5 Free Camera Apps for Android

CameraMX

Everyone's a photographer these days. While camera phones were initially a joke, with blurry output and slow shutter speeds, smartphone cameras are getting more sophisticated and offering better picture quality. You don't even have to use the camera app that comes pre-installed in your smartphone, either: there are a ton a great third-party apps out there, many for free. Here's a look at five popular—and free—camera apps for Android.

I chose these apps, presented in alphabetical order, based on their Google Play rating as well as in-depth reviews by tech experts.

A Better Camera comes recommended by AndroidPit.com and Tom's Guide. It's popular for its HDR and panorama modes, as well as advanced settings such as white balance and RAW capture. It also has a timer and a handful of editing features. Like many free apps, A Better Camera offers in-app purchases, though some of its premium features can be tried out before buying.

Camera MX, featured in the above screenshot, is popular with users and experts alike. A reviewer at AndroidGuys.com likes its "shoot the past" feature, which saves a series of shots and then lets you choose which one is best. It's a great feature when dealing with action shots or fidgety subjects. Camera MX also offers editing features and a handful of scene modes, such as sunset and snow. 

GIF Camera is included on Android Authority's list of best cameras, due, in part, to the popularity and "hilarity" of GIFs on the Web.

With this app, you can create GIFs of any of your smartphone photos, whether you take it with the GIF Camera or not. The app automatically saves your creations in an album for easy access. Once you create a GIF, you can adjust its speed (frame rate) and even reverse it, if you wish. Should you need inspiration, tap "Funny Gifs" which shows those created by other users.

For some reason, the GIFs show up super tiny, though, which is a bummer. 

Google Camera premiered in 2014 as a standalone app; previously it was available only to Nexus users, where it was pre-installed. Non-Nexus Android smartphones typically come with an app created by the hardware manufacturer, such as Samsung. The Google Camera offers a bunch of features including a panorama mode and 360 degree panorama feature called Photo Sphere, in which you can capture everything around you--up, down, and side-to-side. It also has a feature called Lens Blur, which gives you the effect of an in-focus foreground and out-of-focus background. PhoneArena.com likes this app aside from the occasional crash on certain devices.

Open Camera is almost the perfect complement to Android as both are open-source. Unlike many other free apps, it's really free; no in-app purchases or ads to worry about. It also offers a ton of features, such as image stabilization, GPS tagging, a timer, and more. You can also configure the app for right-or left-handed users. Some of Open Camera's features are not compatible with all Android smartphones, depending on the device's hardware and OS version.

What's YOUR favorite Android camera app?

Do you use free camera apps or are you willing to pay for one? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter. I can't wait to hear from you.