Some of my all-time favourite apps for Android smartphones are the kind that pimp out the device’s built in camera, thanks to fun effects and editing options. The much-raved-about application Camera ZOOM FX is one of said apps. Is it worth all the hype and rave reviews it’s been getting? Let’s find out together in today’s review.
|Reviewed version||Latest version|
Features & Use
Test device: Samsung Google Nexus S
Android version: 2.3.6
I downloaded Camera ZOOM FX and must admit that I was taken aback: the thing is not even 1 MB in size but promises to provide users with so many features, effects, editing options and more—in a word, it will transform your smartphone into a full-fledged high-performance camera.
Upon first starting up the application you are greeted by a quick welcome message as well as information related to first steps and an overview of what the app has to offer—and let me tell you, that is a lot. In fact, Camera ZOOM FX is so jam-packed with features and functions that I couldn’t possibly go into each and every single one within the scope of this review, so let me instead list a few of the – IMO – most important ones:
● Optical / digital zoom (up to 6x)
● Flash (if avail)
● Front facing camera (if avail)
● Customization of ALL hardware buttons
- e.g. volume buttons to control zoom, trackball to snap shot...
● Live previews of some effects, e.g. frames, buddies
● Silent camera (if device supports)
● Tweak hardware options: autofocus, whitebalance, nightshot...
● Customizable grid overlays
There are several modes for taking pictures, including ‘Stabile Shot’, speech command shots, ‘Burst Mode’, ‘Collage’ and ‘Time Lapse’.
Once a picture has been taken there are lots of options available for editing images, including:
Post Processing FX
● Combine effects using non-destructive editing
● Process at full camera resolution (up to 8mp if avail)
● 10 ready made presets: Diana, Retro, Holga 35mm, Toy Camera...
● 20 Color FX: vintage, lomo, cinematic, funky, pencil...
● 13 Frames: thin, rounded, lens, polaroid, filmreel...
● 6 Vignette Surrounds: heavy, invert, spotlight...
● 12 Distort FX: fisheye (like fxcamera), mosaic, twirl...
● 9 Mirror FX
● 3 Tilt-shift FX
● Crop to any size of your choice: 3x8, square, instant, 6x4...
● Digi composites (photoshop style overlays)
● Props and famous 'buddies' in your pictures (move and resize!)
● Create stunning collages: e.g. 2x2 passport style combination shots
● Random effects
Without wanting to sound like one of those cheesy infomercial hosts: wait, there’s more! Full-screen shutter (tap anywhere on the display in order to snap a picture), shutter effect, Geotag/EXIF tags, storage to SD card option, pro-scene mode, widescreen objective (provided your device supports widescreen), and so much more (oops, there it is again, that infomercial voice—Closet Infomercialists Anonymous, anyone?).
Let’s be honest—anyone who is even remotely into photography/editing photos will have tried out a bunch of apps that offer a bunch of effects for Android devices. So what sets Camera ZOOM FX apart from the rest? It’s the fact that all functions and features imaginable have been integrated into one app, thus rendering all other apps superfluous.
The handheld device we tested the app on for you does not come with an integrated zoom, so it really makes sense to download Camera ZOOM FX on to it—the zoom may only be a digital one, but I’m super stoked about it nonetheless. Another big advantage is that the app also supports the camera’s full resolution, which a lot of free apps don’t.
Screen & Controls
Camera ZOOM FX is packed to the rafters with effects and functions, but actually using the app is easy and intuitive. Hit your smartphone’s menu button in order to access the app’s options and change settings to suit your preferences. The available tabs are:
- Camera: Make changes to the camera shutter. This includes sound options, the full screen shutter option, composition grid, shutter animations and the option to select Camera ZOOM FX as your default camera. The front camera’s calibration can also be adapted so that a shot can be turned 180°.
- Save: Set automatic save, switch GPS information on/off, select a save-to folder and JPEG quality.
- Zoom: There is an automatic zoom but you can also set things manually: max. zoom (up to 6 times) and zoom sensitivity.
- FX: Change the size of the images as well as the effects resolution. Select if the original should be saved after it has been edited.
- Shooting Modes: This is where you select how the camera is to perform when taking pictures. The ‘Stable Shot Meter’ can be activated here; this is a features that informs you of how still you are holding the camera. This is also where you’ll find the option to use voice command (voice, clapping or other sounds can be used to trigger the shutter).
- Custom Buttons: Hardware buttons and gesture controls can be merged here.
- Sharing: In order to share photos via Facebook, Twitter, etc. you will have to set up a Ping.fm account. The account and registration is free, but I find it to be unnecessarily circuitous.
- Other: The final menu option harbours information related to the app and the option to send feedback to the developers.
The application comes with a great design that looks good and is manageable and easy to use. To the left you will find the zoom panel as well as a button for auto focus, filter, AntiBanding and NightShot.
The flash button is located just below (on/off, automatic and light), as well as a button that lets you choose between the front and back camera of your device.
The FX button is in the upper right corner. There’s no preview for some of the effects, so you can only see the outcome once the photo has been taken. Hit the FX button in order to access all of the effects. Hit your device’s back button in order to return to the menu.
There are several options for shooting an image: Timer, Burst Mode, Time Lapse, Stable Shot, Voice Activated, Collage and Normal.
There’s also the shutter button and access to the photo gallery. Yes ma’am, I wasn’t joking when I said this app was stuffed to the gills with features. If ever you feel somewhat lost amidst al of the apps functions you can always check out the help menu (access it via your device’s menu button).
Once you’ve taken a photo and edited it with whatever effect that tickled your fancy, you can save the original by pressing down on the screen for a while. You can also add more effects ad infinitum and ad absurdum. If you’re not feeling terribly creative but game to see you images transform nonetheless, hit ‘Random Effect’.
One tiny fishbone of contention: shot photos can’t be cut free-style, though there are preset formats that you can pick from.
It goes without saying that even with such a phenomenal app a smartphone camera is no replacement for a professional camera—but using Camera ZOOM FX is a step in that direction. As mentioned, our App of the Week packs a mighty punch when it comes to features and functionality. Up until now I had been using apps such as FxCamera, which I’ve really enjoyed (especially considering that they are for free), but Camera ZOOM FX is in a league of its own.
Speed & Stability
I’ll come right out and say it: I’m very impressed with Camera ZOOM FX’s speed: where other apps take their jolly old time to process commands or whatever else, Camera ZOOM FX is basically on par with the device’s built in camera. Sure, my SLR camera is faster and better, but we are talking about the performance of a smartphone camera, after all.
I’m very happy with the application’s stability, too.
Okay, 3,56 Euro is not exactly peanuts, especially considering that there are cheaper/freebie alternatives out there. That said, Camera ZOOM FX is worth every cent IMO—it’s the kind of application you can get a tremendous amount out of, and the kind of app you are likely to use frequently (provided you enjoy taking and playing around with photos, that is). It is available from our App Center for an unbeatable price of 1,69 Euro, so get it while it’s hot!