Comparison of different camera apps for Low Vision / Blind users (with data)

Ok the last couple of posts have been:

Camera apps for blind users
and
Camera apps for low vision users

To come up with my recommendations for those two posts, I looked at 36 camera apps.

Today I thought I’d present the list of apps I compared, along with some brief notes on each, to help you investigate the options you might be interested in.

I’ve also included two screenshots of each option – one at normal DPI and the other at double that. That follows on from my recent post about Adjusting android resolution, pixel density and font size and my series on Rooting Android (You need to have a rooted device in order to adjust font size beyond the “Huge” size which is actually only 1.3 times the size of the regular font size, or to adjust the DPI). So this page should be of interest both to those looking at different camera apps, and those looking at how adjusting the DPI affects a range of apps.

So here is a list of all the apps I tested, some points on each (in a table) and some images of each in both standard DPI (320 DPI on my Galaxy Note 2) and after I manually doubled the DPI to 640.

A Better Camera

[Image of A Better Camera]

[Image of A Better Camera]

a better camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-21-18-45-40

A Better Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Back Camera Selfie

[Image of Back Camera Selfie]

[Image of Back Camera Selfie]

Back camera selfi - high dpi - Screenshot_2015-06-01-08-49-15

Back Camera Selfie in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Binoculars

binoculars Screenshot_2015-05-19-14-10-14

binoculars - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-39-48

Binoculars in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera (Google)

[Image of Google's default camera]

[Image of Google’s default camera]

camera google high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-40-35

Camera (Google) in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera 2

camera 2 - Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-41-01

Camera 2 looked exactly the same in normal and high DPI.

Camera 51

camera 51 - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-29-14

camera 51 - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-11-34-56

Camera 51 in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera Awesome

[Image of Camera Awesome]

[Image of Camera Awesome]

camera awesome high dpi - Screenshot_2015-05-20-08-52-20

Camera Awesome in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera Fun Free

camera fun - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-44-40

camera fun high dpi - Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-41-31

Camera Fun Free in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera Fv-5

[Image of Camera FV-5]

[Image of Camera FV-5]

camera fv-5 high dpi - Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-41-57

Camera FV-5 in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera HDR Studio

camera hdr studio - Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-45-48

Camera HDR Studio did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.

Camera ICS

camera ics - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-31-48

camera ics - Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-46-46

Camera ICS in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camera Zoom

binoculars Screenshot_2015-05-19-14-10-14

binoculars - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-39-48

Camera Zoom in normal (left) and double DPI (right). The app looked identical to Binoculars by the same author.

Camera Zoom FX

camera zoom fx - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-36-06

camera zoom fx - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-55-51

Camera Zoom FX in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Cameringo+

[Image of Cameringo+]

[Image of Cameringo+]

cameringo+ high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-57-17

Cameringo+ in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Camu

[Image of Camu - with one of the easiest to see shutter buttons]

[Image of Camu – with one of the easiest to see shutter buttons]

camu - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-57-51

camu - high dpi - Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-57-48

Camu in normal (left) and double DPI (middle and settings at double DPI right)

Cymera

cymera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-43-21

Cymera did not change appearance between normal and double DPI.

DSLR Camera

[Image of DSLR Camera]

[Image of DSLR Camera]

dlsr camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-59-20

DSLR in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Fast Burst Camera

fast burst camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-44-19

fast burst camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-10-00-08

Fast Burst Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

FX Camera

fxcamera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-30-15

fxcamera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-10-01-10

FX Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

HDR Camera

hdr camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-45-30

HDR Camera did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.

High Speed Camera

high speed camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-46-03

high speed camera - Screenshot_2015-05-20-10-02-13

High Speed Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

InstaCamera Pro

[Imstacamera - no controls to see here (there is another icon added to your apps to edit app settings!]

[Imstacamera – no controls to see here (there is another icon added to your apps to edit app settings!]

InstaCamera Pro did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.

Lapse It

lapse it - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-47-30

lapse it - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-10-03-27

Lapse It in normal (left) and double DPI (right). Interestingly some of the controls got smaller at higher DPI rather than bigger.

Night Camera

night camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-15-48-00

Night Camera did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.

Open Camera

[Image of Open Camera]

[Image of Open Camera]

open camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-10-13-51

Open Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Paper Camera

paper camera - Screenshot_2015-05-20-10-14-22

Paper Camera did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.

Pro HDR Camera

pro hdr camera - Clipboard01

pro hdr camera high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-11-36
pro hdr camera setting high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-09-12-06

Pro HDR Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (middle and right)

ProCam

procam - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-05-07

procam - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-11-13-28

ProCam in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

ProCapture

[Image of Pro Capture]

[Image of Pro Capture]

pro capture - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-11-17-02

ProCapture in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Selfish

[Image of Selfish]

[Image of Selfish]

selfish - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-33-13

Selfish in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Silent Camera

silent camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-08-36

silent camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-11-18-16
Silent Camera in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Simple Camera Silence

simple camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-08-44

simple camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-11-28-59

Simple Camera Silence in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Smart Selfie

[Smart Selfie - works really well, not sure why preview is so small though]

[Smart Selfie – works really well, not sure why preview is so small though]

smart selfie - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-34-28

Smart Selfie in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Snap Gallery

snap camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-09-25

snap camera - high dpi Screenshot_2015-05-20-11-31-04

Snap Gallery in normal (left) and double DPI (right)

Vignette

vignette - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-09-49

[Image of Vignette]

[Image of Vignette]

[Image of Vignette waiting for movement to stop after pressing the shutter to take the picture]

[Image of Vignette waiting for movement to stop after pressing the shutter to take the picture]

Vignette did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.

Zoom Camera

zoom camera - Screenshot_2015-05-21-16-10-12

Zoom Camera did not change appearance between normal and high DPI.


Following is a table I compiled of information about each camera as I was making my notes. I contemplated different ways of presenting the information and in the end decided “as is” was probably the easiest as different elements of the table will appeal to different users.

Name URL Talkback accessible Blind useable Face recognition tap anywhere does hardware volume keys Size of shutter button size of other buttons focus type zoom Image effects available DSLR type options Preview of last photo Works with high DPI Wait for device to be steady Items on screen Notes
Camera FV-5 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flavionet.android.camera.lite Buttons unlabelled no no focus pretty much any setting 1.5cm 5mm Auto / options regular none most (exposure / iso / focus / shutter time) icon some options overlap yes 12 – 16 Lots of options, medium size icons, thicker black rule of thirds lines
Silent cameraw https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.joeware.android.camera Buttons unlabelled no no focus shutter 1.5cm 1cm tap regular none exposure, flash icon ok no 9 shutter button gets washed out in large white panel at bottom of screen, some small icons.
FX camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ymst.android.fxcamera Buttons unlabelled no no focus 1cm 5mm tap no post processing flash, timer icon some options overlap no 7 Need to sign in with facebook / twitter / email and starts in its own social page rather than camera.
dslr camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pl.vipek.camera Buttons unlabelled no visual indicator focus shutter 7mm 5mm Auto / options regular 10 many icon some options overlap no 12 Lots of DSLR features but small buttons.
fast burst camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spritefish.fastburstcameralite Buttons unlabelled small controls and touch anywhere to shoot make it possible no Focus / shutter shutter, zoom 1.2cm 7mm tap regular none flash, exposure, scene modes icon some options overlap no 4 Slide to zoom, tap to focus and shutter in corner work ok with talkback even though buttons unlabelled
Camera fun free https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spiceloop.camerafunfree Buttons unlabelled no no hide controls 5mm 5mm auto regular 30 in full version flash icon ok no 6 Only does effects (no regular) buttons small
Simple Camera Silence https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kaname.surya.android.simplecamera&hl=en Buttons unlabelled yes, tap to take photo, clear screen no shoot 1.5cm 5mm auto regular none flash icon yes no 6 Works well as a very simple camera, can touch screen to take, some small icons.
Camera HDR Studio https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ht.cameraapps.LayoutActivity Buttons unlabelled no no shutter 1.5cm 1cm Auto / options regular many hdr focus flash icon no different Yes – waits for good shot 8 graphical menus, HDR can improve pictures, complex icons
High speed camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hantor.CozyCamera Buttons unlabelled no no shutter 1.5cm 1cm auto regular 10 flash, torch, timer, icon some options overlap no 12 lots of small icons
A Better Camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.almalence.opencam Buttons unlabelled tap to shoot no shutter shutter, zoom, exposure 1.5cm 12mm – 2cm Auto / options regular Ad-in post processing Exposure / focus / flash icon some options overlap Yes – waits for good shot 8 Works well, large buttons and DRO mode lights well.  Grid and horizon lines very faint and zoom tucked off to the side.
Snap Gallery trial https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.marginz.snaptrial Buttons unlabelled no visual indicator shutter, focus shutter, focus,zoom,exposure 1cm 1cm tap regular 12 iso, white balance, exposure, flash, scene none some options overlap no 5 Sinple layout and menu options though small icons
HDR Camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.almalence.hdr&hl=en Buttons unlabelled no no 2cm 1cm auto regular HDR options flash, exposure icon no different no 3 Works well, large buttons, but replaced by a better camera.
Night camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.almalence.night&hl=en Buttons unlabelled no no 2cm 1.5cm Auto / options regular night mode no icon no different no 4 Not brilliant photos in most light, may get extra detail in low light for some?  Replaced by A better camera in any case which has similar options included.
Camera Zoom FX https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=slide.camZoomFree Can’t access all controls yes (voice activated) no pretty much any pretty much any setting 1.5cm 5mm touch regular many horizon, rule of thirds, flash, white balance, iso icon some options overlap Yes – waits for good shot 11 many fx, some small icons
Camera 2 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dama.camera2 no no no zoom 1.3cm 7mm auto regular many Exposure / focus / flash, iso icon no different no 5 Many options but mostly tucked away in graphical menus, small print, poor contrast (white on grey).
Lapse It https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ui.LapseIt Some buttons labelled yes no 1cm 1cm auto regular 12 iso, white balance, exposure, flash, scene none good though some icons smaller no 7 More designed for taking time lapse images, starts in menu rather than camera.
Selfish https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bengigi.selfishfree Some buttons labelled yes Audible and visual indication 1.5cm auto no some no none yes no 2 kept crashing on my Note 2, worked on my Nexus 10.  Spoke “point towards face” and “smile”, but didn’t give any indication of whether I needed to move camera.
Back camera selfie https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fueneco.backcameraselfie no yes, speaks directions and takes photo automatically Audible and visual indication 6mm auto no none flash automatically yes waits 8 Buttons unlabeled, also for some reason setup in 640×480 by default even though it can use full range of resolutions.  Also large instruction panel in centre of screen.
Camera 51 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.camera51.android no no visual indicator focus 1.5cm 5mm auto regular none flash, exposure icon some options overlap no 7 beeps when in best position (though what that is I’ve no idea)
Cameringo+ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.perracolabs.cpd no small controls and touch anywhere to shoot make it possible no shoot Zoom / focus / shoot 8mm 5mm Auto / touch regular many horizon, rule of thirds, flash, white balance, iso icon some options overlap no 5-12 lots of options and fx, small buttons.
Zoom camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ar.com.moula.zoomcamera&hl=en no yes, large shutter area no shoot 10x6cm 12mm auto 10x many flash, exposure, wb, scene icon no different no 15 buttons reasonable size, and options like torch mode, negative and extra zoom nice.
vignette https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.neilandtheresa.VignetteNewDemo no yes, tap to take photo, clear screen no shoot shutter Whole screen 12mm auto regular many flash, exposure yes no different waits 0 – 8 large buttons, easy to use, more for ‘instant’ or effect than DSLR.
Camu https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sumoing.camu no no no 1.5cm 8mm auto? regular many flash icon camera good, some options overlap no 5 basic camera with large coloured button and after effects.
Pro HDR Camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eyeappsllc.prohdr no no no shutter 1cm 1cm auto regular HDR options flash icon some options overlap no 8 Does HDR well enough and that’s it. Doesn’t work with talkback.
paper camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dama.papercamera no no no zoom 2cm 1cm auto no many no icon no different no 12 Camera viewfinder only takes up half the screen, designed for effects photos
InstaCamera Pro https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=longwell.instant.camera yes Yes – instantly takes photo when started no shutter Whole screen auto no none no none yes no 0 Camera takes a picture instantly then exits, or double tap anywhere, no buttons
binoculars https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.IdanS.binocularsfree Some buttons labelled yes (shutter labelled) no 1cm 5mm Auto / options 30x (full version) none torch icon yes no 9 30x zoom with full version, zoom / torch etc small (can pinch zoom).
Camera ICS https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.moblynx.cameraics Some buttons labelled yes (shutter labelled) visual indicator focus shoot,af,zoom 1.2cm 5mm touch regular four iso, exposure,flash,whitebalance icon some options overlap no 7 large shutter button section though only button itself active.  Small other options.
Procapture https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.neaststudios.procapture.free Some buttons labelled Yes – physical buttons no shutter, focus shutter, zoom 1cm 5mm Auto / options regular 12 iso, white balance, exposure, flash, scene icon good, some options cut off no 12 lots of options, small buttons, reasonable sized shutter.
Camera Zoom https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.IdanS.camerazoomfree Some buttons labelled Shutter labelled no 1cm 5mm Auto / options 30x (full version) none torch icon yes no 9 30x zoom with full version, zoom / torch etc small (can pinch zoom).
ProCam https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wisesharksoftware.procam Some buttons labelled no visual indicator focus shutter 1cm 1cm tap regular none iso, white balance, exposure, flash, scene none some options overlap no 3 Camera buttons themselves labelled but not labelled to get into camera, also gets stuck in camera mode and starts in menu
Cymera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cyworld.camera&hl=en no no no Focus / shutter zoom 1.5cm 5mm Auto / options regular many flash, exposure icon no different no 12 large shutter button, others smaller icons.
Camera (Google) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.GoogleCamera yes yes no shutter 2cmx6.5cm 8mm auto regular lens blur / photosphere modes grid, timer, flash none some options overlap no 2 very large shutter button, but other buttons small .
Open Camera https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.sourceforge.opencamera yes yes visual indicator focus most controls 1.5cm 8mm Auto / options regular 12 iso, white balance, exposure, flash, scene icon some options overlap no 0 – 11 nice big shutter button, other buttons smaller.
Camera Awesome https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smugmug.android.cameraawesome yes yes visual indicator shutter 2cm 5mm auto regular many horizon, flash, white balance, exposure, iso icon some options overlap no 10 Works well, gives post processing effect options. Not a fan of flurry, good talkback access. I never quite figured out what awesomise was though.
Smart Selfie https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aidedesk.smartselfie yes yes Audible and visual indication shutter (double tap) 5mm auto none none none left on screen yes waits 4 Automatically gets faces focussed and takes hpoto, advises direction to move, preview not full screen?

Certainly from the images, you can tell that with higher DPI opens up a lot more options for camera apps for low vision users, but sometimes at a price.

Has this week’s info changed your mind from what you decided after the last two posts?  Has it given you some more to think about and try?  Let us know in the comments below!

Camera apps for blind users

Camera apps for blind users:

[Image of camera icon]

[Image of camera icon]

If you are interested in the companion podcast to this piece, it is available from: The 22 Point website and addresses the same topic but contains slightly different info.

 

Last week we looked at camera apps for low vision users, concentrating on features like large buttons. This week, the main focus is on Talkback, however one of the most popular photo apps for blind users currently actually has neglected to label any of its buttons, so even then it’s not cut and dried.

So, the main criteria I used for a good, blind useable camera app are:

Talkback compatibility – Only five of the 36 apps (I added Back Camera Selfie to the list from last week) had all buttons labelled, another seven had some buttons labelled and the rest either had buttons you could access but which weren’t labelled, and some you couldn’t even get to the buttons, so the best Talkback accessible apps were:

“Smart Selfie” (more on this shortly)

[Image of Open Camera]

[Image of Open Camera]

“Open Camera” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.sourceforge.opencamera

Standard camera controls (choice of camera / video, flash, focus, iso etc) with an uncluttered interface and a large (easy to find) shutter button make this a good option for general photography. Most controls, including shutter can be assigned to the volume keys.

[Image of Camera Awesome]

[Image of Camera Awesome]

“Camera Awesome” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smugmug.android.cameraawesome

No volume key support but tap anywhere on screen to shoot ability make Camera Awesome a contender as well. There are a number of buttons on screen at once. Although most are small they are on a black background so easier to see if using some sight. The app also offers a number of post processing effects.

[Image of Google's default camera]

[Image of Google’s default camera]

“Google Camera” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.GoogleCamera

Similar to Open Camera has the standard features, not quite as many options as Open Camera, although the shutter button takes up the whole bottom of the screen so is about 6.5x2cm on my Note 2.

[Imstacamera - no controls to see here (there is another icon added to your apps to edit app settings!]

[Imstacamera – no controls to see here (there is another icon added to your apps to edit app settings!]

“InstaCamera” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=longwell.instant.camera

having no buttons to label means no unlabeled buttons!  InstaCamera works by snapping one or more pictures as soon as you start the app, and then exiting.  Two launcher icons are installed with the app – one to launch the camera, and one to launch the settings.  The settings are accessible and include options such as whether to automatically focus and whether to remain in the camera app after taking pictures, in which case additional pictures can be taken simply by tapping the screen (double tapping with Talkback).

ProCapture, Binoculars, Camera Zoom, Camera ICS, ProCam and Cymera all had some buttons labelled (particularly the shutter) but others unlabelled.

Useable without sight – I scored this seperately to Talkback, as for many apps, having them set to ‘auto’ mode (generally the default) for flash, focus, exposure, white balance etc may reduce the need to access some of the buttons, as long as the shutter button (hardware or software) can be used (or in the case of 15 apps, tapping anywhere on the screen can be set to take a photo). This meant that 19 of the apps were theoretically useable without sight while I would rule out the other 17. Camera Zoom FX was the first one I tried which had the option of voice control, so you could say “Cheese” to take the photo, however this wasn’t setup by default and the controls weren’t accessible to set it up.

Face recognition – One of the most sought after camera features by blind users, only three of the apps tested not only recognised when a face was visible, but gave the user audible feedback about it, and we can thank the “selfie” trend for all three:

[Image of Selfish]

[Image of Selfish]

“Selfish”  – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bengigi.selfishfree

lets you set the number of faces and number of images to take. It has the option to give face centering instructions, though I found this generally didn’t say anything.

[Smart Selfie - works really well, not sure why preview is so small though]

[Smart Selfie – works really well, not sure why preview is so small though]

“Smart Selfie” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aidedesk.smartselfie

Works really well and advises whether to move the device left, right, up, down, back or forward to get in shot and centred. Strangely I found the preview only takes up about a quarter of the screen.

[Image of Back Camera Selfie]

[Image of Back Camera Selfie]

“Back Camera Selfie” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fueneco.backcameraselfie

Breaks my rule of not using ad supported only apps.  Otherwise it works similarly to Smart selfie, though more responsive. While the preview is full screen, there is a large instructions panel in the middle which gets in the way if you wish to visually see the subject during the photograph as well.

In practice, for a blind user, I would recommend:

For photos of people: Back Camera Selfie works best, although set to a very low resolution by default. Although its buttons aren’t labelled, the resolution is announced on its button although after pressing it you need to explore down the right hand side of the screen to find the different resolutions (highest at the bottom of the list). Smart Selfie has more labelled buttons so try both and see which you prefer.

For DSLR type photography: With the same caveat as in last week’s article – that until Android 5’s Camera2 API is more widely adopted, there is only a certain amount of DSLR capability available in most apps. For now the app with the most functionality accessible is Open Camera or Camera Awesome.

For the simplest photography, I’d recommend Google camera for traditional ‘point and shoot’ as it’s large button is easy to get to. Alternatively I quite like InstaCamera which doesn’t use any buttons. It has a seperate ‘settings’ app which lets you setup how it works, and when you launch the main instacamera app, it simply takes it’s photo and exits (or can be set to stay in camera mode and you tap (double tap with Talkback) the screen to take additional photos). You can set it to take multiple photos initially although it does not have a setting to automatically pick the best (A Better Camera, one of the low vision recommendations has such a feature, however it’s buttons aren’t labelled in order to set it up).

Android camera apps for low vision

Quick recommendation: If you only want one large print photo app and want a bit of everything, Vignette is a good bet. “A Better Camera” is an app with a few more ‘standard’ camera controls and excellent photo improvement features such as DRO and HDR but without the real time ‘effects’ options.

[Image of Google's default camera]

[Image of Google’s default camera]

The longer answer:
I enjoy photography, so I thought I’d do a little series over the next few weeks looking at various aspects of photography for both low vision and blind Android users. I’ve taken a lot (35 – it’s a lot when you’re the one installing and testing each of them!) of the top paid and free apps (though as always, I’ve declined apps which only have a “free with ads” version), and put them through their paces.

This week I’ve specifically looked at how these apps feel for me as a low vision user. As with many things, there are some I quite like, but probably no single app which will ideally suit everyone.

So, the main things I was looking for were large buttons & controls and features useful for vision impaired users:

[Image of Camu - with one of the easiest to see shutter buttons]

[Image of Camu – with one of the easiest to see shutter buttons]

Large buttons, firstly a large shutter button of course. Of the apps I tried, only DSLR Camera, Camera Fun and Cameringo had shutter buttons which were smaller than 1cm, though DSLR and Cameringo (and 13 of the other apps) could both assign the volume keys as shutter buttons. The majority of options had shutter buttons that were at least larger than the other buttons, though not all were as easy to see. Camera FV-5 for instance has a large (1.5cm) shutter which is yellow where the other controls are white, though its controls are directly overlaid on the preview of what you are about to photograph so may not be as visible if looking at a yellow object. Camu had a nice red button on black and set on a black background so ensures it’s easy to see.  Cymera’s shutter button is also 1.5cm but aqua on black.  15 apps had the option of “tap anywhere to shoot” which will be a preferred option for some users, and Camera Zoom FX and Selfish both had the option of voice activation (saying “Shoot” or similar to take a photo).

[Image of A Better Camera]

[Image of A Better Camera]

The size of the other controls was where a couple of apps really shone for me as a low vision user. Selfish and Zoom Camera both had large buttons, but the best two for me were definitely A Better Camera and Vignette (Night camera was good as well, though that, and HDR Camera from the list have both been superseded by “A Better Camera” from the same developer).

[Image of Vignette waiting for movement to stop after pressing the shutter to take the picture]

[Image of Vignette waiting for movement to stop after pressing the shutter to take the picture]

I also had a look at other factors which might be useful. Particularly as it’s often hard to finely review images at the time to ensure they are adequate, the option to ensure everything is steady and unmoving before a photo is taken is useful (perhaps particularly so if using the volume keys to shoot as that almost guarantees moving the device). Only five apps offered such a feature, Vignette, Smart Selfie, A Better Camera, Camera HDR Studio and Camera Zoom FX. After you pressed the shutter, all waited until they detected no movement to take their photo. Camera FV-5 has an image stabilisation option which aims to minimise blurring from movement.

Which app is best for you is going to come down to what you want out of a camera app. I have come up with three broad categories below:

DSLR:

[Image of Manual Camera showing (among others) Manual White Balance in degrees Kelvin, Manual Shutter speed 1/30, Manu lISO set to 300, Manual exposure compensation 0.3 which all require the new Camera2 API]

Device which come from the factory with Android 5 have a new “Camera2” api which lets apps have more control over hardware settings (Camera2 should work on official manufacturer ROMs which get updated to Android 5, though not on custom ROMs like Cyanogenmod installed on older hardware unless the manufacturer has also released an updated camera module). As more compatible devices are released AND more apps which take advantage of it, expect to see DSLR apps with better features than ever.

[Image of A Better Camera]

[Image of A Better Camera]

For now, and for large print users, the best general camera app for my money is A Better Camera. This app has large, easy to see buttons, a simple interface, image stability and DRO mode which as advertised, improves most photos at the expense of taking slightly longer to capture each. It also has a HDR mode which is as good as any of the HDR camera apps I found and a night mode for shooting after dark. Overall it’s very easy to take good photos with this app, and it has a number of “DSLR” type features for those who want a bit more control. The only downsides I found are that the zoom is tucked away on the edge of screen which I don’t like quite as much, and the composition grid and horizon lines are quite faint.

[Image of Camera FV-5]

[Image of Camera FV-5]

[Image of DSLR Camera]

[Image of DSLR Camera]

If you’re really after more DSLR type control, Either Camera FV-5, DSLR Camera or Manual Camera (I don’t have a compatible device, but Manual Camera is one of the first Camera2 DSLR apps) all offer the most features – all three aren’t quite as low vision friendly though would work well using magnifier to setup options then all three have mostly unobstructed viewfinders to take the shot). The controls in Camera FV-5 and DSLR Camera at least both scale up if you are rooted and increase your DPI though with some overlapping of buttons.

Effects:

[Image of Vignette]

[Image of Vignette]

If you like to add effects to your photos, while you can also do that in post processing with A Better Camera (or any number of other seperate post processing apps I might look at another time), my favourite here is definitely Vignette, it has numerous effects, which can be set specifically or randomly, and after each shot it displays the image with the ability to randomly change effects or frame, or save as is (if you set it to “multi shot”, it will just save the original, a copy with a random effect and not display a preview leaving you ready to take another shot and be surprised later). If using custom DPI, I did find that the app crashed in settings when I was at 640 DPI but worked fine otherwise. At my phone’s standard 320 DPI it worked fine. It has quite a few features for general composition (a rule of thirds grid option, control over white balance, exposure, iso and so on) so is right up there with “A better camera” for general photography as well.

[Image of Cameringo+]

[Image of Cameringo+]

Special mention in this category also to cameringo+ which while most of it’s controls are quite small, it can also be set to tap anywhere to shoot and to add specified or random effects to photos, again with or without a review. When using effects, while it displays the effect in the viewfinder preview, it does have the option of a 1/9th screen viewfinder without effect. Camera Zoom FX also works similarly, and was the only one I noticed with a voice activation function.

Simplest camera:

While most of the cameras can be set to automatically select most options for you, a couple which can be setup to be extra simple are:

[Imstacamera - no controls to see here (there is another icon added to your apps to edit app settings!]

[Imstacamera – no controls to see here (there is another icon added to your apps to edit app settings!]

Instacamera: I like having this one on my lock screen or having a shortcut in my notification panel (see apps such as Custom Notification for this), so if I really need to snap a shot in a hurry, I just launch the app and it automatically takes one (or more) images. You can set it to stay in camera mode so you can use it like other camera apps after that – in which case it has no buttons, you simply tap the screen to take additional images.

[Smart Selfie - works really well, not sure why preview is so small though]

[Smart Selfie – works really well, not sure why preview is so small though]

Smart Selfie: Great for taking images of people (either yourself or others), it looks for faces and advises audibly whether you need to move the camera to get everyone in, and then automatically takes the picture when lined up.

[Image of Google's default camera]

[Image of Google’s default camera]

Google Camera: comes setup with two buttons visible on screen – the whole bottom quarter of the screen is the shutter (with small white camera image in the middle of a black box) – press anywhere in that black box to shoot. There is a small elipses (…) you can use to open extra options and while these are quite small, ignoring those it is one of the cleanest displays out of the box (some of the others can be setup quite simply if you look through the options).

Vignette: setup to not use effects (actually the default setup), Vignette displays an empty screen with little arrows top and bottom indicating you can drag down to show more options, but otherwise just tap the screen to take a photo.

A few other large shutter apps: Camera Awesome, Camera 51 (This attempts to guide you to take the perfect photo every time and I can’t for the life of me figure it out – it puts a little icon on screen you should move towards where it recommends), simple camera has a fairly clean layout, Open Camera has a bit more info on screen but a nice large shutter button, Fast burst camera is easy to use (and taking bursts of images can be useful in capturing the right moment)

Lastly, I should probably mention Binoculars and Zoom Camera. I’m not sure what the difference is between these two as they look identical to me (I did write to the dev but haven’t got a response yet, I’ll update if I do) – certainly the 30x zoom promised in the paid version sounds attractive, although I’ve tried a few apps which use software zoom and while it can be useful, it does degrade very quickly. Stay tuned to the rest of this series as I’ll post more about magnification!

Which camera app(s) do you use?  Did i miss any good ones?  Please let me know in the comments!

Happy snapping!