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It should not come as much of a surprise that one of the main uses of my iPhone is to take pictures and share them. The camera featured on the iPhone 4 is one of the best mobile cameras to date. In addition to an awesome image sensor, Apple's App Store is home to a vast selection of mobile photography applications.

I've only been using the iPhone for a couple months now, and I've found it hard to rely on any other current phones when it comes to the camera -- because of both hardware and software. There are several applications that I have simply grown used to having at my disposal, and find it hard to go without them anymore.

In no particular order, here my five must-have photography applications for the iPhone:

Camera+ ($0.99)

Camera+ is probably the most well-known third-party camera app in App Store. At first glance, it doesn't appear to feature much more than the stock iOS Camera, but once you begin dig into it a bit, there is no denying that this app is well worth a mere $0.99.

Within the application, you have all of the same options that the stock camera has, plus features like a timer, an image stabilizer and burst. The app also features "Lightbox," which is an image gallery of its own, where you go to edit pictures before saving to the camera roll. Picture editing options go from cropping, resizing and adding frames to applying preset scenes (combinations of contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc.) and filters. If you are so inclined, there is also an in-app expansion purchase for more filters. Included is also the option share a photo with Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, SMS or email straight from Lightbox.

PhotoShake ($1.99)

Much like Camera+, PhotoShake is jam-packed with features. However, PhotoShake is quite different from other applications as it is used primarily to create custom collages. You can either import pictures from the Camera Roll Flickr, Picasa, Wi-Fi or take one on the spot with the stock camera. As the name implies, after importing pictures, you to set – or randomize – the frame effects, you must shake the phone. You can then edit everything from frame type, color and size to photo filter effect and individual orientation. Once done, you have the option of sharing with a multitude of different networks, blogs, and more.

There are several other collage apps available in App Store (like Diptic), but PhotoShake is the app of choice for me. It's available for $1.99 and great to use in conjunction with services like Twitter, Facebook and especially Instagram.

Photoshop Express (Free, premium in-app upgrade)

Photoshop Express isn't all that different from Camera+, but it's a free alternative that has been much easier to use in my experience. This specific app offers most of your basic functions like brightness, contrast and hue and saturation editing, and lays it out in the most comprehensive way that I've seen. I used to use this particular application a lot when using the iPad and I suppose it's grown on me.

PS Express also has many filters and effects that you can use, but options are rather slim in the free version. You will not find a premium version in App Store, but will be prompted every so often to purchase the in-app upgrade that unlocks many more features. I haven't purchased this upgrade as I have both Camera+ and PhotoStudio, which essentially do the same thing and possibly more. But if you're looking for a great photo editing app for free, PS Express wins hands down.

PhotoTropedelic ($1.99)

PhotoTropedelic is quite different from any other photo editing application that I've ever seen. Instead of the same, overused filters and effects, PhotoTropedelic offers a much more "trippy" effect. It's a lot like the posterize effect available in many apps, which makes a normal photo look like a ... well, poster or cartoon. But PhotoTropedelic, as implied by the name is a little more upbeat than the run-of-the-mill photo effect. It mixes and matches several different colors together to give quite a wild effect.

Within the settings, you can alter how many colors are used, how details the photo is, tweak the background, and much more. It can yield some pretty weird pictures at times, but I've had quite a bit of fun just toying with it and seeing what I can come up with. Some pictures – not the one pictured above, obviously – have turned out rather cool. This one probably isn't worth $1.99 to many of you, but I've really enjoyed it.

Instagram (Free)

Chances are, if you're an iPhone user and enjoy taking and sharing photos, you already know about Instagram. Instagram is an iOS-only network where iOS users go to share their photos. The difference in Instagram from other picture sharing services (picsay not included) is the fact that they put a large emphasis on applying filters to your pictures before sharing them with your friends.

The filtering and editing options are quite limited, but people tend to apply desired effects to pictures before importing them to Instagram and applying another filter. For instance, people will use an app like Diptic or PhotoShake to create a collage, only to use said collage in Instagram. Quite honestly, I don't understand the point of posting low-quality, cheaply edited pictures for all to see, but I still enjoy posting the occasional filtered photo for some unknown reason. It's fun and there are some truly creative individuals that you will encounter from time to time on Instagram. Whether you're into photography or not, it's definitely worth trying.


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