Developer: Hipstamatic, LLC
Price: $1.99 Download on the App Store
"Digital never looked so analog," says Hipstamatic's App Store description, and that's the key to this funky photo app's appeal. Hipstamatic gives you a choice of three lenses, three films, and two types of "flash." These last, of course, do not make your iPhone flash at your subject; rather, they apply different brightening algorithms to your final product.
But you wouldn't know it from the feel of the app. The reality is that Hipstamatic is applying a variety of filters to a photo, but it disguises its number-crunching with deceptive stages like "developing" and "printing." You can choose the Kodot film to get a cool distressed picture edge, and achieve various yellowish, blue-green, and sepia casts to your photos, just as if your lens and film were technologically inferior 1960s vintage analog products.
And it works. What Hipstamatic serves up is an instant nostalgic photo style from your youth, or your parents' youth. Hipstamatic fills a weird little niche, where quaint cultural meme meets present-day subject. Take a picture of a girl you like, and watch Dad think it's a girl he liked! Take a picture of Outkast as they'd look at Woodstock! You get the... er... picture.
I love the ease and and simplicity with which this camera app "ages" mobile pics. But, for the same reason, Hipstamatic may be limited in its appeal. The app applies your chosen style of photography on the fly, with no capacity to apply the filters selectively, undo, or layer the image effects. If you want more control over your image results then you'll need to try a different app because, much like the vintage cameras that Hipstamatic is mimicking, you will not be able to control the outcome of your images.
If you like the serendipity of "seeing what happens" that is part and parcel of using a retro camera, then you'll like Hipstamatic. Your pictures won't look like doctored digital photos—they'll look like they were taken by a cheap forty-year-old camera.
The interface is initially confusing and takes a bit of time to get used to. But Hipstamatic does provide full res photos and a very convincing look, right down to the film edges. You can also purchase more styles of film and lenses in-app for $0.99 per package; each package provides several distinct tweaks.
If you're an inveterate iPhone shutter-bug with a nostalgic streak, by all means throw Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" on your iPod or close-n-play, download Hipstamatic, and have a groovy time! It may even be worth the two bucks to get a picture for a design project you've determined will have a "throwback" look. All in all, Hipstamatic's a novelty app that will be loved by retro-camera enthusiasts.