Got a smartphone? Want to get more out of its imaging capabilities? Then check out our round-up of the very best photo apps currently on the market

One of the biggest developments in photography over the last few years is the fact that you don’t actually need a standalone camera anymore to take photos. In fact pretty soon images taken on cameras will be in the minority. Smartphones, and now tablet computers too, can not only take photos (and increasingly good ones) they can also process them, and then publish them using photo apps – in essence making them a camera and photoshop workstation in one.

There are literally thousands of photo apps available to help enhance your photographic experience, so we’ve picked a selection of our favourites. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re an iPhone or Android user and the best news of all is that a number of these photo apps can be downloaded for free!

Instagram icon

Instagram

£ Free

Suitable for: Shooting, Editing

Platforms: iOS, Android

instagram.com

Instagram is surprisingly simple. You take a picture (which is always square) press one of the 15 filter effect buttons underneath it and then share it. Job done. The effects vary in style but all have a retro or cross-processed look, and some have arty borders. Part of Instagram’s success is that they bolted a social network onto it, which can also place your images on a map. You can of course also share on Facebook (Instagram’s parent company), as well as Flickr and other social websites.

Instagram screengrab

 

Tip: Check out the Explore section where you can view images by other Instagram users. Find friends and follow them to see their latest photos

Snapseed icon

Snapseed

£ Free

Suitable for: Shooting, Editing

Platforms: iOS, Android

www.snapseed.com

Nik software produces some great Photoshop plug-ins so it’s not surprising its smart phone app is so good. Snapseed cleverly uses the touch screen interface of smart phones to edit your photos. Having tapped the required menu group at the bottom (eg tune image, Grunge, Frames etc) simply slide your finger vertically over the image to select the required effect from the sub-menu, and then slide your finger from left to right to adjust its strength. 

Snapseed screengrab

 

 Tip: Try the Grunge feature for a distressed texture, or add selective blur using the Centre Focus or Tilt-Shift options

645 Pro icon

645 Pro

£1.99

Suitable for: Shooting

Platforms iOS

645 Pro website

Serious photographers with an iPhone should make this their first download. Firstly, and uniquely as far as we know, it enables you to save your images not only as the usual compressed jpegs but also as TIFFs developed from the raw file, as well as higher quality, low compression jpegs. There are separate focus and exposure lock buttons, and two camera-style dials – one to select from five different aspect ratios from square to 6×17, and the other to select from a range of film based picture styles. It offers manual white balance and metering control, and displays a live histogram along with the shutter speed, ISO and other information.

 

645 pro grab

Tip: For best results select highest quality JPEG and/or dRAW TIFF files by holding down the Grid button. TIFFs need to be accessed and saved via iTunes, then they can be opened in Camera Raw.

Photogene2 icon

Photogene2

£0.69

Suitable for: Shooting, Editing

Platforms iOS

Photogene2 website

Not many people have heard of Photogene but its an incredibly well featured app that gives the user a degree of control that’s hard to find elsewhere. A rotary menu of options are controlled by sliders, and include, in addition to the obvious ones, shadow and highlight controls, sharpening (amount and radius), levels, curves, separate Luminance and Chroma denoise, selective dodge and burn tools, healing brush and clone tools! You can add a text layer, filter effects and frames, and when you’re done you can save or export at a range of sizes from 200 pixels wide up to full size to a wide range of destinations – even Dropbox.

Photogene2 screengrab

Tip: Use it to make a smaller version of your images, even those processed using other apps, before uploading and publishing to the web. It’ll reduce your upload times and data usage. Photogene preserves the full resolution original.

Adobe Photoshop Express icon

Adobe Photoshop Express

£ Free

Suitable for: Shooting, Editing

Platforms iOS, Android

www.photoshop.com

You’d expect Adobe to produce a decent photo editing app and they have. Similar to Snapseed in that adjustments are made my sweeping a finger from left to right or up and down across the screen. All the basic adjustments are covered, and there are good sharpening and de-noise tools, though you have to pay £2.99 extra for the latter. Adobe also recently released a more sophisticated alternative, called Photoshop Touch, which currently costs £2.99.

Adobe Photoshop Express screengrab
 
Tip: If you have a photoshop.com account you can log in and upload to your account direct from the app
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    Snapseed is a great app, I use it all the time. The user interface is very smart and some of the effects look great