Android phones come with a very capable camera app ready to snap out of the box, but the Market also provides a number of alternatives that can add useful extra functions or effects, allowing you to produce some cool-looking results at the tap of an on-screen icon.
Whether you want to reduce camera shake, take photos that look like they've been left out in the sun for weeks or just add comedy captions and amusing googly eyes to your snaps, here are five of the best photo apps for your 'droid. Most have a free demo and a paid-for version -- we've included QR codes (use the free Barcode Scanner app) and prices for the version we recommend.
Camera 360 Ultimate
Camera 360 is a complete replacement camera app for your Android phone that brings with it a host of additional features. All the usual camera functions are covered: timer, flash, composition grid view, geo-tagging and so on. You also get some essential extras, like tap to focus and an anti-shake function.
On top of the normal stuff, Camera 360 provides six alternative shooting modes, each of which has its own selection of different effects. These include colour shift, HDR simulation, vignetting and much more. Earlier versions have been buggy, but the latest seems much more stable. The free version nags you though, so shelling out for the full app is advised.
Cost: £2.50 (free demo version available).
Adobe Photoshop Express
Some would call it a tightly focused selection of editing tools; less charitable users might consider it limited. But Photoshop Express is still a worthy addition to your phone because it's fast, stable and easy to use -- and because it's free, with nary an advert in sight.
Compared to some other camera apps, Photoshop Express' scope does, however, feel a little restricted. The app can't actually take pictures itself. Instead it allows you to crop, rotate and adjust colour, brightness and so on for existing photos. There are a handful of effects to apply and a sharing feature which allows you to upload and download photos between your handset and Photoshop.com.
FXCamera's full version is free,though ad supported, and offers a normal mode plus five other very specific shooting styles. You can emulate a cheap child's toy camera or a Polaroid, plus there's a fisheye mode, a SymmetriCam (which creates a Rorschach-type mirror image) and a Warholiser, which turns your snaps into an instant piece of Pop Art. The latter pair are a little esoteric, but ToyCam and Polandroid (see what they did there?) can be very effective. Just have a look at their Flickr group for some examples.
The downside -- and it's a fairly major one -- is that you can only currently save your pictures at a maximum resolution of 960x640 pixels, and even this is "not recommended" as it sometimes crashes the app.
Photos are, of course, much more fun when you stick comedy beards on your friends, add humorous speech bubbles and generally plaster lots of junk all over them. And that's precisely what PicSay will allow you to do. If it sounds a tad cheesy, that's because it is. But PicSay is not without its charms and there are a few serious effects too. You can import photos you've already shot, though high-res images will be shrunk down to sub-megapixel proportions.
The interface is simple and it's possible to share your finished pics in a trice via any number of online methods. The free version is surprisingly generous too, though paying for the Pro version will unlock quite a few more features and effects.
Cost: Free (Pro version is £2.53).
Vignette is another replacement camera app that can work at the full resolution of your Android handset's camera. A little like Hipstamatic for the iPhone, Vignette allows you to add an arty nostalgic glow to your snaps. Unlike Hipstamatic, which allows you to select from a limited number of predefined presets, Vignette also allows you to toy with a vast array of fully customisable settings to get the exact look and feel you want.
You can also import photos from your album, add custom borders or frames and share your finished results online. Check out some examples here . A free demo is available but it's a fairly hobbled version of the full thing.
Cost: £2.49 (free demo available).