App of the day: Camera360 review (Windows Phone 8)

Photo apps are nothing uncommon, swinging in to bring a range of effects to the camera on your smartphone. At the top end, apps like Instagram have a cult social following, while there are plenty of options if you’re looking to recreate some of those effects on your device.

Having been on iOS and Android for a while, Windows Phone 8 has had a boost with the recent arrival of today’s app of the day. But can it bring anything to your smartphone shooting?

Camera360

Format
Windows Phone 8
Price
Free
Where
Windows Phone Store

Camera360 is fairly well known in smartphone circles, giving you an alternative camera interface, with a range of options to give your photo a lift. It's designed to be fairly lightweight and social, as the photos it outputs aren't the full resolution that you'll get from your regular smartphone camera.

You could use Camera360, accepting that resolution drop, as a complete replacement for your regular camera app, although it doesn't include all the customisations that your device manufacturer might have added. We tested it on the Nokia Lumia 720, and as that smartphone includes touch focusing, you get touch focusing in Camera360, for example, but you don't get things like the ISO adjustments.

Shooting in Auto will give you a regular camera experience, supporting the camera button, letting you switch to the front camera, change the exposure compensation and manage the flash. However, rotating the control dial surrounding the on-screen shutter button will switch you to other camera modes.

These have icons that represent things like macro, portrait, food, and landscape, although in reality the effects they offer don't seem to reflect those broad settings. After playing with the app for a while, it seems more the case of finding the effects you like then using those.

Fortunately, it's really easy to switch through the different effects offered with a swipe across the display, so you can see what you're getting. It's also worth noting that what you see isn't always exactly what you get, as the aspect of the preview on the display doesn't always match the output.

This probably differs from device to device, so it's worth a few test shots to see exactly what you do get.

There's an on-screen button to switch through various frames, which will also change the aspect in some cases. You can have a vignette frame, or a mock Polaroid frame and so on, to add a little retro variety, which we suspect will be the most popular options with those wanting to grab a shot to share to Facebook or Twitter.

You also get a new gallery, so you can leaf through your shots by date, but with the added bonus of being able to add effects after shooting. So, if you've taken a straight shot and decide you want to turn it into a colour sketch, you can. Photos are saved into your Camera Roll as normal, and you can "share" with Camera360 to just get to those editing options, so you don't have the use the app's own gallery if you don't want to.

You can also share images with a whole range of social services available, so you can show the world what you've seen in a flash, with support for multiple services in one blast. As the shots captured aren't full resolution, there's less of a data demand too.

Some of the effects that are offered might be a little samey, but Camera360 is a fun little app, appearing as a "lens" on Nokia's Lumia devices, so easily accessible right from the regular camera app. Best of all, Camera360 is free, so it's well worth playing with if you want to add a little retro chic to your Windows Phone 8 photos.