There are literally hundreds of apps in smartphones offering photo color filters. I have tried several dozens of them. They varies in usability, quality, and most importantly how beautiful are the color filters.
The most obvious turn-downs of color filters, is most of them aren’t designed by referencing analogue look, or are bad mimics, resulting unpleasant digital looks or even technical implementation of colors adjustment
(I’m refering to apps with hardcoded filters, not apps like photoshop that offers flexibility). It’s about the artistic eyes of app developer for choosing what filters to offer and how good they do it.
There are only less than 10 apps in my iphone I found to be relatively more artistically pleasing, and some of them have put great effort to reference true film emulation.
While Instagram chose some nice filters collection and confident enough that you will love and stick to them, the filters are still not delicate enough for my taste and it limits your photo resolution to 1024. If you want to push it to another level of analogue feel and retains a higher resolution result, let me re-introduce you this great classic: Hipstamatic.
Hipstamatic is like a smartphone/ digital version of Lomography. Probably the very first app whose “analogue filter concept” is followed by thousands of apps you see today.
What’s in common to Lomography? Apparently it doesn’t use film. But when you see the virtual camera interface with options of changing film stock and lens, it portrays an analogy of using a physical camera. Most importantly, when you browse through its “lens” and “film stock”, each of them are properly designed to give you specific analogue look with pleasing samples and even a dedicated page of themed design – it’s a good graphic design work that makes you remember each of them individually and they “humanize” the filters. It’s really like playing with a retro toy camera with toy lens. In contrast, many other apps are like “Hey here I give you 1000 variations of photoshop filters in your smartphone and be my guest to try them”
One turn-down for Hipstamatic though, is the color effect is burnt-in when you take a photo, rather than flexibilly choosing which filter to post-process your already captured photo. The concept is good and hey, lomography takes the same approach and many people like me actually like the “shoot and let the unexpected happen approach”. Well, in smartphone it’s just different: it’s digital. and we won’t have the same respect for accidental result as for analogue film.
Luckily there is a new app from the same developer: Oggl.
that offers a completely new design with added modern community sharing features, plus EXACTLY the same virtual camera and lens from Hipstamtic, only that you can apply the effects AFTER you take the photo. The only pitfall of this app compare to the original Hipstamatic is that, the Oggl image size is smaller than Hipstamtic maximum image size. I hope the developer will soon upgrade about this.
Happy iphonography (i should write happy smartphonography but i love iphone too much sorry)