Review: Camera Awesome just might be our new favorite camera app [VIDEO]

Spend a few minutes in the Google Play Store, and you’re sure to trip over at least a few different camera applications. Today we can add yet another to the list with the iOS favorite Camera Awesome now officially available on Google Play. The app was created by SmugMug, an online service that provides for the storing and sharing off photos on the web. Camera Awesome takes SmugMug’s photo know-how and creates a wonderfully useful app for Android smartphones or tablets.

In my short time with the app, Camera Awesome has already managed to stand out from the rest. Aside from performance (pictures are saved the instant you tap the shutter button), Camera Awesome also gives Android users a ridiculous amount of control over the camera functions of their device. Sure many manufacturer UI’s feature pretty robust software features, but Camera Awesome squeezed in a few I’ve been dying for, especially on a Nexus.

Features, performance, and features

Camera Awesome by SmugMug screenshot

The first trick is the ability to select different focal and exposure points in the viewfinder. Where tapping on the screen will combine focus and exposure specifically on where you touched, using a 2-finger tap will separate focus and exposure allowing for more freedom. Both the focus and exposure can further be locked, holding onto whatever is currently focused or exposed in the viewfinder. Top notch feature right there.

Camera Awesome screenshots

Of course, standard manual controls of your ISO, white balance, and exposure exist, along with a full screen shutter button, burst shot, HDR mode, timer, and panorama. Interval mode is a fun feature that could be extremely useful at parties or events where it’s possible to set up your smartphone or tablet as a makeshift photo booth.

The video mode also has a neat trick. When using the Pre-record mode, Camera Awesome begins recording footage before the record button is ever pressed. This acts as a sort of buffer, giving users a few extra seconds of video footage they might have otherwise missed.

Shortcomings

The only place where the app truly falls short is in Camera Awesome’s UI, using recycled skeuomorphic graphics from its iOS counterpart. We wouldn’t even have faulted them providing the app was at least updated to iOS 7′s visual design guidelines (at least those look a little more “Android”). SmugMug has been taking a lot of heat for this in various forums online, and hopefully this will be addressed in a future update. If not, it’s not like having iOS buttons takes too much away from the app where I’ll still be able to shoot the hell out of my lunch and post to Instagram.

Lastly, Camera Awesome is only available for a number of hot Android devices. So, those of you with something more obscure will no doubt be left in the cold. Those who own an HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Note 2 or 3, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, Moto X or Kindle Fires — you’re all in luck. Given this is an initial release, the app was a little buggy but we’re sure will be patched up soon. The developer also mentioned that Nexus 5 support is coming in the future, making the app a no-brainer for those stuck with Android’s limited stock camera software.

Camera Awesome featured

Where the iOS version was free but offered premium features via in-app purchases, developer SmugMug has included all the paid filters and features into the paid Android app for only $3 up front. You can download Camera Awesome right now in the Google Play Store via the link below.

Download: Camera Awesome on Google Play

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  • Marciano Siniscalchi

    Why no save to SD???

    • No_Nickname90

      If it were a direct port of the iOS version, then that’s why. It’ll most likely be added on later.

  • aergern

    Maybe revisit when the N5 is supported. :/

    • Andy Shokry

      It now supports N5, no HDR though!

  • SoCalT

    Works on my Razr HD
    but “HDR” mode is missing

  • Fodografes

    would rather have the app free. I dont need filters, but that separate focus and exposure lock would be great to have.

    • ari_free

      shhhhhhhhhhhaaaa we don’t need more IAP

      • No_Nickname90

        *nods*

  • tom-e

    The last thing I need is ANOTHER camera setting..

    • No_Nickname90

      Huh? What are you using now that has too much stuff?

  • Mesha Michael Savio

    I can’t find it on the Play Store, and the link at the bottom of the article to the Play Store says that my device isn’t compatible. I have a Galaxy SIII, which is part of the list that can handle this app. What’s the problem here?

    • Paul Brocklehurst

      there’s reports that not all versions of the S3 are whitelisted. Smug are looking into it apparently.

      • Mesha Michael Savio

        Ah, gotcha. Thanks for the reply…hopefully the T-Mo GSIII gets whitelisted then…and hopefully the app gets a UI change too, Android style.

  • LostHawkGSW

    i need this on my nexus 5!

    • daniel schneider

      This works on the n5. I have it installed on mine.

      • LostHawkGSW

        sweet thanks they must have just added it

      • bittermormon

        does separate exposure work on the N5?

  • Jimmy Baez

    The best camera and editing app definitely goes to VSCOCam. That app has so many awesome editing features and presents. It’s the only time you’ll see me with an iPhone. I really can’t wait until it exits beta and finally becomes public for Android users.

  • JointhePredacons

    I love options, but i dont know if i want to play around with exposure and focus manually. I like that its automatically done by the software. For quick point and click photos i wouldnt have time to fiddle with focus and exposure, i just want a good picture. Im sure camera aficionados will love it tho.

  • Dan

    I’d like to try it but saving to micro SD is a must in my book. I’ll keep using camera zoom fx

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Really? No save to external SD? I was ready to buy…

      • Dan

        I read it on android central yesterday and a buyer comment on playstore, I was going to buy it too.

        • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

          FWIW I sent the feature request to the devs but only received a canned non-response back from Tomasz Nowicki

    • T4rd

      From the reviews/comments I see on the Play Store too, it seems that the seperate focus and exposure points aren’t supported on other phones too, like the Note 2 or S3. If true, that doesn’t make sense. Make the app fully compatable with the phone or don’t support it. But I see no reason why the S3 or Note 2 hardware couldn’t support that feature.

      • Dan

        Well that settles it then. Got a note 2 myself. I’ll stick worth camera zoom fx

  • ntegrit

    Not compatible with Droid DNA? Camera NotSoAwesome…

  • tom-e

    If I am going to spend a bunch of time fiddling with settings it isn’t going to be on some 3rd tier camera. Even the best camera on a phone is 3rd tier..

  • smithj33

    Exposure lock is what helps the iphone destroy android cameras in real world use. Two finger tap in camera awesome does nothing on my S4. Ill keep using FV5 for now.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    Awesome review Elvis… err Chris!

    This camera has two features that I’d love to use which aren’t in either the AOSP or TouchWhiz cameras: The independent exposure and focus lock would come in handy for a lot of the mostly-ebay product shots I take in less-than-ideal lighting, and the 5-second-pre-buffer is a godsend for those with kids.

    One very important question was left unanswered, though:
    CAN IT SAVE TO THE EXTERNAL SDCARD?

    If yes, I’m in.
    edit: answer is NO. not buying until/unless implemented.

  • KiwiBri

    Will this really improve my experience on the HTC one?.. So I an hold off a new phone until the Galaxy S5? ;-) Will photos be available in the Std galley and also made into the video highlight of the HTC one gallery? (serious question)

  • youareme7

    it’s weird that its available to install it to the n5 but it says coming soon in the description, not going to mess with it until i’m sure though

  • MrDivaNYC
  • Brian Matiash

    Can anyone confirm dual Focus and Exp locks on the MotoX? I can’t invoke it with a double tap or any other gesture. I suspect this is limited to the HTC One as far as I can tell.

  • hasan