Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
The App Store is packed with so many camera and video apps that it becomes difficult to filter out the noise and find interesting, new apps that offer something different.
Today we’re taking some of the guess work out of that equation. From apps that let you use your iPhone as a remote shutter for another iOS device, to those designed to extract images from video, there are some truly unique photo and video apps out there to experiment with.
Camera Plus ($1.99)
Not to be confused with Camera+, a feature-packed iPhoneography app, Camera Plus is just as good. Camera Plus features multiple settings – including multiple focus modes, grid lines that help you compose the perfect shot, a horizon line to make sure your photos are straight, and it shoots video and photo.
But that’s not the reason Camera Plus is included on this list. While it’s a solid photo taking app, it has one feature that sets itself apart from the rest. Provided you have two iOS devices, whether an iPhone, an iPad, or even Apple Watch, you can use one as a remote shutter and the other as the camera.
Hit the AirSnap button on the device you wish to use as a camera. It will show you a list of other iOS devices with the app installed that are either on the same WiFi network or have Bluetooth enabled. Select the device that you wish to use as your remote shutter. The device acting as your remote shutter includes a viewfinder, and it also allows you to switch between the front and rear facing cameras, choose still or video mode, and adjust all available settings.
While there are several free alternatives to Camera Plus, they don’t come with the same image quality or ease of use. The remote shutter feature alone is enough to warrant the $1.99 price tag, but with the rest of the features on offers, it might even potentially become your go-to photo shooting app on your phone. Be sure to check out our in-depth review of Camera Plus.
With the slow demise of the Polaroid format in print form, the photo format has become all the more precious. While you can find a few decent Polaroid frames in photo editing apps, ShakeItPhoto is an app that does just one thing and does it really well: the app will transform your iPhone photo into a Polaroid photo in seconds. Not only does it frame the photo, it also adds a filter that mimics the style of a real Polaroid photo.
You can either take a photo directly within the app, or choose a photo from your camera roll, and it will transform it for you. There’s an extra setting on the phone that allows you to “shake” the image as it slowly materializes.
Fun fact: you wouldn’t really want to do that with a real Polaroid photo. The shaking is likely a nod to the Outkast song, Hey Ya, which featured the lyric “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.” When the song was released, Polaroid put out a statement warning people that shaking a Polaroid photo could ruin it.
Hipstamatic DSPO [No Longer Available]
Staying with the theme of old school photography, Hipstamatic DSPO comes from the creators of Hipstamatic – an app that really does a great job of bridging the digital and the analog. If for any reason you haven’t downloaded the app yet, check out our beginners guide to Hipstamatic for a crash course on how to use its many features.
The latest app from Hipstamatic, DSPO, is an ode to the days when you had to actually get through a roll of film before you got to see your photos. But as usual, Hipstamatic bridges the analog and the digital, by making the app a social one. Once you’ve created a “camera” you can invite other friends to take photos using the same camera.
Rather than be limited by a specific number of photos, however, the owner of the camera gets to choose how long people have to take photos – anywhere from one hour to 365 days. When the timer is up – everyone in the group can see the photos.
Are you tired of seeing videos on YouTube where someone shot it with their phone and forgot to turn the device? The folks at Horizon definitely were. With this free app, those two black bars when you shoot a video are no more – even if you forgot to use landscape orientation.
The app restricts the capture area to a landscape frame within your portrait viewfinder and that’s what the final product will look like. If you happen to have the same problem when it comes to taking photos, Horizon works in photo mode too. The section of your electronic view finder (EVF) that will serve as the actual final photo is highlighted, and turns with you as you tilt the camera.
With photo mode, you get three choices – portrait, landscape, or auto. With video, you can choose video quality (high, medium, low) and if you purchase the $1.99 upgrade, you can choose 60fps or 120fps plus you’ll lose the watermark from images and videos too. You can upgrade for just $0.99 if all you want to do is remove the watermark.
The app automatically saves photos and videos in the app itself, but you can change this in the settings to automatically save to your camera roll instead.
Manual Cam ($1.99)
Let’s be honest: the iPhone camera has its limitations. There’s no denying the amazing mobile photography movement that is a result of ever-improving smartphones with great quality lenses, but there are certain features you’re simply not going to get without a more advanced camera.
That said, there are some apps that at least try to give you a little bit more manual control over how your images turn out. Manual Cam is one such app.
With Manual Cam you can adjust ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and focus independently of each other. While there are quite a few free, similar apps in the app store, they aren’t as user friendly, and some tend to be a little buggy. To make adjustments, simply tap it in the menu right below the electronic viewfinder (EVF), and then use the dial to select your settings.
Additionally, the app allows you to add a filter to your photos before you take them (I’d highly recommend ‘NoirV’), and allows you to choose between 4:3 and 1:1 image ratios, set a timer to take the photo, and switch the grid on the EVF on.
It’s also worth mentioning that these features are also available in Camera+.
Some might consider this cheating, but StillShot is a nifty little app that lets you shoot video, and then extract images from the video’s individual frames. You can then choose which images to save your phone. And with the excellent quality that you get from shooting HD video on your phone these days, quality is less of a concern than it has been in the past.
The app works remarkably quickly and does a surprisingly good job. Just choose a video to import into the app and it will break it down into individual frames — about 30 frames per second when shot with the default settings on the iPhone camera app.
While we haven’t included any selfie taking apps on this list, you can get your pick of the best in this list of seven apps for the selfie-obsessed, and if you’re really serious about your selfie taking skills, don’t miss out on our selfie-stick giveaway.
What app would you add to this list of unique camera apps that stand out from the rest? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credit: Photojojo