Simpler interface • So many manual camera controls = endless opportunity for nerding out • No subscriptions or in-app purchases • RAW image support
Portrait mode is buggy • Filters are extremely slow
Camera+ 2 is a worthy successor to the original, despite a few flaws.
Much has changed about the iPhone in eight years. One thing that hasn’t, though, is our obsession with its camera.
That obsession is the reason why a little app called Camera+ became one of the most popular photo apps of all time. At a time when iPhone photography was only just becoming a thing, Camera+ helped prove just how powerful our pocket-sized cameras could be.
Long before Apple offered that much flexibility in its own stock camera, Camera+ gave us manual control over settings like focus and exposure. (It was also the first iPhone app to let you snap photos with the volume button — a feature Apple later copied for its own camera.)
That history is why Camera+ has been one of those rare apps that’s been able to maintain its popularity in nearly a decade in the App Store (and why it made it to #26 on Mashable’s list of the top 100 apps of all time).
So when its developer launched the second version of the app, Camera+ 2, this week, I had to see if it lived up to the original.
For an app that’s a “complete rewrite” of the original, Camera+ 2 is, in many ways, nearly identical to the original — at least at first glance. It has pretty much the same manual controls and editing tools as its predecessor (though a few features have been moved around a bit).
While that might disappoint longtime fans who were hoping for significant new additions, putting that kind of control at your fingertips was and is the best part of Camera+.
There are a few fundamental changes to how the app works, though. Camera+ 2 is now a universal app, which means it will work pretty much the same way on an iPad as it does on your phone, which is a good thing. The app has also greatly improved the workflow if you want to pull in a photo from outside the app.
That’s because Camera+ 2 now lets you move between photos you’ve shot in the app and the rest of your iPhone photos without the need to manually import each image you want to edit. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s one of those features that ends up saving a lot of time if you want to use Camera+ 2’s editing tools on all your photos.
Speaking of editing tools, everything that made them great in Camera+ is still there, like the clarity slider and lighting presets, in addition to the typical suite of editing controls like brightness and contrast. If you opt to shoot in RAW, you get all that plus more advanced features like curves and noise reduction.
If filters are your thing, you’ll appreciate that they’re now free in version two. I’m not generally a fan filters, and I wasn’t particularly impressed with Camera+ 2’s selection, which were incredibly slow in my testing. Still, the selection’s certainly more extensive than what you’ll find in Instagram and many other apps.
Another more recent addition: if you have an iPhone that supports Portrait Mode, you can use the app’s Portrait Mode to adjust depth effects after the fact. It sounds like a neat feature, and it is — when it works. Unfortunately, the feature was pretty buggy in my testing and shooting in the app’s portrait mode didn’t always produce the desired effect.
Is it worth it?
All that said, you’d be forgiven for wondering if it’s really worth it to shell out the $2.99 for Camera+ 2 when most of it functions are so much like the original, and many of those functions are now native to most camera/photos apps. It’s a fair question, but I’d say it is.
For starters, there’s the somewhat obvious fact that if you want new features in the future, your best bet is the most current version. But even as it stands now, I’d say it’s more than worth the three bucks to upgrade.
Sure, some of the app’s most important updates are not immediately noticeable — things like speeding up image processing and photo exports, These may not seem like the most groundbreaking updates after eight years, but they make the app noticeably faster and, according to the developer, will help future-proof the app for more new iPhones and future versions of iOS.
And that might be what matters most: the ability to keep on obsessing over the tiniest details of our photos. And for that, Camera+ 2 is a more than worthy successor to the app that first taught us what it means to obsess over our pics.