14 ways to improve your iPhone photos
Cultivate your iPhoneography skills with these tools and apps.
Thu, Jan 17 2013 at 5:24 PM
The photo on the left was taken without any filters, while the one on the right was taken with the Trygger polarizing filter, which cuts out glare and unwanted reflections. (Photo: Trygger)
As a photographer, sometimes I'm amazed at how much time, thought and investment has gone into lenses and devices for iPhones in support of iPhoneography, or the art of creating photos with an iPhone. Especially when great shots come down to the person behind the camera and not the camera gear itself. I suppose the biggest appeal for iPhoneography is the convenience and low price point, although artistic statement factors in as well. The ease and speed with which you can whip out your phone, snap a photo, edit it and share it with your social network is truly staggering, and this has played a significant role in bringing us into an age where Instagram images are making the covers of major magazines. If you are interested in taking part in the iPhoneography craze, or if you're looking to step up your game, there are some intriguing products out there for you to try. Here are 14 devices and apps that will have you set up like an iPhoneography pro.
Trygger Camera Case (for iPhone 4/4S)
The team behind the Trygger Camera Case blew their funding goals out of the water on Kickstarter and have brought this case with a polarizing filter for iPhones to market. Priced at $50, the case minimizes glare and reflections so your shots are crisper. An extra cool feature is that the filter is adjustable so you can decide just how much light to let through. It's an interesting tool for having greater creative control over your shot as you take it.
Wide-angle fisheye lens
Putting a fisheye lens on your iPhone is one way to spice up your photos. The Turtleback Turtle Jacket (for iPhone 4/4S) System is a good looking option. The $129 kit comes with the iPhone jacket and two lenses, a wide angle lens and a macro lens. This is by no means the only system out there. There's a surprising diversity of wide-angle lenses to add to your iPhone. For instance, the $42 Digital King Magnet Mount Conversion Fisheye Lens (for iPhone 4 or 5) comes with a different style of mount. When choosing, you'll want to balance cost with quality.
The opposite of a nice wide-angle is a crisp telephoto lens so you can get closer to your subject. The $25 USBfever 8X Telescope with Hard Case for iPhone 4G looks like a solid option. It offers manual focus, and a tripod is included (a vital piece of equipment for using telephoto with your iPhone if you want sharp shots). Again, this is by no means the only telephoto option for iPhones. There are a lot of options out there so take the time to shop around.
Flashpoint Video Shootskate Kit for iPhone
The Flashpoint Video Shootskate looks just plain fun. It is a $69 four-wheeled, smooth-rolling skate onto which you mount your iPhone so that you can get those smooth tracking video shots you're interested in taking. The arm used for attaching the iPhone to the skate is adjustable so you can get just about any angle when the camera is mounted on the skate. It looks like it's neat to use, and perhaps something to spark your creativity as well.
DLC iPhone LED Grip Kit
If you're feeling like you have some extra money to blow on a random tool for your iPhone, you could look through various grips that allow you to have a little extra reach with your iPhone while shooting or filming. This $80 grip from DLC is a lovely option, which features a nice looking LED light for low-light shooting and a casing that provides access to all the functions on the iPhone while still improving your hold on it.
Holga iPhone 4 and 4S Lens and Filter Case
This case brings the aesthetic of a rotary phone to your iPhone, along with Holga filter functionality. A dial on the case spins so that any one of nine special effect and color filters are hovering over your iPhones camera. There is also a clear hole so you can have your regular old view when you need it. It's an incredibly simple approach, and could probably be DIYed instead of doling out $30 for this online.
Gary Fong Flip-Cage with Tripod Adapter for iPhone 4/4S Mount
For a ready-to-go tripod when you need it, this is a great option — though it's more a stand than a tripod since it doesn't actually have three legs. Still. The $30 mount clips onto your iPhone and flips open so you can set up your camera horizontally or vertically on just about any surface for steady shots.
Diff White DiffCase - for iPhone 4/4S, with Two-Way Tripod Mount
Now this item actually is a tripod, plus a case that keeps the sun off your screen so you can see what is going on with your shot. The $35 case boasts that it not only makes it easier to set up and see your shots, but that it also protects your iPhone as well. Nice little bonus to your iPhoneography gear kit.
Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4/4S
If you're hoping to get super steady video with your iphone, this Smoothee from Steadicam is an intriguing option. However, it's pricy at $130. You snap it onto the iPhone and it keeps your camera floating steadily as you bounce up stairs or run around filming.
Lo-Mob is a filter app that gives your images a retro feel, using filters that make images look like they are on 35mm slides, glass plate images, film using old emulsions and more. At $1.99, it's a cheaper option than Hipstagram though you have only 39 filters to select from (so far). It also offers options for sharing your photos on social media.
Adobe Photoshop Express
Yep, it's Photoshop for your iPhone. After all, what photographer's kit is complete without trusty old Photoshop? And it's free. Hard to beat free.
Also free, and a great hybrid between the total control of a Photoshop app and the simplicity of a filter app, Camera Awesome "awesomeizes" your images for you. It has quickly become an incredibly popular image-editing app for iPhones.
if you're in to HDR (high dynamic range) photography, then the $0.99 Dynamic Light app may be of interest. It is also super easy to use, with just a dial you move to increase or decrease the level of the HDR effect. And yes, it also tosses in some filters.
FX Photo Studio
If you enjoy making photos with selective color, text labels, mixed filters and other fun ways to process images, check out the $0.99 FX Photo Studio app. It allows you to do some higher-level edits with an easy-to-use app.
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