Whether your Android phone has an amazing camera or a mediocre one, there are plenty of apps at Google Play that will help you take the best possible photos with it. We think Camera ZOOM FX is the best of those options, because it packs powerful features and helps you learn to take better photographs.
Camera ZOOM FX is still our favourite camera app for Android, but it’s been a while since we reviewed its features, checked out the competition and explained why it’s still our pick for the best you can get. Camera ZOOM FX has grown a lot over time, and we still think it deserves the nod despite stronger competition. Here’s a fresh look.
- Auto-focus and tap-to-focus modes
- Hardware tweaking options, including white balance, night shooting modes, ISO, focus metering, exposure, contrast, saturation and more (as long as your hardware supports it)
- Gesture and multitouch support, including pinch to zoom, tap to focus and tap to shoot
- Burst shooting mode that supports up to 20 shots/second
- Customisable grid overlays (so you can make use of the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, or other composition techniques)
- Horizon level indicator (never take tilted photos again)
- Stable shot meter and shooting mode (with crosshairs that flash red when the camera is moving)
- Customise all the hardware buttons on your phone and assign them to camera functions, such as zooming with the volume controls
- Support for time lapse shots and long exposures
- Self Timer
- Voice and sound-activated triggers: Clap or speak to take a picture
- Silent photo shooting and shutter sound control
- Over 40 different photo filters and effects, like tilt-shift, vignette, LOMO, retro, toy camera and Polaroid
- Dozens of photo presets for one-touch personalisation
- Real-time digital zoom
- Geotagging of photos using your phone’s GPS
- Preserves EXIF and other metadata with your photos
- Autosave of images when you take them
- Live previews of photo effects and filters before you apply them
- Basic editing tools, including crop and rotate
- Non-destructive photo editing features
- Collage shooting modes, so you can build an instant collage of photos you’ve just taken
- 1-tap upload to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and more
- Downloadable skin packs, borders, frames, props, shutter animations and other add-ons
Where It Excels
Camera ZOOM FX is even more packed with features and photo tools now than ever before. The app does a great job of giving you an end-to-end photo shooting, editing and sharing experience, where you can use the app to take great pictures, edit them, add effects, and then share it on the web or with your friends. Even if you don’t use the editing or tweaking features, it’s still a fantastic camera app, packed with composition tools, timers, sound-controlled shooting modes and settings to help you take the best possible photos.
It’s those composition tools that really send Camera ZOOM FX over the top. Lots of camera apps have stickers and frames and filters, and that’s fine if you enjoy using them, but this one actually helps you build better photography habits by teaching you the rule of thirds, to look for the golden ratio in your shots, or by helping you make sure you’re level with the horizon. The stable shooting mode will make sure none of your photos are blurry, and tap-to-focus makes sure you always highlight the object you want to be the centre of attention.
A lot has changed in the world of Android camera apps since we initially crowned Camera ZOOM FX as our favourite, but what hasn’t changed is the developer’s commitment to adding new features, improving on existing ones, and updating the interface and layout of an already-great camera app without dropping support for older devices. We keep trying other apps, and we still think this one is the most powerful.
Where It Falls Short
Camera ZOOM FX is great, but it’s not perfect. It has long been missing an HDR shooting mode, which many camera apps now include, and it can’t take panoramic shots, even if your hardware supports panorama shooting. It’s a bit of a bummer, but considering the app’s broad OS support (Android 1.6+), that may have something to do with it. Still, considering other camera apps definitely do have these features, it’s a bit of a thorn in the side for find them missing.
It’s important to remember that Camera ZOOM FX is at best a camera replacement app, even though it tries to do a little of everything. What it does, it does well, but if you’re looking for all the filters and photo effects beyond what’s available here, you’ll have to look at some of the apps below. Similarly, if you want more detailed editing and post-processing features, you should look elsewhere.
Camera FV-5 ($4, free “Lite” version) has been around for a while, but only recently did it get good enough to really pay attention to — and boy did it get good. It packs in lots of features, and the developers have moved towards adding useful shooting features over filters and effects. You can control hardware settings such as white balance, exposure time, aperture and light metering, and the viewfinder even has an RGB histogram right there, updating in real time. You’ll find all of the other useful features from other apps here too, including tilt-shift shooting, auto-focus, tap-to-focus and long-exposure support. Its only drawback is that the interface can be overwhelming as a result of all of the features.
Vignette ($3) is a great option if you’re looking for more filters and post-processing effects than you can shake a stick at. It looks great, it’s a joy to use, and its features include tilt-shift photography, cross processing, duotone, LOMO and toy camera. Vignette’s only drawback is that it’s lighter on features. If other camera apps are overkill, but you still want a step up from stock, try it out.
Cameras360 Ultimate (free) grew out of the old Camera360 app, which was most notable for its HDR shooting mode. The latest version still has it in there, along with some other useful features like photo effects, quick sharing and support for phone-mountable Sony lenses. The interface is great at guiding you right to the type of shooting mode you may want, but the problem with the app is that it’s become bogged down with features that aren’t very useful.
Focal Camera (free), which we’ve mentioned before, is better known as the camera that used to be bundled with CyanogenMod. It’s available now as a standalone download, and it packs features like HDR shooting, panorama shooting, photospheres, burst shooting modes and self and auto-timers. It’s definitely still a beta, and it doesn’t support anything running less than Jelly Bean 4.2, but it’s more than worth a look if you need HDR or panoramas.
Your default camera app is a little different on every phone (Motorola’s will be different than HTC’s which is different than Samsung’s and so on), but in general they don’t offer a lot in the way of power. Some are better than others, and incorporate tap-to-shoot or tap-to-focus, and some even give you those delicious hardware settings like white balance control and exposure times, but they’re often buried in menus if they’re there at all. They’ll do in a pinch, and while they’re certainly competition, their only advantage is their simplicity.
These obviously aren’t the only camera apps out there, but they certainly are the best. If you use one that we haven’t mentioned, please share it with us in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our list of the best photography apps for Android for more awesome apps.
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