Home Camera Awesome: An iPhone App That Instagram and Apple Could Learn From

Camera Awesome: An iPhone App That Instagram and Apple Could Learn From

The fact that smartphones have made a huge mark on photography is no breaking news. The company that was once most synonymous with taking photographs is now in bankruptcy, while the most frequently-used camera on Flickr isn’t one of Nikon or Canon’s DSLRs, but the iPhone 4.

The cameras that come built into iPhones, Android devices and Windows Phones are now capable enough to replace point-and-shoot digital cameras in most people’s lives. On top of that, we’ve seen the rise of photo-editing and sharing apps like Instagram, Hipstamatic and Camera+, all of which give new visual life to the images people snap on their phones. If you thought there wasn’t room for one more photo app, you obviously haven’t played around with Camera Awesome yet.

The app comes from the folks at SmugMug, but is not strictly tied to the company’s flagship photo-sharing website. Instead, it’s a stand alone iOS application that gives the iPhone’s native camera a serious run for its money and includes a feature or two that the Instagram team would be wise to emulate.

Camera Awesome has basic photo filters like Instagram and Hipstamatic, but the app’s functionality goes well beyond that. Its photo-editing features are comparable to more sophisticated apps like Photo Gene, and start to make Photoshop Express look like something of a joke. You can adjust sharpness, temperature, vibrance and contrast on a photo once it’s taken. You can crop images and select from preset visual effects, filters, textures and frames. Each tab offers a handful of options for free, and then includes dozens more for a 99 cents each. That’s how they’re monetizing this otherwise free app.

Before you even get to the filters and editing features, though, the act of taking a photo is markedly improved from what’s possible with most other photography apps out there. There are visual guides to help with composition, including a level to help ensure the horizon is straight and a grid that splits the screen into thirds so budding photographers can craft images that adhere to the age-old “rule of thirds.” Using multitouch, you can tell the camera to focus on one part of the image and adjust the exposure on another part.

Other features they managed to cram into the camera include image stablization, multiple exposures and timed exposures. These are all things that come standard on many digital cameras these days, but are not built natively into most smartphone cameras. Apple could learn a thing or two here.

Camera Awesome also shoots video, and even has the ability to record things that happened up to five seconds before you hit the “record” button, which is kind of insane.

Of course, this is, at its heart, a photo-sharing app. Yes, they’d like you to upload images to a SmugMug account, but you don’t have to. It works with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa and YouTube. They’re interested in adding support for Instagram, Path, WordPress and Tumblr, CEO Don McAskill said on Twitter. It’s not clear if integration with services like Path and Instagram are feasible.

Camera photo by Alan Levine

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