Shooting with your Android camera is usually great, but third-party apps can pack a punch in places you didn't even know you needed! From manual controls to real-time filters, to creative extras and so much more, you can achieve a lot more than you think you can with your phone photography by shooting with a third-party camera app.
- Best overall: ProCam X
- Best for video recording: FiLMiC Pro
- The latest trend: Instagram
- Full-featured: Open Camera
- For selfie lovers: Candy Camera
- Manual video settings: HedgeCam 2
- Not just for editing: Adobe Lightroom
- For beginners and pros: Pixtica
- Customize everything: Camera ZOOM FX Premium
Best overall: ProCam XStaff pick
ProCam X has a fantastic layout that switches from a clean, simple auto mode to a manual mode that's full of controls like focus modes and exposure compensation. You can shoot slow-mo and time-lapse video, and there's a built-in intervalometer for shooting stop motion and long exposures.
Best for video recording: FiLMiC Pro
Gone are the days where you must have a DSLR if you want to record excellent videos. Our smartphones are more capable than ever, and if you are serious about shooting video with your phone, you'll want FiLMiC Pro. The app can record in different resolutions and aspect rations, while making it easy to share with other apps. But you'll want to download the FiLMiC Pro Evaluator app to see what features your phone can use.
The latest trend: Instagram
From Stories to your Timeline and more, Instagram is all the rage nowadays and you don't even need to worry about trying to take a picture and then importing it. With the Instagram app, you can capture, edit, and post without ever leaving the app. Plus, you'll be able to participate with the various communities with the help of hashtags and more.
Full-featured: Open Camera
Open Camera is an excellent app that gives you complete control over your cameras, with different photo modes, exposure compensation and lock, optional grids and stabilization, and more. You can toggle noise reduction and night mode, and shoot in RAW if you want extra-flexible photos.
For selfie lovers: Candy Camera
If you're a selfie fanatic, Candy Camera is full of flattering filters that you can lay overtop your photos in real-time. There are also quick and easy tools for adding makeup, with many of the beauty tools that come pre-loaded on some phones. There are also plenty of fun stickers you can lay over your shots.
Manual video settings: HedgeCam 2
HedgeCam 2 gives you plenty of manual video controls, right down to advanced features like adjustable frame rates and bitrates. The interface isn't quite as refined as some of the other options listed, but the long list of features is well worth the slightly clumsy UI.
Not just for editing: Adobe Lightroom
When you think of Adobe Lightroom, you probably think about the myriad of photo editing tools that are at your disposal with various filters and professional-level tweaks. However, the Lightroom app also has a built-in camera so you can snap a photo and edit it right away without needing to import it after taking it with another camera app.
For beginners and pros: Pixtica
Pixtica will give you all the of the controls you expect from a professional third-party camera application. This includes the ability to change your white balance, ISO, aperture, and more. But Pixtica also makes it easy to have some fun and create GIF's right from the app itself. You can even create "Tiny Planet" photos, right from the app and won't need to worry about post-processing.
What happened to Moment Pro Camera?
Until recently, Moment Pro Camera was our favorite third-party camera app for Android devices. However, the company decided to halt the development of the Pro Camera app for Android users due to issues surrounding the "engineering." In an episode of the Android Central Podcast Daniel and Andrew dive a little bit deeper into the reasoning behind this.
When Moment released the official statement, the company outlined the issues around trying to develop a single-camera app to work with the plethora of Android devices. Many of these phone manufacturer's create Camera applications that fit the needs of the phones that are being used.
For various reasons, Google has decided against creating an API to take control of the platform. This has left third-party developers to try to create a uniform experience across all different kinds of devices, which proved to be too much of a burden to bear.
The default camera app isn't your only option
The stock camera app on your phone is great in a lot of ways; you can generally trust it to have the best optimizations for your hardware since, well, it was specifically made for it. However, too often, that default app is made to be easy to use in auto mode without paying much mind to manual controls or more advanced features. That's where a third-party camera app comes in, with specialized tools that let you be more creative and turn your phone into a much more powerful photography tool.
Now that Moment Pro is gone, ProCam X is our new pick for a great camera app with a ton of manual controls and even a built-in intervalometer that makes it easy to shoot stop motion video, time-lapses, and even astrophotography. There are also a slew of options if you want or need to record some video, including the ability to record in up to 4K (if your camera is compatible).
Those who want a camera app that is primarily focused on recording video won't want to look past FiLMiC Pro. Along with integration for popular hardware accessories (like the DJI OSMO gimbal), FiLMiC gives the user all of the manual controls you would get from a "regular" camera like a DSLR. You can adjust the exposure, set specific frame rates, and even view different bits of information WHILE you're recording.