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APP REVIEW: CAMERA 360

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I'm going to be honest... I'm all burnt out on camera apps. While they're packaged and marketed under the guise of offering fun, exciting new ways to take pictures, once you get them up and running they all turn out to be Instagram clones. Generic filters combined with standard image editing effects and viola... you're now 99 cents poorer. That's why I groaned and rolled my eyes while thinking "GREAT! Another boring picture app!" when someone suggested I review Camera 360.

Don't get me wrong now, I'm a simple man. I like pretty dark-haired women and breakfast food just like the rest of you. I don't need an app to feature a brand-new-in-your-face experience every time for me to like it. I just want to see an honest effort made to provide something tangible and cool I can have fun with... not a cheap ploy to sucker me out of my money.

After relenting against my apprehension, once I downloaded Camera 360, my brain elicited a response incredibly similar to how I felt when I watched The Big Lebowski for the first time: "I... I think I like this!"

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Activating Camera 360 prompts a neat little inspirational slide show, using a clean design and bright colors to lightly touch on some of the abilities this app has to offer. I'll admit, this was enough to draw me in, but not enough to overcome my skepticism (yet). Having downloaded several apps that looked shiny from the outside, but seemed rough once I got inside, I felt like I was going out of my way to find something to pick apart. Sure, it's cool now, but I thought sooner or later it's going to start sucking or hit me for money when I try to apply a filter.

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Camera 360 has different camera styles and effects to choose from, all catering to a specific style of image. The Burst feature allows you to take a small group of photos in succession to capture a person or object in motion

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The Scenes feature offers several different pre-masked images that places your photograph inside said image to give it an artistic effect (albeit somewhat corny). Granted this seems like a feature that would be exploited by every annoying person on your Facebook friends list. Although for those completely unfamiliar with Photoshop, it's definitely fun to play with.

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When testing out with this feature, I flagged down POW's rebellious troubadour, Mike, to pose for this effect. While this Scenes effect makes it look like he's macking on two chicks, we normally have to photoshop all the girls OUT of his pictures!

The Double Ex feature allows you to overlap two photographs taken in succession together, for yet another cool photo effect. I tried my best to recreate a corny Tim & Eric esque double exposure glamour shot that would look great hung over the mantle in my Grandma's house for the next 20 years... AND KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK, YO!!!

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One thing that surprised me is that Camera 360 has a "Camera Store" allowing you to download additional effects / filters since the app only comes with 4 installed. Surprisingly, despite the name, all the features in the Camera Store are free to download. I kept anticipating to get hit with a prompt asking for money to unlock a filter, but it was nowhere to be found.

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The most prominent feature of Camera 360, and also my favorite, is the Easy Cam. This feature has several helpful tools to help make for a better picture such as a grid, live preview, and the ability to scroll through filters. All of of which can be very helpful for taking pictures of others with the camera on the back of your iPhone, or taking selfies with the front-facing camera.

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To better illustrate the more practical uses of the Easy Cam, I took this lovely photograph of POW's foxy Sales Support Associate: Devon, while she was flashing me her saucy signature head-tilt.

c3_6Damn gurl! That smile is so bright I can still see it when I close my eyes!

Once you take a photo (or upload one), you can access it in Camera 360's album. Clicking on each image allows you to edit them. Like most apps, most of your normal image editing tools are present, but as mentioned earlier, they are presented in a very clean, aesthetically pleasing UI.

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Clicking on Effects brings up a menu of different image filters. One feature that seems to be unique to Camera 360 is the Magic Skin filter that softens the image so that a person's facial features appear to be more delicate. The best part is that this effect is incredibly subtle, sidestepping the whole unnatural / overtly Photoshopped / Kim Kardashian / Teflon appearance that graces 99% of magazine covers.

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Another valuable effect contained in Camera 360 is the Face Fix tool. It allows you to place 3 dots on the eyes and mouth of your subject that makes them look like Mr. Bill, seen on the left. Once you settle on the location of these dots, the filter enhances the color and uses a spherize effect to makes the eyes and the mouth of your subject more pouty. As you can see on the right, I tried to use the Sweet filter on Devon, but it had little to no effect on her picture since she's so sweet already! *wink* ;)

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Finally, the crop tool seems to be very helpful from a printing aspect. It offers several different aspect ratio's that scale to standard photo sizes, which is ideal for a custom wood print. Speaking of custom wood prints, let's see how the picture I took of Devon in Camera 360 looks printed on wood!

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Hot Damn! This picture made my eyes bulge out of my skull (in a good way), while little heart shaped bubbles popped over my head like a cartoon wolf! If we did the Employee of the Month here at POW, it would be Devon every time so we could stare at this picture all year! (That and because she's awesome at her job!)

So what did I think of Camera 360?

RATING

Looks can be deceiving. My last couple of photo app reviews were based on how cool they appeared to be before I downloaded them. Unfortunately, once I had them up and running they appeared to be nothing more than a gimmick, paper clipped to a generic photo app.

The little details in things can make the difference between good and great. While other photo apps overcomplicate things with their interface or hide charges to manifest halfway into the experience by attaching them to a filter or effect, Camera 360 keeps things nice and simple. Even though Camera 360 offers somewhat standard photo editing features... the look and presentation of Camera 360 allows the ability to shoot and edit photos in an streamlined, efficient, easy to use process that leaves you with a professional looking image.

If I may get deep for a moment, the introduction of apps and smart phones into the general public over the last couple of years has allowed consumers to access goods and services that were once unobtainable. One of the biggest draws to tech these days is the ability to pick-up and play. No hard to read manuals, no long-winded tutorials, just you and your intuition. Camera 360 understands the importance of this and has integrated it into their app. Camera 360 trims the fat from with their photo app and focuses on the meat of the issue, what people really want, and that's the ability to take a nice clean photo without the need of an expensive computer setup or a fancy camera.

For more information on Camera 360, please visit: http://www.camera360.com/

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