Smartphone cameras are more than just a convenience. As David Chen’s monthly photo challenge makes clear, they’ve emerged as a serious tool for photographers and an artistic genre all their own.
What I love about Windows Phone 8 and my Lumia 920 from Nokia is that both were designed with mobile photography in mind. Windows Phone 8 introduces lenses, camera apps that plug into your phone’s viewfinder and potentially give it all kinds of crazy new powers. And the Lumia 920, with its fast F2.0 lens and optical image stabilization technology, is helping redefine what’s possible in low-light and other tricky shooting conditions.
In the months ahead, I’ll be focusing more on Windows Phone photography—highlighting new apps and passing along tips for taking better shots. (I’m learning as I go, too.) Let me know in comments what camera-related subjects you’d like to see here. And if there are any Windows Phone-toting pros out there who’d be interested in sharing their secrets in a guest post, let me know that, too.
Meantime, here are five essential apps for anybody serious about taking or showing off their shots. You’ll find more great handpicked options in the Store’s new Photo and Visual Effects Collection.
If you were confined to just one photo-editing app on your phone, this is the one I’d go with. Fhotoroom (Free) turns your phone into a mobile photo studio with 18 editing effects and more than 50 beautiful filters. The app supports both Windows Phone 7.5 and 8, and makes it a cinch to share favorite images on SkyDrive, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler. That said, the Windows Phone Store boasts several worthy editing apps, including Pictures Lab, Thumba Photo Editor, and Nokia Creative Studio (for Lumia phones only). I’d sample a few and see which one suits you best.
Control freaks take note: ProShot transforms your display into something more like what you’d see on a point-and-shoot, providing the ability to manually tweak shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation, focus, and other key settings. Also worth a look for Windows Phone 8 is CameraPro ($2.49), which has many of the same basic features as ProShot but adds burst, time-lapse, and bracket shooting modes.
If you’re looking for a foolproof solution for group photos—or just want to minimize blur-inducing vibrations from shaky hands—ReadyClick! ($1.99) for Windows Phone 8 is the answer. The app lets you issue voice commands to your phone camera, triggering the shutter when you say “Ready Click,” so you can shoot from shouting distance and without accidentally jiggling your phone.
If you dig the retro “Lomo” look popularized by apps like Instagram, you’ll love Lomogram for Windows Phone (Free). Packed with more than 40 filters and 70 lighting effects, the free app offers literally thousands of creative ways to transform even your most mundane lo-res shots into sepia-toned works of vintage art. Lomogram also comes with a handy cropping tool to size them just right for Facebook and other popular photo-sharing sites.
Sharing one photo at a time to your Twitter or Facebook followers can get tedious. But Phototastic (Free) makes it easy to turn several into an attractive collage, right on your phone. With 50 collage arrangements—including now Facebook cover photo frames—you’ll have plenty of options for showcasing your best shots.