Best manual camera apps for iPhone | Cult of Mac

Best manual camera apps for iPhone


For when the stock Camera app just doesn't cut it.

app-factor-logo-thumbnail Manual camera apps for iPhone offer better control over settings like exposure, focus, ISO and shutter speed. If you’ve ever shot photos in an environment where the light wasn’t ideal or had a rough time balancing shadows and light, you would benefit from a manual camera app.

While these kinds of apps aren’t always necessary, a great one is a good tool to have in your app arsenal. These are currently the best manual camera apps for iPhone.

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Simple and sleek, yet powerful

Manual offers easy to use camera controls
Manual offers easy-to-use camera controls.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor

For anyone just getting started with manual camera apps, Manual is a great way to get your feet wet. I’ve always found the interface to be far less confusing than other, more advanced, manual apps.

That isn’t to say Manual isn’t incredibly powerful, thanks to the gesture-driven interface. If you’ve ever used Snapseed for editing and liked it, you’ll love the interface of Manual.

You can adjust settings such as ISO and shutter speed by simply holding down and sliding up or down. Since Manual shows you a live preview of the changes you’re making to your settings, you instantly get an idea of what your end result will look like.

From beginners to advanced photographers that just want something they don’t have to fiddle with, Manual fills the bill.


Focus peaking, fill flash and better white balance

Dexter loves getting his photo taken
Dexter loves getting his photo taken.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor

Focus is a newer manual camera app that not only lets you control certain elements independently of each other, but uses a technique called focus peaking. This feature allows you to actually highlight what you want in focus, creating a better bokeh effect in the background (or foreground if you choose).

There are also two other features I’ve found in Focus that make it unique: fill flash and white balance. While white balance may not be unique to focus, the method it uses in the Live Preview window is far easier to implement than in other apps. Fill flash, however, is unique and allows you to capture items without getting some of the negative effects and remnants the flash typically leaves.

While other apps may be far more advanced than Focus, it brings some unique features to the table that other apps just can’t touch, which is why it’s earned a permanent place on the first page of my photo and video folder.

ProCam 3

If video is also important

ProCam 3 is the best option if video is important to you
ProCam 3 is the best option if video is important to you.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor

ProCam 3 may have a steeper learning curve than some of the other apps on this list, but it’s got the features to make up for it. Not only do you get manual control of photos, you get the same thing for video. While the default Camera app is more convenient in a pinch, I’ve found ProCam produces longer videos, since I can pause and resume in the same clip (which is handy for anyone filming events).

You can input copyright information into ProCam 3 so your photos contain any metadata you want them to, just like you can with many higher-end DSLR cameras. There’s also an Apple Watch companion app you can use as a timer for the actual app.

If you like the feature set of ProCam 3 but find the interface somewhat confusing or overwhelming, ProCam also makes a scaled-down version called Shoot that has an easier-to-use interface (and costs a little less).

ProCamera + HDR

For better HDR shots, in any environment

One of the best HDR camera options
One of the best HDR camera options.
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor

I don’t need ProCamera to be my go-to camera all the time, but I absolutely love it for capturing high-dynamic-range shots. This app produces the most accurate, vivid results without over-saturating the images or making things look unrealistic.

Just like any other full-featured manual camera app, you get Live Previews of what your photo will look like, Apple Watch integration for timer purposes, and more. ProCamera is every bit as full-featured as apps such as ProCam 3, so you really only need to pick one if you’re deciding between these two.

I’d let the deciding factor be what kind of photos you take more often. If you find yourself taking a lot of outdoor photos where HDR may be a bigger deal, ProCamera is for you. If video is more important, go with ProCam 3 instead.

This post syndicated via The App Factor.


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