As noted here before, and as you probably know for yourself, a modern day's smartphone camera does a pretty good job. Sure, it’s not as good as a proper camera, but unlike a proper camera it’s always there for you to use it.
Picture quality aside, I have two problems with the core concept of using my smartphone for proper photography: the lens being of fixed zoom, and the inability to manually control the camera’s settings – exposure, aperture and ISO. Into this gaping hole we have many apps coming to the rescue. Most do so by offering various filters, as if saying “if the picture’s not as good as you’d like it to be, we’re here to help you screw it up a bit further”. I don’t care much for those, but I would like to discuss a couple that do a good job.
First is HDR, a simple app that let’s you take a couple of photos of the same subject and merges them together. By selecting exposure on a light area in one of the photos and on a darker area in the other, the result is a photo that captures more detail than the default single shot. The iPhone already has HDR ability built in, but the HDR app does a better job at it, presumably through letting the user pick the dark and light areas.
The result can be quite nice:
The other app I’d like to praise is Photogene. Essentially, this is your Adobe Lightroom equivalent on the iPhone (I know that by now Adobe is actually offering Lightroom for iOS, but Adobe’s is a very heavy handed – and expensive – offering).
With a bit of tailoring, I find I am able to make my photos express much more of what I want to say in the first place. Check this before/after example out: