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December 31, 2013

Our 13 favourite Windows Phone photography apps of 2013

There’s nothing we like better than whipping out our Nokia Lumias and snapping the world around us.

It helps, of course, that we have the world’s best camera smartphones. But another reason for our enthusiasm for photography is the incredible selection of photography apps at the Windows Phone Store. This year we’ve been especially spoilt for choice. Nonetheless, we’ve given it our best shot and chosen thirteen that we loved best in 2013.

4Blend HDR

What Is It? An image-blending app

Why We Love It: A very recent addition to the Store, 4Bend HDR is a photo-taking-and-processing app that blends four otherwise identical shots at different exposure settings and applies filters to the results to create a single stunning image. We like the idea, we like the way it utilizes the Nokia Imaging SDK with all its filters and tools, and we LOVE the fact that such a powerful piece of kit will work on the lower spec phones in the Lumia range, too.

Who It’s Perfect For: Post-processing enthusiasts




What is it? An imaging app.

Why we love it? OneShot has been through three versions this year and the current (V3) is outstanding. It’s got a whole raft of preset camera modes with auto and live-straightening of shots, a 1:1 capture resolution mode and a bunch of sharing options. It’s very powerful but straightforward to use and a real contender for our favourite camera app of all time.

Who it’s perfect for: photographers of all abilities



What is it?  An imaging app

Why we love it? This is another very good all-purpose shoot-and-edit app, but as well as snapping and playing with your own pics, you can also see a stream of recent, interesting and popular photos from other users. Low bandwidth options re available for when you’re out and about and data-conscious.  Although Fhotoroom landed in the Windows Store in late 2012, 2013 brought so many snazzy updates that we thought it was definitely worth mentioning here: the latest brings an updates UI, logo and pinning options.

Who it’s perfect for: photographers of all abilities




What is it? A rapid-fire camera app

Why we love it? Blink lets you fire off a very fast round of shots and then select the best one to save: this means that if you’re shooting kids, animals or sports, you’re much more likely to get a useable shot, and because you don’t clog up your memory card with all the blurry, failed versions, you’re saving space, too. Very handy, very easy to use. The resolution of the shot is slower than normal, but we’re happy with the pay-off of a clean image, and the stabilisation and face-recognition is great. You can also make an animation of the combined rapid shots in a sequence and share it, as a quirky extra. We couldn’t manage without this app.

Who it’s perfect for: Photographers with kids and pets





What is it? An imaging app

Why we love it? Like OneShot, ProShot emulates the SLR experience, but on your smartphone: it’s got auto and manual controls for ISO, shutter speed, white balance, aspect ration, exposure compensation and more. Like Fhotoroom, this does slightly predate 2013, but the year has brought so many updates that we call it one of this year’s success stories. The latest update (December 2013) doubles the processing speed for lower-spec devices, which is good news for many of us, and previous updates have added a load of filters. It actually lets you create your own custom filters, which is very neat.

Who it’s perfect for: photographers of all abilities




Instagram Beta

What Is It? A photo-sharing app

Why We Love It: Everybody knows Instagram: the cross-platform photo-processing app that’s all about adding retro filters and frames to your pics and posting them to social media sites (as well as to Instagram’s own feed). We’ve had numerous excellent third-party Instagram clients in the Store in the past, but now we’ve got the real thing and we’re impressed.  It’s simple and effective and very user-friendly, and we’re very glad another major player on the smartphone scene has hopped aboard the speeding Windows train.

Who it’s perfect for:social photographers



What is it? A photo/sound sharing social app

Why we love it? This app lets you take a picture and record separate ambient sound; you then post the two together as one file that you can then share – so it’s a still image with a soundtrack, rather than a more conventional movie file. We reckon this is bursting with potential – it’s only been around since November, so check it out and get posting!

Who it’s perfect for:  social media users and photographers





What is it? An imaging app

Why we love it? This camera app comes with a handful of image filters and preset modes that make for easy and intuitive photo-taking. It looks good and it’s fairly undemanding, so it’s good for novices, but not bad for other users, too. We particularly like the Double Exposure option that was added back in September. It’s a free download, unlike many other decent imaging apps, so it’s well worth trying.

Who it’s perfect for: novice photographers



SophieLens HD

What is it? An imaging app

Why we love it? SophieLens Pro has recently been revamped and renamed as SophieLens HD, with high resolution and front camera support, which makes it a very appealing package. It’s a free app, but in-app purchases let you buy filter packs and you can use these to create cute storyboards of your pictures – ideal for sharing. A good app for less experienced photographers.

Who it’s perfect for: Novice photographers





What is it? A photo exchange app

Why we love it? Take a picture, upload it, and minutes later you’ll be sent a picture from another anonymous user. Weird, and yes, random, but exciting, too, as you never know what you’ll get, or who’ll get your snapshot. It’s not social media as we usually understand it, but user-to-user – like getting a mysterious blank postcard in the mail. It’s not about the quality of the pics or the specs of the camera, but the sheer oddity of the experience. Addictive.

Who it’s perfect for: Wanna-be spies




Nokia Camera

What Is It? An imaging app especially for Lumia users

Why We Love It: We couldn’t leave this one out, could we? It’s the upgraded version of what was formerly known as Nokia Pro Cam, with all the added functionality of Nokia Smart Cam. So it’s a camera app, then, with all the usual bells and whistles (ISO, exposure, night mode, etc) along with extras like being able to combine elements of different shots so that everyone in a group portrait has their eyes open, or removing pesky moving objects from your otherwise well-composed shot. You’ll need to be running the Amber version of the Lumia software or higher. Highly recommended, even if we say so ourselves.

Who it’s perfect for: Photographers of all abilities.


HD Photo Viewer

What is it? A way of browsing through your phone’s photo albums in full HD.

Why we love it? Obviously there’s nothing wrong with the native Windows Picture Hub, but there’s no harm in exploring alternatives. This app lets you browse your photos while retaining the original shiny HD resolution that makes your smartphone’s camera so desirable – meaning you don’t have to upload to your computer to see the real deal. Plus there are some editing and sharing options throw in to round it all off. It works a little better in 1GB devices, but we still love it.

Who it’s perfect for: photographers



Photo Editor by Aviary

What is it? A photo-editing app

Why we love it? A straight-forward picture editing app—add effects, text or cartoon images, clean up your picture (remove blemishes or redeye),crop it, share it. The usual gamut of tools, but in a neat and speedy package. An excellent all-rounder for either beginners of more experienced photographers.

Who it’s perfect for: photographers of all abilities


Thirteen fantastic photography apps that made our 2013 a visual year to remember. But what about yours? Are there any imaging apps we missed that rocked your world? Let us know in the comments below.

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