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Picture Perfect Holiday: 6 Camera Apps We Love

Photo by Denni van Huis / Stocksy / 211554
Photo by Denni van Huis / Stocksy United

The holiday season here, and with it comes memory-making and picture-taking. In these marvelous modern times, the cameras on most phones are so high quality that there’s no need for an actual camera anymore—just point, click, and bam! Beautiful photos on demand, no wait! Phone cameras still have their limitations (try snapping that pic after sunfall and see what you get), but thankfully, there’s an app for almost every camera issue you can think of. Don’t want to wade through all of the app reviews? Check out these six common smartphone camera issues and their app solutions—for both iPhones and Android phones!

1. The Challenge: It gets dark at 4:00 p.m.

iPhone Solution: Night Cam, iOS (8.0 or later), $1.99

Android Solution: Night Camera, Android (2.2 or later), Free

Low light is the Achilles heel of smartphone cameras—you wind up with either blurry, pixelated images or a giant glare (and winces from those being photographed) due to the phone’s flash. Night Cam for iPhones and the Android version, Night Camera, vastly improve your ability to take pictures in dark environments (like beautiful candle-lit living rooms!). A minor downside is that moving objects are still hard to capture without blurring—but for sharing the magic of holiday light-filled streets, this is a great app to have at your fingertips.

2. The Challenge: Your kids won’t stay still.

iPhone Solution: Burst Mode; iOS (5 or later), Free

Android Solution: Fast Burst Camera Lite, Android (4.0 and up), Free

Over the last year or two, most iPhones have added a free rapid-fire feature that allows you to take 20+ images per second. Called “burst mode,” it’s a must for wiggling children—and you can even control the speed of the shots. Just push and hold the photo capture button, and voilá! You’ve got images galore (and hopefully one of them will be that perfect shot of your smiling tyke with his eyes open). Unfortunately, some Android phones still don’t come with free burst mode, but their Fast Burst Camera Lite app works the same wonders as iPhone’s burst mode! If you want additional features like zoom and flash, you can also download their full app for $3.72.

3. The Challenge: You’re new to photo editing.

The Solution: Snapseed, iOS (9.0 and later) and Android (4.4 and later), Free

Jumping into the photo-editing game can be unnerving—which tools and programs should you go for? And…let’s be honest, most of them are kind of complicated. Snapseed is your answer! It offers all the photo-editing features you need with ease and speed thanks to its handy swipe feature. Plenty of creative photo filters, a red-eye reduction option, and other enhancing tools are available if needed, and they won’t overwhelm newbies. Plus, a comparison feature lets you see the original image so you can be sure your changes really were an improvement! What’s not to love about this one?

4. The Challenge: You don’t want to share your holiday pics with EVERYONE.

The Solution: Bonfyre, iOS (9.0 and up) and Android (4.0 and up), Free

Facebook and Instagram make it so easy to stay in touch with literally everyone, all the time, but those friends and followers lists can start to get really long with family, friends, coworkers, and other miscellaneous folks—like your Great Aunt Ethel’s daughter’s husband’s sister who you met at a family barbeque seven years ago. While that’s great, these platforms just aren’t built for private sharing. When you really just want to share with a small group, like your family or book-club group, Bonfyre has you covered with its easy-peasy private sharing system for both photos and videos.

5. The Challenge: You want to make a cute holiday slideshow in a jiffy.

The Solution: Animoto Video Maker, iOS (9.0 and later) and Android (4.1 and later), Free

It only takes about five minutes to craft a holiday slideshow with Animoto, but your final product will be so polished, all your friends will think you paid a professional to make it! From the palm of your hand, you can choose up to 20 photos from your picture library (upgrade to the pro version and you can add in more pics!), select a song for background music, and boom—your slideshow’s ready to go. Animoto also makes it easy for you to text or email the finished production to your friends and family, so they can experience the family holiday magic even if they’re a few hundred miles away!

6. The Challenge: You want to share multiple photos in one go.

The Solution: Pic Collage, iOS (8.0 and later) and Android (varies with device), Free

When that inner Ansel Adams comes out in spades and you’re looking at six perfect shots, it can be hard to decide which pic you want to share. Enter Pic Collage, where you can work photo magic by combining all those winners into one framed masterpiece, and then share it as one photo. Even better, there’s tons of animated “stickers” and backgrounds you can add in, and you can even draw or write on the collage to add a personal note or story! And naturally, Pic Collage makes it simple for you to share your creations with friends and family through text or email.
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