick way to adjust focus and exposure separately. The app’s got intuitive controls for basic image adjustments, such as cropping. And it’s even got some great filters, effects, and borders. All around, a terrific app to use as a replacement camera.
- Camera Genius 2.0
This is an full-featured replacement camera app, with a slew of excellent features. It’s got everything you’d expect (burst mode, self-timer, etc.) as well as a camera manual and lots of filters and borders.
- TiltShift Generator
Here’s one of the all-time great iPhone photography apps. It’s a marvel for its controls in letting you create linear or radial blurs, whether to generate a background blur or recreate the look of fake-miniature images with a “tilt-shift” effect. The app’s also got excellent tools for adjusting contrast and exposure.
Plenty of iPhone apps recreate the looks of retro films and photographic processes (and do a wonderful job of that), but SwankoLab takes this a step further by actually giving you something akin to a darkroom, with chemicals (like SwankoDev H1N, Fantabra Magic Warm, Grizzle Fix, and more) to process your images. It’s a fun quasi-game, but also a powerful tool for iPhoneography. Check out the cover of my book, Create Great iPhone Photos, and you’ll see an image of SwankoLab right next to the title.
Are you eager to do some advanced image editing with your iPhone but don’t want to feel like you’re sitting at your desk with Photoshop, mystified by the bounty of icons and sliders and whatnot? In that case, Photogene is a smart choice for the way it combines sophisticated options for manipulating your images with a straightforward interface. You’re able to perform the usual tasks you’d expect in an image editor (cropping, adjusting exposure, etc.), as well as make adjustments with Levels and even creating custom frames.
To create a one-of-a-kind digital artwork, with odd glitches and color artifacts, experiment with Satromizer, an app named after Jon Satrom, a new media artist who often employs glitches in his artwork.
Diptic is my go-to app for multi-frame photographic constructions. I love the way it lets you combine multiple images, then adjust the borders and crop photos. With the expandable layouts option (as an in-app purchase), Diptic gives you even more flexibility for the size of the frames.
This is a great way to label your photos with the look of masking tape, ribbons, and more. Quick and easy.
Forget e-postcards. With Postagram, you can tap into your iPhone’s address book and send real postcards—yes, ones delivered by the USPS. You could be on an island in Thailand, or the Utah desert, and with a few clicks you’re sending off a postcard (for 99 cents) to grandma in Florida or your siblings back home.
- 3D Camera
Love 3D? Then here’s a sophisticated tool for creating 3D images from your iPhone photos.
Juxtaposer can be used to combine images in amusing ways (by placing an animal’s head on a person’s body), but it can also be used to generate interesting effects by combining multiple images in surreal and sophisticated ways. It’s a powerful tool for blending images.
- Auto Adjust
The app gives you quick tools for adjusting your photos. A speedy and handy image editor, with a focus on adjusting saturation and colors.
- Bill Atkinson PhotoCard Lite
This app lets you send virtual postcards, but that’s not all. Like other services, such as Postagram, Bill Atkinson PhotoCard Lite allows you to send photo postcards through the mail—yes, the real-world mail of genuine postcards—and do it straight from your iPhone, without ever licking a stamp. The service’s postcards are oversized and in brilliant color.
This is a truly advanced image editor, with features galore (the Curves feature is particularly sophisticated), including a “history” option to view the steps you’ve taken to achieve an effect (and return to a particular step along the way).
- Noir Photo
Noir Photo includes handy controls for creating a noir look by adding vignettes and lighting effects to your images.
The toy camera trend is about experimentation, serendipity, and a certain willingness to accept the uncertainty (and limitations) of the device. With ClassicSAMP, you’ve got all of that, as the app gives you a variety of lenses and films to embark on photographic adventures. Fun and sorta unpredictable.
- Photo Booth Classic Plus
I like the ability to select what photos you want to appear in your photo booth frames, and then crop them.
Take a photo, add a filter, and it’s there in your photostream.
This app includes a useful selection of controls (vignetting, linear and radial blurs, contrast settings) to simulate film processing when working with your iPhone photos.
- Slow Shutter Cam
You’re not able to use manual controls to set the shutter speed with the iPhone. The solution? With Slow Shutter Cam, you can attempt to replicate the look of images shot with a slow shutter speed.
XProcess gives you an easy way to cycle through (and try out) a variety of cross-processing effects and filters, generating off-kilter colors.
This app assists you in taking a photo of yourself every day (with reminders and a grid), then lets you produce a video from the results. Requires diligence. Rewards you with a one-of-a-kind video.
Lots of iPhone replacement camera apps have a zillion features, including advanced editing tools. That’s great—when you want it. But sometimes you want to keep things relatively simple for your iPhoneography, yet have powerful tools for snapping photos. QuickPix emphasizes simplicity and picture-taking tools, including some stand-out options, like full-resolution burst mode, the ability to take a photo when you launch the app, pinch-to-zoom controls, and taking still images when you’re capturing a video. It’s fast, too, for those moments when you don’t really want to miss an image, whether you’re doing street photography or capturing a snapshot at your kid’s birthday party.
You can really transform your photos with the out-of-focus effects available with BlurFX.
- Camera Plus Pro
This app is an astonishingly versatile and full-featured replacement camera app for your iPhone. It’s got all the usual replacement camera features, like anti-shake and a self-timer, but it’s got other stand-out features, too. These include the ability to transfer images wirelessly to your computer, a way to password-protect photos that you don’t want others to see, and a host of video options, like video zooming and filters for videos. What’s more, it’s got a complete image editing suite, with filters and the ability to import images from your photo albums. All around, an amazing tool.
- Perfect Photo
Perfect Photo is a full-featured image editor, with plenty of tools for everything to cropping to retouching to adding filters, yet it’s got an easy-to-learn interface suitable for iPhoneography newbies.
Quirky, serendipitous results from a multiframe toy camera.
I’m really into the way this app guides you along the way to creating immersive 360-degree panoramas.
Cameramatic is billed as another toy-camera app, but it’s really more than that—a versatile tool for altering images with filters, frames, and light leaks. That’s because you’re not able to use it just to snap photos (like Hipstamatic, of course), but also to process images from your iPhone photo albums. Great effects and filters, a slick interface, and an all-around wonderful tool for image processing.
- Photo fx
Here’s an amazingly powerful iPhoneography app from Tiffen, the maker of traditional photographic filters. Along with the app’s hundreds of preset effects, Photo fx includes advanced image-editing tools for retouching, adding layers, and lots more. The app is particularly useful if you want to create a mask for one portion of an image, and then apply a filter just to that area.
Multiframe effects, out-there filters—you’ve got it all with this funky toy camera app.
ProCamera is one of the great replacement camera apps for the iPhone, with a slew of features, from the usual suspects (self-timer, image stabilizer, etc.), as well as exceptionally high-speed performance for a variety of visual effects.
Sure, the iPhone’s now got built-in HDR capabilities, but it’s nothing compared to the sensational results (and control) you’ll get from TrueHDR.
iDarkroom is notable for its lovely bokeh and light leak effects, but it’s also got some other tricks, too, like a variety of frames and vignetting effects.
SoundSnap lets you control your camera with your voice—an awesome way to grab discreet street photography images, as well as control your camera (with a shout) from a tripod.
This app lets you create a frame with multiple photos, offering some great options, such as the chance to add patterned borders, rounded corners, and to adjust the size of the frames.
- Image Blender
Here’s an app that does one thing, and does it well—it lets you combine photos for double-exposure and other effects.
With Animoto, you can create MTV-style music videos, with a soundtrack and images zipping around the screen, just by selecting photos from your photo album, arranging them, and then choosing the tune to accompany your video.