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Snapture: Not just for jailbroken iPhones

The iPhone's camera app, well, sucks. Snapture gives shutterbugs the tools they need to take better pictures, including a whole-screen shutter button and digital zoom.

The Snapture (app) is upon us! No more jailbreaking required. Instead, $1.99.

For more than a few iPhone owners, homebrew apps like Snapture--which endows the iPhone camera with extra features--were reason enough to jump through jailbreaking hoops.

Thankfully, that's no longer necessary, at least for this particular app: Snapture has gone legit. It's available in the App Store for an introductory price of $1.99.

Snapture provides a wealth of handy camera tools, starting with full-screen shutter action: tap anywhere to capture a snapshot. That makes self-portraits a lot easier than trying to nail the Camera app's tiny shutter button.

You also get zoom and pan capabilities: just reverse-pinch your fingers to zoom in up to 5x (keeping in mind that photos will turn seriously blurry at that level, though perhaps less so with the 3GS' higher-resolution sensor), then drag your finger to pan around. Very cool.

Speaking of fingers, Snapture's clever Touch Zone gives you the option of tapping and holding the screen, then releasing when you're ready to shoot--the idea being to reduce the blur that results from "shutter tapping." And if you slide your finger out from the blue circle that appears beneath the Touch Zone, it cancels the shot.

I particularly like Snapture's multishot feature, which can fire off three shots in rapid succession. As you shoot, thumbnails appear along the left (or right) edge of the screen for easy review. Tap and hold a thumbnail to get a full-size look, or swipe it to the opposite edge for Delete and Email options.

Having trouble keeping your shots level? Just toggle Snapture's Level Aid, which overlays a simple reticle. Want to shoot at a lower resolution so you can save memory? Snapture gives you a choice of three image sizes.

The app normally sells for $7.99, but Snapture Labs should give serious consideration to making the $1.99 introductory price permanent: Competing app Camera Genius offers many of the same features for just 99 cents.

But two bucks is a very reasonable price to pay for an app that overcomes most of the camera's shortcomings and adds several worthwhile features. I think it's safe to say Snapture has earned a permanent home on my 3G.

Update: Snapture Labs is offering a free upgrade to those customers who purchased the jailbreak version.