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Art in your hand with Camera360 for Windows Phone 8

Last week Camera360 hit the Windows Phone Store. It’s a very popular app on both iOS and Android (with an average rating of 4.5 on both platforms). So when we launched on Windows Phone we were very eager to play with it. This is another one of those apps that applies filters to your photos, but it does so in a brilliant and beautiful fashion. Let’s check it out.

A lot of you guys and gals complain about ‘filters’ in the comments. So let’s address that from the start. Why would you want to apply filters to your photos when the images from sensor on phones like the Lumia 920 and HTC 8X are amazing? Easy answer: artistic choice. Everyone has their own interpretation, but if Ansel Adams thought a red filter was good enough for his Monolith image of Half Dome in Yosemite, they’re good enough for you and me. He used a red filter to help heighten the tonal contrasts in that image. That’s a very good reason why a lot of people like to use filters today. However, you can just slap a physical filter onto the front of your lens –it’s not very practical. That means we get apps like Lomogram and now Camera360.

Filters galore

Camera360 has a wide variety of filters (which it groups into six “shooting themes”) to choose from. What’s nice about this app compared to some others is that the effects are displayed in real time while you’re using the camera. It helps you decide which filter works best for a particular scene. Let’s look at the six themes and the filters available within each section.

  • Auto: It’s auto, you can edit pictures later, and this is just a fast way to get a shot if you’re in a hurry.
  • Portrait: Sweet, Natural, Sunny, Fresh, and B&W
  • Macro: Pure, Retro, Elegant, Maple, and Emerald
  • Night: Enhance, Foggy, Purple, and Fall
  • Food: Dream, Warm, Normal, and Reversal Film
  • Scenery: Autumn, Pure, Enthusiasm, Black Storm, and Color Sketch

The on screen controls to switch between the different filters is really slick. On the bottom or side (depending on your phones orientation) there is a dial. That dial is used to switch between the shooting themes. So you might select ‘Food’ if you’re taking a picture of that huge burrito you’re about to destroy. From there you swipe left or right (or up and down) in the center to switch between the filters within that shooting theme. Each time you change a theme or filter the effect is applied instantly to the viewfinder on your screen. It’s great to see what you’re getting. You can always just shoot in ‘auto’ and apply those filters later, but that’s not very fun is it?

Camera360 Sample

Camera360 sample image: Complete with the vignette frame and a bit of thumb for 'artistic' flair.

More controls

While not as full featured as some other apps (like ProShot), Camera360 does provide a full controls on the overlay UI to help you get the look you want. The first is an exposure slider. You can increase or decrease the exposure by selecting it, it’s a handy feature if the in camera metering isn’t getting the look you want for a particular scene. There are also controls to switch between the primary camera and front facing camera, as well as cycling through the flash options. Another cool feature is the ability to add frames to your shots (again, another creative decision). On the bottom right you’ll see a square looking button that lets you cycle through the available frames. They’re a nice little feature to give your photos that cheesy faux-Polaroid feel.

Calendar view and sharing

Like most modern photo editing apps, after you’ve editing a photo you can share to various social networks. And there are a ton of networks to output your photos to. You get Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, SinaWeibo, TencentWeibo, QZONE, Renren, Evernote, Kaixin, and Huaban. You’re probably scratching your head at a few of those. The developers are primarily based in Asia and you’ll notice that when reading the app description in the Store. You can blame Bing or Google translate for a few laughs you’ll get.

The other interesting part of Camera360 is the ‘photo diary’. The gallery view within the app is displayed in date format. It’s a nice layout and you can browse your photos by day. You’ll notice photos from your camera roll showing up in there as well, so if you wanted to edit them with Camera360 even though you didn’t originally take them with the app you totally can. However, if you try editing a photo that you originally shot with a filter in Camera360, that filter stays applied throughout future edits. That’s one scenario in which you might want to lean on the ‘auto’ camera in Camera360 if you plan on trying out various filters.

Wrapping it up

I actually like Camera360 a lot. The layout is really nice and I like the minimal approach to the viewfinder layout. Switching between filters is really fluid, with an occasional lag while the filter is being applied live to the scene. The app shows up in your Lens selection in Windows Phone 8, but you’ll be missing a double wide tile and lockscreen support in this version. Also, in the Android and iOS versions there is support for the newly launched cloud portion of Camera360. While probably coming in a future version, it would have been nice to test it out on my Windows Phone and not iPhone. That actually might have been a good thing though, since the entire site is in Chinese and I can’t exactly read it.

Those little nibbles aside, Camera360 is a great app to get creative with and output to your various social networks. The price is right with the app costing zilch. Unfortunately the app is only available for Windows Phone 8 at the moment and probable future. You can blame the poor camera support in Windows Phone 7 for that since Camera 360 needs to apply the filters in real time.

You can download Camera360 for free right here in the Windows Phone Store, use the QR code below, or swipe to the right in our app.

QR: Camera360

  • Really well-made app, actually.
  • Hope you support C360 for Windows Phone!
  • I can't understand: why shouldn't I take a full 8MP photo and edit it with the app I like, instead of applying filters in real time?
    That has two problems:
    1) The photos are often at a lower resolution and quality than a standard photo.
    2) If I take a photo with one of these filters and I change my mind, I won't be able to edit again the original photo.
    I think I'll keep taking photos and editing them with Photo Shader :)
  • It may not be for you and me but its nice to have the choice. It means our platform is growing :) Edit: I gave the app a try and love it.
  • It's a good there are plenty of choices for photo apps in the Store. Most people don't plan on making prints from these photos and just want to share to social networks. In that case a lower resolution is adequate since you'll get faster uploads. 
  • I'm sorry for the inconvenience.
    In order to edit the photos with special effects, we lower the pixel of them. If we edit photos in full resolution, it will take a long time.
    I'm so sorry and hope you understand. :)
  • lol the camera360 developer is actually here ^ haha.. Hi Pinguo
  • guess you have not play with it at all..
    you know why this app is super popular in asia region? becuase it make the girls who use it to take picture looks super beautiful.
    you chat with any asian friend you have.. just say 360 app on camera.. everyone knows about it.
    those super fair n pretty asian girls you see on facebook - they are all using camera 360.
    oh.. other then girls.. it just give you smaller file but high standard qualty - so fast upload n doesn't look cheap
  • Its just a matter of time and preference really.  I use Thumba photo editor post-process... but not many people really are willing to sit down after taking the picture and edit it.   Things like this is for the more spontaneous moments.... or at least for ME anyway.
    I have a friend w/ Instagram where the ability to apply filter effects while shooting led to him taking pictures of the most mundane things that he normally wouldn't photograph.  I watched the guy take pictures of sewer grates and street signs.  It was silly.
  • Really like this app!
  • It's GORGEOUS!!! Thanks for making this for WIndows Phone! :) :) :)
  • +1
  • Why aren't the pictures full screen when I switch to landscape mode in the native photo album. And why can't I switch to landscape in camera 360 photo diary ?
  • "little nibbles"?
  • He means quibbles
  • 2nd best app in the store!
  • This is pretty great although it seems you can't add the "effects" after the fact (as opposed to "filters" which can be adjusted later). Is that right or am I missing something?
  • Great Application.
  • I like interface. Its cute and powerful
  • Okay slightly off-topic but the Microsft app store needs some serious updating with their search algorithms. If you search for "Camera 360", this app comes up nowhere in the results. Only if you remember to make it one word, "Camera360", will it find the app for you. I've had this problem with other apps before, and its frustrating. 
  • If not for WP central, I would have not found 90 % of the apps in the store. The app store search just blows
  • True. I also can't stand the 'new and rising'. I want a distinct list for what is just new. I never quite understood making up dedicated lists when all they need are sort options and filters.
  • It's a pretty cool and powerful application.
  • I like camera360 its a great lens
  • this is great, more and more apps are on WP8! I will have to salute the Chinese app developer, they are fast to put apps onto current platforms be it windows 8, windows phone 8, or android.
  • So yeah...this is so great that I talked my mother-in-law into installing it on her iphone. Our version looks prettier, but they have so many more effect options :( to be expected I guess.
  • Nice app, great filters and of course is free but still I prefer Lomogram.
  • Great app. Thx a lot for developing C360 for us! Btw, I cannot take a 16:9 'wide' photo.. Is there an option to do that?
  • I think this is by far the best ap out there BUT when I take a picture the location has me in Asia... what gives with that? I'm in the United states.
  • you have forgotten to tell that the photos are not taken at full resolution. :( this is something that needs to be updated, and fast.