May 29, 2013 · 3 minutes

Analog Camera shouldn't work. It's a photo-sharing application debuting in a sea of similar products, an image-editing tool without the social features of Instagram or the granularity of Camera+, a paid-for product competing with dozens of free -- or "freemium" -- applications and services. You'd probably see Analog Camera in the App Store and scroll past after pausing for a moment to admire its icon on your search for something a little more powerful, a little more social, a little more free. Don't make that mistake, because Analog Camera is one of the best camera applications to launch in a long while.

Most of us don't ask too much of our cameras. We want to capture a moment without worrying about things like "white balance" or "exposure" or anything professional photographers worry about, and we want our photos to look good despite all of that. That's why everyone, from Instagram and Twitter to Flickr and Facebook, have included filters in their applications: These filters offer all of the style we crave with none of the hassle. We're snatching, editing, and potentially sharing photos from within each of these applications, making the physical camera matter less than the software it enables.

But these applications have become increasingly cumbersome. It's no longer enough to take a picture, add a filter, and share it -- now we have to tag our friends, decide on which service it should be shared, and bring the complexity of larger, less-fun networks to previously simple services. Realmac Software, the app development company behind Analog Camera, wants to change that. "Camera apps seem to be in an arms race amongst themselves adding as many features as possible, this is causing them to becoming hideously convoluted and confusing for new users," Realmac Software founder Dan Counsell said in an email. "We wanted to shake things up a little and build something that was simple and fun to use for the majority of users on the App Store."

Analog Camera has accomplished just that. The app is simple to use, and doesn't promise or even intend to do everything other photo-sharing and image-editing applications do. You just take a picture -- or select one from your camera roll or Photo Stream, the photo-syncing side of Apple's iCloud -- and, if you choose, add one of nine filters. Once that's done you can either save the image to your camera roll, Evernote, or Google Drive or share it via Twitter, Facebook, or email. There are no borders, there is no Analog Camera-specific social network, and there are no settings to fuss around with. You point, you shoot, and then you either save or share the result.

Counsell says that the desktop companion to Analog Camera, simply dubbed Analog, will be updated to create a consistent experience across platforms. Analog is a bit more powerful -- and a bit older -- than Analog Camera, and was built because the team at Realmac Software wanted a simple photo editor they could use with their DSLRs, Counsell says. Now, six months later, it isn't hard to imagine Analog being seen as an extension of Analog Camera, instead of the other way around. The apps are currently separate from each other, but Counsell says that Realmac Software has some ideas on how the applications should be integrated that he isn't quite ready to discuss yet.

Even without closer integration with its desktop cousin, Analog Camera is probably the most fun camera application available on the iPhone. It feels like the camera application Apple would develop if it decided to add photo filters to its own camera software. It's simple. It makes your photos look good. And, unlike so many other photo services, it doesn't ask you to do anything else, unless you feel like sharing the moment through the platform of your choice. Analog Camera makes photos fun again.

[Image Credit: FLEECIRCUS on Flickr]