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Must have Camera Apps for Creativity

I cannot operate without my morning coffee. You know that feeling... Dry mouth, groggy, like the bus hit you, then reversed back over you, in case he missed a spot.

That's how I'd feel if I couldn't install my third party camera apps.

This is 1 of 5 groups on my iPhone with various camera and editing apps, etc. Some people collect stamps. I collect apps.

The camera on most phones these days does a better job than your entry level point and shoot, but has it’s limitations when it comes to the native camera app.

If you like things done automatically, the native camera app can’t be beaten. In post editing you can still work your magic, from adding filters, adjusting tones, brightness, highlights and shadows as well as cropping. In fact, auto mode on an iPhone 11 is just amazing. I love taking panoramas and portrait photos. The calculated depth of field is brilliant. I also love that I can ask Siri to take the photo, or from a locked phone it’s just one touch to take a photo.

This lovely sunset at a from a bird hide at a nature reserve is direct from the native camera app, without any editing

However, when I am feeling creative, want manual control or looking for a more “professional” photo, the native camera app just cannot deliver.

This picture in the woods was shot in RAW, allowing me the full control over white balance and post editing.

My goto camera apps for the iPhone 11 are ProCamera, Camera+ 2, ProCam and Firstlight (in no particular order).

What do these third party apps offer me that the native camera app cannot?

  • Manual control for shutter speed and ISO setting. You have control over the shutter speed electronically from 1/12000 down to 1 second and ISO from 32 to 3200. As the iPhone is lens is set at a fixed aperture, these are the only two parameters you can play with. Perfect for that longer exposure, etc.

ProCam app in manual mode

  • Manual white balance control for temperature (kelvin), ting and grey card functionality. Personally I still just leave this is auto and fine tune later in post. (But I love to shoot in RAW - my choice).

  • Onscreen histogram with in photo focus peaking and highlight clipping. I love this feature. It’s very easy to monitor your shadows and highlights in the photo. Clipping generally appears as zebra stripes in blue or red, depending on the app.

  • Preset copyright and hashtag information embedded into the EXIF data. Great for a series of photos. Makes your post processing so much quicker, especially if you plan to upload directly from your phone to your favourite social media platform.

  • Individual focus and exposure lock with subject tracking. This is where these apps excel. I love street photography and it’s so nice to setup my shot and wait for the action. Everything is fine tuned and ready to go. No worrying about being out of focus. You have great control over depth of field and with a small swipe left or right you can zoom in for fine tuning.

  • Exposure bracketing for up to 7 stops with 7 photos. I know you going to shoot me down for this one…. But I am not a fan of the new HDR photos. I find them generally to dark and needing work. A lot of work. So if I want a HDR type image I just exposure bracket and layer these in post processing. It might be more work, but I get the results that I want.

  • Tiltmeter for perfectly levelling the camera.  

  • Of course I left my favourite for last, the ability to shoot in RAW data. This is saved as a DNG file on the iPhone. The extra depth obtained when you shoot RAW, just allows so much flexibility for post processing. But this depends on how you like to shoot. I LOVE shooting in RAW. At 30 - 40 MB per photo, better make sure you have a large storage capacity on your phone and that extra iCloud storage.

Firstlight from FiLMiC Pro is the last one on my list and while it doesn’t have the manual functionality that the others do, I had to include it in my list. I use FiLMiC pro for my more creative videos on my iPhone combined with the Osmo Mobile 3 and the shortcut’s built into the Oslo Mobile and FiLMiC apps allows me to switch between video and photo easily without having to navigate my phones screen extensively,

I love the creativity of infrared filters during black & white photography. This was done using FiLMiC Firstlight.

Now that I have you thinking about third party camera apps, take a look at these websites for some smart phone photography inspiration:

For more information on my recommendations for third party apps, here are the links:


Camera+ 2



I hope I have convinced you to invest in a third party app. If you would like more detailed reviews on any of the apply, please let us know in the comments section.

If you haven’t already, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram @FrameFocusFoto

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