There are a huge number of camera apps for the iPhone … and I’ve played with a fair number of them. There are some which I have fond memories of but doesn’t exist today, there are some which was really bad but there are also a number that I like and use regularly … and one that I for some reason keep coming back to.
Camera - The first camera app is of course the built-in camera app. It has been hugely improved since I got my first iPhone (3Gs). At that time the Camera app was really basic and if you wanted to do something more fun you had to use a third party app. Today, things are really different. It has a fairly good feature set and the tight integration with Photos and third party editors makes it really nice. I think that the Camera app is exactly what most people want … well done Apple.
Camera+ - The first app I used that really improved on Camera with many editing options and other features. I used it and liked it but after a couple of years it seemed to stagnate. However, the last 2-3 year it has made a comeback and is now a good alternative to the built-in camera app. Personally I use it only once in a while when I want to do something specific, like long shutter times, or when I get bored at using my favorite app. It’s not that it’s something wrong with Camera+ per se, it’s more of a preference thing.
Halide - In my mind this is the newcomer, “everybody” seem to say that this is the best camera app around, etc. Well, yes it’s good and I really like the way you select which lens you want to use. The integration with Darkroom works well and together they form a powerful combo. Halide ends up in the same category as Camera+ … good but not the one I normally choose when I want to take a photo.
Hipstamatic - This is one of the apps I’ve been using the longest. You can really have fun with it combining different “lenses”, “films” and “flashes”. I often use it when I bored and have nothing to do. I recommend this app if you think playing around is fun - it’s biggest problem is that is difficult to find the lens/film you want to use (sometime a simple alphabetical list is really functional although not as pretty …).
VSCO - This is a really interesting app. The basic idea is to modify what you capture using different film filters, these filters are mostly made to emulate analog films and get that “old school” look. The effect is much more subtle than for example Hipstamatic and correctly used the result can be really nice. Unfortunately it has also one of the most difficult to use user interfaces I know of. I’ve really tried to use it but find that I spend more time trying to figure out how to do something that thinking about what I want to do.
ProCamera - This is the app I always come back to. For some reason I like the UI, it’s not pretty but in my eyes very functional. It has a number of features I like and my personal favorite is the HDR mode. The HDR mode allows you to select between 1 to 5 different versions of every exposure: B&W, Natural, Vivid, Dramatic and Faded. The best of these 5 versions is B&W, I don’t know what it is but I really like takes photos and use this mode. I’ve tried to achieve the same result using my DSLR + Lightroom but so far I haven’t quite managed to get something that I like as much as the HDR B&W mode. Additionally, ProCamera has many of the features you expect: filters, editor, optional separate storage of photos (not in Photos), RAW, TIFF, etc.
So ProCamera is my default choice, I’ve tried to make other apps “my camera app” but after a few weeks I come back to ProCamera. I think the reasons this happens is the combination of features and UI, and of course that HDR B&W functionality.