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Despite editing enhancements introduced to the built-in Camera app with later iOS versions, any number of third-party apps can run circles around the modest simplicity of Apple's own. As a result, a cottage industry has sprung up for camera apps seeking to become the standard by which all others are judged.
One of the latest is KitCam, the most thorough and well thought-out camera app I've used to date. For under two bucks, KitCam offers 60 different lenses, films, and frames to enhance iPhone images (even more are available as in-app purchases), and with the latest version 1.1, photos from your existing library can also be edited or enhanced with the app's bag of tricks. Most are also available for up to 1080p HD movies shot with KitCam's slick video camera mode.
At first glance, KitCam doesn’t look different from the competition, with a finger-friendly shutter button at bottom center and settings to either side. The key difference is that accessing such features doesn’t pull you away from the actual picture-taking process, as everything is conveniently overlaid upon the same screen. In particular, the settings button at left is quite clever – a tap pulls up different camera modes (Video, Standard, Timed, etc), with additional options appearing on a second row above. Tap the eye icon at upper left, and a third row appears with options for level, histogram, grid, and four different aspect ratios of your choosing. Another tap on the settings icon tucks all options neatly away.
The app saves images in a camera roll separate from iOS, where they can be shared to social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or uploaded to Tumblr, Dropbox, or FTP servers. Photos can also be sent to the developer’s standalone PhotoForge 2 app for further editing, although the non-destructive tools included here are quite capable on their own.
KitCam is all about showing the user exactly what they’ll get before they snap a photo, using live previews, face detection, and on-screen composition guides to help shoot like a pro, with full control over the end result. Our biggest lament about KitCam is that we can’t make it our default camera app due to Apple’s iOS restrictions – not the fault of the developer, who's also likely holding out hope this limitation may change some day.
The bottom line. Until Apple allows its default apps to be replaced, KitCam is the closest users are likely to get to third-party camera app perfection.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.1 or later
Built-in camera roll auto-archives photos or videos via Dropbox, FTP, or Flickr. Creates superimposed or split-screen shots with no post-processing. Options easily selected without leaving camera mode.
Tool menus don't rotate when used in landscape view. Low-light boost and 1080p HD video recording on iPhone 5 only. Selecting filters and loading library images isn't as intuitive as it could be.