Before the Hipstamatic I tried a bunch of different free camera apps. Some had useful features but most I didn’t care for, or had ads (bleah). And the basic camera app that comes with the iPhone? Fuggedaboudit.
Also, if the Hipstamatic proved anything, it’s that it’s as much about form as it is function. The appeal of it is how it looks and handles, switching lenses and film, for example.
But it’s not a camera for all situations, nor does it try to be. The general advice for a zoom function is “use your feet, silly.” It is what it is, and it is awesome. But it is limited.
When I get into a photography kind of mood I find myself wanting more modern options, too. More modern looks as well. So after some research I decided to drop another buck into an app called Camera+, which tries to replicate the feel of a Digital SLR.
In the looks department the start up screen is just a grid with a shoot button and a few other buttons for options, film roll, etc. Part of me wished they’d have done the same “back of the camera” look of the Hipstamatic, but that would be counter productive. This part of the app is all about ease and speed.
The real magic happens in the metaphorical darkroom after you have your pictures. Here there is an easy and intuitive User Interface with a wide variety of preset options meant to get the most out of your picture. Here the interface looks and feels a bit more like a digital SLR, in that it uses a faux LCD display to list your options.
On the one hand you’d like to be able to choose your options before taking a picture. But when you think about it, just how necessary is that? What if you change your mind? Camera+’s approach is to make sure you get the picture first, and make it perfect later. In the UI, you can tell which pictures have been altered and which haven’t quite easily – unaltered pictures still look like they’re on the roll while altered ones look like a print. A nice touch when you’re scrolling through reams of shots. When you’re happy and want to save it, it goes to your Camera Roll. You can copy the image and paste it multiple times if you want to try a variety of techniques on the same image (see below).
Like the Hipstamatic, Camera+’s format encourages experimentation, but i this case it’s after the fact. And like the Hipsta, it doesn’t make you feel like you’re just changing Hue/Saturation type settings from the Edit menu (though that is possible), but something more personal. Again, form is as important as function, and this app knows how to keep things simple, yet full of choice.
Sadly some of the options are only available on newer models of the iPhone . would have loved to try out the feature that allows you to set your focus and exposure points separately. Camera+ also tries to go for retro options both in terms of filters and borders (some of which are paid add ons), but only a few of those I thought were useful.
No, the Hipsta is definitely my go-to choice for retro and artsy fun, but Camera+ is the best app I’ve come across for more serious photography. I’ve replaced my iPhone’s standard camera with it (it’s now the default camera when I double tap the home button) while the Hipstamatic maintains his place of honor on my 5 app docking bay.
Here’s a sample shot taken of a tree down in Kitsalano, ranging from unaltered to all kinds of tweeks.