Smartphones and digital cameras have come a long way since the preliminary models. Many of today’s phones capture impressive photos with a quality that challenges even regular point-and-shoot cameras. Smartphones have also given everyday users the ability to explore the world of photography at their fingertips.

The variety and pickings for excellent camera-phone apps are near endless, but here are some of our favorite apps that are not only easy to use, but helpful for those of us who are trying to expand our knowledge within the field of photography. Scroll through our picks to see if you spot any that you’re familiar with, and if not, maybe give one (or all) a download.

1. Afterlight

Photo by Angel Dorr, creator of the Seasons filters / Afterlight
Photo by Angel Dorr, creator of the Seasons filters / Afterlight

iPhone/iPad, $0.99

This app is genuinely pleasant to use in every way. With a beautifully and simply designed user interface, Afterlight provides users the option to indulge in filter options and frames, while still offering the ability to edit specific aspects of your photos (see: contrast, highlights, temperature, etc).

2. Litely

Stargazing in the Salt Flats of Utah / Abbott Kinney preset
Stargazing in the Salt Flats of Utah / Abbott Kinney preset

iPhone/iPad, Free

Litely was created by professional photographer Cole Rise, who is responsible for many of Instagram’s filters. The main difference here is that the selection of presets are inspired by cinematic tones. These settings provide photos with a subtle enhancement, maintaining the natural beauty of the existing photo. Litely also supports panoramic photo editing.

3. VSCO (Visual Supply Co) Cam

Image by Jessie Webster
Image by Jessie Webster

iPhone/iPad/Android, Free

This is probably the highest end of complexity on the amateur scale, and yet, it’s still pretty simple to use. It functions like a social network, with a photo grid that lets you find and follow users from all over the world. Beside that, it’s got all your visual needs for elegant photo editing. The makers of VSCO Cam placed a strong emphasis on the photographic aspect of this app, so your experience is no-frills and all about the art, less about the social network.

4. Faded

Image by Lukas Korynta
Image by Lukas Korynta

iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, $0.99

Faded encourages you to get adventurous with your photos. Not only do you have the means to edit with Faded like any of the apps listed above, but you’ve also got a double-exposure feature. This allows you to take two photos and combine them into one, like the image shown above. There are also a slew of unique gradients and filters, which can add a psychedelic effect to your pictures.

5. Over

Image via Over's website
Image via Over’s website

iPhone/iPad, $1.99

Over isn’t a photo-editing app in the conventional sense like those listed above, but it does offer an extra something for your pics. With Over, choose from a wide selection of quirky and simple fonts to overlay your photos. You can also import fonts from your computer to the app, which may encourage you to get even more creative by potentially adding doodles and artwork.

Top image: Flat design concept for smartphone services by PureSolutions

What are some of your other favorite photo-editing apps? Let us know in the comments!