The Great iPhone Photo App Roundup

iphone app icons

The iPhone Army* has a new weapon: photography applications, and lots of ‘em. But who has the time to page endlessly through that collossal archive? Who wants to install every app and try to figure out a) what it does, b) whether it does it well, and c) if it’s worth the price?

We set our intrepid researcher Matt Nuzzaco (photographer extraordinaire and all-around nice guy) to the task and we are proud to report his findings. Here for your reading pleasure (categorized, rated and generally twitterpated) may we present:

Matt’s Roundup of Every Single iPhone Photo App

*similar to the Kiss Army but with less makeup and shorter boots.

p.s. Attention mad scientists: enter our Photo Tip Contest, this week only!

We’ve teamed up with Lomography to gather the best photo tricks, tips and strokes of genius that DON’T require digital manipulation. Do any crazy thing you want, just keep the pixels real.

The grand prize will be an LC-A+ camera, and four runners-up will win a DianaF+ Hong Meow special edition camera!

Enter your tips and photos on the Photojojo Forum, and be sure to get your submissions in before midnight on Sunday, September 21!

A Word about iPhone Applications

Were you were one of the of the first people in line to get a new 3G iPhone? Perhaps you’re hanging on to the one with the cracked screen that’s gone everywhere with you since last year? Or maybe you have a regular phone and are just wondering what all the fuss is about. Regardless, you’ve probably heard the buzz about the newly available iPhone applications.

There are approximately 80 bazillion of them, ranging from games to fitness accessories to scientific tools to our favorite: the photography apps.

Here’s how our roundup works:

  • The apps are divided into categories: Photosharing, Tools, etc.
  • The apps in each category are listed in order of the cheapest to the most expensive.
  • Each app also has a rating on a scale of 1 to 4 (4=awesome, 3=worth a shot, 2= meh, 1=blech).

All of these apps were tested on an ordinary 2007 model iPhone, not the fancypants 3G version.

Pressed for time? Read on for our Top Ten favorites!

Photojojo’s Top Ten Photo Apps

photo calc1. PhotoCalc
category: tools
price: $2.99
rating: 4

Photocalc is a really handy iPhone photo application that doesn’t snap or even view photos. Photocalc performs various photography related calculations such as exposure (variables: ISO, aperture, shutter speed), depth of field (variables: focal length, aperture, distance) and flash (variables: aperture, ISO, flash power, distance) and there’s even a location-based solar calculator that will figure out sunrise/sunset times. Along with the calculations, PhotoCalc gives you a great pocket reference with a glossary of terms, filter descriptions and film characteristics. This is a must-have application if you’re really into photography.

mobile fotos2. Mobile Foto
category: Flickr
price: $2.99
rating: 4

For anyone that uses Flickr, this is the application to use. At first glance the UI is fairly spartan but that’s a good thing for a photo application; the photos take center stage. After a quick Flickr API authorization process, the application was ready to go. After using the application for several days, I don’t recall any crashing or frozen behavior.
The application is basically like Flickr with all of the web UI replaced with iPhone application UI. All of the Flickr features are nested in a hierarchical structure. I’ve found myself clicking deep into Flickr, exploring by tapping tags, looking at their favorites, etc.

fuzzyshot3. Fuzzyshot Photo Blog
category: photosharing
price: free
rating: 4

Fuzzyshot is a super simple photoblogging application; snap a photo with the apps camera mode and it’ll immediately be uploaded to your Fuzzyshot photoblog. This app requires a simple and quick registration with Fuzzyshot’s website. Your photoblog will be www.fuzzyshot.com/yourusername. That’s about it: clean, simple, fast and free.

mophoto4. MoPhoTo
category: photosharing
price: free
rating: 4

MoPhoTo is a simple application that allows you to create photo albums on your iPhone that pull from services such as Flickr, MySpace, Photobucket and Picasa. I really like the quick, clean UI. It never feels super laggy (I’ve been testing on wifi) and there is ample feedback when photos are loading. MoPhoTo does not require signing up for a service and you can point to anyone’s photos on these services as long as they are publicly accessible. I like the ability to download photos I like to my camera roll for viewing offline. The only drawback I see with MoPhoTo is that it doesn’t cache any of the photos/albums. I can imagine this being frustrating if you weren’t on wifi or 3G.

i mark my spot5. iMarkMySpot
category: tools
price: $.99
rating: 4

Okay… iMarkMySpot just might make me buy a 3G iPhone. iMarkMySpot is an iPhone app that logs GPS waypoints and time stamps. After a day of shooting photos with any digital camera, you can merge GPX data logged with iMarkMySpot with your images EXIF data. I really enjoy applications that do something unique, and so far (to my knowledge) iMarkMySpot is the only iPhone photo app of it’s kind. Totally worth $.99.

photogene6. Photogene
category: image editing
price: $4.99
rating: 3.5

Photogene is a simple, well designed photo editing application. With this application you can access images stored on the iPhone’s camera roll, manipulate them and then save back to the camera roll. The features are fairly limited but they cover the basic tasks very well: levels, rotation, straightening, cropping, custom borders and comic talk bubbles. The only thing I think that’s really missing is color balance especially since the iPhone’s camera is easily confused by changing light situations. I’d like the ability to shift the colors a bit after snapping a shot and uploading to a website/service/email. This has a very intuitive, Mac-like UI, and the changes happen in real time. With a few more editing features, I think this could be one of the best iPhone image editors available and a bargain at $4.99.

polarshot7. Polarshot
category: image editing

price: $1.99
rating: 3.5

Polarshot basically does what the name suggests, you can take new or existing photos and save them with a classic Polaroid style border. There is a camera mode within the application or you can dig an existing shot out of your camera roll, adjust the cropping/scaling, add captions and even draw on the shot with different color markers. After you’re done editing you can save the shot back to your camera roll. Nice, cheap, simple and good UI. If you want the Polaroid touch and don’t have your real camera with you, this application does the trick nicely.

ezimba8. Ezimba
category: image editing
price: free
rating: 3.5

Ezimba is surprisingly awesome! It’s essentially a filter based image manipulation application. The UI isn’t very slick and the logo is pretty boring but Ezimba makes it up by providing dozens of neat image filters and the ability to change your mind and go back to previous versions of the image.

klick9. Klick
category: Flickr
price: free
rating: 3.5

Klick is a yet another Flickr application that allows you to view, and post photos. Klick stands out from the pack for a few reasons: it’s free, the UI and usability flow is fantastic… and it’s FREE. I found myself exploring photos via Klick’s “Near Me” mode which uses Google Maps and little pushpins, click a pin and up pops a mini preview of photos clustered around that location, tap the photo and you can view fullscreen, tap the full screen again to see comments and other related data.

smug shot10. SmugShot
category: photosharing
price: free
rating: 3.5

SmugShot is SmugMug’s iPhone application for uploading photos directly to a SmugMug account. The application cannot view photos from SmugMug, but you have the option of snapping shots and sending directly to SmugMug or uploading an existing photo from the camera roll. I’m really impressed with SmugMug’s web based iPhone UI, it’s almost as fast and easy to use as a native iPhone application. A nifty feature of SmugShot is that you can queue up a series of images and then click ‘go’ to start uploading the shots.

Photosharing Applications

photobucketPhotobucket for iPhone
price: free
rating: 1


Photobucket for the iPhone is a native iPhone application for uploading photos to the Photobucket service/website. If you’re not already a member of Photobucket, you can create an account from within the app. You can uploading existing photos from the camera roll, snap photos from within the application and also browse photos from your Photobucket account. The application is horribly buggy. It crashes almost every time I use the application. I think Photobucket for the iPhone needs to go back into the oven for a bit longer.

zoominZoomin
price: free
rating: 2.5


Zoomin is an application for taking new or existing photos and uploading them to the Zoomin.com website. You have to sign up for a free account on Zoomin.com in order to use this application/service. The Zoomin.com site offers an incentive of 25 free 4×6 inch prints for signing up (free). The Zoomin app is strictly for uploading photos, not for viewing them.

soda snapSoda Snap
price: free
rating: 1


Soda Snap is a free photo snapping/emailing application. I don’t actually see the point of this application since you can do the same thing with the standard iPhone camera and email applications. The only difference is that a white postcard border is added to the photo. The UI is nice, but the idea is pretty bland and since it’s free you’re presented with ads every time you send a photo postcard.

snap my lifeSnapMyLife
price: free
rating: 2


SnapMyLife is an ad-supported, geolocation based photo application that takes and views photos. You have to sign up for their service (free), and everything is enclosed in their archive (no other services like Facebook, Flickr, Panaramio, Picasa can be accessed). The application was very slow and the UI wasn’t responsive to clicks. I’d click a function and wait without much feedback from the as to whether or not it was doing something. Not my favorite application but it does work.

big canvasBig Canvas PhotoShare
price: free
rating: 3


Photoshare by Big Canvas Software is an interesting application for viewing and sharing photos from the iPhone. The first interesting piece of PhotoShare is that it doesn’t require you register to share and view photos (there are however various benefits for registering: see their website for details). There are various categories to view photos such as most popular, most followed person, most recent etc. Strangely, this doesn’t appear to be taking advantage of the GPS/location aware aspects of the iPhone. I spent enough time exploring/playing with PhotoShare that I would have to recommend it as an application you should give a few seconds and check out. A trend I noticed is that this application seems to be a big hit in Asia, as I couldn’t read the captions & comments for most of the photos.

clowdyClowdy
price: free
rating: 3


Clowdy is a geolocation based photo blogging and viewing application. I think this application was moved in the app store from photography to social networking. Regardless, it’s a pretty interesting photography application. The first thing I noticed about Clowdy is the UI, it’s very clean and responsive, probably one of the best I’ve seen. Clowdy requires you to register an account and it’s a closed network of photos taken with Clowdy. There is now a Facebook app for Clowdy that’ll post photos to your Facebook stream. I see potential with this app if it were to open up to other geotagged photo archives.

phanfarePhanfare
price: free
rating: 1


Phanfare is a mobile photosharing application on the iPhone with a website for uploading, viewing and sharing. The application includes a camera mode that uploads snapshots to Phanfare.com but strangely does not save to the local camera roll. It seems like you can import photos from the camera roll to upload to their web sharing service. From the web it appears that you can also import photos to Phanfare.com from Picasa, Kodak Gallery, SnapFish, Shutterfly. I’m confused by this application because I don’t see the point of signing up to YAWPS (yet another web photo site) just to share mobile photos. This segment is over populated, and I can’t see why I’d rather use this than the plethora of other iPhone photo apps that interface with existing popular sites like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter etc. I don’t like raining on peoples parade but I don’t see the point of this app.

airmeAirMe
price: free
rating: 3


AirMe is a simple free app for snapping photos and instantly sharing them via services such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. AirMe can automatically tag the photos with metadata such as location and weather along with custom tags added manually.

fotomaticFotomatic
price: $4.99
rating: 3


Fotomatic is a really neat photo slideshow application for the iPhone. Inside the app you’re able to download photos from a variety of photo services such as Flickr, Facebook and Picasa. For Flickr you have the option of viewing any public photo or logging in to view private photos. For viewing Facebook photos, you must login to that service (same for Picasa). The best thing about Fotomatic is the really cool slideshow transitions available. Fotomatic automatically gets bonus points for doing something original with regards to the iPhone and photography, and the application caches photos for offline viewing. I had some problems with Fotomatic crashing on me about 50% of the time.

Specifically for Flickr

exposureExposure
price: free/$9.99
rating: 3.5


Exposure is a Flickr viewing application. The feature set is pretty much what you’d expect: hierarchical access to your photos, your contacts’ photos, explore photos. There is a free ad-based version and a $9.99 version without ads. The ads aren’t really all that annoying. A feature that I have seen so far only in Exposure is the ‘recent activity’ view of your Flickr stream; it’s not exactly like what you’d see on Flickr but it’s close. Exposure also features a ‘Near Me’ feature, cobbling together photos near your longitude/latitude. What Exposure is missing is a way to upload photos. Overall this is a great app.

flickupFlickup
price: $1.99
rating: 2


Flickup is a simple Flickr uploading application. There is a camera mode in the app and an option to start directly in the camera mode. You also have the option of uploading an existing photo from the camera roll. This is a really focused and simple application for adding photos to Flickr. There are free apps that do the same thing and so much more, which makes me wonder why you’d want to buy this application.

pic quickrPic Quickr
price: $1.99
rating: 2


Pic Quickr is a basic Flickr application. All the standard categories: You, Contacts, Explore. This app feels a little buggy, it’ll often hang with no UI feedback as to whether it froze or that it’s loading photo data. One interesting aspect that I haven’t see in other Flickr/photo iPhone apps is the ability to page entire tile sets (flicking left or right to load another 16 photo preview tiles).

charlieCharlie
price: $2.99
rating: 3


Charlie is a Flickr application for the iPhone with a strange name. Charlie’s clean and simple UI is the first thing that jumped out at me when I started using this application. All the basic viewing categories are available (your photos, your contact’s photos, explore, favorites, search). Recent comments and commanets I’ve made are the two categories that are often missing from iPhone Flickr applications, Charlie has both features. A drawback is that Charlie does not appear to be caching image data, so you always have to have a connection to view photos. Charlie is strictly a Flickr viewing/commenting application, there are no proximity (nearby) features or upload functionality.

Tools of the Trade

ifotobacusiFotobacus
price: $.99
rating: 2


iFotobacus is a hyperfocal distance calculator on the iPhone (but not for use with the iPhone since you can’t manually focus the iPhone’s camera). If hyperfocal distance is your thing, this app delivers the goods in a simple UI along with an extensive list of camera models (and film dimensions) in the settings panel. One annoyance is the absurd length of the camera model scroll dialog, it could take you at full minute of scrolling to get to a camera model at the end of the list. I won’t even attempt to explain hyperfocal distance, so here’s Wikipedia’s explanation.

dofDoF
price: $1.99
rating: 3


DoF is a depth of field calculator for the iPhone. This does basically what all the other DoF calculators do, but a nice touch is the conversion of units. Example, input the distance to the subject in feet and set the aperture, focal length etc. Then switch the units to inches, meters or centimeters and DoF will do the conversion for you. The application is solid but the UI isn’t the best compared to the other DoF calculators.

dof calculatorDoF Calculator
price: $1.99
rating: 3


DoF Calculator is a… wait for it… depth of field calculator! The user inputs for camera/film type, focal length, aperture and distance to subject are on the top half of the app, and the calculations are located on the bottom half. The UI is super clean, very pleasing to look at and easy to use. One thing that I think would really benefit this application is being able to switch between imperial and metric conversions.

hfd calculatorHFD Calculator
price: $1.99
rating: 3


HFD Calculator is a hyperfocal distance calculator for the iPhone. The app is super simple with a list based UI for setting camera, aperture and focal length. There’s also an option for switching measurement units (feet, inches, meters, centimeters).

llama slateLlamaSlate
price: $1.99
rating: 3


LlamaSlate is a digital slate application for the iPhone. If you’re not familiar with what a slate is, it’s basically a way for keeping track of scenes of video (a slate is a black and white checkered board with chalk writing on the front that directors clap at the beginning and end of a film scene). The app is super simple. There are two buttons: “Start Take” and “End Take”. Each time you start and end a take, a sound is played, a series of flashes occurs and a unique color bar scheme is generated. This is more of a video production application, but now that digital still cameras are increasingly starting to have video functions this app fits a nice niche.

ikspozheriKsposzher
price: $1.99
rating: 2.5


iKsposzher is an exposure calculator with a twist. You specify the ISO value and shutter or aperture priority and corresponding value (f/stop or shutter speed) and then pick from a list of lighting situations (i.e. full sun, cloudy, sun + snow, sunset, candlelight etc…). This is an interesting combination of typical lighting scenarios and an exposure calculator. If you don’t have a light meter available, this app will get you within the ballpark for proper exposure. I’m not fond of the UI (the slider for aperture/shutter speed is a little annoying to get exactly where you need it to be) but for $1.99 it’s worth a shot.

photo radarPhoto Radar
price: $1.99
rating: 3


Photo Radar is handy tool for logging locations and notes for photos you’d want to shoot if only you had your camera gear available. I’ve never been diligent enough to bust out a pencil and a notebook and look for the closest cross street signs to mark a photo I wanted to take. This app makes it easy and more accurate with the built-in location feature of the iPhone. You can even share links to locations via email. I had a problem with Photo Radar’s UI not giving feedback for when your location was actually acquired by the iPhone. I’m also slightly confused as to why the application doesn’t also send the photo you snapped of the location along with the coordinates in the email. This app is a little buggy but totally handy.

pic vaultPicVault
price: $2.99
rating: 3


PicVault is an application that allows you to store photos on your iPhone in a pin-locked archive. Within the application you have the option of snapping photos, importing existing photos from the iPhone’s camera roll or exporting from the PicVault to your photo roll. PicVault offers the ability to create folders to organize your photos. What I like about this application is that no other application like it exists for the iPhone. For those with photos that they’d rather keep private, this application does the job very well. It has a responsive UI, it’s not buggy and the icon/title is very discreet: it’s listed on the homescreen as “PV”.

Toys and Widgets

itoonyiToony
price: $2.99
rating: 3


iToony is an image editing application that lets you add talk bubbles and captions to a photo. There is a camera mode in the app along with the ability to load an existing photo from the camera roll. Of all the comic bubble/image editing applications, iToony has the most intuitive UI and interaction. You add elements (talk bubbles or captions) by swiping your finger as a gesture; the graphic element is created and you’re immediately put into an editing/typing mode. There are options for uploading directly to Flickr and Picasa, as well as saving back to the iPhone’s camera roll.

ghostoGhosto!
price: $2.99
rating: 1


Ghosto is a corny little application for taking photos and adding semi-transparent ghosts and demons from a catalogue of creepy creatures. You can upload straight to Flickr or save your Ghosto shot directly to the camera roll. $2.99 seems a bit much for this app; $.99 would be more appropriate.

pictemsPictems
price: $2.99
rating: 3


Pictems (which stands for Picture Items) is an image manipulation application that allows the user to import photos from the camera roll and various items from a catalogue. The items range from necklaces to patches to mustaches to bunny ears. There are about seventy items in the Pictems catalog. Pictems also feels fun to use because of the multi-touch scaling and rotation of the picture items to get them to that perfect angle and scale.

talk bubblesTalkBubbles
price: $4.99
rating: 2


TalkBubbles is a photo manipulation application for taking photos from either the camera roll or directly snapping a shot from within the application and adding comic talk bubbles. Compared to the other photo talk bubble manipulation apps, TalkBubbles exceeds them all in the amount of features: font changes, adjustments for bubble fill color and bubble outline color, bubble style etc. I find the UI to be frustrating to use, so despite the expanded features of TalkBubbles this wouldn’t be my first pick for a comic/talk bubble application.

comic touchComic Touch
price: $4.99
rating: 3


Comic Touch is an application that is used for adding comic speech bubbles to photos. The app sports a camera mode for directly taking photos, then adding bubbles. There’s also the option of importing an existing photo from the camera roll. The UI is clean and simple, and the app even has sound feedback for when you touch/drag/zoom the photo.

photo dialPhotoDial
price: $4.99
rating: 2.5


PhotoDial displays your phone contacts as icons based on images assigned to their profile. When you click on their icon, the iPhone’s native dialer is activated. There are several modes of viewing your contact’s icons (grid or draggable list view). As for the rest of the UI, it’s strange. When I first saw this application it was $9.99 which is way too expensive for such a simple app (it’s more of a widget than an app), but as of this review it seems that they’ve lowered the price to $4.99.

You Down With OPP (Other People’s Photos)?

nearpicsNearPics
price: free
rating: 2


NearPics is a geolocation based photo viewing application that accesses photos from Panoramio that are near your location. The application suffers from a fairly slow and bad UI (the buttons are extremely small). It’s essentially a slideshow of photos nearby that you can play/pause (but no other interaction) and click on a button to view the photo on Panoramio.com.

pangea vrPangea VR
price: free/$19.99
rating: 2.5


Pangea VR is a panoramic photo viewing application. There are archives full of panos to download and view. The app has a predefined list of portfolios to view, plus the ability to enter a custom URL to view panos not categorized by Pangea VR. The UI is pretty rough, but the the core experience of loading and viewing panos by flicking around with your fingers is pretty cool. There is a $19.99 “pro” version, the only difference being that you can store panos on your iPhone to view whenever you want (no connection required).

space enviSpace Envi
price: $.99
rating: 2


Space Envi is an extremely simple application that allows you to browse a large catalogue of space related photography. I don’t quite understand the point of an application so focused on one genre of photos, but if space photos are your thing, this app is cheap and focused. The photos are pulled from online resources and are not cached, which makes me think using Mobile Safari to browse photos would be just as good if not better.

cube worldCubeWorld
price: $.99
rating: 3


CubeWorld is an OpenGL based panoramic photo viewer. This application is very similar to Pangea VR. However, I think CubeWorld is slightly better for a few reasons. Similar to Pangea VR, CubeWorld allows you to access a portfolio of panos to download and view. There are some interesting features unique to CubeWorld such as the ability to shift the viewing angle of the pano via the iPhone’s accelerometer, inertia settings, landscape & portrait mode etc. Both Pangea VR and CubeWorld suffer from terrible UI, but at .99 cents it’s worth it to just play around.

Image Editors and Artistic Tools

collageCollage
price: $1.99
rating: 3


Collage is a collage making application for the iPhone. You add photos to the collage from your camera roll and use the multi-touch interface to move, scale and rotate the images. In addition to arrangement, there are also filters available for modifying the images.

jadeJade
price: $4.99
rating: 1


Jade is a super simple photo editing application for the iPhone and when I say super simple, that’s an understatement. There is only one silder in Jade and it appears to adjust the levels of the image and nothing more. After editing the image (sliding the one slider), you can save it back to the camera roll. This is way overpriced for just one slider, and it also crashed on me several times.

picoliPicoli
price: $4.99
rating: 3


Picoli is a yet another simple image manipulation application for the iPhone. The basic flow of this app is selecting an image from either the camera roll or directly snapping a photo from within the app, then using a set of image filters to manipulate the photo, and finally saving the new image back to the camera roll. The closest comparable app to Picoli would be Photogene. Picoli has more image adjustment filters but doesn’t include features seen in Photogene such as crop, rotate, comic talk bubbles etc. Picoli has a very clean unobtrusive UI and is fairly stable.

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