Developer: Wondershare Software Co, Ltd.
Price: $0.99
Version: 2.1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Update: 7/3/2013, Version 3.0.0
Remember how I said the interface was PowerCam‘s biggest problem? Well that problem is a lot less significant thanks to the latest update. There are still a few minor issues such as some unresponsive swiping when switching filters but for the most part everything has seen a massive improvement and the score has been adjusted accordingly.

It’s funny how much of a difference proper instruction can make. Here I was all set to write off PowerCam as a relatively lackluster photo app with a few nifty tricks but no real depth to back any of it up. Then I went back into it, messed around a bit more, and found that it’s actually a pretty awesome way to take pictures. It could still use a bit more new user friendliness, obviously, but it’s actually pretty awesome once its less obvious talents are uncovered.

PowerCam is essentially a rather extensive collection of photo filters and effects. Users can apply any of the myriad of effects to both photos and video that range from the lame (emboss, X-ray, etc) to the contextually fantastic (old photo, mosaic, etc) in real-time using the Magic Shot. Or they can use Tilt-Shift to adjust the focus of an image to a particular point or line. Or take panoramic shots. Or use Color Splash to bring out one specific color (or obscure others) in a single photo. These images, as well as any already in the device’s library, can also be further doctored with the app’s suite of editing tools to adjust brightness and the like.

Many of the filters on hand are awful, but a fair number can also be pretty neat with the right subject matter. At the very least PowerCam deserves credit for offering up so many options. Of course, that’s not counting the Color Splash and Tilt-Shift modes that are easy to use but can create some pretty impressive results. On top of all that there are the admittedly limited (due to in-app purchases) editing tools and even a collage feature. Even the image transferring has been handled with a surprising amount of care, giving users the option to share via a number of means as well as connect directly to their computer through a special FTP address.

Unfortunately most of these impressive features are obscured behind a rather innocuous interface. It’s great that it doesn’t get in the way, but a bit more of an explanation would really help users to understand exactly what they can and can’t do with their new toy. I’ve also noticed some significant lag and occasional crashing that even managed to reset my phone once, but it could be a result of using older hardware (3GS). The jury’s still out on that one.

If a would-be photographer is willing to fight their way through the interface and deal with most of the editing tools being locked behind in-app purchases, they’ll probably get a lot of use out of PowerCam. Some of the filters and features are pointless, sure, but the ones that matter make all the difference.


Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Photography, Reviews

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