Top photography apps for iPhone

This week's collection of apps offers up three photography apps that create fun and unique results you can't get with the regular iPhone camera.

For the past couple of years, I have been writing the iPhone apps of the week in this space. But we've decided that instead of the same old app rundown, we're going to do something a little different. Starting this week, we're going to be putting together three apps that fulfill a specific theme. We're going to try to introduce one or two new apps and put them alongside older classics in the category. This way, you will be able to compare new apps with older ones, and also, find out about apps in the category that you may not have seen before.

This week's apps revolve around your iPhone's camera capabilities. The first one is a popular app for snapping old-school photos, the second lets you take photos that make objects appear miniature, and the third is a newer app for chronicling gradual changes in your appearance.

Take arty outdoor shots or really anything with this full-featured retro photography app. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Hipstamatic ($1.99) is an extremely popular app that turns your iPhone's digital camera into an old-school single-shot camera of the past to give your images that grainy, washed-out (in a good way) retro look. The interface is a bit confusing at first, but you'll soon figure out how to switch among different types of retro film, different types of lenses, and even effects for different types of flashes. You can switch between each of the different variables with a swipe of your finger, with dramatically different results depending on the combination you choose before taking your snapshot.

We've reviewed image-enhancing apps here before, but Hipstamatic is the first that gives you control over which lens, film, and flash type you're using for each shot. When you're done taking the picture, the app lets you view your images side-by-side to see how each effect changes the result. Like many apps these days, Hipstamatic offers more lenses, film types, and flashes you can purchase from within the app, so if you like what you see in this download, there's plenty more to play with. Overall, if you want that retro look or just like to play with your images, Hipstamatic is a great choice.

TiltShift Generator
Even a regular photo will suddenly look like a miniature toy village. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

TiltShift Generator (99 cents) images combine blur and other depth-of-field effects to make objects in your photos seem miniature (here's a quick Google image search to give you an idea what we're talking about). To get the miniature effect, you'll ideally take photos from some distance, but even close-up shots can be put through TiltShift Generator with good-looking results.

TiltShift Generator does a great job of taking you through the process of creating tilt-shift images. The app automatically adds the tilt-shift effect, but you can also go through the process yourself. You start either by taking a photo with your iPhone camera or choosing an existing image from your library. From there you can adjust the blurred effect; change color saturation, brightness, and contrast with sliders; and then adjust vignetting (corner shadowing). What results is a unique image that's very impressive, even if you have little knowledge of photography.

Overall, TiltShift Generator is an easy-to-use app that produces great-looking images with little work. If you enjoy looking at tilt-shift images and want to try making some of your own, this app is a great option.

Once you get into the habit of taking a photo every day, you'll begin to see the gradual changes. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Everyday ($1.99) is an app designed to make it easy to snap a photo every day to chronicle how your look changes over time. Made popular by various bloggers and other photography types, the concept is you snap a picture of yourself everyday, then after a significant amount of time (6 months? One year?), you can show a movie of gradual changes to your appearance.

With the Everyday app, most of the work is done for you. You can set up reminders so that you get a push notification to take today's picture. After you take your first picture the app helps you set up alignment indicators so you know you'll always have your daily shot lined up perfectly. After taking a shot a day for a significant amount of time, small appearance changes (like facial hair or hair length) are cool to look at as each day goes by in the movie. You also have the ability to set the movie speed so, for example, you could show a longer stretch of time using a faster frame rate so the movie doesn't go on too long.

Overall, Everyday is an app with just one purpose--taking a daily shot to make an interesting photo/movie project. But with the addition of reminders, onscreen alignment indicators, and other helpful tools, the app makes it really easy to take one shot a day to make a neat project that will pay off later.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.