The cameras on our Android devices have been getting some impressive upgrades over the last few years, and there’s been a reinforced push towards making Android devices complete replacements for good quality cameras. While these cameras are able to take clear, sharp images, they still don’t have the quality that SLR cameras provide.
These cameras can make amazing pictures as they are able to focus strongly on foreground objects and make the background blurry, but they have a big learning curve. However, just because your Android device’s camera can’t natively achieve such results, there’s nothing that stops an app from emulating them.
Cymera is a completely free app which aids in creating better pictures. While it is capable of so much, it does have options for creating SLR-like photos. It includes 7 different camera “lenses”, including one to simulate DSLR pictures. It also packs plenty of different filters, including blur effects, as well as an auto correction feature. While taking pictures, you can also change the shoot mode, allowing you to use a timer, touch shot, or anti-shake mode.
For some added fun, you can apply beauty effects and other decorations which give your images some flair. Cymera has some interesting technology behind this feature, such as automatic facial recognition, hair and makeup functions, and effects such as big eyes or slim. Adding these does void the professional look provided by the DSLR effects. Finally, Cymera offers plenty of sharing capabilities for Facebook, Twitter, Cyworld, Weibo, and Mixi.
AfterFocus is another app which focuses on blurring, but adds a little more functionality when it comes to identifying what parts of the image are in the background. It includes a smart focus area selection tool with which you can tell the app which parts of the image are in the foreground. You can do this by drawing lines that border the foreground, or you can finger paint and fill in the entire area of the foreground. You can then apply a background fake motion blur effect using one of multiple aperture styles, including a DSLR style.
AfterFocus also offers some professional effects such as Cross Process, and it does a good job at applying it. Finally, you can share your finished images via the app across multiple social networks. The paid version of this app offers just a few extra benefits such as support for high resolution images, edge-feathering for smoother transitions between blurred and non-blurred areas, more filters, and a double photo feature. Double photo allows you to take two pictures and have the software determine the closest objects in your image so that you don’t have to draw the focus area yourself.
The next app is called Motion Camera, and as its name might imply, it specializes in blur effects. It includes a real-time motion effect, and the option to choose between blurring everything, blurring lighter objects, or blurring darker ones. These can be used to blur the background as long as the foreground objects are on the opposite side of the brightness scale. The app’s camera features includes some basics such as auto focus, flash, front camera support, and zoom. This mainly works for items that are moving, and not for still images.
In other words, the blur effect that it applies is more of a fake motion blur than a focus blur. Motion Camera is free to use, but it includes ads unless you buy the paid version. The paid version doesn’t have any additional functions, however.
Finally, you can try out an app called Camera Illusion. I don’t quite like this one as much because it has the largest amount of features reserved for the paid version of the app, but the free version is still okay to use. It includes a blur effect, color filter with hue and saturation, access to the app directly from your camera, and the ability to save the original image in addition to your tweaked one.
This app doesn’t really do too much to make your images look as if it was taken by an SLR camera, but it is still good for adding a few touches to your pictures. The fake motion blur appears to apply to the entire image, so it’s only good for if you’re taking pictures where virtually everything is in the background. I’m also not the biggest fan of its interface, but it still gets the job done.
So who wins out of these four apps? I’d say the winner is Cymera, simply because it has the best options for SLR-like images, ignoring all the other features and frills that come with it. While the other apps were good contenders, Cymera makes your images look great, and replicate the SLR effect very well. Plus it has a very nice interface that makes using the app quite a pleasure.
Also, I do apologize that my images had to be of a fan — I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to volunteer! I hope you still see the differences.
If you’d like to disagree with me or even suggest a completely different app than the four I’ve listed, let us know in the comments!
Image Credits: Dan Foy