Although the iPhone camera is one of the best in its segment, it lacks certain customization and processing power. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps on the App Store that can offer that. And if you want to explore those options, do check out this list of the best manual camera app for iPhone.
- Halide Mark II
- Spectre Camera
- Pro Camera
- ProCam 8
- Rarevision VHS
1. VSCO – Editor’s choice
VSCO is one of the most popular manual camera apps of all time. The elegant user interface and host of customization options set it apart from the competition by a huge margin.
In the app’s free version, you can access the photo editor with 10 free presets to stylize your image. Moreover, the app’s membership provides you with over 200 options for editing your photos to make them look the way you want. Advanced editing tools such as Split Tones also add more depth to the image processing.
Additionally, there’s a huge VSCO community with helpful members who provide easy tips to subtly improve your photo and video editing skills. You can also upload, or download custom presets made by creators on the VSCO community for more options.
My only issue with the app is that the free version is highly limited in terms of the features it provides. Membership is the only way to truly experience the VSCO app.
- Beautiful, elegant UI
- Advanced editing tools
- A huge number of presets
- Helpful community
- Free version is too limited
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $7.99)
2. Halide Mark II – Perfect for photographers
When you’re a professional photographer, just having powerful editing tools doesn’t cut it. You need a manual iPhone camera app that uses a better algorithm to process your initial images. This is what you get with Halide Mark II.
The controls of the app are inspired by professional cameras, adding more options for you to minutely change the aspects of your perfect shot, such as shutter speed, aperture, and lighting. Moreover, with advanced tools such as XDR (Extended Dynamic Range), focus assist and 14-bit RAW streaming waveform views, Halide Mark II is one of the most comprehensive manual camera apps for iPhone.
Furthermore, the app’s user interface is quite minimalist and elegant, making it a delight to use. It even allows you to take portrait mode pictures of objects in phones such as iPhone XR and iPhone SE. Overall, as a photographer, you won’t find a better camera app.
However, the app’s latest updates have created stability issues. The app crashes quite often. Hopefully, the developers are able to roll out patches to fix this soon.
- Highly advanced camera tools
- Decent user experience
- Completely utilizes iPhone’s cameras
- Latest updates have caused stability issues
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $2.99)
3. ProCamera. – For RAW image processing
While there are plenty of manual iPhone camera apps that offer RAW image processing, very few would come close to the genius of ProCamera.
This app is especially meant for iPhone 12 and more recent models, thanks to its complete utilization of the iPhone’s camera hardware. If you want total control over the iPhone’s camera, you can through this app. As it offers features such as exposure compensation and aperture control. Additionally, it can also process image formats such as RAW, JPG, TIFF, and HEIF.
The photo album feature of the app is pretty decent as well, allowing you to make edits as you see fit with lots of customization and organization options. Additionally, the photo album will be integrated with iCloud so that you never lose your precious shots.
However, the app’s auto adjustment algorithm isn’t the greatest. You’ll definitely have to make some minor tweaks when you’re taking a shot.
- Excellent for processing RAW format pictures
- iCloud integration
- Can process various image formats
- Auto adjustment settings should’ve been better
Price: $14.99 (In-app purchases start at $0.99)
4. Camera+ – Decent choice for beginners
Although Camera+ has plenty of editing tools, make no mistake. It isn’t an app I’d recommend to photographers. However, if you’re a newbie who wants a casual yet powerful manual iPhone camera app, this is worth checking out.
The app has complete photo library integration, which makes the editing process much easier. You can easily switch between tabs with different pictures to make the required edits faster. Furthermore, one of the app’s best features is Magic ML, which uses machine learning to utilize the iPhone’s different lenses based on the capture scenario.
Its Auto, and Manual modes are decent, with the latter ensuring a good amount of control over your shot. Transferring your shots to another device or a computer is easy as well, thanks to Files and iTunes integration. Basically, if you’re a beginner who wants to understand the workings of a manual camera app for the iPhone, this is a good option.
The only issue with the app is that the image processing is a bit slower than usual.
- Files and iTunes integrations for transferring photos and videos
- Machine learning algorithms for better images
- Easy to use
- Image processing is a bit slow
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $2.99)
5. Spectre Camera – For long-exposure photos
Spectre Camera is one of the more specialized manual iPhone camera apps on this list. In fact, the app is perfect if you want to take long-exposure shots and for water-based photography.
The app comes from the same developers as Halide, one of the best manual camera apps for iPhone. With Spectre, however, long exposure shots become easier thanks to the use of artificial intelligence. Medium and long-duration shots help you take pictures of scenes by removing traffic and people to provide a cleaner shot.
Soft water effects ensure that water-based shots look elegant and professional. Moreover, the app’s AI adjusts the lighting and the camera’s stability to ensure the best long-exposure shots. Technologies such as Tripod Detection, DCI-P3 Wide Color Pipeline, and Metal Graphics Acceleration are also integrated into the app to make it worth a photographer’s time.
However, the app is limited by the time settings. Users have complained that the three-time settings aren’t enough to add variety to the kind of shots you take with the app.
- Best for long exposure and water-based photography
- Artificial intelligence adjusts stability and lighting
- Computational photography features for exceptional shots
- More timer settings should’ve been provided
6. NeuralCam – For night photography
Not all manual iPhone camera apps can do justice to the subtleties of night photography. However, if clicking pictures at night is your forte, NeuralCam is a great option.
The app uses artificial intelligence and computational photography technology to deliver the night shots that you want. These features remove the background noise and sharpen the objects for a clearer picture. You can also take advantage of these features during daytime photography for authentic color reproduction in the photos.
Additionally, the app comes with AI Enhanced Macro Modes and 48 megapixel AI Upscaled engine for highly detailed pictures. Apart from this, the NeuralHDR feature automatically adjusts the light capture, whether day or not, to deliver the best lighting for each scenario.
The only caveat of the app is the user interface. The developers could do better by revamping the app’s UI.
- Best for night shots
- Authentic color reproduction
- Upscaling technology for more detail and resolution
- Clunky user interface
Price: $4.99 (In-app purchases start at $3.99)
7. Pro Camera – Highly versatile
Not to be confused with the other app, “ProCamera.” on this list, Pro Camera is a manual camera app for iPhone that offers multiple shooting modes for both video and photo. This makes it one of the more versatile apps on the App Store.
These shooting modes include, but aren’t limited to, Single Photo, Burst Mode, Video Mode, Dynamic Mode, Fisheye, 3D Image, and Analog Mode. In fact, there are over 150 of these modes built into the app, which provides you multiple ways to exercise your creativity.
Furthermore, independent control locks and manual mode options provide you total control over the shot you want to take. It also supports a multitude of file formats, such as ProRAW, TIFF, RAW, RAW + JPEG, and HEIF. However, most of the app’s features are locked behind expensive paywalls.
- Can shoot photos and videos in multiple formats
- Over 150 presets to choose from
- Can process various file formats
- Most features are locked behind paywalls
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $7.99)
8. Focos – For bokeh effects
For light-field camera shots, there’s hardly a better app than Focos. The app’s computational photography is simply on another level.
This computational photography helps you add focus to your images, adjust the aperture, and add multiple lighting effects in a 3D space. Essentially, the editing tools are highly powerful and meant for large aperture shots and extra bokeh effects.
Speaking of bokeh effects, you can choose from different simulated aperture diaphragms, which generate various kinds of bokeh effects on your photos. Moreover, each of the different lights you add to the 3D image space can be adjusted through color and intensity changes. Most importantly, the app also provides help to beginners through built-in tutorial videos.
My issue with the app, however, is how buggy it has been after recent updates. The app’s camera shutter doesn’t work often, and it also has a tendency to crash.
- Superior computational photography
- Multiple adjustments can be made to the aperture and focus after shooting
- Light intensity on a 3D image space can be adjusted
- Slightly buggy
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $1.99)
9. ProCam 8 – Excellent for videography
ProCam 8 isn’t just one of the best manual camera apps for iPhone. In fact, it’s also one of the best iPhone camera apps you can use today.
While it also offers a Photo Mode, even the developers prefer that you use the app for recording videos. This is evidenced by the huge range of options that the app provides when it comes to video frame rates and resolutions.
These resolutions range from VGA to 4K Ultra HD, with a resolution of 3264×1836 upscaled to 3840×2160. For the latest iPhones, you can also access the 4K Max resolution for videos of the highest quality. With each of these frame rates and resolutions, you can also access different Time Lapse frame rates.
The video capture is also aided by tools such as true focus peaking, different aspect ratios, ISO, focus, and WB values. Overall, it’s quite a comprehensive app.
However, many users have reported a bug in the app that isn’t saving the videos to the phone’s memory.
- Best for shooting and editing videos
- Supports multiple resolutions and frame rates
- Comprehensive video capture tools
- Bug doesn’t allow some users to save the video to their phone’s memory
Price: $9.99 (In-app purchases start at $0.99)
10. Rarevision VHS – For the ultimate retro vibe
While this isn’t a manual iPhone camera app that I’d recommend to professional users, this is an app that’s perfect for casual photographers who have a penchant for retro and Polaroid-style photography.
The app takes the visual format of a VHS camcorder, popular in the mid-1980s, and uses the iPhone camera to capture your best moments. You can also create VHS-style retro videos to go on the ultimate nostalgia trip. It even simulates the camera glitches that plagued VHS camcorders. Don’t worry, though – the app isn’t actually glitching.
This app isn’t a professional app as such, and never claims to be one. However, for nostalgia and vibes, it’s one of the best manual camera apps for iPhone.
A major gripe of this app, unfortunately, is the lack of editing options. While it comes with a few built-in options for customizing your photo or video further, it isn’t enough for people who like to tinker with their camera shots and videos.
- Perfect for retro and nostalgic vibes
- Beautiful filters
- Performs the fundamentals well
- Not too many modern features
How to choose a camera app?
Selecting the right camera app for yourself can be a bit of a hassle. So, look for the following features:
Most camera apps come with multiple modes for shooting photos or videos. Ensure that you check the details of the app thoroughly to know if the camera app provides specialized photo or video modes for customized captures.
Manual camera apps for iPhone also come with editing tools to add after-effects to your photos. Some apps feature the most basic editing tools while others feature advanced tools which are available in DSLRs. If you want to understand the nuances of photography and editing, apps with advanced toolsets would be better. Otherwise, go for more basic versions.
Even if a manual iPhone camera app comes with the best of features, you won’t be able to use them properly if the user interface is clunky. Look for apps that provide a clean aesthetic, along with editing features. This will make your experience of using the app much more straightforward.
Since most apps on the App Store follow the freemium model, a lot of their features are locked behind paywalls. Some apps also provide just 7-day trials before you have to subscribe to their premium version. If you’re on a budget, check for apps that provide the most essential tools for free.
However, if you’re willing to spend money on the app, ensure that the app’s in-app purchases aren’t exorbitant. Their subscription model should provide access to all the tools, without the need for further purchases.
To change your iPhone’s camera settings, you can go to the Settings app. Navigate to the Camera option and select it. The next window will show you all the camera settings that you can change based on your requirements.
Unfortunately, the iPhone camera app has fixed a few important options to the system’s preference. So, it doesn’t have a dedicated manual mode. Since you can’t change settings such as aperture, you’re better off using a manual camera that will give you more freedom to change camera settings manually.
The iPhone camera app has a limited number of options that you can adjust manually. To apply these manual changes, you can tap on the screen when you’re using the camera and adjust the focus or exposure of your shot. You can also tap and hold on the screen for Auto Focus or Auto Exposure.
I hope that this list will help you choose the best manual camera app for iPhone, based on your preference. I’ve listed the top-rated manual camera apps based on their features and use cases, to make your decision a bit more straightforward. If you’ve got a few suggestions, feel free to let me know about them in the comments!
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Anirban is a literature post-grad who delves in philosophy and postmodern novels when not writing on tech and gaming. His love for research is only trumped by his love for chai and heavy metal.
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