HolidayBuyer's Guide

Best photo apps for iPhone

Whether you want to add filters to your photos or adjust the finer details like color levels and saturation, we've got a collection of apps with all the right tools.

Camera+
Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Camera+ (99 cents)
Camera+ is a solid image-editing tool that makes creating cool-looking shots easy, and all the upgrades since its release mean it has tons of useful tweaks. You can use digital-camera-like scenes to apply common camera effects in specific situations like simulated flash, sunset, backlit images, and portraits. You also can crop your images to your specs or select from several standard sizes.

When you want to add filters and effects, Camera+ makes it easy with a gridlike layout you can touch to see nuanced or drastic changes to your original image. The filters are organized by category so you can zero in on the specific look you want.

Camera+ is a popular app for a reason -- it simply makes adding photo filters incredibly easy. Anyone who wants well-rounded photo effects in an image-editing tool should try this app.

Picfx
Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Picfx ($1.99)
Picfx may not be the best app for serious photography, but it does one thing exceptionally well: it gives you the freedom to completely change your images with a multitude of layered effects.

With Picfx, you can slap on a filter to give your image that retro look like you can with other photo apps. But you can also add as many layers as you'd like to turn your image into something completely different. The app comes with tons of different filters to choose from and has some of the better simulated textures (like crumpled paper, for example) of any app in the genre.

Though some may turn up their nose to slathering on a ton of effects, Picfx makes it easy for those who like to start with an image and build it into a work of art.

Gridditor
Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Gridditor ($1.99)
This app takes a different tack than most apps that add filters and effects to your photos. With Gridditor, the photo you use will be the focal point and you can choose four effects (out of 22 total) in each cardinal direction. The center of the grid is your original photo that doesn't have any effects, but out toward the edges of the grid, each effect intensifies, letting you blend effects at the corners or choose something closer to center for a less intense difference.

Even when you settle on a blend of effects, you can make the finished product your new focal point, select different filters, and swipe around the grid to see what your new set of filters produce.

Gridditor doesn't do everything. You won't be able to add frames or labels, and your sharing options are fairly limited. But if you want a way to preview what different effects look like in advance, the gridlike interface layout is a unique and effective option.

PhotoToaster
Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

PhotoToaster ($1.99)
PhotoToaster is a longtime favorite of mine for adding effects to photos, and with numerous updates, there are plenty of new reasons to get it for your iPhone. The app comes with tons of preset effects and custom options to give your photos a stylized look, all laid out in an intuitive interface.

With PhotoToaster, you can use one of several global effects for a photo or use them as a starting point -- this app lets you customize the effects to your liking using onscreen sliders. Global effects include retro looks, black-and-white effects, and several others. Once you've found your starting point, you can go to each button across the bottom to tweak lighting, common effects, the texture of the image, and borders.

PhotoToaster offers a solid set of tools for adding some pizzazz to your photos and lets you fiddle with controls to make your images just the way you like them. If you like to add effects to your images and post them to social sites, this app is a must-download.

KitCam
Photo by Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

KitCam ($1.99)
KitCam is a new photo- and video-editing tool in a sea of similar apps at the App Store, but an intuitive tool layout, unique effects, and fine-tuning capabilities make it an excellent choice.

With this app, you can mix and match 13 lenses, 30 different films, and 18 frames to create great-looking images. But you also have tons of handy tools to experiment with and all of your filters are previewed live even before you take the shot. With some lenses, you do a two-finger rotate motion onscreen to experiment with different effects.

KitCam doesn't stop there. You can also use all the same features (except for frames) while shooting video, and view your filters and effects in real time. Even the lenses that offer additional tweaks with a rotating finger motion work as you shoot your video live.

KitCam does all the things you would expect from a photo effects app, with plenty of extras. The ability to flip a switch and use all the same effects while shooting video is what puts this app in a league of its own.

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