There’s no shortage of camera apps on Android, with multiple options covering almost every niche imaginable. But sometimes one breaks through the noise with impressive filters or awesome features to wow you.
Pencil Camera HD is one such app. Similar to the popular Paper Camera, it applies sketch-like, painting-style, or texture-overlay filters to your photos and videos, to sometimes-incredible results. Let’s take a look.
Originally an iOS app, Snapseed garnered quite a following for its powerful photo editing capabilities and also won a few “App of the Year” awards from Apple. In September 2012, Google bought Nik Software, the developer company behind the app and a mere three months later, we have an Android version of the app available to us for free. On a side note, Google also made the iOS version of the app free along with the Android release.
But before I delve into this review, let me get one obvious explanation out of the way – Snapseed is not an Instagram competitor from Google. Instagram, if you didn’t know, is a photo sharing app that lets you apply color effects to your photos and share them directly from your mobile devices. It thrives on its social sharing and community feature, while Snapseed does not have any social features of its own. It is also a more extensive photo editing app than a way to apply readymade filters to your photos.
So with that out of the way, let’s dig into what this latest offering from Google that everyone is talking about really is.
As a photographer, I never thought I’d use my smartphone’s camera much, given that it obviously doesn’t have the capabilities of a DSLR. But lately, I’ve learned to love it for what it is – a simple camera that’s on hand whenever I need it – and that’s really the best kind of camera you can have. Having come to terms with my phone camera, I now use it for discreet street photography, making note of locations and props I could use for upcoming photo shoots, and working on my composition.
I’ve been hankering for a solid photo editing app, though – something that offers at least a smidgen of the control over how pictures turn out that desktop apps like Adobe Photoshop do. There are a fair number of editing tools out there, but none seemed to have the complete package of features, usability and fine-grained control over various parameters that I wanted. Then, I discovered Aviary.
The first thing you need to know about this app is its concept: the effects and filters applied to your photos are made to “cartoonize” them. In fact, it makes your photos look like drawn (or printed) images on paper – hence the name, Paper Camera.
Paper Camera stands out among the wide sea of photography apps in the Play Store. When I first saw the real-time application of its quirky filters, I knew I was going to have fun using it. There’s a lot of potential for your photos with this app – it’s just a matter of letting your imagination take the lead.
We’ve all heard of Instagram, iOS’s great image sharing service. You take a picture, apply a filter, add a frame and a comment, and it will instantly post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. Pixlr-o-matic tries to give Android users an Instagram equivalent. It lacks the social capabilities of Instagram and Flickr, but the sheer number of filters and effects to add to your photos are mind-boggling.
Read on to find out more about this great application.
You’re Android handset comes with a built-in camera application that is fine for taking the odd shot. I’m not sure whether this is specific to my HTC Sense phone, but my stock camera app has options to change photo saturation, brightness, and other variables. There’s also the option to add some very basic filters like sepia and negative. This is a nice set of features that my iPad 2 (and, presumably, an iPhone) doesn’t have and, especially if your phone has a nice five or eight megapixel shooter on it, can be helpful in taking some valuable shots you can look back on.
Cisco’s recent decision to kill off the Flip video camera family also demonstrates that smartphone cameras are becoming the tool of choice for most people’s photo and video capture needs, so these options are becoming increasingly important.
The quote, “the best camera is the one that’s with you”, is tossed around a lot and, although I can’t seem to find its origin, I certainly know it’s true. Everyday moments can be captured with relative ease and with quality to compete with most point-and-shoot cameras. However, these cameras are smart and not like their dumb-phone counterparts. (more…)