Recommended iPhone Camera Apps for 2021

Another year is gone. Can we agree that 2020 was an "challenging" year? Let's hope that 2021 will be challenging, too - but in different ways.

If one of your challenges is to improve your iPhone photography, you may want to have a look at my freshly updated list of recommended iPhone camera apps for 2021. This year, the list contains a new camera app I didn't mention in previous years. And as always, I've uploaded three sample photos for each of the recommended camera apps. Enjoy!

iPhone Camera App (for iPhone 12 Pro models) Slow Shutter Cam App (for taking long exposures) Hydra Camera App (for taking 32 megapixel photos) ProCamera App (for manual controls, shooting RAW and night mode)

iPhone Camera App (iPhone 12 Pro models only)

For the first time, I've added the stock iPhone camera app to the list of my recommended iPhone camera apps. I added it for two reasons: First, Apple ProRAW and second, the ability to use night mode with the wide and ultra-wide lens.

Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Apple ProRAW

Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Apple ProRAW

Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Night Mode

Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Night Mode

Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Night Mode

Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max using Night Mode

If you enable night mode while the zoom lens is selected, iPhone is actually cheating. It will use the wide lens with a digital zoom.

Apple ProRAW is Apple's own and new RAW file format that combines computational photography with the benefits of a RAW photo. I've written a blog post about how to shoot RAW on iPhone previously, that also covers Apple ProRAW. Also, you'll find a post about iPhone Night Mode in the blog.

Slow Shutter Cam App

Slow Shutter Cam App is my preferred camera app for taking long exposures with iPhone. It's been on my list of recommended camera apps for years because it does one thing and does it extremely well: Helping you to take long exposure photos with iPhone:

Firework shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Cam App

Firework shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Cam App

Night Photography shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Cam App

Night Photography shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Cam App

Moving Clouds shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Cam App

Moving Clouds shot on iPhone using Slow Shutter Cam App

And here are the reasons, why Slow Shutter Cam App is still my favorite and recommended camera app for long exposure photography:

  • It has dedicated shooting modes for capturing light trails, motion, and low light photography.
  • You can set the exposure time to anything between 0 to 30 seconds. If you need a longer exposure time, Slow Shutter Cam App supports a bulb mode.
  • The app allows you to manually set ISO, which I consider important for taking long exposure photos at night. Using a low ISO will reduce noise!
  • It comes with an Apple Watch companion app that you can use as a remote shutter release to avoid camera shake when pressing the shutter release.
  • It supports focus and exposure lock, which is quite handy when photographing fireworks. In case you missed it, I've written a tutorial on how to photograph fireworks with an iPhone and Slow Shutter Cam App.
  • Finally, you can adjust the duration of the long exposure photo after you've taken it. This is simply awesome!

So far, I haven't seen any other long exposure camera app on the market that supports all of these features in a single app. If you happen to know one, let me know in the comments below.

To use Slow Shutter Cam App, you'll definitely need a tripod. I use and recommend the Joby Gorillapod Magnetic for iPhone and the Rollei Compact Traveller No. 1 Carbon tripod. To learn more, please head over to my Slow Shutter Cam App review) that I continuously update or browse the blog for posts about Slow Shutter Cam App.

Also in the blog: A list of other ways for taking a long exposure photo with iPhone.

Hydra Camera App

Hydra Camera App is a bit of a unique camera app. While I don't use all of its features, I mainly use it for taking 32-megapixel photos with the iPhone.

Abandoned Piano shot on iPhone using Hydra Camera App

Abandoned Piano shot on iPhone using Hydra Camera App

Votiv Church shot on iPhone using Hydra Camera App

Votiv Church shot on iPhone using Hydra Camera App

Shot on iPhone using Hydra Camera App

Shot on iPhone using Hydra Camera App

Yes, you read that correctly. Hydra Camera App uses software magic called "super resolution" that increase the resolution of your photos to 32 megapixels. It does that by taking up to 60 photos in a quite short amount of time and combines them to create this huge resolution.

Additionally, Hydra Camera App comes with the following features:

  • Video HDR in 1080p
  • A special mode for low light photography
  • An Apple Watch companion app to use as a shutter release
  • 8x telephoto software zoom using the built-in telephoto lens and some software magic

For a more detailed review, please this way to the Hydra Camera App review.

ProCamera App

ProCamera App is a regular on this list for years! It's one of the camera apps that I've been using ever I turned to iPhone photography.

London at Night shot on iPhone using ProCamera Night Mode

London at Night shot on iPhone using ProCamera Night Mode

Shot on iPhone using ProCamera with anti-shake shutter release

Shot on iPhone using ProCamera with anti-shake shutter release

Shot on iPhone using ProCamera App using RAW

Shot on iPhone using ProCamera App using RAW

Listing all the features of ProCamera app would probably fill a few pages. So here are the most important ones that I use regularly and why this app is also on my list of recommended Camera Apps for 2021:

  • Supports manual settings for ISO and shutter speed
  • Has ISO and shutter priority mode. In these modes, you either set ISO or shutter speed, and ProCamera will adjust the other setting.
  • Offers exposure compensation from -7 to +7 EV. Great for fine-tuning before you take a photo.
  • Supports Focus and/or exposure lock.
  • Unlike many other apps, it supports the Fibonacci grid as a composing aid.
  • Has a tiltmeter that indicates if you're holding your iPhone perfectly steady
  • Different shooting modes, most notably HDR and low light modes that, contrary to the iPhone 11 night mode, work with all three lenses of the iPhone.
  • Allows you to shoot in JPG, HEIC, RAW and even supports Apple ProRAW.
  • Speaking of RAW: ProCamera supports exposure bracketed capture and will save each photo as RAW! Ideal to find the perfect exposure or to feed them into an HDR software for further editing.
  • ProCamera comes with an anti-shake shutter release that's awesome for low light scenarios. Enable it, and ProCamera will take a photo once you hold the iPhone steady enough.
  • Integrates nicely with Creative Cloud. So if you're using Adobe Lightroom Mobile Premium, ProCamera can send photos directly to Creative Cloud, making them available for Lightroom.
  • Automatic perspective correction for all three lenses of the iPhone 11 Pro and up.
  • It comes with an Apple Watch app that you can use to select the shooting mode and use it as a remote shutter release.

In addition to this list, there are a lot more features that ProCamera offers like Videos, Bothies, Selfies or a a RAW editor. But I don't use these features that much.

To learn more, here's my ProCamera App Review in the blog. I've also written reviews about automatic automatic photo perspective correction and ProCamera low light mode.

Summary

Using these four camera apps, I'm perfectly equipped for my kind of photography. These apps help me to take long exposures, to shoot raw, and tackle even tricky light situations with special low light modes.

Remember, that you can always see the current apps and iPhone photography gear I use on my iPhone Photography overview page

Let's see what the developers come up with in 2021. I guess the past years were just the beginning.