While the iPhone camera app is one of most widely used mobile cameras on the planet, there are several third-party camera apps that are faster and nifty to use for particular shooting purposes.
The default iPhone camera app has certainly come a long way over the years, adding features like burst shooting mode, a built-in timer, and time-lapse video. But it still can be tricky to tap the shutter button, or to switch between the back and front-facing lenses.
Fortunately there are a good selection of apps that can shoot faster, export shots instantly, and even automatically recognize smiley faces.
oSnap ($1.99) [No Longer Available]
Though the iPhone camera has a well-sized white shutter button for snapping photos, it’s still sometimes cumbersome to hold the iPhone still and press the button at the same time. Note that you can press one of the volume buttons to activate the shutter, which is useful especially for horizontal shots.
oSnap is one of several third-party apps that allows users to trigger the camera shutter by tapping anywhere on the screen. Because the screen is not the camera lens, your finger won’t show up in the photo and the app provides a natural and snap-happy way of filling up your camera roll.
The only drawback to this feature is that oSnap doesn’t have the manual light exposure feature of the default camera app. So using the screen to activate the shutter works best in well-lit situations.
However, oSnap does have a few other nifty quick features that you might find useful. For example, if you often swap between the back and front-facing camera, oSnap allows for simply shaking the iPhone to make the switch. Similarly, swiping your finger to the left on the screen can quickly enable and disable the flash.
oSnap also displays on the screen the last four shots saved to your Photos library, and you can swipe down to access the entire gallery of shots. The app comes with it’s own image editing tool, and users can share photos directly to Twitter and Facebook with one less tap than it takes to do so in the default camera app.
If you like taking photos with smiley faces, SmileCatcher automatically activates the camera shutter when one or more people smile and show their teeth. It’s pretty magical, and in my tests, it worked most of the time.
You’ll have to enable the Auto Shutter button between each shot, but this quick camera feature may be just the solution for taking photos of children. As soon SmileCatcher recognizes a smile, it clicks the shutter. Manual shots and access to your Photo library are also a part of the app’s features.Quick Snap ($0.99)
Sharing photos from your Photos library often requires two or three taps too many. Quick Snap is a solution for automatically exporting shots to either email, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, iCloud or Dropbox storage.
This feature is great for instantly backing up images, and what’s even better, Quick Snap saves all your images to its internal gallery rather than to the Camera Roll, which can often get weighted down with images.
The app also includes an optional “snap on launch” feature, but unfortunately in my tests, the shutter fires too quickly, not allowing enough light to expose the subject. It’s a great concept, but there needs to be a second or two lag time after the app launches and before the shutter fires — an easy fix with an update.
FrontBack is another novelty app that is quicker than the default app in that in allows users to snap a front and back facing shot in the same photo, with just two taps. This nifty feature is also great for getting you — the photographer — in the shot, as well as your subjects.
FrontBack allows you to add a caption to shots, and also includes a single-tap ph0to enhancement button, but no other manual exposure adjustment tools. You can save shots taken with the app to your Photos library and/or to your public FrontBack social network stream—where you can explore shots by other users near your location and afar.
SnapChat and Fling (Free)
The widely popular SnapChat is also a quick on the draw camera, though it’s a messaging application first and foremost. After SnapChat opens, you can immediately hit the white shutter button to snap a photo.
In addition, if you hold and press on the shutter button, SnapChat will start a 10 second video recording. From there you can selectively send photos and videos to other SnapChat users on your list. SnapChat also now includes a conversation feature in which the app will let you know when one of your friends also has the app open when you do, which then allows for sending live video exchanges during the process.
Fling is similar to SnapChat, but instead of sending images and video to friends, you can send a photo or 140 character message to up to 50 anonymous Fling users from around the world. There are several complaints about the content shares containing too many nude photos, but this could possibly improve if users send the type of appropriate images and text that they would like to see from one another.
Note: Neither SnapChat or Fling save the images you shoot to your Camera Roll, so view them as quick disposable camera shots or a super-fast free method of picture messaging.
There are other camera apps, such as Fast Camera and Super Fast Camera that offer quicksilver features, but the latest advances in features for Apple’s default camera app — including burst shooting mode (simply keep the white shutter button pressed to fire off consecutive shots) and a self-timer — makes many old third-party apps obsolete.
That said; having a folder of camera apps like the ones reviewed for this article can be useful for various shooting situations.
What’s your favourite, fastest camera app?