Is PowerCam the best toy camera app for Android today?

Started Feb 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Doug Pardee
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Is PowerCam the best toy camera app for Android today?
Feb 1, 2013

I was researching toy camera apps — you know, ones with the filters that make certain members of this forum apoplectic. I'd just finished collating all the details on seven of The Usual Suspects when I stumbled across Wondershare PowerCam. Originally created for that other mobile phone technology, it's recently been brought over to Android. Well, most of it has: video recording seems to have missed the flight.

Judging from the relatively small numbers in the downloads and ratings section, PowerCam seems to be relatively unknown in the Android world. Maybe it deserves better.

Good points:

  • Full resolution. None of the 800x600 or 1024x768 nonsense that almost all other toy camera apps have.
  • Can save the original, unfiltered image, also in full resolution.
  • Three dozen filters can be previewed ​live ​in the viewfinder.
  • Faux tilt-shift, previewed live in the viewfinder.
  • Faux central-focus, previewed live in the viewfinder.
  • Selective color and selective uncolor (turn one color B&W), previewed live in the viewfinder.
  • "No filter" is also an option.
  • Anti-shake shutter option.
  • Smile-detect shutter option.
  • Panorama: just hold the button down and scan your camera sideways.
  • Can use both front and rear cameras.
  • Shutter sound can be silenced.
  • 48 filters (including 33 of the 36 live filters) can be added after the picture is taken.
  • Some general adjustment tools, including cropping, saturation, contrast, sharpness, etc.
  • Can load photos for editing, including photos taken by other apps.
  • Edited photos are stored at full resolution.
  • Can create collages of up to 7 images.
  • Can share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Email, other apps, and a bunch of Chinese photo sites.
  • It's free.

Not-so-good points:

  • Basically 4:3 format only. There's a reduced-resolution 16:9 format, but the viewfinder isn't masked for that so good luck figuring out what you're going to get. No square format, except by cropping afterward — and again, the viewfinder isn't masked.
  • No option to store geo-location.
  • User interface is, um, unique. Meaning it's not always intuitive, and there's no manual or other help.
  • No modification of the filters. In particular, no way to reduce their strength.
  • Photo frames are found in the Collage section — did I mention the unintuitive user interface? — and they're not compelling.
  • Loading photos from other apps has to be done from the Edit or Collage sections, not from the Capture or Gallery sections which only have access to PowerCam photos. There's that odd user interface again.
  • Samsung owners, especially Galaxy tablets, might have trouble with the app. Especially getting the rear (main) camera to work.

There's also a new PowerCam HD app, and I'm at a complete loss to determine why I'd care. It seems to be a stripped-down version of PowerCam.

I haven't put as much time into looking at PowerCam as I have the other toy camera apps, so I might have more information (or corrections) to add later.

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