Inside Rachel’s iPhone: Camera+ for Beginners

Camera+ by tap tap tap. My favorite camera app. Available for $1.99 for iOS devices only.

Your iPhone came pre-loaded with the native iPhone camera app. It’s a good start, but it is a long way from being the app that helps you take the best possible photos. My all-time favorite camera app is Camera+ by tap tap tap.

(Tip: The App Store can be full of apps pretending to be popular apps. When I recommend an app, I will always include the maker’s name. Look for both the name of the app AND the maker’s name before purchasing to avoid buying a fake.)

Camera+ puts more controls in your hands and adds a whole range of editing options.  This app is for beginners who just want to take better pictures with their camera, as well as, those wanting to take their iPhoneography to the next level. Because Camera+ can do so many things, I’m going to focus this week on setting up Camera+ for beginners.


Suggested Beginners’ Camera+ Menu Settings. I suggest that you set AutoSave to Camera Roll.

Let’s get the app set up. From the home screen, click on the MENU button and make your settings match what you see here. VolumeSnap turns on a satisfying camera shutter noise to let you know that you took a picture. Sound is just annoying, adding a tone every time you press a button. Turn it OFF. Do yourself a big favor and turn the Zoom OFF.

(With the Zoom turned on, you will see a slider bar on the Camera+ home screen. It lets you slide the button to zoom up to 6x closer on your subject. Even with perfect conditions (phone mounted on a tripod & perfect light) the photo quality when zoomed in is still MUCH lower than if you didn’t zoom.

A better choice would be to simply get closer to your subject. The photos in the comparison below were made with my iPhone 4S on a tripod, which minimized the amount of shakiness you get when hand-holding a camera. Unfortunately, shakiness is magnified when you’re zoomed in, so your photos are even more blurry.)

A comparison of various Zoom settings on the Camera+ app. Note the increased distortion the closer you zoom.

Grid should be turned ON for an easy reminder to think about where to place your subject in the scene. Workflow should be set to CLASSIC. This allows you to shoot as many pictures in a row as you want instead of being forced to stop and edit after each individual shot. AutoSave is set to CAMERA ROLL, which will immediately save each picture into your Camera Roll. Quality is set to FULL, which saves the biggest, best-possible version of your pictures. The pictures will take up more memory, but you’ll be glad that you could have prints made of them if you want. Sharing lets you set up Camera+, so you can share to your Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr right from the app. Since I want you to get into the habit of making your photos the best they can be BEFORE you share them with the world, I’d like for you to just leave Sharing alone. Lastly Notifications lets tap tap tap tell you when updates are available for the app. Honestly, you’re going to get those same notifications from the App Store, so this is really not necessary.
This is what your home screen will look like with the Beginners’ Settings.

On the left you see the Front/Rear camera selector button at the top and the Flash Controls at the bottom. On the right are the buttons for Menu, Camera Mode, Shutter, and Lightbox.
Just like with the native camera, touching inside the image on the home screen will bring up a box that can be drug around to adjust the exposure AND will tell the app where to focus. Just tap where you want the camera to focus and it will both focus AND adjust the exposure (brightness/darkness) at the same time. Press the Shutter to take the picture, and with Beginners’ Settings it will automatically be saved to your Camera Roll.
The settings outlined above will let you start taking pictures with Camera+ right away, but I have really just barely scratched the surface of what Camera+ can do. Next week, I’ll focus on the different Camera Modes, what my own Menu settings look like, and the Lightbox.
The Digital Photography book in the Zoom Comparison shot is by Scott Kelby. If I could only recommend one photographer/instructor/author/Photoshop guy, Scott Kelby would be the guy. Check out Scott’s website and check out all his great books. (I don’t get a dime for either those links or recommending him. I do it because I own more of his books and seminars than I can count and would absolutely lost without him.)
Top! All images and content are © Rachel K. Ivey Photography.
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