Supercharge Your Android Camera with Camera360

Cameras have been standard features on phones for a few years now, and the trend has only continued with every new smartphone taking the megapixel war to the next level. Although mobile phone cameras have traditionally been frowned upon by purists — 8 to 12 megapixel sensors and top-of-the-line lenses notwithstanding — for most, these have become their primary source of capturing everyday moments.

It is a shame then, that as the world’s largest and fastest growing smartphone OS, android does not come with a camera application that lives up to its reputation. The stock app that gets packaged with android phones is at best rudimentary, and meant to simply get the job done. Luckily for us users though, there are a ton of apps that chip in to add bits and pieces of functionality. Camera360 is an application that attempts a jack-of-all-trades approach here, and does so quite successfully.

Overview

Unlike most other camera applications on the Android Market, which focus on one specific function, Camera360 tries to cram in every single feature you might want when using the camera, and then some more. From helper functions for taking good snaps to a variety of shooting modes to some beautiful — and some with pure entertainment value — post-processing effects, everything is crammed into this one application.

Camera360 Launch Screen

Camera360 Launch Screen

Camera Functions Galore

From a pure photography perspective, the biggest value-add that Camera360 brings to your phone is the plethora of camera functions it provides. Don’t be surprised if the next few lines sound like they came from a high-end DSLR camera manual. You get an anti-vibration shooting mode, which uses the phone’s accelerometer to help stabilize the image and avoid motion blurs in photographs. There are different composition displays for the viewfinder, four focus modes, three focus types, white balance presets, and more.

You can of course choose the flash, image size, and geo-location preferences depending on what the phone hardware supports. The geo-location setting works even if GPS is not activated by using location data from your cell service provider. There is also a timer delay setting for times when you might want to set a photo up before jumping into it yourself. One thing I loved about the interface is the on-screen shutter sound toggle. Now only if my actual digital camera made it so easy to silence the shutter when desired!

Camera Functions

Camera Functions

Shooting Modes and More

The primary function of the camera is to take photos, sure, but how about six entirely different ways of doing that? Apart from the normal camera mode, Camera360 provides five distinct shooting modes, that each carry some unquestionable utility. In Normal mode, you can choose between the usual color photos or go for black & white, sepia, tints, negative or solarize. The Effect mode lets you choose from a series of effects to apply to your photos – from the now common LOMO effect and black & white, to a colorful saturated or a soft, dreamy effect, or the more exquisite HDR simulation and ‘back to 1839’. Check out the screenshot below if you are wondering what the last one does. There is also an option to choose a random effect every time you click a photo.

Mode Selection and the 'Back to 1839' Effect

Mode Selection and the 'Back to 1839' Effect

The Tilt-shift mode simulates a really low depth-of-field to give photographs the feel of miniature models, which works best on wider shots and landscapes. Color-shift lets you choose a color to retain in the image while making everything else in the frame black & white. Funny mode comes with effects like fish-eye, pencil sketch (which often does a pretty neat job) and four-color poster, among others.

My favorite mode though, is the Scenery mode, which lets you capture an image and instantly place it in a preset environment, like a painting or a newspaper ad. The only scene that comes pre-loaded is of an artist painting on a canvas, where the photo you shoot becomes the painting, complete with an impressionist feel to it. More scenes are available online, most of which need to be purchased before you can use them.

Scenery and Tilt-shift Modes

Scenery and Tilt-shift Modes

Complex, Yet Simple

Ultimately, Camera360’s success lies not so much in the features and functionality, but in the way it provides the functionality. For an application that has so many modes and functions to choose from, the UI is pretty minimalistic and does a great job of hiding all the power under a simple, usable interface. Once you have selected a mode, all you see are a couple of icons for the most critical settings across the top-right and right edges of the screen. Tapping the Preferences button in the top-right corner opens up the functions panel with a pretty intuitive set of icons for each category of functions.

If you are like me and are perennially in the Effect mode, the ability to save the original image along with the processed one can come in quite handy. The application settings allow you to toggle that option on and off, along with ISO sensitivity, JPEG image quality, anti-vibration sensitivity and the default path for saving all photos.

Settings

Settings

For an always available and in-sync library of images, you can set the default save folder for all images inside your dropbox folder.

In Conclusion

Camera360 QRCode

Camera360 QRCode

As might be obvious by now, Camera360 is an absolute gem of an application, a swiss-army knife for the camera in your phone, and deserves a place on every Android device. The application offers a boatload of features in a very sleek and user-friendly interface without letting the user ever feel overwhelmed. Personally, I have the application set up with my own preferences in terms of settings, and the bulk of my photography happens through the Effect mode with random effect selection.

Although the free, ad-supported version of the application provides pretty much all the functionality one would need, not all effects and scenes are available unless you buy the Ultimate version which costs $3.99. The paid version also gets rid of the ads and entitles you to get tech support.

[Editor’s Note: Since this review was written, it seems that the free, ad-supported version was taken off the Market.]


Summary

A camera app for Android that takes photography on a phone to an entirely new level. Jam-packed with features and functionality, wrapped in a simple, easy-to-use interface that gets the job done.

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